“Wait! There’s a third. Ed, wake up!”
Ed’s eyes flutter.
The Riddler slaps his face and hisses. “Wake up!”
Ed opens his eyes and looks into a vast darkness as he feels The Riddler step up beside him. Standing far in the distance, he sees a little boy wearing short pants just like he used to wear on summer days back in elementary school.
“Who’s that?” he asks The Riddler. “And who’s he talking to?”
“One of us.”
“He’s talking to one of us?” Ed asks, confused.
“No, you misunderstand. Come, I’ll show you.”
They start walking towards the scrawny little kid, who turns back to eye them warily. He’s sporting the same glasses Ed wore in elementary school - the ones with the heavy lenses that would incite the other children to make fun of him. Coke bottle glasses. Ed gasps in recognition of his younger self - The Riddler is right. There are three of them now.
“What’s your name? Who are you?” A booming voice echoes out through the darkness.
The little boy turns back to face the direction the voice had come from. “It’s Eddie, Sir.”
“No! Don’t!” The Riddler growls and jumps in front of the boy, pushing him back into Ed’s arms. The little boy looks up at the man that looks an awful lot like him as understanding quickly dawns upon his face. Smart kid.
“Yes,” Ed says gently. “You’re one of us. But stand back here with me and do not engage that man who just asked you who you are, understand? The Riddler’s in charge now. He’ll keep us safe.”
“Don’t what?” The sinister gleam in Professor Strange’s eyes is all too familiar to The Riddler as he leans over him.
Where is he? He should be dead. He jerks his hands up only to find them cuffed to some fancy gurney that he’s lying on, in some room that looks like a cross between a formal dining room and a hospital ward – Wait! He recognizes the place. The Van Dahl estate - Penguin’s former residence. His former residence when he was chief of staff to Mayor Cobblepot, well when Ed was anyway. What the hell is he doing here?
“I asked you a question, Ed. Or is it Eddie now?” Professor Strange asks.
“It’s not Eddie,” he says lowly, his eyes darting around. There are monitors about but he’s not hooked up to any of them. And beside him lies . . . her.
Professor Strange clucks his tongue and says, “My, you’re calm. I wasn’t expecting that .”
“Calm?” he practically yells, his eyes still darting about. “You think I’m calm? What have you done to her? What have you done to Lee?”
The Riddler tugs at his cuffs while Professor Strange stays calm, taking it all in stride. It’s obvious that the grotesque mad scientist is evaluating him as a specimen and he wonders what hideous science had been performed on him and Lee.
Strange says, “Hmmm . . . I was expecting you to be a little less . . . lucid . A a bit more . . . fractured .”
“But I suspect your mental incapacities have given you an advantage in this case, an edge if you will. You’re in familiar territory.” Strange turns to face Lee, places a hand on her belly. “I don’t expect her to fare as well.”
Seeing his hand on her belly turns something in his own.
“It’s a good thing you cut her where you did,” Strange says. “Nice and high. I may not have been able to save her otherwise.”
The Riddler feels sick as Ed screams in his head, his raw emotions making it difficult to think. “Shut up!”
Strange gives a little snort, “I don’t think you’re in any position to tell me what –“
“I was talking to Ed,” The Riddler says nastily.
“Ed. Oh, I see. Then who are you?”
“Your worst nightmare!” The Riddler growls as he overturns the gurney, taking Professor Strange down with him.