LinkExchange FORWARD

story and art by Jon Karl Haynes

Chapter One: The Wounded Bat

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  The view from the penthouse suite was amazing. Rain spattered on the window, vaguely obscuring the gleaming lights of Gotham. Alex Pendleton and his female companion sat in front of a roaring fire, encased in the yellowed hue that flittered about the room as shadows danced along the vaulted ceiling. Debussy played on the stereo, setting a melancholy tone about the place.

Alex was a state senator, and had recently decided to make Gotham his home. The fact that his wife didn't accompany him was of no consequence. Female companionship was easily acquirable in this city, especially if you had the money. Alex had plenty of money, rivaling the fortunes of both the Fortelli family and playboy Bruce Wayne. Since Gotham had been renovated, it was a great place for a rich man to be. Alex looked at his high priced lover and smiled, knowing that his life couldn't possibly be better.

Suddenly the room exploded in a frenzy of action. Glass shrapnel sprayed the room with stinging wetness as a figure crashed through the window. Alex barely had time to turn and look as the purple clad clown rolled to a stop on the floor, laughing maniacally. Before he could even react, the sleeping call-girl had awakened and was standing rigidly, like a cartoon soldier. She saw the figure on the floor and let out a scream. Both she and Alex knew who the figure was. It was The Joker, and as he staggered into a standing position, it was obvious to them both he was carrying a large handgun.

The Joker looked around the room, surveying his surroundings and shaking off the damage he had just taken. Someone had just thrown him from a helicopter, and it really hurt. He looked at the frightened Senator and the girl, then glanced at the window just in time to see his assailant swoop inward.

The Batman entered the room, looking like a living nightmare. Clad entirely in black, his outline was illuminated by the lights of the city behind him. Blood ran down his face, the only visible part of him uncovered by darkness. He was huge, and landed like a lion in the midst of the room.

Without missing a beat, the Joker aimed his handgun at the Senator and fired. The explosion of light surprised Alex, and he wasn't really aware that he was being shot at. This had all happened so fast that his mind was still occupied with the stupid looking stance of the girl. By the time he realized he was being fired upon by the Joker, the bullet had already been intercepted by The Batman.

Batman's mind happened to be keener than the senator's, as well as his reflexes. Also, Batman had been fighting the Joker on the landing bars of a helicopter for several minutes, and his adrenaline made him a bit more than human. Without hesitation, The Batman had jumped between Alex and The Joker, taking the nine millimeter shell in his right shoulder. The force of the blast spun Batman hard, knocking him sideways as blood spattered Alex's unbuttoned shirt. With the endurance of a titan, The Batman managed to stay on his feet.

At this point, Alex had his first reflex. He curled up on the sofa and cringed, taking a fetal approach to defense. The Joker still laughed, dancing as he fired another shot. This one caught The Batman in the upper left leg, and took him to the ground. The Batman rolled quickly, spilling blood on Alex's oriental styled rug, and retrieved something from his belt. He quickly threw the item. Had Alex's eyes been open, he would have seen that it was shaped like a strange boomerang.

The Batarang struck the Joker in the hand, hitting the nerve cluster between the thumb and index finger. The gun flew across the room, no longer a threat to Alex or The Dark Knight. "YEEEOWCH," the Joker Exclaimed. "What the hell are you doing?!?!? That really hurt!"

The Batman then used his good leg to propel himself as he finished his roll. He flew into the Joker like a wrecking ball, punching him in the chest with a cable-strong left arm. The Joker flew backward, smashing through a glass bookshelf before falling to the ground. All was then still as the sound of Debussy became intertwined with the Joker gasping quietly for his breath.

Batman pulled himself to his feet, holding the wall for support. He turned and looked at the Senator, who was just now opening his eyes. Alex looked at himself, checking for a moment to make sure the blood covering his shirt was not his. He then glanced momentarily at the girl, who was shakingly attempting to stifle a scream. He then looked at The Batman, who stood over his defeated enemy. The Batman wasn't so terrifying at the moment, although he was still intimidating. He was staring almost blankly at Alex, and it appeared he was trying to compose himself. It almost appeared that the Batman was having trouble staying awake. "Call the police," the Batman commanded. "I'll… I'll stay with you until they get here."

Alex looked around the room, which had just been completely ravaged by the quick battle. "You saved my life, Batman. You took a bullet for me."

Batman said nothing as Alex picked up his cell phone. "This is Senator Pendleton in the penthouse suite. Send the police up here as quick as possible, and you might as well call Arkham too. I've just been delivered the Joker."

Batman struggled, trying not to show his pain to the senator. "Make it quick," Alex continued. "I've got The Batman up here, and he doesn't need to be baby-sitting me while I wait. Hurry it up!"

Alex then turned his phone off and looked at Batman. "You might as well have a seat. You know how long it takes the police around here. I mean, I'm a Senator for God's sake, and I imagine I'll still have to wait a full five minutes."

Batman weakly pointed at the Joker. "Tie him up. He'll be waking up soon."

"You know," Alex began, "We could just kill him. No one would have to know. I mean geez, the guy's a mass murderer! I still don't understand why you haven't killed him already!"

"No one is killing anyone," the Batman stated as he found the strength to stand a little taller. "I took a bullet to stop a murder tonight, and I'm not about to sit here and watch you commit one. You should be setting an example for the prostitute, Senator Pendleton."

Alex stood quietly, pondering what had just been said. He then took several neckties from his closet and moved toward the Joker. As he returned, Batman was already tying the Joker's hands with a telephone wire. "Finish tying him up, Senator. I'm needed elsewhere."

The Batman then stood, dripping blood on the floor of the room, and moved toward the window. "The police should be here in a moment. If the Joker is dead when they get here, I'll be coming for you."

Moments later, the Batman was gone. Alex had watched as he jumped from the window, wondering what kind of magic tricks or wires he used to escaped the fifteen story plunge. He then quickly dismissed the girl, knowing it wouldn't be very appropriate to have her involved in all this. The cash he had given her would shut her up for a long while.

As the police and paramedics took the Joker from the room, Alex sat on the sofa and took a deep breath. Looking around the room, amidst all the destruction, he realized he was sitting on top of a gold mine. He wondered why no one had ever thought of this before. Alex laughed silently to himself as he felt the exhilaration of wondrous achievement. The future was right here in this room, and it would be the key to control Gotham. It was the blood of The Batman, and it covered everything.

Alex looked at the crimson stains on his white shirt as he activated his cell phone. "I need to speak to Dr. Jonas Cooper please. Yes, I believe he should be in the forensics lab tonight. Thank you, agent Dorris. I hope you have as good an evening as I'm having tonight."

Moments later, Alex smiled as he spoke to Dr. Cooper. "Yes, its me. I have a favor to call in, and we need to keep it hush hush. You're going to help me solve the mystery of the century. You're going to help me discover the true identity of The Batman."

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This story is © 1999 by Jon Karl Haynes.