Batman: Knightfall (part 1 of 2)
Batman races against time and death to stop a killer. While his his greatest foe yet prepares to break him.
This is my Batman 6: Knightfall part 1. It has taken me quite a while to write, and get posted. I hope you like it, it isn’t that long, there are a lot of pictures in it. Let me know what you think, enjoy.
One quick thing though. Bane is a difficult character to cast, there are only a handful of people with his build in the world, and since he isn’t a slobbering brute, I decided to cast someone with actual talent. I chose Javier Bardem as Bane, exercise and CGI can make him into the muscle bound monster we know and love.
Here are the links to my other Batman stories
Batman: End of Days
Batman 4 Dark Side of the Mind
Shadow of the Bat:Part 1
“Gotham, an insane asylum run by the inmates. Here madness is a disease, one for which there is no cure, only a Batman.”
Gotham City is shown from above as construction crew’s bustle about the city, trying to repair the damage from the Joker and Firefly’s fires.
As the city is shown a deep voice is heard “Gotham City, a city racked with death and destruction has been through nearly every imaginable for of attack. From historical battles to terrorist attacks, Gotham city has always persevered, yet these latest attacks have pushed the city to its limit. Several years ago the city was stable, held together by the strength of two intertwined groups, the city itself and the crime lords. Their control kept the darker elements of the city under control and the innocents were spared the horrors that lurked beneath the surface. But then a misguided man appeared and upset the balance of power, freeing these monsters from the gates of Tartarus. He did this with good intentions, but the road to damnation is paved with good intentions. Because of his actions countless people lost their lives. A monster known as the Joker held the city in a state of near anarchy, until the Batman severed his hold on the city. Shortly after another killer held the city in fear, the killer known as the Calendar Man fed on the city’s darker elements costing the lives of the innocent. After his demise more fiends rose to take his place, the Black mask and the thief known as The Riddler. The Riddler nearly destroyed the city in one swoop, but the Batman stopped him, further cementing the city’s reliance on him. And only a few months ago the Joker corrupted a woman while manipulating Firefly and Black Mask into helping him destroy the city, and he nearly succeeded. He poisoned the city’s water supply, Batman tried to prevent a large death tole by destroying the water supply. The Joker had anticipated this move and set explosives throughout the city, nearly consuming it in flames. But again Gotham survived and began to rebuild, the future seemed bright, but little did they know they had yet to see their darkest hour. For in order for them to truly be safe the proper balance must be restored, and a dark knight must fall. That is my purpose.”
The sun showed bright over Gotham City in the late afternoon, more specifically it shown over the new Dickerson Memorial Courthouse. Inside this monument to the recently deceased mayor a hearing was under way, an elderly judge sat high in his seat overlooking the defendant. The defendant was a strikingly beautiful woman that sat calmly in her seat as she awaited the judge’s verdict “Will the defendant rise. Selina Kyle in light of your cooperation with various investigations and the special circumstances in which you helped capture one Edward Nigma, this court hereby grants your parole.” Selina smiled to herself as the judge continued to ramble on about the conditions of her parole, she heard none of it. After a while she was dismissed from the proceedings and walked out of the courthouse in to the bright light of freedom. Parked in front of the courthouse, she saw a blonde woman in a shiny red convertible, the girl squealed in delight when she saw Selina and rushed up to hug her. Selina embraced the girl “Holly, so good to see you, I was so worried about you being alone.” Holly brushed some of her hair out of her face as she and Selina walked to the car, Selina stopped besides it “Where did you get this? I know it wasn’t with my money, the police froze my accounts while I was in prison. Holly…you aren’t, you know, are you?” Holly revved up the car and sped off while she laughed to the woman next to her “You mean hooking? No Selina…this was a gift from a certain special someone of yours.” Selina leaned back in the seat and looked sadly off in the distance “You mean Bruce. Has he said anything about me getting out?” Holly glanced at her friend as she maneuvered the car towards the area of Gotham that was being rebuilt from the Joker’s attack “Well Selina, I haven’t seen him since just before he began dating that reporter, and now that she’s dead, and he is the main suspect, he is kinda busy now.” Holly glanced at her friend and saw her sad expression “Well he did sent a gift to the apartment.” She saw Selina brighten slightly as they drove through more construction sites, much of the equipment they passed showed that they were owned by Wayne Enterprises. They sat in silence for a while until they neared their apartment building, Holly laughed “You know, I bet this investigation has put a cramp of Wayne’s nightlife.” Selina looked up into the sky as dusk approached “You know Holly, I somehow seriously doubt that.”
In the dark of night the city’s police force surrounded a recently completed building, an odd thing about this building was that the top third of it was aflame. On the outskirts of the line of police Commissioner James Gordon held a pair of binoculars, scanning the windows, he was interrupted when a large man rushed over to him “Are your boys here yet Commish, I done got the ladder truck already.” Harvey Bullock a man fiercely loyal to Gordon jerked his thumb back towards a ladder truck waiting just off of the site. Gordon shook his head at what he assumed was a joke, he turned back to his car to see Batman standing on the roof “What do we got?” Batman asked in his gruff voice as Gordon radioed to the other officers “Alright guys I want the perimeter dropped back by two-hundred yards.” Gordon hung up the radio and turned towards Batman, there was something different about him, he seemed weaker “Firefly and Zsasz both escaped from their cells at the Williams Medical Center this morning, we don’t know how, by all reports the doors just opened. They killed two cops and stole their weapons, and grabbed a car full with three little girls. We don’t know if they’re still alive so we can’t rush the building” He turned towards Bullock to tell him to grab something, when he turned around Batman was gone.
The rest of the cops heard Gordon’s orders to fall back and complied, all but on young detective. This woman had been recently transferred to Gotham a week earlier, and she was curious as to why Gordon pulled everyone back from the building when all this nut-job, what was he called Firefly? Had was a flamethrower, the other guy simply had a knife, she knew this might be her chance to see the fabled Batman. The woman picked a back lock on the door to the completed office building; she quietly entered and drew her gun. She looked around the lobby and made her way towards a dark stairwell; she pulled out a small flashlight and scanned about the area before her. She could see that several of the floors she passed needed to be finished, but other than that, nothing. Still, as she made her way up another series of steps, she felt like she was being watched
Above in the stairwell the camera shows the POV of someone watching her from above as she passed below them. The person quietly dropped to the set of stairs just behind her.
The woman quickly spun around, only to see nothing behind her, taking a deep breath she turned around. She screamed as she saw a man with a blade come towards her. She brought her gun up but Zsasz knocked it out of her grasp, she heard it fall down into the darkness below her. Zsasz slashed at her with the knife, but she rolled backwards down the stairs and pulled something out of her boot. Zsasz descended on her as she stabbed down with her own knife, she ran up the stairs as Zsasz screamed, she took a moment to look back and saw that the knife had gone through his hand and pinned it to his leg. She ran onto the nearest floor of the building, it was warmer, she must be near the floor Firefly had set flame to, the woman looked around to realize she had dropped the light in the stairwell! She moved about in the dark, the only light was provided by the flames visible through the windows, she heard the stairwell door close behind her “You should have done that lady, it’ll leave two scars, that means I will have to kill two people tonight, and guess who is going to be one of them”
A few floors above, Firefly was busy increasing the amount of flames on the floor, he wasn’t going to let the cops take him, if he was going to go he was going to take this building with him. Zsasz, not wanting to be burned alive, had left to seek his own way out. Firefly heard a crash from behind him, he saw that one of the windows had shattered, HE was here. Firefly turned a knob on his makeshift flamethrower, he had to cobble together something since his gear was confiscated by the police. Firefly made his way to the window, when he was tackled from behind, and he and Batman crashed through another window. As they fell through the air Batman shot his grapple, catching the ledge, Batman timed it just right and they crashed through a lower window.
The woman tried to make her way to the window, hoping to signal for help, but Zsasz appeared between her and the window. He slowly approached her, knife at the ready, he gave her a sick smile as the window and two men crashed into the room. They landed on Zsasz, knocking him unconscious, one of the men she immediately recognized as Batman. He leaned over and cuffed the two men and looked to her “Can you handle it from here?” He asked, before she could answer he dove out the open window. A short time later Gordon and several other officers rushed into the room, guns at the ready, they saw the woman sitting on a pile of equipment with a sheepish smile on her face next two the criminals and the hostages. Bullock stood next to Gordon “Looks like we didn’t need the truck… for once.” Gordon sighed as his men took the criminals into custody.
On a roof top across from the flaming building a large man sat watching the whole conflict with the aid of a pair of binoculars. The man’s face was hardened and battle weary, he silently passed the binoculars to a tall skinny associate of his, and walked off. As he leaves, the man’s deep gruff voice is heard
“Slowly I have been stalking him, studying his every move, the people who brought me to this city want the deed done quickly, but this man is different from an ordinary opponent, he may be the fight of a lifetime, I am not yet ready to fight him, I must learn more. So as I wait the mob will wait.”
Across town a man stumbles into an apartment in the middle of the night, he is shaking and looking at his hands. He goes over to a lamp and turns it on, the man is Hugo Strange. He seems lost and confused, he looks at his trembling hands and sees that they are covered in blood, and it’s not his blood. An eerie laughter can be heard, Strange hold his hands to his ears and cries to himself, wishing it all away.
In a slum in a rougher part of Gotham, a body lay bleeding in an alleyway. The man had a number five cut into his chest.
Bruce Wayne was doing pushups the next morning when there was a knock at his door. Bruce crossed the room and opened the door to see Dick Grayson standing in the doorway, Bruce motioned for him to enter. Dick looked about the room nervously “Look, about last night… I know I let you down, it’s just these college classes are killing me, and having to live on campus makes it even harder to you know.” Bruce emerged dressed from his closet and began straitening his tie “Don’t worry about it, we agreed that your education comes first, and besides it was only Firefly and Zsasz.”Dick clapped his hands together as he looked out the window “Okay then. Hey good news is since it is Friday and I have no classes, I can help out this weekend.” He turned to see that Bruce had already left the room.
Commissioner Gordon sat in his office going over various crime scene photos from the murder the night before. The man was a cop long suspected of corruption, he had been on the force nearly as long as Gordon, the man worked as a forensic examiner, Evan Newman was his name and yesterday was the 5th if Gordon remembered correctly, he sat puzzling over possible motives for a moment until he heard a knock on his door and looked up as Bullock and the woman from the night before walked in. Gordon sat up and put the photos aside “Harvey, I’d like you to meet Renee Montoya, your new partner.” Both Bullock and Montoya bolted up their chairs, Bullock responded with his typical tact “Look Commish, I don’t want to go out on patrol with her, she nearly got herself killed. I don’t want her rushing into something that could get me shot!” Montoya looked at Bullock with equal animosity “Well the commissioner put us together, I don’t like the idea of having an overweight slob as back up, for all I know you may pass out getting up from your chair.” Gordon closed up a folder “Well I’m glad that’s settled, now if you excuse me, I have an important lunch date.” Gordon said as he left the two arguing in his office.
Gordon walked into a restaurant and looked around until he saw a lovely young red head at a table.
He walked up to her and kissed her on the cheek “Hello sweetheart.” The red head looked back at him as he sat down at the table “I almost didn’t think you’d make it, what with your job and everything.” Gordon ordered from his menu and said “We needed this, it’s the first chance we’ve had to talk, just the two of us, since you came back.” The girl sat her glass down on the table “How are you holding up Dad?” Gordon looked down for a moment before addressing his daughter “As well as can be expected Barbara, I miss your mother, but having you here to help with the kids is nice, I really appreciate it.” Barbara Gordon put her hand on top of her fathers and just held it, comforting him.
The deep voice returned as Gordon talked with his daughter “In his last attack the Joker robbed a decent man of his only love, nearly breaking him. Gordon represents order and is the opposite of agents of chaos like the Joker, and chaos’s more subtle agents like the Bat. Chaos should be destroyed in all of its forms so that people like the Gordon’s do not suffer, that is where I come in.”
The large man known as Bane sat in a chair facing a window that overlooked the city, his employers had given him a penthouse suite at one of Gotham’s top hotels, it was a place where at times he could get some semblance of peace, this however was not one of those times. The man who had hired Bane stood behind him attempting to establish some stance of dominance, Bane mused “Look Bane you were brought here by my employer to do a job, he has gone through much trouble regain much of his power, but he can’t finish his goal with Batman and the rival bosses alive.”Bane let out a sigh “I care not for the needs of your employer, I only care about eliminating Batman, for as long as he is around there can be no order in this city.” The man studied Bane for a moment “What do you mean exactly?” Bane stood up and towered over the smaller man “Mr. Ramirez, I believe in order, I have seen what happens in a place with complete lack of order, Batman and his war on your kind, has disrupted this city’s order. This city is on the verge of collapse, people like this Joker are proof enough of that, the city’s dark side is out of control and needs a firm hand to control it.”
Bruce Wayne was going through a difficult time, he was the primary suspect in Vespers death, and the courts had required that he see a psychiatrist once a week for evaluation. The psychiatrist the court had assigned to him was none other than Dr. Hugo Strange, former head of Arkham Asylum, now temporary head of Williams Medical Center, the mental institution where criminals were sent until Arkham is rebuilt. He usually dreaded coming to Strange’s sessions, but this time he hoped to find some sort of clue as to how Firefly and Zsasz escaped. He followed his armed guard through the asylum to Dr. Strange’s office, the guard nodded to Bruce as he took a deep breath and entered the office to see strange smiling at him as always “Ah Bruce! Please do set down.” Strange pulled out a pen and paper before addressing Bruce “Well, to begin today I thought we’d discuss something called Zoological Altruism, that is instinctive cooperative behavior that is detrimental to the individual but contributes to the survival of the species, you may know it as a ‘Hero Complex’.” The doctor said with a strange smiled, Bruce had long suspected that Strange was suspicious of his secret that he was Batman, but thus far Strange had made no suggestion towards the fact, until now. “Many people suffering from this condition suffer from personal tragedy, such as you. Many feel that since they are gifted with an ability or wealth, as you posses, they feel it is their duty to ‘help’ others, while they don’t realize the ramifications their actions may have. Many people with a hero complex are beneficial to both society and themselves, while others take a darker path. They sacrifice everything to carry out a self given mission at the expense of others, especially those they love, as you have done Mr. Wayne, or should I say Batman?”
Bruce tensed for a slight moment, to most people it would go unnoticed, but not to a trained eye like Strange’s. Bruce laughed “Yeah, like I’m the type to run around at night in a cape, jumping off of rooftops, I’m sorry doctor, but I gave up games like that when I was a kid.” Strange smiled as his eyes peered at Bruce from over his glasses “Did you Bruce? Or after the deaths of your parents did you retreat into the world of fantasy, losing yourself in the process. Don’t misunderstand me, I am grateful for you saving me from the Joker. I think I know why you may have killed Ms. Fairchild, I believe she discovered your secret and after her kidnapping and your rescue of her, you became fearful she may be forced to reveal your identity. And perhaps due to the stress you had just experienced, both mental and physical, another part of your subconscious broke off to ensure that no one would have been able to force the information out of Vesper. An instinctive part of your mind took over unknown to you and eliminated the possible threat she posed, this would account for your lack of knowledge of her death and you’re not having an alibi.” Bruce sat there in deep thought, he had to admit Strange’s argument would be convincing to most people, but most people had not undergone the training Bruce has, and he knew he did not kill vesper, he loved her. “Dr. Strange, that’s impossible, and besides. Do you have proof that I’m a superhero?” Bruce nodded at Strange’s silence as he stood and left.
Strange watched Bruce leave and sat back in his chair with a smile to review over patients charts. He sat up abruptly as he thought he heard a whisper of a familiar voice, he heard nothing and went back to reading. The voice came again, this time repeating itself over and over “Bruce Wayne Batman Bruce Wayne Batman Bruce Wayne Batman Bruce Wayne Batman Bruce Wayne Batman Bruce Wayne Batman!” The voice continued, building in intensity as Strange covered his head with his arms on his desk, hoping to block the noise out. He couldn’t stand this much longer, he had to do something!
Dick Grayson had just recently begun his first semester at college, this cut into his time assisting Batman. He sat in his English class barely paying attention to the teacher, most of his attention was focused on Batman’s new case, how did Zsasz and Firefly escape from the asylum? Things had been tough for Bruce lately, Batman and Robin had searched for weeks for any clue as to who killed Vesper Fairchild, the only thing they had found was that the gun with Bruce’s fingerprints was the one he had grabbed from an inmate at Arkham, and they could not tell the police that peace of information. Dick paid no attention to the class until a student came in late near the end of class, the teacher spoke to the new student “Miss Gordon, I was told you would be transferring here, take a seat anywhere.” The girl took the seat next to him and he looked up, she was a beautiful redhead who smiled and looked at Dick “Hey, my name’s Barbara, Barbara Gordon.” “Dick Grayson.” He replied with a smile “Are you?” “Commissioner Gordon’s daughter? Yes.” She finished with a smile, it was a sad smile just same. Dick leaned over to her “hey you want to get something to eat later?” He said hopefully, she looked at him hesitantly and bit her lip a bit “Maybe.” She said as class ended and got up to leave, Dick stood to follow her “Maybe? What kind of an answer is maybe?” She smiled back at him “Maybe is maybe.” Dick followed her out into the hall “So, maybe I’ll pick you up later?” She smiled at him “And maybe I’ll be at my dad’s around 7:00.” Dick stopped following her as she went into a classroom “I’ll see you there!” He turned to go when she stuck her head out the door “Maybe.” She said with a wink.
Bruce stood inside Lucius Fox’s office looking at the ongoing construction in the city, Lucius walked up to him “Good to see you Mr. Wayne, I have something you are going to love.” He said putting his arm on Bruce’s back as they walked to the elevator hidden in his office and descended to the R&D section.
Lucius led Bruce over to a box and pulled out a handle like device, with rings on one side and a strap on the other “This is a little something called an electric stunner. Basically it is a high powered taser, it can deliver two shocks without a recharge.” Bruce reached out to grab it, but Lucius caught his hand “Be a little careful, this little sucker can bring down a raging bull.” Bruce smiled “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to read the directions on this one.”Lucius smiled as he walked Bruce out.
Dick had taken Barbara out to a nice dinner and was showing her around the campus, they came to the gym area that was nearly deserted except for few a people, all of these people stood by and watched one man. This man was blonde and had an Adonis like physique, the man was for lack of a better term perfect. The man was in the middle of doing bench reps at nearly six hundred pounds, he moved like a machine, his face revealing no hint of struggle, only stone cold resolve. Barbara grabbed Dick’s arm “Who is that?” Dick continued to watch the man and said “That’s Jean Paul Valley.” Barbara snorted “What is he just another muscle bound jock?” Dick shook his head “No. He’s probably the strongest guy at the university, and one of the smartest. He has to be his dad was some elite Special Forces operative for the army.” Barbara looked at him “What do you mean was?” “His dad was killed a while back.” Barbara was unable to respond because the people were applauding Jean Paul as he finished his reps. He just looked at them blankly for a moment, as if he hadn’t realized they were there, he smiled and gathered his things to leave as he did he saw Dick and Barbara by the door “Hey Dick! Ready for that ECON exam on Monday?” Dick returned the smile and shook his head “Yeah, but not as ready as you I’m sure. Oh! This is Barbara Gordon, Barbara Jean Paul Valley.” Barbara held out her hand to Jean Paul who kissed it, she blushed slightly as he said “Charmed.” Valley excused himself from them and left Barbara and Dick to finish their walk.
Selina sat on the seal of her apartment window looking out at the approaching Gotham night, she absentmindedly scratched the ear of her black cat and turned her head as Holly approached her “You alright Selina?” Selina smiled and looked at the city “Yeah, I just miss the thrill of it all. In prison I didn’t have the temptation of just, just doing it. It felt so great, when I did that, I felt free. And when I was in prison I looked forward to feeling free, but now I feel trapped, I know I’m free, but I’m not. I’m sorry Holly, I know I’m not making any sense.” Holly laid her hand on Selina’s shoulder “It’s alright, it’s alright.”
In the shadows of a rooftop not far away Batman stood in the shadows watching Selina, he wanted to see her, but it wouldn’t look good for Bruce Wayne, the man convicted of killing his girlfriend to be seen with the woman he used to date, who happened to be Catwoman. Batman sighed and made his way off of the roof to continue his patrol of the city. Unbeknownst to Batman someone stood on a nearby rooftop watching him.
Bane watched Batman as he stood staring at Selina’s window “Every hero wishes to have their burden taken from them, so that they can be with those they love, this hero is no different. But he distances himself from those he loves, he feels they are a weakness that others can exploit.”
Bruce was leaving yet another treatment session with Strange, he could barely drive himself back to Wayne Manor and get down to the Batcave, and he had not been getting mush rest lately. Crime had increased drastically since the Joker’s attack and he was out every night, and spent most of his days trying to play the respectable billionaire who was the prime suspect in his girlfriend’s murder. And to top it all off Selina had called again and he had missed her again. Bruce looked at the clock, he had a few hours until dark, and he would call her later, but first sleep he thought as he collapsed in a chair.
Dick and Barbara sat at lunch with Jean Paul at the campus cafeteria, in the short month since she had returned to Gotham Bruce and Barbara had become close, very close. And the thing that surprised Dick most was the fact that Jean Paul was beginning to open up to them. Barbara finally broke down and asked him “Jean Paul, you are a few years older than the rest of us, and I know you’re smart so, you didn’t fail…” Jean Paul laughed lightly “You know I’m surprised it took someone this long to ask me, no I didn’t fail, I entered the service after school.” Dick looked at his friend surprised “You’re kidding you’re what branch?” Jean Paul shook his head “That’s a little complicated, well I told you my dad was in the special forces, well he wasn’t in one particular branch. After I graduated high school dad arranged for me to immediately enter basic, from there I went to the SEAL, the Green Berets, and the Rangers, by that time my dad had retired from the military to become a cop here in Gotham. Me I had just been sent over to serve with my dad’s old unit in Afghanistan, when I found out the news. He had been killed by a gangster named Jesus Ramirez, the guy got off on a technicality. After that I just sort of went into auto, the doctors said I was unfit for duty and sent me home, I’ve gotten a lot better since then… you know what my dad’s nickname was? Azrael, it means angel of death.” Barbara laid her hand on Jean Paul’s and he looked back at her with an appreciative smile. Dick watched them and looked at his watch, he had to meet Bruce “Well guys, I hate to do this, but I need to go meet Bruce for something, Barbara, you want me to walk me back to your room?” She laughed “What do you think this is the fifties? I can find my way back to the dorms just fine.” Dick bent over and kissed her on the cheek, he looked at Jean Paul with a smile “Hey man take care of her for me will you?” Jean Paul wrapped his arm around Barbara, who hugged up to him over exaggeratedly “Oh don’t worry buddy, I’ll take good care of her.”
Robin sat by Batman in the Batmobile as they drove to a crime scene, Gordon had informed them of yet another number themed murder on the Gotham docks, they pulled up a short distance away from the police and made their way to Gordon, who pointed to a body bag “Nicky Inez, a Gotham Union Boss suspected of corruption. He was choked to death with a chain and then chained to a shipping container which has over twenty million worth of Cocaine in it.”
Gordon handed Batman a picture of the body “He also had a number carved into his chest, the number fourteen.” Robin looked over the crime photos “The same number as the first letter of his name.” Gordon nodded “It sounds an awful lot like Julian Day, the Calendar Man.” Batman nodded “It certainly is Day’s MO, but before he was motivated by revenge, now I’m not seeing a motive. This is more the Joker’s style, but he is still locked up.” Batman noticed Robin looking at the crate where the chains still hung “Whoever did this wasn’t that strong, the chains are not hooked as tightly as they could be.” Gordon looked at Batman who nodded approvingly “And…” Robin looked up “And what?” Batman walked over to the chains “Look at the height, whoever did this hung them rather low.” So?” Batman looked over at Robin “The Calendar Man was 6’, and whoever did this obviously struggled to place the chains at this height, I estimate the killer to be about 5’6”.” Batman said as turned back towards Gordon, only to see Bullock and Montoya approaching, he motioned to Robin and they left. Bullock walked up to Gordon “I still don’t like us turning to him Commish. The guy is still wanted for murder!” Montoya sighed “Give it a rest Harvey, the Batman has done more good for this city than you think, he gives the city something it needs more than law and order, more than us, he gives it hope.”
Selina Kyle walked down the street towards her apartment that evening, she had needed a walk to clear her head, she still had not heard from Bruce, and she missed the ‘fun’ they used to have. She walked past an alleyway when she heard a whistle, she turned to see three men walking towards her, one of them pulled out a knife “Hey there pretty lady. We thought you could use some company.” Selina saw the other two trying to circle her “You don’t have anything to offer me, now beat it!” The men smiled and closed in on her she turned to see two more men approach from another alley. They all rush her at once, Selina kicked the man with the knife in the groin causing him to double over with pain. A man grabbed her from behind while another came at her from the front, she planted her feet against the man in front of her and kicked off of him, head butting the man holding her. She landed hard on the ground as the others surrounded her, before she could move a large figure dropped behind them, he reached out and grabbed one of the men and held him high in the air, he threw the man into the wall, snapping his neck. The other two remaining men backed up in fear as Bane walked out of the shadows and into the lamp light, Bane grabbed one of the men’s arms and squeezed, snapping the arm, he then swung the man into the other man knocking them out. Bane walked over to Selina and lifted her to her feet “Tell Batman that Bane has come to Gotham, for him.” Bane said as he disappeared into an alley.
Batman and Robin stood on the rooftop of building overlooking the city below them, Robin looked uncomfortable for a moment “Hey, if you want I can take over patrols for a few nights so you can catch up on some rest. You look worn, and you need to be in top shape if you’re going to be doing this every night.” Batman put down a pair of binoculars he had been using “I can’t rest now. There are nearly two dozen prisoners loose from Arkham including Killer Croc, Scarecrow, and the Calendar man, who appears to be on another murder spree that so far has no connections or leads. And we still haven’t found out anything about Vesper’s murder, the only reason I’m not in jail is Alfred was able to get me a good alibi.” Robin looked solemn for a moment, at least he had tried, he was about to say something when a red light began to glow on Batman’s belt. He reached down and pulled up a red phone-like device with a screen that displayed the image of a bat and then switched to an address, Batman aimed a grapple at a building below them and swung off into the dark, followed by a reluctant Robin. They arrived via Batmobile a short time later at a jewelry store in the financial district of Gotham, there they found Gordon inspecting a door that had been ripped clean from its hinges, and Gordon motioned them inside when he saw them. When they were inside he spoke to them in a hushed voice “This place was hit by a four man team about an hour ago, they ripped the door from its hinges and killed three of the four guards. They got away before my men arrived, but they robbed a deli about fifteen minutes ago, the body of the last guard, his throat had been ripped out by sharp teeth. Now either that team has a trained alligator or it was-“ “Killer Croc”
Batman finished grimly, as Gordon handed him pictures from the security cameras of four masked men, one of which was extremely large in stature. Batman handed the pictures to Robin, one of which showed the large man, presumably Croc, ripping the door from its hinges, Robin looked up at Batman “So how bad is this guy?” Batman bent over and pulled a piece of what appeared to be skin from a broken display case “He is strong and quick, but not smart, you can stay ahead of him, but don’t take him lightly. He is not an idiot, he was able to rise to be the right hand man in one of Gotham’s top crime families that is until he ate his boss.” Batman said as he put the skin sample in a container. Robin examined the door to the back storeroom “This was back during the first Calendar Man case?” Batman nodded, and motioned for them to leave.
Batman stood before a computer in the Batcave analyzing the skin sample, it was indeed Waylon Jones the Killer Croc, “This complicates things.” Batman said as Alfred walked up behind him “It never fails to amaze me sir how you can hear me coming from a mile away. I just wanted to see if you would be having breakfast this morning, it is nearly 9:00AM.” Batman did not respond, so Alfred continued “You know even if you aren’t going to sleep you should at least eat something to keep up your strength. You look near death.” Batman turned to Alfred “I don’t have time to sleep, I have twenty computer programs running trying to find a link between these two murder victims with numbers carved into their chests, I’m trying to locate Killer Croc, while trying to prove Bruce Wayne’s innocence for Vesper’s death. I’ll take a nice long rest when all of this is over.” Alfred walked up to Batman and put his hands on Batman’s shoulders “Master Bruce, you’ve been like a son to me, and I’m worried that in trying to save this world from madness you yourself are slowly succumbing to it, you’re even referring to Bruce Wayne as another person. I’m afraid that if this ever ends you will be taking a rest, a permanent one. I don’t want to see it happen.” Alfred wiped a tear from his eye and began to walk away, as he did he turned back around “Oh and I’m afraid you have a guest that bears more bad news, she’s on her way down.” Alfred said as he walked towards the chamber with the elevator, as he left the room Selina Kyle walked in “So this is your amazing base, your very own Fortress of Solitude?” Batman stood there over her “What do you want Selina?” Selina chuckled “Why yes I’m fine Bruce, don’t worry about not calling me or avoiding me. I came to deliver a message.” Batman removed his cowl, revealing the tired and worn face of Bruce Wayne “I’m sorry Selina, I’ve been under a lot lately, and—“ He was cut off as she wince sympathetically and put her hand out to feel his face gently “It’s okay Bruce, I understand, all you’ve been through.” Bruce held her hand “You had better stay away, everyone I love seems to die for it.” Selina smiled and pulled him to her “I’m not dead, yet.” She said as she pulled him close and kissed him passionately, he held her there for a moment and felt as if all of his troubles had disappeared, then he thought of Vesper and pushed Selina away, feeling guilty “I’m sorry, it isn’t right, she’s only been dead a short time, and it isn’t right, not now.” Selina smiled “Well I can wait. But on to the reason I am here. Last night I was attacked by several street toughs and now a lot of em are dead. I didn’t do it, but a large man in a mask came out of nowhere and killed them, he told me to tell you ‘Bane has come to Gotham, for you’. I don’t know any more.” Bruce held his hand in his chin “I’m glad you’re safe, I’ve never heard of a Bane, I’ll look into it later, but for now, how would you feel about breakfast?”
A few minutes later Bruce was changed and sitting at the table with Selina, while Alfred excused himself from the room “How is Holly doing?” Selina nodded as she cut a piece of sausage “Holly’s …Holly, she still has the same old since of humor, but she is still clean and sober, and I have you to thank for that.” Bruce smiled a little “Good. So Selina, how have things been going since you were released, are you…adjusting okay?” Selina smiled and patted Bruce’s hand “I’m doing good, it’s nice to be out. I do miss the night life a little bit. All of the fun times we had together.” Bruce’s face darkened a bit “Selina I hope you aren’t going to…” Selina smiled sadly “No Bruce sometimes as much as you want to relive the old days, there is no going back.”
Dick was walking to his third class that day when he felt a hand on his shoulder, he spun around grabbing the person, he looked to see an obviously surprised Barbara in his arms “Easy there Rambo, I just wanted to see if you wanted to get lunch.” Dick helped steady her on her feet and said “Sorry Barbara, you just startled me.” They walked into the cafeteria where they were nearly knocked over by an angry Jean Paul as he stormed out, Dick followed him “Hey man what’s wrong?” Jean Paul’s face was read with rage “This Grayson!” He said as he shoved a crumpled up newspaper at Dick “It says the police finally had a witness to my father’s murder, they were finally going to get that Ramirez, and the witness changed her story at the last minute. I’ve had it Dick, I can’t stand by any more.” He said as he walked away. Barbara and Dick watched wide eyed as their friend went off alone.
Gordon stood in his living room watching Barbara read a book to his youngest kids, he had to go on patrol and hated to leave but he had no choice, he walked over and kissed his daughter o the cheek, she looked up at him and brushed back a handful of red hair “You be careful dad, don’t worry about them, I’m here.” Gordon squeezed her shoulder lovingly “Thanks Babs, I’m sure you would much rather be doing something else.” Barbara smiled “No dad, this is where I want to be tonight. Oh I almost forgot to tell you, Dick wants to take me to the circus he used to be with when they come to town next month.” Gordon smiled “of course sweetie, just as long as you two don’t go running off or something.” He kissed her and his other two kids good bye and left.
Hugo Strange stood thrashing about in his office, he clutched his head as he threw furniture and raked things off of desks and shelves
“The voices, the pain.” He muttered to himself “Why won’t you leave me alone?” the noise in his head was a buzzing, but it stopped as did Strange when the voice answered him “Why doctor? Why? Because I want you to give the world the gift that you brought me.” Strange feared to ask the familiar voice, but he did just the same “What gift?” The voice laughed a sick laugh and responded “What is the one thing that is inevitable, but we seek to avoid, what is at the end of the race that we don’t want to finish?” Strange laid down on the floor and held his head “What!” He cried as he collapsed back “Death.” The voice whispered to him as Strange blacked out.
Outside of Strange’s office Bane stood rubbing his chin thoughtfully “Very interesting…” he muttered as he observed Strange’s outburst, he looked down as he heard a car pull up and someone get out of it and approach the building cautiously “Very interesting indeed.” Bane muttered as he turned away from the building. And his voice was heard.
“Insanity. It has been the downfall of great men, but for others it has been, a refuge a sanctuary. Anyone can go insane, all it takes is one very bad day. Anyone is susceptible to insanity, whether it is a school teacher, a German Chancellor, or a doctor. Whatever the case, madness is a terrible thing that for some cannot be avoided. For some, madness follows in their wake, Batman is one of these people.”
Renee Montoya drove her car down a dark street in Gotham, coughing as her partner smoked a cigar “Damn it Harvey, throw that thing out, I can’t breathe!” Bullock looked back at her with a raised eyebrow “Sorry Montoya, but the cigar stays.” Montoya shook her head and sighed, she was about to say something when the radio crackled to life[“All cars, we have a multiple shots fired at 4th and Main, all units in the immediate area please respond.”] Montoya put the light on the roof and flipped on the siren “ This is Montoya, we’re on our way.” She spoke into the radio, as she hung up the radio she reached over and grabbed Bullock’s cigar. Before he could respond she threw it out the window, he looked at her in annoyance “Ya know that’s littering, I outta write you a ticket.” She looked back at him and smiled as she sped towards the gunfire. They stopped about a block away from the firefight, it appeared to be between a car load of men in masks and police, Montoya got closer and saw that it was Killer Croc, he and his men also had hostages, a family of four by the looks of things. Croc and his men had taken cover behind two cars, and had the police pinned down behind their own cars, Montoya motioned for Bullock to follow her, he rolled his eyes and muttered something about getting shot as he followed her towards the battle. Croc’s men were armed with machine guns and were not letting the police get a shot off, Bullock approached an officer and asked him what happened, when he turned back around he saw Montoya was gone “I’m gonna get shot for sure.” Bullock muttered as he followed his partner, he saw her up ahead of him, she was trying to sneak around Croc’s men. Suddenly a large arm reached around one of the cars and grabbed her, Bullock charged forward gun blazing as he tried to save her, he felt a pain in his head and he fell to the ground, he looked up at the grotesque form of Killer Croc holding his partner.
Montoya struggled in Croc’s arms, one of Croc’s men had knocked Harvey in the back of the head with a pistol, knocking him out. Croc stood up with her and shouted in a deep gravelly voice
“You let us go or I swear, I’ll rip her head off!” the cops backed off and Croc and his men loaded up a car and sped off. They were about a mile down the street near the river when they saw tow figures on a building ahead of them, the two figures jumped off of the building as the car passed below them. Batman and Robin landed on the roof of the car denting it, Batman pulled out a small saw and began cutting into the roof, while Robin threw a smoke grenade through the windshield. Smoke billowed from the car as Batman tore back a section of the hood, he had his thermal imager on so he was able to see Montoya, he grabbed her and activated his grapple and they sailed away from the car. Robin jumped off of the car and a moment later the tires on the right side blew, causing the car to roll on its side and crash into a building. Batman sat Montoya down and rushed to the car wreckage. He saw Robin chasing Croc, Robin tried to tackle Croc, but Croc simply grabbed him and swung him into a lamp post, Croc then jumped into the river and disappeared.
Montoya rushed over to Batman, who was helping Robin to his feet and said “Thanks for saving me again, I guess I’m not making the best track record.” She said as she laughed nervously as Batman activated his grapple and swung away, her expression saddened and Robin said “Don’t take it personally, he’s like that with everyone.” He said as he swung away.
Hugo Strange awoke in a haze, he saw bright lights above him, and the blurry faces of someone in medical gear, he tried to move, but couldn’t he was bound to the table, he saw a scalpel come towards him and he blacked out.
Ivan Gibson, a low level enforcer for the Russian mafia walked down a street near Crime Alley, he heard a noise behind him, he turned to see a man in the shadows with a gun, he tried to pull his own gun but the man in the shadows opened fire. Ivan slumped to the ground, barely breathing, the man in the shadows approached him with a deadly looking scalpel, Ivan screamed in the darkness, but no one was there to hear him.
Batman and Robin were in the Batmobile, speeding through the streets of Gotham, Batman heard a beeping on his belt, he pulled up his communicator, and flipped it on “Go ahead Gordon.” Gordon’s voice crackled over the small object “Batman, head to the three hundred block, we have another Calendar Man murder.” Batman and Robin sped towards the crime scene in silence. Batman and Robin swung down from above the crime scene and landed behind Gordon, Gordon turned towards them “His name is Ivan Gibson, he’s a hit man for the Russians, he was shot in the chest and had a number nine carved into his chest, while he was still breathing.” Robin winced a little at that last comment, Batman leaned over the body and saw the bullet wound “It was a 9mm round.” He stated rather than asked, Gordon looked at him in surprise “Yes! How could you tell?” Batman stood up and walked to an alleyway “The date, it’s the ninth day of the ninth month, it would only fit with his MO. The shooter stood here, and shot Gibson, he then approached him with a sharp object, most likely a scalpel, and left without leaving a trace of evidence.” Batman rose from where he had been kneeling and walked over to the body “He never stood a chance.” Batman walked off into the darkness followed by Robin.
Hugo Strange awoke in his home, he stood up and shook his head in an effort to gain his bearings “What… what happened?” He muttered to himself “Do you want to check your pocket?” He heard the voice say, Strange shuddered and reached into his pocket and pulled out a 9mm, and a bloody scalpel. He gasped in horror and dropped the two items and backed up against the wall and slumped to the floor and hung his head and cried in agony, the voice returned “There there there, it will be all right, or will it.” Strange held his head “Am I going crazy?” The voice laughed “When the world is against you, where is the safest place to hide?” Strange shook his head “Where?” “In Sanity.” The voice broke out in laughter, ad was joined by other voices laughing, until it was a tumultuous assault to Strange’s senses.
The next morning Dick was surprised that he had not seen Jean Paul all day, he was nowhere to be found on campus, towards the end of the day he caught up with Barbara “Hey Babs, have you seen Jean Paul?” Barbara shrugged and replied “No, I just assumed he decided to skip a day.” Dick shook his head “No Babs, he never misses, even when he is sick. I’m worried he is going to try something.”
Bruce sat in Dr. Strange’s office holding his hands together, he had only a few minutes left of his session, and Strange had not uttered a word.
Finally Strange looked up and spoke to Bruce “Bruce, in trying to help others as Batman, do you ever feel that you are losing your mind?” The question took Bruce aback slightly “I don’t know how Batman feels, but I know that sometimes if you aren’t carful you can lose yourself into this thing you have created. But you have to take that chance, if it means that you can make a difference or save at least one person, then it is worth the risk.” Strange smiled sadly “Bruce, despite our difficult relationship, I’ve come to look upon you as a friend, a kindred spirit, we both are tortured souls that give our all for others, and we save nothing for ourselves.” Bruce sat with Strange in silence for another half hour after his time was up.
Gordon sat in his office searching through files for some missing clue as to where Julian Day was, where was the Calendar Man. Gordon was interrupted from his thoughts by Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya entering his office, quietly for once “Wow, this is the first time you have both come in that you haven’t been arguing. What can I do for you?” the two sat down opposite of Gordon, Bullock pulled off his hat, revealing a large bandage on the back of his head “It’s time for our evaluation Commish, you said for us to come in today.” Gordon nodded, he had been so busy he had forgotten “Well, how are you two doing together?” Montoya spoke up first “Well, we’ve been partners for a month and I’ve nearly gotten him killed, but other than that it’s been great. Look I’ll understand if Harvey wants a new partner.” Gordon looked to Bullock who looked at the floor “Well Commish to be honest, she is the most annoying, aggravating, horrible, troublesome woman I ever met.” Montoya looked down at the floor and Harvey smiled “But Hell, look at me. There is no one I would rather be partnered with, if she still wants to.” Gordon smiled and clapped his hands together “Well I’m glad to hear that things are working out.”
Bane stood before his window staring out at the city, he had much to think on, but was unable to do so because of the incessant prattling of Ramirez “Mr. Bane my employer is growing impatient, he wants results. You have had more than enough time to kill Batman and I have to meet with the mob leaders that he wants you to kill tonight! He is tired of you waiting, I’m tired of waiting.” Bane turned towards the shorter man “As am I, tell your employer that I will accompany you to this meeting, and I will deal with both our problems.”
Alfred walked through the house searching for Bruce, but he found no trace of him, Alfred sighed and went down to the cave, he found Bruce in front of the computer as usual “Master Bruce, I must insist that you stay in tonight and get some sleep, you have not slept in at least four days. I am worried about you, Master Richard is worried about you, as is Miss Kyle.” Bruce turned from is computer “Selina?” He croaked, his voice sounding more hoarse than usual, Alfred nodded as he sat down a tray of food, next to three other trays that still contained food “Miss Kyle has called often, she knows you’re working and does not wish to disturb you, but she is still worried about you.” Bruce went back to his typing “She has no reason to worry about me, I can handle this, I’ll be fine.” Alfred sighed and shook his head “You know what is best of course, Master Richard called, he is on his way over to go with you on patrol, he says he is worried about a friend of his.”
Jean Paul Valley stood in front of a mirror, stripped to the waist, he grabbed a white wife beater shirt, and put it on, he then picked up a black mask and put it over his face.
Bane, now wearing a black and white mask, that had a tube running from it to his back and his wrist, followed Ramirez into the back room of an exclusive Gotham club, the room was filled with some of Gotham’s most nefarious criminals, including the fearsome Killer Croc, all of whom became instantly silent when the large form of Bane entered the room. A guard checked him and Ramirez for weapons, and confiscated Ramirez’s pistol, before letting them pass into the room. As Bane passed between the two armed guards he extended his arms and hit both men at the base of the neck with his palms, snapping their necks. The mob bosses looked on in horror, except for Killer Croc who smiled revealing a mouthful of sharpened pointed teeth, as Bane cracked his knuckles and closed the door behind him.
Selina Kyle stood on the roof of her building, holding something in her hand, it was a mask with catlike features, she donned the mask and the camera zoomed out, revealing her in her Catwoman outfit. Catwoman unfurled her whip and took a running leap and dove over the edge of the building, she sailed through the air until she snapped her whip out and snagged a passing statue on a nearby railing, she swung on the whip until the whip unfurled and she rolled onto a building, rolling to her feet. She then ran towards the edge of the rooftop and jumped to the next one, she continued this for several more blocks until she heard a woman cry out in fear, she landed on a nearby rooftop and looked down into an alley. She saw three men with knives surrounding a woman and her son, Catwoman dropped down behind the men and said in a seductive voice “hey boys, how bought picking on someone your own size.” The men looked at each other and smiled, one man held his knife out and rushed towards her, she laughed as she flicked her whip out , catching the man around his arm, she pulled him towards her as she kicked him in the face, he hit the ground with a sickening thud. The other two rushed her from the front, she did a back flip and swung the whip out, catching one man in the throat, he grabbed his neck gasping for air, Catwoman jumped up in the air and landed on the shoulders of the other man she wrapped her lags around his neck, causing him to fall back, hitting his head against the concrete. The other man was still trying to extricate himself from the whip, Catwoman walked up to him and shoved the base of her palm into his nose. Catwoman looked over at the woman and her son, they looked at her in gratitude as she leapt up to a fire escape and climbed to the roof.
Jean Paul on a rooftop in dark battle armor looking down on the Iceberg Lounge where he knew Ramirez was meeting with other mob bosses he heard a crash from below, as he pulled out an object and shot a cable towards the lower building.
Bane had killed several of the crime bosses and was at that moment in battle with Killer Croc. They had their hands locked together, each attempting to gain the edge over the other, Croc swung down and bit Bane on the arm, the larger man simply proceeded to squeeze Croc’s hands. The deformed hit man cried out in pain as Bane crushed his hands, Bane let go when he heard a series of sickening crunches from Croc’s hands, he then swung Croc through a window, and out into the alley below. Bane then turned towards Ramirez, who approached him smugly “Well done Bane, wait what you are… NOOOO!!!” Ramirez cried as Bane gripped his neck in one hand.
Jean Paul rushed into the room as he saw Bane drop the body of Ramirez “You… killed him?” Bane nodded as Jean Paul rushed towards him and tried to deliver a savage kick, Bane caught the high kick and lifted Jean Paul up over his head by the leg and pulled his mask off, revealing Jean Paul’s face “You are young boy, you do not know what you do, for that I will allow you to live.” He said as he swung Jean Paul into a wall, knocking him out. Bane then walked through the door Jean Paul had entered.
Batman and Robin sat in the Batmobile as they sped towards the Iceberg Lounge, Gordon had informed them that there had been reports of a struggle from that location. They were driving through an alley behind the club when a window crashed above them and Killer Croc landed on their hood. Robin, and even Batman looked at the injured man in surprise, Batman opened the canopy and he and Robin rushed over to Croc who uttered three words “It was… Bane.” He said as he lost consciousness. Batman and Robin grappled up to the window and saw bodies strewn about, and one familiar figure in the corner as he rose to his feet, Robin stepped forward in surprise “Jean Paul?!?!?” Jean Paul looked back at him in confusion “Dick?” Batman stopped them “What happened here?” Jean Paul filled him in on what he knew, they all rushed to a window as they heard a car speed away into the distance. Jean Paul looked at Batman and Robin “So if you’re you, then that means you are Br-“ Batman cut him off and said “You are coming with us.”
Catwoman climbed through her window at home near dawn, she took off her cowl and smiled to herself, until the lights came on, she looked wide eyed at Holly, who stood in her doorway “Selina, what the Hell are you doing?” Selina looked at her “I had to Holly, I needed to feel free again.” Holly walked over to her and snatched the mask away “No, this is about him, isn’t it, the Batman, you want him to take notice of you again.” Selina sat down on her bed and pulled off her boots “It’s not just that Holly, he is killing himself, and I am hoping that if I can go out there and make a difference, then maybe he won’t lose himself.” Holly looked at Selina and gave her back the mask “Whatever you do, I’ll back you.”
Jean Paul looked about the Batcave in awe, Dick and Bruce emerged from another room, having changed back into their normal cloths “This is amazing! SO what are you going to do with me?” Bruce sat down in the chair at the computer and faced Jean Paul “If we can trust you, you are welcome here and if you wish you can live at the mansion, if we can trust you.” Jean Paul looked from Bruce to Dick “Dick has always been a good friend to me, and I always keep my word, I promise to keep this between us, you have my solemn word.”
Bruce Wayne stood in Lucius Fox’s office that morning, trying to stay awake. Lucius was talking to him about business matters, but Bruce was barely able to keep awake, something Lucius picked up on “…And our acquisition people believe it would be a good purchase. And I’m the Joker’s father. Bruce. Bruce BRUCE!” He shouted snapping Bruce out of is haze “Sorry Lucius, some of my extracurricular activities have been keeping me up at nights.” Lucius smiled and laughed “Well if this is too dull for you, I know these girls and they.” He stopped when he saw the surprised look on Bruce’s face “Just kidding Mr. Wayne, but if you what to see something exciting come down to R&D with me.” He said as he led Bruce to the elevator. Bruce and Lucius exited the elevator in the R&D section, Lucius led Bruce to a table with some schematics laid across it and a computer screen.
“Wow.” Bruce said, Lucius smiled “This thing will be amazing, one of the fastest and strongest ever built, should be done in a few weeks.” Bruce looked at Lucius with a solemn face “Lucius, if anything ever happens to me, I want you t manage the company, a third of my shares would go to you, the rest to Alfred and Dick, but I want you to take care of things for me.” Lucius looked at Bruce confused as he watched him walk away “Bruce, what’s wrong?” Bruce didn’t answer as the elevator doors closed behind him.
Dick met with Barbara and walked her to her father’s house “Babs, I’ve always wanted to know something, but have been worried about asking. Your mother was named Barbara, why are you named Barbara?” Barbara laughed a little “Well you see, when Dad found out my mom was pregnant, he was so excited. He told her that if it was a boy he wanted to name the baby James Jr. My mom joked with him and said ‘Sure, but if it is a girl, we’ll name it after me.’ Well a few months later and baby Barbara was born.” Barbara laughed lightly “Dad is still taking her death pretty hard, he barely ever says anything. I came to Gotham to help him with the kids, but the real reason I came, was to help him cope. He has been through so much.” She said as they stood outside of her house, the door opened and her little brother and sister came running out and hugged her, Gordon stood in the doorway and smiled and waved to Dick. Gordon came down the stairs and kissed Barbara on the cheek, and shook Dick’s hand “Aren’t you to suppose to be going to the circus today?” Dick nodded “Yes sir. Barbara, just wanted to drop off some books first.” Gordon turned back towards his house “Well, you kids have a good time, and Babs, if you need anything, just call, tonight’s my night off.”
Bruce Wayne walked into the Batcave to see Jean Paul working out on the training course he had made for Dick back when he was in training. Bruce called Jean Paul over “Have you seen Dick?” Jean Paul grabbed a towel “Uh, yeah he said he was taking Barbara to the circus, he’s been talking about it for weeks.” Bruce honestly couldn’t remember Dick telling him, he told Jean Paul to get back to his exercises, while he went to the computer and continued to analyze the Calendar Man case. He pulled up the names of the victims:
He then pulled up the numbers carved into each victim: 5 14 9
The last letter of each name corresponds to the next date, that meant there would be a killing tonight! Bruce rushed his fingers across the keyboard, as he did he picked up his phone he used with Gordon, and called him.
Gordon sat in his chair reading through the paper, while his kids where in the next room, his son Jim jr. approached him with the Bat phone, which Gordon had taken to referring to as the hotline “Dad, this weird phone is glowing, Gordon looked to see that a red light was lit on it “Thanks son, go keep an eye on your sister, I have to take this.” Gordon said as he walked into the kitchen and answered it “Yeah?” Batman responded in his gravelly voice “I found a connection, there will be a killing tonight, someone whose first name begins with a G.” Gordon swore “Alright, I’ll get my people on it.”
Dick and Barbara walked around the circus as it was setting up, Dick knew several people from his days with the circus, one man pushing a cart with a small box onto of it, the man wore a green leotard and smiled at the pair “Ah lil Dickey, a pleasure to see you again me boy.” Dick smiled and shook the man’s hand “Hey Paddy, this is Barbara, Barbara Paddy O’Reilly, him and his wife are contortionists, speaking of which how are you Terry.” Dick said knocking on the box, the lid opened and a woman crawled out and kissed Dick on the cheek.
“Oh you look just like your da’, could almost make a person cry.” They walked away to finish setting up, Dick took Barbara towards the big top, which was set up, as they went past they met a woman walking on her hands. When they walked into the big top, Barbara looked about wide eyed at the people in various stages of rehearsal, a clown saw them and rushed towards them waving hysterically silently “Oh no! Barb, whatever you do, don’t make eye contact.” Dick said with mock seriousness, as the clown bounced around them jubilantly, Barbara was a little uncomfortable around him, due to his white make up, Dick caught on to this “Uh Joey, let me talk to you for a minute.” Dick spoke to him quietly, and Joey put his hands to his lips, bowed and bounced away, this caught the attention of a distinguished man in a red claw tail suit and held a cane, he walked over to Dick “Ah! Young Ricardo, all grown up and returned to his familia, and who is this lovely creature? I am Antonio Tontine, ringmaster of this family of misfits and castaways.” He said as he politely kissed Barbara’s hand. Dick introduced them and talked about how things were going before he asked a question “Hey Tony, I see that you have the ropes and a net up, I was wondering if you would let me take Babs up and show her the ropes.” Barbara looked at Dick wide eyed “No way Grayson, I’m not letting you take me up there!” She said pointing high above them at the trapeze, tony laughed “My dear, it is perfectly safe, and you would be in no better hands than Ricardo’s, he has been doing this since before he could walk. I will set it up, I believe I have outfits that will fit you two.”
A short time Barbara stood by Dick up high above a net looking out at the series of trapezes “Watch me now.” Dick said as he grabbed the handle and swung out of over the floor, he released the handle and caught the next one, he switched himself around so that he was holding on with his legs “Now you go.” Barbara grabbed the handle and threw it back towards Dick “Are you crazy!” Dick sighed and caught the handle as it came within range, he hooked his legs through it and swung towards her with his arms out to her, he grabbed her and pulled her out with him. He dropped her and she caught onto the next trapeze “See was that so bad?” Dick said as he dropped to the same one she was on when it swung towards him. They laughed and Dick showed her tricks for a while until Tony said it was time to go. They walked back home laughing, Barbara leaned on his shoulder “That was fun, I bet you miss all the excitement.” Dick laughed and turned towards Barbara “Trust me, my life has enough excitement.” He said as he pulled her close and kissed her passionately.
Bulloch sat in the passenger seat of the car checking his weapon as Montoya sped them through and upper class neighborhood “So Montoya, who is this guy again?” Montoya took a sharp turn as the siren wailed “His name is George Moxon, just got back into town. His old man was THE mob boss back in the day, he controlled almost all of the mobs on the east coast. Then about twenty years ago an up and coming gangster named Carmine Falcone united the lower mobs against Moxon in a bloody mob war, back during the Gotham Depression. Moxon disappeared at the end of the war rather than let Falcone ice him, but Moxon’s son showed up a few months back and seems to be trying to consolidate things, we don’t know if his old man is still alive, but Moxon here fits the type that Calendar man has killed so far.” They pulled up to the gate of George Moxon’s mansion, to find that the gate was open, they wearily pulled up into the driveway and stopped in front of a door that was open.
Montoya and Bulloch drew their guns and slowly walked up and entered the house, they looked about the dark house and saw that all of the lights were off except for one, they entered the room to find the body of George Moxon laying on the ground with his throat slit and the number 13 carved into his chest. “We just missed him.” Montoya and Bulloch spun at the sound of a voice behind them to see Batman standing in the doorway, Bulloch held his gun on Batman “You know I outta bring you down to the station, for all we know, you could be the one behind this.” Batman walked past Bulloch “Whoever did this, snuck up on Moxon from behind, caught him unaware, look at his arms, there was no signs of a struggle. His two bodyguards are bound and gagged in the kitchen. The killer is improving. It still doesn’t fit.” Batman said as he walked out of the room as Bulloch yelled at him “HEY! Get back here, we ain’t done yet.” “Oh give it a rest Harvey, he isn’t going to answer to you.”
Bruce sat in front of his computer, looking over crime scene photos, he then looked at the numbers and names again “5, 14, 9, 7, and I can assume that the next one will be an M, so 5, 14, 9, 7, 13.” Bruce looked at the numbers again “Wait a minute…” He said as he put the letters themselves in order “E N I G M. E Nigma, Edward Nigma!” Bruce said as he jumped to his feet, he turned and saw Dick walking towards him “I know the connection, the deaths are related to the Riddler. But strangely enough, the Riddler never came into contact with any of these victims.” Dick stood over the computer, and looked at the data “But Riddler died when Arkham burned down. So who would be doing this? Someone who feels responsible, another inmate perhaps?” Bruce went over to where his Bat suit was laid out from earlier “Close, it would be his doctor, my doctor, it all makes sense now, how strange Strange has been acting, he feels guilt for Nigma’s death and is killing criminals to deal with it. All of his talk about hero complexes, they weren’t about me, it was about himself. Get suited up we’re going after him, I’ll tell Gordon to head over there now.”
Hugo Strange stumbled about his apartment, his hands red with dried blood, the voice spoke to him mockingly “You must hurry Hugo, they are coming for you tonight, and they’re going to put you in a little box like you have done to so many others. Run Hugo, they are coming.” Strange sobbed as he threw cloths into a small bag and rushed out of his apartment into the night.
Bane could be heard as Strange disappeared into the night “Every man has his limits, when they pass those limits, for some it means there is no going back. The minute Hugo Strange stepped out onto the street, he abandoned the logic and reason he had served for so long, and accepted insanity.”
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