(For Xuluc.)

Dr. Hugo Strange prepared a fresh pipe and brought it to the man in the cell. After Strange removed the feeding tube, the prisoner clamped the pipe in his mouth, as he’d been conditioned to do, and waited for it to be lit. Strange got the pipe going with his own pipe lighter, chuckling at the eagerness with which the subject puffed on the briar.

Not that the subject truly comprehended what he was enjoying. In his current state, he could only take what he was given. It didn’t matter what, and it didn’t matter which hole it went into. For now, the former hero of Gotham was merely a receptacle for food and alcohol and smoke.

Strange was still breaking the subject’s mind down into disconnected memories and subconscious drives. It would take some time to flush out what was unnecessary and build something new out of the leftover debris. But the plan was going well. Batman/Bruce Wayne could no longer recall anything about his old civilian identity and very little about his heroic one. Interrogations revealed he knew only he had once been a great man… hell, two great men, to be honest. And now, he was nobody. Strange pulled what was left of the cowl over the subject’s increasingly fatter, hairier head. It helped to reinforce for the subject how lost he was now.

The accelerated aging caused by Strange’s mind-altering chemicals were an unexpected side-effect but it was not unwelcome. It further softened the subject’s will and helped to distance his current perception of his body from the trim, relatively youthful fighting machine it had been just a few months before. It had been a thrill for Strange to see the first wrinkles appear, to watch the raven-black stubble abruptly shift into an even faster-growing bushy gray beard.

The subject reached beneath his sagging gut and started to pleasure himself. Strange sighed. He’d have to curb that behavior once the subject was allowed a few hours of total consciousness per day. Once the subject had been programmed as a bottom for the other prisoner, the man from Metropolis. Strange’s backers knew exactly what they wanted, and they were not men who tolerated failure. For now, though, he failed to see the harm. He retreated to a spot beneath the security camera, where he knew he wouldn’t be recorded, lit his own pipe, and unzipped his trousers.

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