"First Strike": Calvin Rose has been tasked with infiltrating the Orchard Hotel. While the hotel appears merely to be an upscale hotel, it also houses the key to the Court of Owls' wealth and power in Gotham City. As such, in thei
- The Court finds frightened children like us and transforms them into monsters. But we can't let them win. we can't just keep succumbing to the fear. There's another way. A way to forge your own legacy.
- -- Calvin Rose
Appearing in "First Strike"
- Sebastian Clark (Flashback and main story)
- Court of Owls (Flashback and main story)
- Orchard Hotel (Destroyed)
- Tomb of the Unworthy
- Manhattan (Mentioned only)
Synopsis for "First Strike"
Calvin Rose has been tasked with infiltrating the Orchard Hotel. While the hotel appears merely to be an upscale hotel, it also houses the key to the Court of Owls' wealth and power in Gotham City. As such, in their plan to dismantle the Court, Calvin and Sebastian Clark have chosen the hotel as their first target. In addition to housing the greatest horde of wealth on the continent, the hotel is also supposed to house the Court's files on Calvin, and the locations of Sarah and Casey Washington, the two people he saved from the Court, spurring his exile.
Despite Sebastian's careful planning, he is not trained in the field, and as such, the infiltration does not go perfectly. Fortunately, Calvin manages to overcome the guards he encounters quickly, and tranquilizes them for the moment. Having been given a device by Sebastian to circumvent the locking mechanism on the door to the vault known as Eden, Calvin angers his assistant by simply taking the key from a guard, and opening the door. Unfortunately, using the key actually activates the internal systems, and Calvin can no longer go unnoticed while there.
In any case, Calvin steps into Eden, a room packed with tables and shelves adorned with such valuables that the Court could continue to fund itself for a year with just one of those tables. This is why it is so important that Eden be destroyed. Still, Calvin's priority is to protect the Washingtons, and so his goal is the file first and Eden second. Unfortunately, Eden is protected by a Talon - one of the undead assassins that the Court culled from Haly's Circus. Using a new device - a sonic gun - Calvin projects a sound across the hall, allowing him to sneak by unnoticed.
Carefully, Calvin breaks into the central chamber of Eden; the once personal office of R.H. Orchard, founder of the hotel. Sebastian claims that the file is located within a safe somewhere in the room. This safe was designed by Lee Markand, famous for building safes directly into the architecture. Calvin has been a fan of Markand's work for some time, and after discovering it on the floor beneath a rug, he soon has it opened. He is surprised and disappointed to find no files within the safe - only a golden mask.
Expressing his incredulity, Calvin is startled to hear the response of the Talon. The mask is the mask of the grandmasters. It was made by the man who formed the court of owls, forged from pure gold. It has since been passed down from leader to leader, and is the symbol of ultimate authority over the Court's resources. Angrily, the Talon snatches the mask away from him, introducing himself as Benjamin Orchard, the son of R.H. Orchard. The mask, the hotel, and Eden are all his birthright, he believes. This, despite the fact that he shunned that birthright and ran away to the circus, where he was later recruited as a Talon by his contempt-filled father. After only a year as a Talon, Benjamin was replaced and killed, but he has since been brought back.
With Benjamin's sword to his throat, Calvin asks Sebastian if the guards from before are out of range. After reluctantly confirming it, Calvin presses a remote detonator, blowing several incendiary bombs that he planted in the walls on his way into the hotel. The heat from them will soon turn Eden into an oven that will melt all of the precious metals within it down, and it will harden, preventing any opportunity for the Court to get in to Eden without demolishing the hotel itself. Having lost his legacy, Benjamin falls to his knees, and Calvin takes pity on him, knowing himself what the man went through to become a Talon. He begs him to come with him, to help bring down the Court. Angrily, Sebastian warns Calvin to grab the mask and get out of there with his life intact. Benjamin refuses to leave his inheritance behind, and Calvin is forced to snatch the mask and run. As Calvin gets free, Benjamin is killed by the heat of the molten gold dripping down and enveloping him.
Sebastian chastises Calvin for even thinking of recruiting a Talon, refusing to acknowledge the fact that he had lied about the file. As far as he is concerned, the Court is pure evil, and it is for the greater good that they work to dismantle it. Regardless of the horrors that Sebastian has seen the Court commit, Calvin's priority is the safety of the Washingtons. He agreed to dismantle the Court in any case, but they will always come first. Annoyed, he leaves Sebastian to himself, intending to go to Manhattan and check on the Sarah and Casey.
Elsewhere, the Court has realized the threat that Calvin poses, and are forced to take a desperate measure. They will revive a particular Talon from the so-called Tomb of the Unworthy, a place where the Talons who were unfit to serve the Court were laid to rest. To put an end to Calvin's plans, they have chosen Felix Harmon, a man who earned himself the moniker of "The Gotham Butcher" when he killed 140 untargeted civilians and two members of the Court while he was a Talon, merely because he was bored. They have since taken the precaution to add a freezing bomb to his head, ensuring that he will not become bored again in his service. Awake at last, Felix is eager to kill again.
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