- They have attacked your family to draw you out... to make you weak. You cannot go back to the, now unless you are willing to kill them.
- -- Socks
Appearing in "Rotworld: The Red Kingdom, Part Two"
- Maxine Baker (Flashback only)
- Socks (Flashback only)
- John Constantine
- Black Orchid
- Beast Boy
- Cliff Baker (Rotted) (Flashback only)
- Ellen Baker (Rotted) (Flashback only)
- Mary Frazier (Rotted) (Flashback only)
- William Arcane (Flashback only)
- The Red Kingdom
Synopsis for "Rotworld: The Red Kingdom, Part Two"
One year ago, Cliff Baker became infected by The Rot, and soon infected his mother Ellen. Before long, Ellen's mother Mary was also infected, leaving little Maxine and her cat Socks vulnerable and without allies. As Maxine was the Avatar of The Red, the Rot had taken special interest in her, and with the exception of her missing father Buddy, her entire family had been turned against her. Urgently, Socks warned that they should run, or they would be taken as well. Though she didn't want to leaver her mother, Maxine ran after the cat with tears running down her face.
Now, Buddy Baker has received a luke-warm reception at what is now known as The Red Kingdom, in the remains of San Diego. Since his disappearance a year ago, only this and the analogous Green Kingdom in Louisiana remain as sanctuary from the Rot's influence. Buddy explains that when he tried to confront Anton Arcane in the Rot, he and Swamp Thing were trapped there for a year, and have only just emerged in this new, changed world. With little other hope, John Constantine suggests that if Buddy and Swamp Thing can be reunited in this Rotworld, they may have a fighting chance of setting the balance right.
As they speak, great balls of flame begin hurtling over the walls of the sanctuary, killing and burning those in their path. Apparently, Arcane is aware of Buddy's return, and has sent his forces to retrieve him. At the gates, they spy Felix Faust leading an army of Rotlings, Un-Men, and former heroes and villains - now infected by the Rot. The few heroes that still have a connection to the Red fight as best they can against the likes of Deathstroke and Grifter, while Constantine focuses his attention on the wizard Faust. Giving up, Faust wrenches free of Constantine's grasp and explains that they did not come to kill Buddy, merely to send him a message: they have Maxine at Arcane's castle. It is an obvious trap, but Buddy cannot let his daughter remain there. Reluctantly, the protectors of the Red Kingdom agree to join him in his journey, leaving the sanctuary's protection to Shepherd and the Totems.
One year ago, Maxine hid in the woods with Socks at her side, as her former family members called out to her with changed voices. The cat urged her to move, but she couldn't run any longer. Sympathetically, Socks explained that the Rot had grown, and was spreading through the world at an alarming rate, unchecked by Animal Man and Swamp Thing. All remaining hope lay with Maxine, though she was still too young to defend the Red, and maintain balance. Regardless, there would be no use in going back to her family now - not unless she was willing to kill them. They had to run. There was no alternative.
They made their way to a nearby town, where it was obvious that the Rot had spread there, too. Their only hope in stopping it would be in finding help somewhere; perhaps with John Constantine or Woodrue. Maxine's attention was drawn, suddenly, by a sound. Socks warned her not to investigate, but she crawled through the broken window of a diner. Inside was a boy, cowering in a corner. She explained that the monsters were gone for now, and he had nothing to fear from her. She introduced herself, and he introduced himself to her as William Arcane.
Resting in Central City, Buddy and Black Orchid take a moment to talk about where the Green Kingdom might be, and how it is that she is connected to both forces. She mentions something called the Taproot Project, but is prevented from saying more by reports from Beast Boy of a strange smell. What is more troubling is that it is not the Rot he smells, but something animal. Pain shoots through the party's skulls as a sharp sound rings through their minds, and only Steel is unaffected. He looks up to see a gathering of Gorillas led by Grodd, who warns him to take a knee and bow.
- This book was first published on November 7, 2012.
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