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Writing with a side of worldbuilding

Hello friends! I hope quarantine is going well for you. If it’s not, you need to read more. I can help with that at the end of this write-up.

In the meantime, here’s the second part of the writer commentary for my Batman/ Iron Man fanfiction, “Armored Underworld.”

Marcus watched as his boys stopped a dark-colored van at the mouth of the alley. Two of them had their hands on the gats under their heavy Gotham Knights winter coats. The third man talked to the van’s driver.

Twenty seconds later, the two were still talking. Marcus edged toward the side of the box truck where his shotgun leaned against the truck. They were far enough in the nowhere that he could blast a fool and get away but was hoping it wouldn’t come to that.

When you blast a fool, they tend to blast back. Marcus wasn’t dying tonight.

I changed the point of view to the gangsters because I wanted to do the worldbuilding thing.

I thought it’d be boring to have pages of Batgirl talking about what she’d learned about these guys on the Batcomputer. It’d be more interesting to see them in action. This also will open the door for a cool scary intro from Batgirl.

More on that later.

Also, by personalizing Marcus and his crew, we see them as bad human beings and not just thugs whose faces need to meet a boot. Lastly, making them memorable makes them potential recurring characters for later.

A few seconds later, his boy talking to the driver gave the high sign. The other boys relaxed their trigger fingers and stepped back from the van. It backed into the alley, so they could easily exchange cargo between van and truck.

Once the van parked, the side door opened. Two burly Russian men emerged, their faces so expressionless they looked carved from stone. The driver remained in the van. Another man stepped from the passenger seat. Marcus recognized the six-foot man, a lithe Russian killing machine named Grazinski.

The Russian finished off a cigarette and dropped it to the ground. Smashing it with his foot, he said, “I see Black Mask let you build your own crew.”

Name dropping bad guys from the mythos! This technique opens the door for their future appearance and gives the impression all this crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There’s a world of it out there, already established.

“He didn’t let me do anything,” Marcus replied. “I’m handling this deal. Later I’ll decide if Mask gets a piece.”

Grazinski moved to Marcus, who met him halfway so that he wouldn’t see the shotgun.

Studying Marcus, Grazinski said, “Gotham is your city. At least, with what I give you it can become your city.” The Russian moved closer, practically brushing his chest into the shorter Marcus’s face.

“Are you sure you can handle Gotham?” he asked.

Marcus hated having his personal space invaded, but he knew to move back would be a sign of weakness that would botch the entire deal. Man up, motherfucker. “If what you have is as good as you say, yeah. I can handle Gotham.”

“Even the Bat?”

Marcus paused.

Luckily, Batman focused his nocturnal activities on bigger fish further up the chain like Black Mask and Penguin. That is, when he wasn’t facing the all-too-common, random costumed psychotics like Scarecrow or Poison Ivy.

Marcus had hoped to keep things that way, but Grazinski had a point; you up your profile, you put yourself in the crosshairs.

More villains! My other reason for name dropping is so I can say the villain already exists, so I don’t have to write an origin story fanfiction. I hate origin stories.

These name drops also show that Batman has been at the vigilante game for a while. Marcus mentioning that he tries to stay small fry hints at Batman’s effectiveness in instilling fear in the lower ranks of Gotham’s underworld. Building up Batman as this great menace will make his entrance all the more thrilling.

“Your stuff better be good,” Marcus replied. It was a non-answer that even Grazinski probably saw through. Hopefully, he wanted to sell his goods more than worry about Marcus’s safety.

A moment, then Grazinski shrugged. “A tool is only as good as those with the skill to use it.” He motioned to his companions. They opened the back of the van. “May you be skilled in their use.”

 Marcus looked at the van. A square, steel container filled most of the back of the van. Must have been uncomfortable for the two bruisers riding with it. They moved to the container, dragging it out of the van. Even they had to strain to move the thing. As Grazinski started another cigarette, his men moved the box toward Marcus’s truck.

“Hold up,” Marcus said.

The men stopped.

“That isn’t light, you know,” Grazinski said.

Marcus pointed at the container. “How do I know it’s not a bomb?”

Grazinski looked back to his men. He waved for them to set the container down. “You are wise to trust, but verify,” he said to Marcus. “As soon as I see the payment for the container, I will show you it is not a bomb.”

Damn! Even criminals don’t trust one another! Welcome to Gotham!

Marcus nodded. He whistled. His boys looked to him. Marcus held up two fingers, then waved for them to come to him. Two of the boys did so, the other remaining at the mouth of the alley.

The two Playas moved to the back of the truck and opened its roll-up door. Three wooden crates were inside all labeled property of the Army.

The two Playas climbed inside the truck. Grabbing crowbars from the floor of the truck, they broke open one of the cases. Grazinski watched from outside the truck.

“When the Playas deliver,” Marcus began, “we deliver.”

The crate now open, the Playas reached inside. They revealed automatic rifles in each of their hands. Grazinski drew a long pull on his cigarette. Marcus looked at him.

“I showed ya mine,” Marcus suggested.

Grazinski walked to the steel container. He slid aside a small panel on the container’s top. Underneath was a numeric keypad. He typed in a six-digit code, careful to stand so Marcus couldn’t see the code.

Grazinski stood and said, “I will give you this code once your weapons are secured in my van.”

There was a beep as Grazinski hit the enter key. The container’s top popped open.

“But you may see its contents for yourself,” he added.

Marcus looked at the Russians. His hand slowly moving to the gat at his back, he approached the container. The Russians stepped aside. If anything funny happened, Marcus knew he could get Grazinski and his boys would take out the other two mooks.

Thankfully, the Russians weren’t trigger happy.

Instead, they’d honored their part of the deal and brought him the goods.

Unfortunately, Marcus only got a brief look at the container’s contents.

In the next instant, his world became black smoke.

In true serial fashion, I leave the reader with a cliffhanger. What’s that smoke? Is it a trick by the Russians? Find out next week!

And there you go. You can read all of “Armored Underworld” free of notes by following the link below. Feel free to fill your quarantine time with other fanfictions too. Stay safe!

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