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The East End
1:45 PM

Alfred climbed out of the ZipTrip and paid for the fare with his phone. The driver mumbled his thanks before speeding off. Alfred didn’t blame the man for his quick retreat. This particular part of the East End had a reputation as the worst of the worst. It reminded Alfred of Dutch Hill’s notoriety before he and Phillip moved into the brownstone, before gentrification turned the gutted neighborhood into an upper middle class bastion.

He started down the sidewalk with his hands in his pockets and his eyes watchful. Row houses made up every home on this block. A few were abandoned with boarded up windows and doors while most were dilapidated on the point of being declared condemned. Only a few were well maintained by owners or renters who still had civic pride. Each step down the block took Alfred back in time to Brixton. The East End and even Dutch Hill twenty years ago couldn’t hold a bloody candle to the Brixton of Alfred’s childhood.

The type of boys and men who ran with the Brixton mobs were animals. They could smell weakness, they sought out those that were different and punished them for it. They knew something was different about Alfred, the same way he knew for years that something was different, something he couldn't pinpoint until he finally did. They would chase him down and call him ponce and poofter as they beat him bloody. He learned to fight back, but he was always outnumbered. He would get his licks in and win a battle or two, but they would always win the war. For Alfred joining the Royal Marines was as much about escape from Brixton as it was any career or patriotic calling.

“You up?”

Alfred blinked when he heard the voice. It brought him back to reality. Lost in thought, he had walked down the block on autopilot and ended up in front of two kids standing on the street corner. Drug dealers, he assumed, with clothing too nice and expensive for kids on this side of tome. Neither of the boys looked older than fifteen.

“Yo,” the boy’s friend repeated. “You up, unc?”

“‘Fraid not, gents,” he said sheepishly.

The sound of his voice sent the two boys into fits of laughter.

“Yoooo, check this nigga out. This motherfucker on some shake-a-spear shit.”

“Just passing through is all,” said Alfred, his hands out. “Not looking for trouble.”

“Well too fucking bad, my nigga,” one of the boys hissed. He pulled up his shirt to reveal a gun tucked into the waistband of his jeans. “Because you sure as fuck found trouble.”

It would be very easy, Alfred surmised. He was older than them by nearly forty years but they were soft. They were children play acting in a gangster farce. It would almost be comical if not for the gun. The boy with the weapon had probably never fired the thing. And even if he had the very idea of proper firearm handling and form would be foreign to him. He could disarm him in as few as two moves, disable both him and his friend in another three, and go about his business.

“Hey,” a voice called out.

Another boy emerged from the bodega across the street and walked over with a sub and soda in hand. He looked to be about the same age as the other two, but there was a difference. He had the quiet confidence of command. The other boys were playing a part, a part he seemed to actually be living. If it was indeed an act, thought Alfred, then it was a fine performance.

“Tree, Mac, the fuck is you doing?”

“Tre, We’re just--” one of the boy started sheepishly.

Tre held his free hand up to silence the boy. “I gave you two jobs: serve customers and keep the count straight. This old nigga look like a fiend to you, Mac?”

The one called Mac shrugged and looked at his feet.

“Guess not,” said Tre. He turned his attention to Alfred and gave the older man a cold look. “If you ain’t coping get the fuck on before something bad happen to you.”

Alfred walked away without another word. He could feel the eyes of the kids on him as he walked. He finally found the house he was searching for at the end of the block. It was one of the few row houses still in good condition. It looked to him as if it had been maintained regularly, but whoever was responsible for the work had fallen off and a decline was in progress. He rapped softly at the door and waited before it opened just a crack.


“In the flesh.”

The door opened wider. Alfred smiled at the sight of the old woman with the wide grin.

“Didi,” said Alfred.

The two shared a warm embraced before Alfred followed her into the house.

“I heard years ago that you moved to America,” Didi said with a thick African accent. “But I had no idea you were so close. Why in the world would someone choose to live in Gotham?”

“Same reason you did, Didi,” said Alfred. “Family. Phillip was born and raised here and we were both tired of dreary old Europe.”

Alfred noticed the walls of the house were a testament of a life well-lived. Pictures of a much younger Didi Walde, a group photo of her with the Ethiopian delegation to the United Nations, a few with the heads of state of various countries. Her and her husband, her and her son, a young boy Alfred assumed was a grandson. There was one photo that stopped him in his tracks: Didi with a much younger and slimmer Captain Pennyworth one one side, and Petty Officer Wayne on the other.

“How is Phillip?” asked Didi.

“He passed,” said Alfred. He shook his head and flashed a smile when he saw the look on Didi’s face. “It's okay. It happened quite some time ago. It was very peaceful. And Samson?”

“Heart attack five years ago this July.”

Didi sank into a chintz armchair while Alfred found the sofa next to her.

"I miss him every day."

Alfred reached out and took Didi's hand into his. “I didn’t know Samson very well. He was a quiet fellow, but he seemed to be a good man.”

“He was,” mumbled Didi. “If he wasn't we wouldn't have been together for forty years. As for Phillip, I knew he was a good man. If I may ask… is there anyone else?”

“Heavens no,” said Alfred. “After his death I focused on helping to raise his -- our -- nephew, Bruce. I just… never had a desire to seek someone else.”

“You’re still young." Didi raised an eyebrow when she saw Alfred was about to protest. "Younger than me, at least.”

“I know.” A small smile formed on Alfred’s lips. “But what I had with Phillip was so right, I couldn’t hope to duplicate it.”

“And you never will,” said Didi. “But you can try.”

Alfred chuckled. “Surely you didn’t look me up out of the blue after thirty years to inquire about my love life?”

“No,” Didi said softly. She pulled her hand away from Alfred and started to clench and unclench her fists while she spoke. “No, I did not. As I said, Samson is dead. As is David, two years before Samson. When Samson died it left just me and Elijah, David's son. The boy’s mother we lost to the streets. She may still be out there, but we have no way of finding her. He’s only sixteen, Alfie, and I haven’t seen him in almost a week.”

"What happened?" asked Alfred.

“The last time we spoke,” she said. “We had a fight. I had received a phone call from his school. He hadn’t shown up in weeks. I asked him where was he going, what was he doing, and who with. We had a fight and he left. I said some terrible things as he walked out the door. He hasn’t answered his phone. I put in a missing persons report with the police, but--”

“He’s the gender, wrong color, living in the wrong neighborhood,” said Alfred.

“Exactly. Can you help me find him?”

Alfred nodded slowly.

“I’ll do what I can, Didi. But what if he doesn’t want to come back home?”

She closed her eyes and sighed. “Just… make sure he’s alright and he knows that he can come home anytime he wants.”

Alfred stood and looked down at Didi. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes.

“With you and your nephew, do you know what it’s like to see him leave and always wonder if he’ll come back alive? The possibility that you'll never see him again? You’ll ever get to tell him that you love him?"

“Yes,” said Alfred. “I do.”

“Then you know why this is important then.”


Kane Terrace Housing Projects
2:04 PM

Eli Wolde sat behind the wheel of the junky stolen car. It took him all of two minutes to break into the shitbox with a slim jim and hotwire it up. After that he cruised to the spot to pick up O and the other two. After that Eli cruised to the entrance of the Terrace and put the car in park. That had been almost twelve hours ago. The four of them kept their eyes peeled on the comings and going of the high rise housing project. Eli looked up into the rearview mirror. O sat in the back with an unlit cigarette in his mouth. O’s eyes never stopped watching and observing. TT in the front passenger seat stretched and yawned.

“Yo, O, can we get some food or something? I’m about to bug the fuck out out.”

“Go ahead,” said O. “But you gotta walk. I’m staying here.”

TT and Roc got out the car and started down the street. Eli looked back up into the rearview mirror saw O looking at him.

“Why you staying, youngin'?”

“It ain’t a stakeout if we go get something to eat in the middle of it, now is it?.”

O grinned, the cigarette still between his lips. When he spoke the tip of it bounced up and down.

“Well, what you seeing since you acting like some hardcore Semper Fi motherfucker?”

Eli ran his hands along the steering wheel and spoke. “KT Crew works around the clock. Product comes in twice a day. When they bring the reup, they also move the money out. The slingers look like punks, but the guys who are the couriers look like soldiers. Not fuck with me types.”

“So, you being a ambitious stick-up boy like you is, how you gonna separate them fools from their product?”

“Fuck the drugs,” said Eli. “Let the courier go in with the dope. We follow him as he leaves with the cash and hit him up then. Money splits easier and spends a whole lot quicker. They can always buy more dope and coke.”

“Okay, okay,” said O. “I see you. You out here watching and thinking. More than the other two knuckleheads. And when would you try to stick up the courier?”

“The late shift. Less police presence around when it gets to be about three or four AM and less people out in the Terrace. The courier won’t have much backup if shit goes bad.”

“My nigga,’ O said proudly. “We gonna make a soldier out of you yet.”


City Hall
3:30 PM

“This is crazy.”

Jim shook his head and started to stand up. Akins placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and gave a subtle headshake. The Deputy Commissioner had more political savvy than Jim could ever hope to muster. On matters like this Jim knew he could trust his judgement.

“Just hear him out,” whispered Akins.

The conference room meeting had Mayor Hamilton Hill, the group of sycophants he called a staff, GCPD brass, and this ridiculous third party. A group of high-end lawyers flanked the big man with the shaved head and the suit that cost more money than Jim made in a month. The big man stood and flashed an oily smile.

“I understand your concerns, Commissioner,” he said. “May I call you Jim?”

“Commissioner Gordon’s fine,” Jim bristled. “And I will not willingly cede protection of this city over to mercenaries, Mr. Bolton.”

Jim saw a slight twitch just above Bolton’s right eyebrow. The annoyance on his face disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. He put the charm back on and smiled. “The Thornguard Group is among the largest and most professional privatized security and corrections companies in America. We are publicly traded and our oversight is impeccable. Our current administration deal with Blackgate entitles us to a franchise exploration into Gotham City.”

Jim stabbed his finger down on to the table surface. “When it comes to policing, the last thing we should be thinking about are franchise and shareholders. Your business is keeping people locked up, and if you cut out the middleman you’ll also be responsible for arresting the people that keep your business going. Not only that but the city of Gotham will be paying you for it.”

“Commissioner,” one of Bolton’s lawyers spoke up. “Look at the data. Crime in both the Finger Homes and Kane Terrace are through the roof. And it’s gotten worse since you took over as commissioner. Let the private sector do what the police department can’t: keep people safe.”

“By giving guns to a bunch of men who couldn’t become cops or got kicked out of the army--”

“Our men are the best money can buy,” said Bolton. ”They are thoroughly vetted, have extensive training and know--”

“What does it even matter?” asked Gordon. “This is a done deal, right Mr. Mayor?”

Hill coughed and adjusted his tie. He spoke without making eye contact.

“As Mr. Bolton said, Thornguard does have a franchise right that they are exercising. And it will just be concentrated at the two housing projects, as previously stated. A test run, if you will.”

“We expect all GCPD personnel to discontinue patrols into the Finger and Kane Terrace Homes effective at midnight tonight.”

Jim stood, shrugging off Akins’ hand. He squared his glasses on his face and looked at Bolton before turning around.

“I’ll let Chief O’Hara know. Deputy Akins here will be available for any questions going forward.”

He stormed out the room, ignoring both Akins and Hill and their attempts to get him to come back in. Jim fished through his pocket and pulled out his phone, lighter, and pack of cigarettes. He lit up a cigarette in the hall, not really giving a damn about non-smoking laws, and typed out a quick text to a number listed in his phone as Pteropodidae.

Very odd/niche question; but what is the Gotham football team called?

The Gotham Orphans.
But back to my discussion topic, where are you guys intending to land your characters?

I'm gonna kill Batman.
<Snipped quote by Byrd Man>


Damn. Never saw that show. In my mind I was going for if Technical Boy didn't have that stupid ass man bun thing on his head.

Camden & Young Industrial Electroplating
10:48 PM

The skinny man flew over the battered desk with a high-pitched yell. He was taller than Selina by a few inches, but she was able to manhandle him with ease. He was rail thin with long, greasy black hair, hair that had been easy for her to grab on to. He’d been so engrossed in his computer that he never heard Selina come through the door.

“Don’t hurt me.”

He peered at Selina from the edge of the desk, his eyes fixated on the gun in her hand.

“You should have thought about that before you started blackmailing people," she said. "Give me your wallet.”


“Did I stutter?” Selina asked with a raised eyebrow. “I'm the world's prettiest mugger. Now hand over your wallet.”

The man slid a flimsy leather billfold across the desk. Selina picked it up with her free hand and snuck a glance at the ID card inside.

“Edward Nashton. Only twenty-three," she tossed the wallet back. It bounced off his head and he winced. "Nice catch. Anyway, you're too young and too dumb to know you’ve pissed off some very powerful people.”

Nashton swept his hair away from his eyes and shrugged in his best attempt at nonchalance. The shock of Selina getting the drop on him had faded, or he had replaced that shock and fear with false bravado. A cruel smile formed on his lips.

“A bunch of rich assholes are getting squeezed for money that they won’t even miss. Cry me a fucking river, babe.”

Selina felt growing annoyance at this insolent child. She was the one with the gun, but yet he was talking to her like he was armed. She kept the gun trained on Nashton while she reached down for his computer.

“I’m taking your laptop,” she said. “I know it's going to bother you to not be able to harass women via twitter, but you'll be okay. Where are your backups? A guy like you has to have some insurance.”

Nashton let out a harsh laughter that sounded like a donkey braying. “You’re so adorable. You think that’s how this works. You’re a spunky girl, I’ll give you that.”

Selina fired once into the air. Nashton ducked behind the desk.

“Call me girl, babe, or sweetheart one more time,” she growled. “Please, give me an excuse to actually use this gun.”

Nashton held up his hands and sighed. He ran a hand along his face.

“It’s pointless, okay? I forwarded everything I found. There are files on my computer, but what's the point? You can destroy my computer and kill me if you’d like, but it’s not coming back.”

Selina took in the information and tried playing the angles out in her mind. She ran through every con or scam she knew. Still she came up empty.

“That doesn’t make sense,” she said. “What kind of blackmailer doesn’t keep the blackmail information.”

“Riddle me this,” Nashton said with a smirk. “When is a blackmailer not a blackmailer?”

It suddenly clicked. She looked away from looking back at him. “When he’s already getting paid.”

“Someone paid a lot of money for that hack job,” Nashton said with a proud grin. “A simple extract, but they also paid a lot of money for the performance. It was a message to get your attention.”

“Why mine?” asked Selina.

“Not yours,” said Nashton. He pointed over her shoulder and his eyes widened. ”His.

Selina closed her eyes and sighed. She didn’t have to turn around to know who was there. Of course it was him. Who else would it be? She heard him walk across the floor towards her and Nashton.

“How did you find me?” she asked.

“You can be as careful as you like, you’re still being watched.”

She turned around and looked him over. It was, what, six months since the run in at the museum? It looked like he had upgraded his attire in the meanwhile. More armor, especially around the upper body area. She smiled at the memory. He had learned the hard way that cats have claws.

“You look good," she said. "New cape?”

“Probably. I go through them quick.” He turned his attention back to Nashton and scowled.

“Who hired you?” he growled.

“I don’t know,” he sputtered. That cockiness was gone when Batman talked to him. Selina felt annoyed again. A man with pointy ears scared the hell out of him, but a woman with a gun couldn’t move the needle once. Her phone chimed an alert and she pulled it out to look.

“It was all done through email," said Nashton. "They hired me to hack the database, leave those clues, and make sure I was found out by the bat.”

“You were paid, but the blackmail was a sham. What was the purpose of the hack?”

“Uhh, I think I know why.” Selina held up her phone. “Looks like it’s hit the press…

On the screen was a breaking news article that read. “GOTHAM FINANCIAL FIRM LAUNDERS MONEY FOR ELITE.”

“...and just like that,” she sighed. “I’m out of a payday.”

Batman looked at the news article for a long moment. Selina could see the wheels spinning as he tried to make sense of it all.

“There’s one more thing,” said Nashton. “I was also hired to pass on a message to Batman. It’s in an envelope in the desk’s top drawer.”

He carefully opened the desk drawer and pulled out the envelope. Selina saw jotted on the white envelope was a message in neat handwriting.

“Dear Batman, this is what real change looks like. Here’s my card.”

He opened it up and pulled out the card.


Mood Music

Rupert Thorne stared glassy eyed at his wall-mounted TV. The top story on the news was all about him and the others who used Heed, McElroy, & Standler. The vast fortune and enterprise Thorne spent decades hiding were now in plain sight. He wasn’t afraid of arrest or reprisals from the law, they were too big to arrest after all, but his status was tainted. No one would ever look at him the same way again. There were already whispers in the halls of his country club. No longer was he just a simple businessman. Now they called him thug and gangster. He still had his fortune, but that didn’t matter. His standing in the community was now eroded.

And someone had to pay for that.


Fred Stickley buried his hands into his head. It was all over. Five decades in business all done now. The news meant HM&S was going belly-up and he would be out of a job. Some of the most powerful and secretive people in the world had been exposed by the firm. And each and every one of them had an axe to grind with Stickley.

And on top of it all, when he'd come in to work this morning he found that every painting had been stolen overnight. The art had always been his escape hatch when things inevitably went bad. He could always sell a few pieces on the quick and get enough cash to run. But his life raft had just been deflated by the burglar. Stickley rubbed his temples. Stickley had disconnected his office phone hours ago, but he could hear the continuous ringing on every phone outside the office. Stickley took out his bottle of scotch and drank straight from the bottle as the phones continued to ring.


Bruce watched the newsfeed on his tablet with a detached curiosity. He sat at the worktable in the basement, the tablet off to the side while in front of him was the tattered remains of his drone. He thought the arrest of Blackwood and the Crusaders would be the top story from last night, but it was now on the second spot in the news.

Whoever hired Nashton had forwarded the contents of the info dump to every major news outlet in America. Gotham News Network took the lead, but the story had enough legs to make it global. HM&S provided “investment services” for more than just shadowy men with obscure fortunes. Crime boss Thorne was among some of their most tame clientele. Russian Oligarchs, South American heads of state, and even the occasional warlord all trusted HM&S with hiding their money away from prying eyes and making it clean.

And now all eyes were on them. They had been exposed by someone. Whoever forwarded the files to the news hadn't delivered a message explaining their motives.. Only Bruce was deemed worthy enough to warrant a message. He ran his hands over the Joker playing card. “This is what real change looks like,” was the message. The newsfeed showed a Senator hurrying down a corridor to avoid reporter’s questions. While Bruce retreated into his thoughts, the camera on his tablet blinked on.

On the other side of the lens someone was watching.
Sheet incoming.
That's also what Neville Chamberlain said just before WW2 kicked off. Not the best quote to use.
I got a question. Who is the current President of the United States of America?

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