"The Long Run"Edit
When Calvin Rose was just eight years old, his father locked him in an old dog kennel outside, and threw away the key. The boy never saw his father again, and after three days of hammering away at the chains with a rock, he had resigned himself to death. However, a sudden flash of insight helped Calvin to see the chains in a new light. He could see each flaw, where he had chipped away, and knew that he could free himself if he could muster the strength for one more blow. Even after breaking the chain and escaping the kennel, Calvin knew that his days of running would not be over for a long time.
Calvin ran so hard that night that his legs eventually gave out. He was found by an older man who worked with Haly's Circus; an escape artist, who took him in and showed him all that he knew. Over the following summer, Calvin learned to pick any standard lock and how to escape a straitjacket in a number of ways. After the old man died, he took over the act himself. By the time he was thirteen, he had been slated to be one of the circus' star acts at the biggest show of the year at the Gotham City Spectacular.
The night before that show, however, Mr. Haly took Calvin aside, and asked him to do a private performance where he would have to impress a very special audience. He was hung upside down and locked in his straitjacket, but unusually, they had turned all of the lights down, and he couldn't see the locks. For the first time since the kennel, Calvin felt trapped. As before, though, he had a sudden revelation, and through a perfect state of calm, he escaped by instinct rather than sight. His success impressed the guest, an elderly man, but Calvin could see the sadness that shadowed Mr. Haly's face.
Calvin was taken to the Court of Owls, where they asked him what he knew of the birds. Calvin responded that they ate rats, he supposed. The Grandmaster of the Owls explained that like real owls, they preyed on Gotham City's "rats - evil people - in order to keep the city great. With such a noble cause before him, Calvin agreed to help. They trained him over the years, honing his skills until he was nearly ready to step up and become the Court's private weapon for justice; the Talon.
When the Court deemed him ready, they placed him in their Labyrinth below the city for one last test. He would have to kill his predecessor. The elder Talon put up a fight, but he was too slow compared to Calvin, and when he was at Calvin's mercy, the Court ordered him dead. Obediently, Calvin slit his throat, and immediately was filled with horror at his own actions. The Owls warned him that this murder was just the first trial of the Labyrinth. The second would be to stay down there until he went mad, proving his devotion. After they had left, Calvin merely sat next to his predecessor's body, feeling as though he had allowed the Court to make him a monster.
Following his escapist's instincts, Calvin managed to find his way out of the Labyrinth and back into the Court's secret meeting place. He surprised them, as they had thought no man could possibly escape their trap. The Grandmaster of the Owls, however, was pleased. Having proved his abilities after just one night, Calvin was ready to become the next Talon. With that, Calvin knew he would not be able to escape this trap; the influence of the Court of Owls. He saw in his mind the face of the man he had killed, and knew there would be more to come. For the first time in his life, there was no way out.
Calvin's skill set was unusual for a Talon of the Court of Owls. They usually chose people who were more aggressive. However, Calvin's mix of stealth, infiltration, and escape made him a perfect candidate for his first real mission as a Talon. He was to break into the apartment of the late Eric Washington, whose company Securitus had been developing the most advanced security systems for years. Needless to say, Washington's apartment was equipped with the highest quality systems, as a result of his own paranoia. Since his death, the company - and his apartment - had gone to his twenty-three-year-old daughter Casey, much to the chagrin of his investors. The Court had ordered Calvin to bring an end to the Washington bloodline.
Until he had broken into the apartment and prepared himself for the murder he would have to commit, Calvin had not thought why the Court had not specifically asked him to target Casey Washington. The reason was that Casey had a two-year-old daughter named Sarah. The Court didn't care. He would have to kill them both. Calvin felt trapped, and he sank to the floor, giving Casey the opportunity to realize that he was there. Quickly, Calvin made a decision. He knocked Casey unconscious, scooped her up in one arm and Sarah in the other, and escaped out the front door of the building. He knew the Court would come for all of them, but their deaths would not be on his conscience.
Five years ago, Calvin was hiding out, performing structural repairs on the Trigate Bridge in Gotham City. From up near the tower of the suspension bridge, his boss Roger spotted someone down below, who appeared to be a jumper. With too little time to call the police, Calvin volunteered to check it out. However, when he got down there, he realized that the man he saw was already dead; murdered by a Talon of the Court of Owls. They had found him again. The Talon appeared behind him, and thrust a dagger into Calvin's side. He then chained him up, shoved him in the trunk of a car, and kicked it off the edge of the bridge.
As the car sank into the water, Calvin recalled how Mr. Haly used to tell him stories of Harry Houdini, who had hidden lockpicks by lodging them within the dead, calloused skin of his feet. Calvin had learned to do the same, since, and plucked his pick out, undoing the locks binding him as the water threatened to drown him.
As the Talon stared into the water, he was suddenly surprised to feel Calvin's chains slamming into the side of his head, as Calvin himself demanded to have his pants back. The Talon was bound, and as Calvin tended to his stab wound, the assassin mocked him. The Court does not merely want him dead - they want him back. The stabbing and the car had only been the Talon's idea of a fun test. The Court had plans for Calvin. He would never escape their grasp.
It would be five more years before Calvin knew the truth behind the Talon's words. Regardless, he had never stopped being able to find the perfect calm that helped him escape from every trap. As he would always be an escape artist, he would always be a Talon - but he would never stop running from the Court of Owls.
"The Long Run"Edit
- Talon (Calvin Rose)
- Roger (Dies in this issue)
- Talon (Alton Carver)
- John Grayson (In a photograph only)
- Mary Grayson (In a photograph only)
- C.C. Haly
- Court of Owls
- Casey Washington
- Sarah Washington