A story that spins directly out of SUICIDE SQUAD I: BANG AND BLAME. Susan Linden doesn’t know who she is, where she came from, or how she became Black Orchid.

 

Authors Notes: For continuity sake, this story takes place directly after SUICIDE SQUAD I: BANG AND BLAME. I dnt own anything.

Black Orchid/Susan Linden- Powers include flight, near invulnerability, persuasion powers, and master of disguise. She has no memory of anything about her life before she assumed the role of Black Orchid.

Previously in Suicide Squad

Three members of the Suicide Squad were sent to find an assassin who was targeting a world leader. Manhunter, Vixen, and Black Orchid were tracking the elusive killer and the assault team he kept company with. Black Orchid found out it was the killer for hire, Deadline and he was after President Marlo of Qurac. Black Orchid took down Deadline but was unable to warn the others in time before Vixen, Shaw, and herself were caught in a blast caused by Deadlines associates when they blowup an entire section of the hotel they were staked out in.

Manhunter and the badly injured Vixen returned to the United States. While in France, Black Orchid received a mysterious message which prompted her to renew her search for the truth about her past and who’s involved.

Soon-The End

The Black Orchid does not exist. It isn’t a real flower. For many, it is the unicorn of the orchid world. A mythical beast with an entire assortment of stories, hopes, and dreams built around the possibility of their existence. Susan Linden questions her existence everyday. She has hoped and dreamed for the day when she would finally have the answers to the questions she has spent years looking for. Who is Susan Linden? Who is the Black Orchid?

Susan lay on the floor clutching the open wound at her side. She’s afraid if she lets go her insides will spill out onto the floor next to her. It may not matter. There is so much blood. How can there be this much blood? How can someone live while losing this much blood? She finally had the answers she was looking for. She knows who she is and who was responsible for what she has become. She finally had the answers about her life. Now she was going to die

Now

Manhunter, Vixen, and Orchid were sent on a mission to find an assassin who was hired to kill a world leader. Their search led them to France. Black Orchid took down the killer known as Deadline. But it was his associates who took down the three of them. They nearly leveled a hotel in the process. Vixen used her powers to save Shaw and it cost her dearly. Susan got out of the incident with a sprained ankle and a few busted ribs.

A short time later, Mark Shaw and Mari McCabe were picked up from the local hospital outside of Bordeaux, France by the squad’s medical team. Vixen was stable but still in critical condition. Mark stayed by her side as they loaded her into the plane. They were heading back to the states but Black Orchid would not be joining them. She had other plans.

A few hours earlier she had received a message on her PDA that disturbed her a great deal. She has looked at it over a dozen times since.

Glad to see you’re alive Suzy. Maybe now you will stop wasting time and get to the business of taking back your life again. Once you have found it, that is. Steel has been lying to you. He has known for sometime now the answers you have desperately been seeking to find. You are so close now. Please hurry home. Love, your sister.

It was from an unknown sender but the message was loud and clear. Take back her life. Find the answers. Confront Sarge Steel!

Then

The man looked up at the stunning woman who stood across from him. She had walked into his office not thirty seconds ago. He stood behind his desk taking in her long legs, blonde hair, and mesmerizing blue/grey eyes. After a brief moment he regained his composure and sat back down at his desk. He motioned her to do the same in the chair across from him.

“Are you the private detective who goes by the name of Clayton Stoner?” She said in a soft voice that had a hint of southern draw to it.

“Depends. Did my ex-wife hire you to track me down from River City?”

“No. I do not know your wife or River City.”

“Good. It’s nasty and unforgiving. The city’s not too bad though.” He said half smiling as he found himself staring into her green eyes. He shook his head and thought to himself that he must be slipping. Her eyes were blue just a few seconds ago weren’t they?

“I want to hire you.” She said as she sat down in the chair across from his desk. “I want you to find a missing person.”

“Who is this missing person you are looking for, Miss?” He said sitting down in his chair facing her.

“Me.” She responded without hesitation.

Now

Susan had learned over the past several years to use her powers quiet well. It was easy to physically change into any person she sees. It takes effort and concentration to become that person. Mimic their behaviors and mannerisms. It’s true she preferred to hide in the background most often but there are times when it was required to stand out and be noticed. Times like these when she needed to get from one place to another as quickly as possible.

After a few days rest in France, Susan found her way to the airport lounge. It was only a matter of minutes before she found a drunk American pilot who was on a layover in Paris. A half hour later he was in a hotel room with a bottle of champagne and a French prostitute. This was twice in the past week that Susan used the same identity to get what she wanted. This time things went smoother. The American pilot was passed out within minutes. Susan stole his over night bag and his identification and was hitching a ride on a plane back to the United States ninety minutes after that. When the pilot wakes up, all he will find is a picture of his wife on the pillow next to him.

Susan was slightly uncomfortable taking such bold moves to acquire travel arrangements. But she wanted to make sure Sarge Steel never saw her coming when she confronted him about what he knows.

Then

The Private investigator, Clayton Stoner, found it extremely difficult not to laugh as he responded to the young women who sat across from him.

“You want me to find you?” he said rubbing the palms of his hands across his eyes. “Are you serious?”

“I am most certainly serious.” She said as her tone changed and eyes appeared to change again, this time to a dark amethyst.

“Well, I believe you are.” Clayton said as he leaned back in his chair. “Now you want to explain to me what it is you want to hire me for? This time start from the beginning.”

“I guess you could say it began a few days ago. I woke up in a hotel room outside of Metropolis. The first thing a saw was the alarm clock on the nightstand next to the bed. It was 10:17 a.m. I didn’t know how I had gotten there. I lay there for almost five minutes unable to move.”

“Had you been hurt physically or otherwise?” Clayton asked.

“No. I don’t believe so. I was just afraid to move. You know when you first wakeup and it takes a few minutes for things to come back to you? Well, It’s been almost a week now and I am still stuck in those first couple of minutes of the day. I did finally get out of bed and began to search the room for clues as to who I was or why I was there.”

“So you are telling me you have no memory what so ever of anything that happened to you prior to a week ago?”

“That is correct. I found nothing in the hotel room except a fresh change of clothes and $4.27 on the dresser. That seemed odd to me at the time but I filed it away for the time being. I wasn’t in panic mode like you might imagine someone would be in the same situation. I was calm as my mind took in my surroundings and I thought of my next move. I turned on the television but couldn’t find a remote control to change the station so I left it. I then picked up the phone on the nightstand and dialed the hotel operator. I asked them who was checked into the room I was in. I could instantly recognize the awkwardness in her voice as she said I was the one who checked in. Of course I responded by asking her my name. There was a short pause. I knew my question confused her and I immediately changed my tone and everything else clicked into place.”

“What do you mean, everything clicked into place?”

“It’s hard to describe but I knew what to say and how to say it. I put her at ease but at the same time got her to reveal the information I was looking for.”

“Interesting. So what did you find out?”

“She told me I had checked in the middle of the night, alone. I paid cash for the room which accounted for the change I found but nothing to explain why I was there.”

” What hotel were you at? Did you ask if they had a credit card number for a security deposit?”

” The Bessolo Hotel on the outskirts of Suicide Slum. No they didn’t require a deposit for the room.”

“I don’t imagine they would. So did you get any information that might be useful?”

“Yes. She did tell me my name. Susan Linden.”

Now

Susan abandoned the airline pilots’ identity after arriving in New York. She quickly assumed a female identity and found a payphone. She sat her PDA on top of the phone and punched in a few codes. The Caller ID on the other end of her call would appear to be any phone number she wanted it to be. In this case it would be a number Sarge Steel wouldn’t question. The call to Steel lasted less then a minute. He was on his way.

Susan sat patiently on a park bench reading a newspaper. The Suicide Squad’s incident in Washington was no longer front-page news. She found a follow-up story on page nine. President Marlo’s death was also quickly forgotten, as was his newly formed country of Qurac. The cabinet leaders had chosen a new leader before the body was cold. If Marlo was so important how could he be replaced so easily? Susan looked up as Steel sat down next to her.

“I wondered why my daughter would call me and ask to meet me outside of my office here in New York since she left for a trip to Florida this morning?” Steel said as Black Orchid continued to read the newspaper. “I am glad you made it back in one piece Suzy.”

“Why were we sent on a mission that was doomed from the start?” Susan asked Steel without taking her eyes off the paper she held in front of her.

“It wasn’t, Suzy. There were just things that occurred that were unforeseen.”

“Which things? Deadline and his bunch tracking us every step of the way or Marlo being the target and still getting killed?” Orchid questioned, finally putting the paper down and looking over at Steel.

“Susan if you are going to continue to scold me, please lose my daughters appearance. It’s bad enough when she yells at me when she is really here.”

“No more garbage missions Daddy” Susan sarcastically replied, still maintaining the appearance of Steels daughter.

“Eiling has been dealt with. It won’t happen again.” Steel responded. “Take as much time off as you need and I will contact you when something comes up.”

Susan subtly changed her appearance to someone more comfortable before continuing, “Any new leads on my past lately?”

“Susan we have gone over this before. Everything we found led to dead ends. I thought you gave up on ”

“No!” she said interrupting him, “You said there was nothing but dead ends. But you know something don’t you? That’s why you quit looking isn’t it?”

“Where is this coming from? Was it the mission that got you this upset?”

“You have only seen me upset once and you remember what happened then don’t you? Now I suggest you tell me what you know right now or I go to Washington and tell the President everything I know about what one of his closest advisors has been up to right under his nose. Maybe they can get you a cell next to Eiling?”

“Glad to see you are not upset.” Steel replied, with a forced smile on his face. “The reason I didn’t tell you everything we found was because I knew you would react like this and the consequences would be ”

“Right now I would be more concerned about the consequences of you not telling me.”

That gave Steel reason to pause. He knew what she was capable of. Hell, he taught her how to lose herself into someone else. He taught her how to be ruthless, even kill if necessary. Would she be capable of killing him right here if provoked? He quickly concluded the answer was yes.

“A few months back the NSA search program Echelon, came across something that was flagged and sent to me. It was about project Black Orchid. It came from Lex Corp in Metropolis. That’s all I know.”

Susan slowly stood up and began to walk away. She stopped after a few steps and turned back to face Steel. “Three thing before I go. If I find out you are lying about this, I will kill you. If you send someone to try and stop me, I will kill you. Lastly  I quit.”

Then

“Susan Linden huh?” Clayton Stoner said as he pulled his chair closer to his desk. He began to type in the name on his computer. “Now we might have something to go on.”

“Well there is more.” Susan said hesitantly, “Something happened when I left the hotel room. Something you need to know before you continue.”

“What would that be?” he said as he stopped typing and looked up at her.

“Well, after I hung up the phone, I decided to go down stairs and see if I could talk to anyone else who might have seen me come in the night before. I showered and changed into the clothes that were in the room. I checked the room one last time, turned off the television, and then headed down toward the front desk. It was shortly after noon and there seemed to be quite a few people coming and going. As I got on to the elevator there was whispering and a few people were pointing at me. I quickly hit the button for the first floor. When I reached the first floor the door opened and a couple of men were waiting to get on. I looked at them and forced a smile. One by one their look changed as their eyes widen at the sight of me. I quickly passed them but out of the corner of my eye I could see them standing there watching me as I headed towards the front desk. I reached the desk and the girl sitting there pointed her finger up at me as she wrote something down. She began to ask me what I needed when she looked up and saw me she stopped talking.”

“OK, why was everyone acting so strangely? Are you sure you weren’t just being paranoid?”

“No it wasn’t me. Well it was me but not in the way you are thinking. After a few seconds she finally spoke again and asked me if I was her. I said her who? She replied with, are you Paris Hilton?”

Clayton was unable to control his laughter this time and he laughed so loud he startled himself. This was not what he was expecting. After a few moments he was able to contain himself again. “Now don’t get me wrong. You are a very attractive young woman. But beyond the tall slender figure and long blond hair, you look nothing like Paris Hilton.”

“Well I was confused at first myself until I remembered seeing Paris Hilton on the television in the hotel room.” Susan said leaning into the desk closer to Clayton, “Close your eyes.”

“What?”

“Close your eyes and don’t open them until I tell you to.”

“Ok.” Clayton chuckled while he closed his eyes, “This can’t get any stranger than it already is.”

Susan sat there quietly and focused. After a few seconds she said, “Alright, open your eyes.”

Clayton opened his eyes. He couldn’t quiet register what he saw. But, he continued to stare at the women sitting across from him who now looked like a spitting image of the hotel heiress, Paris Hilton. Things had certainly taking a sharp turn towards stranger!

Now

Black Orchid was back where it all began just a few short years ago, Metropolis. She hasn’t been back since she was forced to leave town and head to Las Vegas. She spent months searching for clues to explain how she became the Black Orchid. Now she stood in front of the door of the man who would give her the answers she was seeking. She checked her earpiece communicator before she entered.

“Thorn, are you there?” She whispered.

“Yeah, Orchid. I am here.” The female voice in the earpiece responded. “I am searching the lab now. Security is pretty lax even if it is after midnight. I don’t like this.”

“I am getting ready to go in. Let me know what you find.” Susan said as she reached for the door handle.

Susan had a plan. Confront Lex Luthor while her friend; Rose Forrest searched the lab for information regarding the Black Orchid project. She met Rose during a case she was working on. Rose’s father was a Metropolis police officer until members of a criminal organization gunned him down. Rose had a breakdown afterward which resulted in her personality splitting in two. By day she was Rose Forrest, grieving daughter. By night, she was the costumed vigilante, Thorn. They worked together to topple the organization that killed Roses father. All the while, Rose never became aware of the dual life she led. But afterward, Thorn vowed to help Susan if she ever had the need. When that need arose, Orchid called her.

Susan open the door the Lex Luthor’s office. She saw a man sitting thirty feet away from her at a desk. The room was dark until the man reached over and turned on a small light. . She walked toward him not saying a word until she stood at the edge of his desk.

“Lex Luthor? What can you tell me about the Black Orchid project?”

The man smiled at her and pointed to a phone that sat in front of her on the desk. It began to ring. She reached down and picked it up.

“My sincere apologies for being so dramatic Susan but this was your colossal plan? Come in here and confront the man behind the monster? I thought I had gotten rid of you for good when I forced you out of town years ago?” The man on the other end of the phone said.

“Who is this?” Orchid said looking down at the phone and then up at the man sitting across from her.

“This is Lex Luthor of course.” He said, “The man in the room with you isn’t me. Did you think I would allow you to waltz right in here brazenly and rough me up till you had your way with me?”

Susan looked up again and there was no one at the desk. She spun around as her eyes scanned the dimly lit room to no avail.

“By the way, the man isn’t really a man. She is able to impersonate people, just like you can. Pretty convincing isn’t she? Her name is Sasha Green but you can call her Myriad, just before you die!”

The phone went silent just as a rapid blur approached her from her left side, driving her across the room until she hit the wall and slid to the floor.

Now

“Do yourself a favor. Stay down.”

Black Orchid heard the woman say after throwing her across the room. She had hit the wall hard and wasn’t certain she could get up even if she wanted to. She watched out of the corner of her eye as Myriad, clearly no longer in the guise of Lex Luthor, walked hastily toward the motionless Black Orchid.

Susan would kick herself for acting so impulsively if she could move. It was a grave miscalculation on her part coming here like she did. She should have realized when she and Thorn started poking around searching for clues about Project Black Orchid that Lex Luthor would catch wind of it. That man had already done enough damage in her life but was he also responsible for what she had become? Was he the reason she woke up in a hotel room over two years ago here in Metropolis with no memory of her existence?

Her whole reason for being here was based on a lead she got from Sarge Steel. Why did he not follow-up on this information if he knew Lex Corp was involved? Was it because he was afraid of Luthor or even worse, were they in on it together?

Susan’s mind continued to race in several directions at once as she was picked up by Myriad and thrown across the room in the other direction. Susan needed to clear her mind quickly and focus back on the situation at hand. She wasn’t going to find any answers if she didn’t get out of this office building alive. The first thing she needed to do was stop this woman from throwing her around like a rag doll. The pain was excruciating as she hit the floor hard and sled several feet across the floor smashing into an office chair.

“Had enough yet?” Myriad beamed as she quickened her pace toward Black Orchid.

Could this Myriad have come from the same project that created Black Orchid? Susan wondered. She had similar powers but was much stronger. Susan lay still as she eyed a sharp metal piece from the shattered chair. When Myriad bent down toward her, Susan grabbed the piece of metal. She used all of the strength she could muster and shoved it a couple of inches above the joining of the tendon and the heel bone on the back of Myriad’s right ankle. When Susan felt the Achilles tendon tear, she let go and rolled out of the way as Myriad crashed onto the office floor screaming.

Susan staggered to her feet and braced herself against the wall just out of reach from the thrashing Myriad on the floor.

“Susan I think I found what you are looking for.” Susan heard Thorn say through her earpiece communicator.

“Go ahead.” Susan responded.

“The Black Orchid project was run by a man named Dr. Philip Sylvia. He was conducting experiments using chemicals that seeped into pores and caused the test subjects to be fall under the persuasion of whoever administered the chemicals.” Thorn paused for a brief moment. “What is that? Is someone screaming?”

“It’s nothing.” Susan said as she continued to watch Myriad struggle on the floor. “Anything else?”

“Only that it looks like Luthor didn’t authorize the tests and fired Sylvia three years ago. Sylvia disappeared for six months and then suddenly appeared working in Gotham City under an assumed name for Wayne Enterprises.”

“Wayne? Bruce Wayne? I will meet you downstairs in a few minutes.” Susan said before looking down at Myriad. “Tell your boss he is in the clear for now. But I still haven’t forgotten what he’s done and next time I guarantee he won’t see me coming.”

Susan begun to walk away when she turned back around “Also, you might want to have that tear looked at before you bleed to death. But do yourself a favor until I am gone, stay down.”

Then

It had been three months since Susan walked into Clayton Stoners office and asked the private investigator to look into her past. After seeing what she was capable of he quickly promised to help her. Little did they both know that the trail was cold before they had even begun. Clayton assured her he wouldn’t give up the search. In the meantime Susan agreed to help him on his other cases in return for providing her a place to live and adequate funds to support her.

At the time, Clayton was impoverished since good paying cases were few and far between. He relied on supplement work as a bounty hunter, usually going after bail jumpers and deadbeat dads late on child support. Clayton convinced Susan that her ability to change her appearance could vastly improve his chances of catching these people. She was uncomfortable at first but soon found an easy escape portraying other people. Not only was it simple to get caught up in the role of a fugitive’s buddy or a girlfriend, but also it allowed her a few brief moments to forget that she still didn’t know who she was.

But on an off day, Clayton and Susan sat in his office reviewing case files when she received what might be the first break in the investigation.

“Okay, thank you.” Clayton said before hanging up the phone.

“Was that about a case?” Susan inquired from across the room where she was sprawled out on a sofa flipping through files.

“Yeah it was about a case. Yours” He said jovially.

Susan stopped what she was doing and jumped up.

“That was one of my skip trace buddies who has a friend who has a contact over at Langley. He found a connection to Susan Linden and something called the Black Orchid project.”

“Clay, we don’t even know if that’s my real name. So, what makes this a solid lead?

“Well it’s not necessarily a solid lead because that’s all he was able to pull up. But it is the first nibble we’ve had on the line in months, so its better then nothing.”

Clayton said.

” You call that a nibble? My name being linked to a goddamned flower!” Susan vented as she sat down across from Clayton.

“It’s a rare delicate flower.” Clayton smirked looking up at her. “You are a rare flower.”

Now

“It’s all here” Thorn said handing Black Orchid a small flash-drive containing the information she obtained from Lex Luthor’s computer lab.

“You are aware that after tonight, Luthor will make your life hell here in Metropolis?” Susan said as she slipped the small device in her pocket.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman thorned!” Thorn gleefully replied.

“Dreadful puns aside, thank you.” Susan said embracing Rose Forrest’s alter ego, Thorn.

“You and I do not need words. We share a bond okay? So go to Gotham and take care of your business. ”

“Luthor still has to answer for a few things even if he wasn’t directly involved with what I have become.” Susan pulled away from Thorn as tears began to well up in her eyes. “I will be back. I promise”

“And I will be waiting.” Thorn responded. “Are you sure you don’t want my help in Gotham?”

“No. There’s less of a chance of being noticed if I go in alone. I just feel like I am so close to the end now. The last thing I need is to draw attention from a certain pesky rodent.”

Then

Months had gone by since Clayton discovered a link between Susan Linden and the Black Orchid project. As each day passed, Susan lost hope of ever learning the truth. She continued to work for Clayton Stoner. She no longer looked at what she did as an escape though. She became obsessed with it, constantly pushing herself and her abilities. She was no longer content with playing bit parts for small reward. During this time, Stoner had quickly become the most feared and respected private investigator in Metropolis. His reputation soared all while Susan contently stayed out-of-sight.

In an attempt to find a case that would satisfy Susan’s increasing desire for bigger and bolder ventures, Clayton Stoner agreed to take an out of town job.

Clayton began to explain the job to Susan. “Jack Dodd is the owner of a large chemical research company based out of Gotham City. After years of rising costs due to strict government regulations, Dodd was forced to bring in a financial partner to keep the company afloat. He chose his brother, Marshall Dodd, who has had a successful career in the banking industry. But after several quarters of little to no growth, Marshall Dodd recommended to sell the company to a multinational corporation overseas.”

“This sounds very exciting.” Susan said sarcastically, “Why did you think we would be suited for some type of corporate investigation?”

“Because I have a plan that I think you will love. Now can I finish?”

“By all means.”

“Jack Dodd believes that one of his companies security analysis is involved with selling company information to the corporation interested in buying out the company. He feels this person is not only ruining his company but in turn will force him to sell his company to the overseas outfit for little or no money.”

“So we were hired to help a rich guy before he goes broke? Where’s the fun in that?”

“Three weeks from tonight there is a charity event at the Gotham Kane plaza. It’s one of the biggest events of the year and all the players will be there including the five security analylists from the Dodd company and investors from the overseas company. You will be attending this event.”

“So who am I going in as?” Susan inquired showing slightly more interest.

“Some rich socialite. That part doesn’t matter. Once your inside I need you to determine which analyst is in bed with the multinationals because they will more than likely make contact with them sometime during the course of the event.”

“So how am I going to do that if we don’t know which of the five is involved?”

“This is the part you’re gonna love. Throughout the evening, you get to play the role of all five of them!”

Three weeks later

Susan had expected the hardest part of this was going to be keeping track of the five security analysts, not only their locations but who she was playing at any given time. What she didn’t anticipate was that someone else had ulterior motives that evening and was playing the role as party crasher. Enter Pamela Isley, also known as Poison Ivy.

Susan watched as Ivy began to scream out about how the planet is being destroyed by the chemicals that these companies were producing. Then she went on about how everyone here would die a slow painful death because of the chemicals that she has pumped into the room all evening through the air ducts. Collectively they would need to come up with one hundred million dollars before any of them would have access to the antidote she carried in a small vial around her neck. She watched as several people began to cough some even falling to the floor gasping for air. Susan quickly found that whatever was in the air hadn’t affected her yet.

At that moment she made a decision. This was no longer about inside trading or corporate greed, this was about life and death. Susan’s mind shifted into overdrive as she quickly assessed the situation. There were three armed thugs with gas masks blocking each of the potential exits while Poison Ivy was setting up a wireless computer in the center of the hall. She yelled out that she would take bank transfers until her demands were satisfied in full. Susan couldn’t see a way of defusing the situation without people dying. But if she stood there and did nothing, people were sure to die as well. Finally, there was no way to guarantee that Ivy would release the antidote she claimed would reverse the effects of the poisonous gas.

Susan determined the best course of action was to get close enough to Ivy and look for a chance to take her down. She was still in the guise as one of the analysts; one that she noticed was one of the victims already passed out on the floor. At least it would allow her to move in without drawing to much attention to herself.

She was in position when the lights inside the hall went dark. The remaining coherent party guests screamed as gunfire erupted. Susan dove in the direction where Ivy was standing just before it went dark. When the lights returned she was standing over Poison Ivy holding a small vial in her hand, her foot firmly pressed on Ivy’s throat.

“I will take that.” She heard a gruff voice speak from behind her. She slowly turned around as she stood face to face with the mysterious Batman. She felt exposed as she no longer was hidden behind one the disguises she had used that evening. Unsure of what else to do, she handed him the vial.

“Get yourself checked out. The paramedics will be momentarily.” With that he wrapped Ivy up in his cape and was gone. The Gotham police entered seconds later to find all of the gunmen had been contained. Batman had defused the entire situation and then had vanished. It was in that moment when she was determined to be something more than a delicate flower. She would fully embrace her namesake, whose true existence was but a myth to most. She would become the Black Orchid.

Now

Doctor Philip Sylvia entered his home shortly after ten p.m. He poured himself a drink and sat down in his usual living room chair. He took a shallow breath as he felt a sharp painful twinge in the back of his neck. He was barely able to move as he watched the crystal glass slip out of his hand and fall onto the hardwood floor. He began to panic when he heard a voice speak from behind where he sat.

“It’s called the Dim Mak’ or death touch.” Black Orchid whispered as she slowly moved from behind the chair to face him. “You have thirty seconds to decide whether you are going to tell me everything you know about the Black Orchid project or you will most certainly experience a quick but excruciating death.”

Now

Black Orchid watched as Philip Sylvia’s entire body began to shake. She wondered how long it would take before blood would begin to seep out of his body. She could stand there and watch him die but it wouldn’t be enough. She needed to know the truth.

“You now have twenty-six seconds.” She leaned down and whispered into his ear.

He attempted to speak but he was unable to utter a sound. Susan reached out and pressed two fingers into the side of his neck. Doctor Sylvia gasped for air and began to breathe again.

“If I let go of this spot on your neck your body will begin to shut down again. If you tell me everything I want to know I can reverse the process entirely. Choose your words carefully, Doctor.”

“Who who are you? What do you want from me?” He managed to utter under labored breath.

“You were in charge of the Black Orchid project at Lex Corp, yes?”

“Yes.” He answered.

“After being fired you changed your name and began to work for Wayne enterprises under an assumed named where you expanded on the project yes?”

“Yes.”

“See how easy this is?” She said reaching up with her other and patted him on the cheek. “Now here comes another one that may be a little tougher. What was the purpose of the project?”

He didn’t hesitate as he answered her. “I was told to create the perfect spy. Someone who could change their appearance at will and uses pheromone powers to persuade those she could get close to ”

“Why me? Why did you choose me to experiment on?”

“I I don’t know who you are. There were so many.”

“How many?” Susan demanded.

“Eighty, maybe a hundred girls. I lost track. They kept dying.” He began to cry “But she kept sending more girls until I couldn’t take it anymore. I left and went into hiding. But she found me and sent you here to kill me.”

“Her? What is her name?”

“I never wanted any of this!” He said finding it harder to speak.

“The person who ordered you to perform the experiments, tell me her goddamned name!” Susan screamed. Susan leaned down as he muttered a name.

“Please God forgive me.” He pleaded.

Susan spoke softly into his ear “God is going to have to wait. Where you are going you will have to face each and every innocent girl who’s lives you stole. Maybe, just maybe one of them will forgive you.”

She stood up and released her fingers from his neck. “I am not sorry when I tell you that I lied. There is no way to reverse the death touch. But know this, your death will be mild compared to what I have in store for her.”

Black Orchid left Philip Sylvia to die alone in his home as she disappeared into the Gotham City night.

Then

Three weeks had passed since Susan Linden encountered Batman in Gotham city. Clayton Stoner noticed a severe change in Susan. She would disappear for days on end and then return like nothing had happened. When he pushed her to tell him where she was or what she was doing she would respond with, ‘I was working’. She was no longer interested in working on cases with Clayton.

Clayton watched as Susan came into his office and sat down across from him at his desk.

“Clay we need your help.” Susan said.

“By ‘we’ I assume you mean you and the other female vigilante you’ve been roaming the streets of Metropolis with these last few nights?” Clayton responded, without looking up at her. “Why don’t you ask Superman for help?”

“Superman? He is a figured head in this city! He flies high above the city looking down on us. But he has his head so high in the clouds he never sees the true crime that exists. Even if he did, I am sure he would feel it was above him in his god-like state!”

“Susan I was joking. But it does seem that your new friends influence is rubbing off on you.”

“Thorn is not a friend. We understand each other. We want the same thing for our city.”

“And what would that be?” Clayton asked finally looking up from his computer. “Now your dogging this cities greatest hero and taking to the streets in that crazy purple get-up to defend your city. Did you forget why you came to me in the first place?”

“Of course I do, but thing have changed. I am more focused. I have a purpose for the first time and I am doing what I was meant to do. I am the Black Orchid!”

“Suzy, I can understand and appreciate what you are trying to do but you are going about it the wrong way. Busting low-level street thugs and smashing up hideouts in hopes of catching bad guys isn’t working. All you are doing is stirring up a hornets’ nest with no forethought of getting stung.”

“That isn’t true. Thorn and I have been working our way up from the bottom. Moving upstream looking for the bigger fish. That is why I came to you for help. We found one, possibly the biggest fish in the pond. Henry Ballard.”

“Henry Ballard? The U.S. senator?” Clayton quickly answered back.

“Word is that he is the top dog in a group called the 100. The 100 is ” Susan began to say.

“Stop. Just stop right there. Do you think in my line of work that I wouldn’t know who the major criminal organization is here in this city? I am able to operate and survive by avoiding anything connected with them.”

“We want to take them down.” Susan replied. “And I need you to dig up everything you can on the senator so we can prepare our next move.”

“Your next is move is to not draw anymore attention to yourself and just walk away from the whole thing.”

“I can’t do that and you know it!”

“I understand that your friend or whoever, lost her father when he got himself murdered because he stared to get too close to the 100. Revenge is a powerful motivator but you do not need to get yourself killed because of this. Walk away now!”

“We will shut them down with or without you. I am asking you as a favor to get us the information we need so we are better prepared. Isn’t that your number one rule, always be prepared.”

“No. My number one rule is to stay alive.” Clayton paused, “Okay I will look into this guy for you on one condition. If afterward I discover that this is too big for the two of you to handle, you will consider holding off for the time being?”

“I won’t make any promises but I will consider it.”

Now

Paris, France 4 a.m.

“I fear you are in over your head.” The woman said before striking Black Orchid from behind. Susan turned and faced her attacker. It was a tall woman dressed in a tan and burgundy costume with a hood trailed off like a tail. It was a stupid mistake. She was so focused on getting inside the building that she never saw her coming.

Susan had now been awake for nearly thirty-six hours. After getting the name from Philip Sylvia, she was on a plane to Paris France. Everything had come full circle. She was in France just two weeks ago when she received the message that sent her on a journey to discover the truth about who she was and how she became that way. Now she stood outside the corporate headquarters of Revson, a major Parisian perfume company. The intel she uncovered led her to believe that the woman she sought out was inside this building. All that stood in her way was a crazy french woman with American superhero envy.

Susan easily dodged the next assault as the woman charged past her.

“You are American, no?” The woman said as she spin back around, “Well, you will find France has her own defender. I am Crimson Fox and you will not be allowed to continue criminal intentions anymore”

Susan charged the Crimson Fox and punched her in the jaw, stopping her midsentence and knocking her to the ground. She watched to see if she was going to get back up. When she determined that Crimson Fox was down for good, she continued to search for a way to enter the building unnoticed.

Then

Thirty minutes ago she received a call from Clayton on her cell phone. He uncovered information that linked Senator Henry Ballard with not only the 100 group, but his previous election campaign was financed by Lex Luthor. The fear in his voice was something Susan had never head before. She immediately raced back to the office but it was too late.

Susan looked on from a distance as the office building of Clayton Stoner investigations burned. She watched as the Metropolis fire department attempted to contain the fire but the four-story building was engulfed in flames. It was her fault. He warned her that she shouldn’t get involved with the 100. But she didn’t listen and forced him to get involved as well.

Susan moved closer toward the building but was stopped by a police officer, “Sorry miss, it’s too dangerous here.”

“But I work in that building!” She yelled. “My friend could have been in there.”

“Well for their sake, I hope not today. Witnesses said they heard an explosion as the building went up. No one alive is coming out of that building now.”

Susan contemplated what she was going to do next when there was a tap on her shoulder. She turned and saw a man behind her with a hooded sweatshirt on, pulled tightly around his head and face.

“Clayton!” she said with relief in her voice.

“Suzy there isn’t time.” He said pulling her close to him, “They are probably watching us right now. It’s time to cut our losses.”

“I don’t understand. We need to go after whoever did this.”

“No. It’s much bigger then even I imagined. They won’t stop until we are both dead. You have to leave town now.”

“I am not leaving without you. We will go together and when the time is right we will come back and fight.”

“It’s too late for me Suzy. I don’t have any fight left in me. We need to separate. Use my contact in Vegas. He can set you up with a new life there where you can be safe.”

“What about you?”

‘I will be fine. I can disappear where no one can find me. Promise me Suzy you will do this for me.”

“I’ve ruined everything. Your business, your life, everything.” Susan uttered as she fought back the tears as they welled up in her eyes.

“No Suzy, you didn’t. I only wish I could have helped you more. Now do what I said okay? I want you to wait a few minutes after I am gone. Then leave yourself and don’t look back.”

There wasn’t anything left to say. Clayton was gone. Susan turned around and waited a few minutes and then she too disappeared. She hadn’t noticed but someone had been watching her. That person continued to follow her long after she left Metropolis that night.

Now

Black Orchid quickly moved through the Revson building toward the top floor. Adrenalin carried her up each flight of stairs. Does the woman she is after know that she’s here? She must know by now. It’s almost as if she lead her here.

Susan reached the top floor and swung the door open from the stairwell. She braced herself as she went down the long hallway and through the doorway into the only lit room on the floor. Susan stopped when she saw the woman she was after, with her back turned looking out the window.

“Constance D’Aramis!” Black Orchid shouted out to the woman.

Then

It was nearly three am on a Wednesday and the crowds in the casino had died down. A man sat down at the empty $100 minimum blackjack table. He smiles at the dealer as he pulled out a handful of chips and placed a stack in front of her. The woman didn’t look up as she dealt him his cards.

“Been doing this long?’ He asked while motioning her to give him another card.

“I’ve been here all night if that’s what you mean.” She replied, flipping over another card in front of him. “Bust.”

“It’s hard to imagine a world that exists outside of Las Vegas.” He said casually as she dealt him another hand. “But there is of course. I personally believe that everyone has an important part to play in it. You just have to know your role. Do you know your role Susan?”

The dealer finally looked up at him and smiled, “Sorry sir. My name is Monica.”

“Of course, of course.” He said waving off another card. “Well, the Susan I heard of knows how to impersonate anyone and can kick ass with the best of them. She disappeared a few months back after some bad stuff went down in Metropolis.”

Her smile faded and she began to panic and looked around the room.

“Don’t worry Susan. I am sure with your instincts you would have pegged me for a hostile long before I sat down if I was. But I am not.” He said reaching over and pulling the glove off of his left hand to reveal a mechanical limb. “My name is Sarge Steel and I am here to offer you a job.”

Now

The woman turned around to see Black Orchid staring at her from across the room. “You don’t have to be so dramatic Suzy. I just watched you beat-up my sister across the street. Her and that silly costume. Crimson Fox, please!”

Susan stood there and watched as the woman walked over and sat down at the desk across from her. “Have a seat Suzy, we have a lot of catching up to do.”

“You know I came here to kill you.” Susan said in a low discerning voice.

“Did you now?” Constance replied as she sat back in her chair and crossed her arms “Are you sure? I mean of course you may have thought that at first but now you’re not so sure. You are home now Susan. You are home.”

“I am going to give you only one chance to tell me everything.”

“And then what? Kill me like you did Doctor Sylvia? You won’t have to torture me Suzy. I will gladly tell you everything you want to know.”

Black Orchid took a few steps towards Constance and sat down across from her.

“There you go.” Constance smiled

“What are you doing to me?” Susan said in a daze after she realized she had sat down. There was something familiar in the air that was suddenly clouding Susan’s mind.

“Something I have been doing ever since it appeared I had finally succeed with your creation, I have been testing you. You see, my sister Vivian may have a rosy view of things but I understand and appreciate the complexities of the world. I may appear to be a woman content to run her own perfume company, but I am a woman of vision. All I needed was the perfect instrument to help me reshape the landscape of global power. It took nearly three years before we had our first real success but alas there you were. With my design, Doctor Sylvia had created the perfect spy.”

Susan clinched her fist but she was unable to move out of the chair.

“But I had to make sure you would be able to perform any task I required of you. So I decided to let you lose to see how you would adapt in the world. I admit at first I was somewhat disappointed. But after the incident in Metropolis sent you into hiding I decided to help you get on track. I fed information that found it’s way into Sarge Steels hands, which eventually led him to you. From there I must say I have been impressed. You have become everything I could have hoped for.” Constance stood up and walked around to where Black Orchid was seated. “The test phase is now over which is why I contacted you a few weeks back. Now it is time for you to fully embrace what you were created for Suzy.”

Susan slowly rose from her seat and stood face to face with Constance D’Aramis.

“I would rather die.” Susan finally said. With a blurring motion, Susan reached up and put her hands around Constance’s neck and slowly began to squeeze. “But I am taking you with me.”

Constance struggled against Black Orchids grasp, “You are stronger then I gave you credit for.” Constance chocked “I emitted enough pheromones in this room to overtake ten men.”

Susan picked the flailing woman up by the neck and threw her across the room. “I am really sorry it has to be like this Suzy.” Constance shouted as she pulled herself up off the floor.

Susan shook her head as she attempted to fight off another wave of pheromones in the air. She felt dizzy and barely able to stand as she slowly moved toward Constance. She heard a noise behind her and turned around to see Constance’s sister charge toward her. Susan was unable to move out of the way in time and as the Crimson Fox lifted her right hand to reveal razor sharp claws on her costume. She watched as the woman slashed into her with her claws. The pain was more then she could bear as she felt her flesh tear open. Everything began to go black as she hit the floor.

Susan lay on the floor clutching the open wound at her side. She’s afraid if she lets go her insides will spill out onto the floor next to her. It may not matter. There is so much blood. How can there be this much blood? How can someone live while losing this much blood? She finally had the answers she was looking for. She knows who she is and who was responsible for what she has become. She finally had the answers about her life. Now she was going to die

Epilogue

I remember when
I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that time “

Susan gradually awoke to the sound of a woman singing. She blinked a few times as her eyes began to focus on her surroundings. The singing continued as she slowly sat up on the edge of the bed.

Yeah I was out of touch
But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough
I just knew too much”

Does that make me crazy?

Does that make me crazy?

Does that make me crazy?

Probably!”

Susan looked around the small dark room. Where was she? She slowly stood up and felt a twinge on her right side. She moved her hand across her hip and toward her stomach. It hurt to the touch. The wound had scared over. Had she recently been operated on? Why couldn’t she remember anything? She listened as heard the woman continue to sing.

Come on now
Who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are?

Ha ha ha!
Bless your soul
You really think you’re in control
Well,
I think you’re crazy

I think you’re crazy

I think you’re crazy
Just like me!

She took a few steps and put her hand against the wall. The singing came from the other side.

“Why why are you singing?” she asked.

“Ahh, you are awake!” The woman said through the wall. “It’s get so dreary in here. It’s almost numbing when I can’t hear the birds chirping or the plants growing. Singing usually passes the time. My name is Pamela by the way. What’s yours?”

Susan thought for a moment before she answered. “Susan, I think?”

“Well Susan, welcome to Arkham Asylum.”

“Arkham Asylum?” Susan asked. “How did I get here? Why can’t I remember?”

“That would most likely be our gracious hosts. They like to keep their pets submissive. But lucky for me I have a friend who is a doctor. Her name is Harley and she’s coming to get me out soon. I think a good old-fashioned road trip is in order. Care to join us?”

Susan again thought for a moment before she answered. “Sure. That could be fun.”

 

Black_Orchid_Alba_Garcia_0001.jpg
Susan Lindan a.ka. Black Orchid

 

The end, for now!

 

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