And we've finally gotten to Arkham Origins: Blackgate! I admit, planning this one was a little more difficult than with the main Origins game, mainly because Blackgate was a 3DS/PS Vita exclusive, and I'm pretty much a console-only gamer, so I had to learn the story for the first time watching walkthroughs while planning out the Blackgate chapters. But, it's going pretty well so far, and I'm eager to get it out there so we can get into the original material I've got planned for later in this story. As always, thank you for your continued support, and please leave reviews, because there's really nothing in this world that motivates me to write more than hearing your comments. Thank you so much guys, and I hope you enjoy the chapter!
P.S. I'm not sure if I've asked this before, but what do you guys think of the DC live-action films? Everyone I know is way more into Marvel, and I'd love to hear your takes on them!
Shockeye7665: I don't know if you saw my message, but I really appreciate the review you left and your kind words about Laura and her place in the Arkhamverse. I'd love to hear more of your opinion!
GothamFan52: Thank you so much for your review! As for whether or not I'm sticking to the Arkhamverse, I'm certainly going to try, but there's so much missing from the greater DC universe within the Arkham games, I'm going to have to draw from other sources. I AM planning on at the very least alluding to Batman's extended circle if not outright featuring them farther along in the story (And you did guess a few of them, so good on you!), but any bigger roles they'd play would likely be in a sequel story/stories rather than this one, since I DO have to end this one sometime in the timeline leading up to Arkham Asylum. As for superhero teams forming, I do have some plans to incorporate the Justice League into this universe (Though whether or not it will be in this particular segment of that universe I still haven't decided on), but they'll hardly be the only ones out there. I'll probably end up alluding to/featuring the Birds of Prey or the Teen Titans at some point as well, since members of the Bat Family do play a core role in both of those teams. And as you fantastically suggested, I absolutely have plans to bring in the Court of Owls further along in the story, so keep an eye out!
Gotham's weather was an unexplained phenomenon that had baffled meteorologists for centuries. While only a few miles up the coast, millions of tourists flocked to the sunny beaches of Atlantic City every year, and across the bay the sunshine and clear skies above Metropolis were nigh immutable, the climate of Gotham City always seemed to inspire gloom. Its winters were characterized by constant ice and bitter winds, and its summers dominated by overcast skies that always threatened rain. The official explanation was that it was simply a mixture of winds and a meeting of fronts creating the bizarre phenomenon, no more unnatural than Commonwealth Bay or Tornado Alley, but many of the city's denizens were not so easily convinced; it wasn't uncommon to hear muttering by longtime Gothamites that the ominous weather was a symptom of something darker, that the very earth itself beneath the city's foundations was cursed.
It was amidst that dreary weather that Bruce found himself perched on a rooftop and peering out into the night, fighting to suppress a shudder from the frigid rain. Though the advent of spring was only a week away there was no warmth to the season, and he knew there likely wouldn't be for several weeks to come. The shattering of glass caught his attention, and, upon searching for the source of the sound, spotted its origin on the next building over. A small hole, no more than two feet in diameter, had been cut into one of the building's windows, the discarded circle of glass allowed to slip from its frame and crash into the alleyway below. A heel-clad foot emerged from the hole followed by its twin, and before long, a slim body bedecked in some sort of skintight suit slithered out of the opening, the feminine figure's face obscured by a pair of thick red-tinted goggles. The woman scurried up the side of the building with surprising agility, pausing only once she'd gotten to the rooftop to insert a flash drive into a small handheld device. Bruce quickly launched himself off his own rooftop and landed a few feet from the woman, his cape billowing around him in the wind.
"I don't know who you're supposed to be, but in case you didn't notice, this building's business hours are over."
"Oh, I noticed, and my business never sleeps. I'm nocturnal." The woman quipped, her mouth curling into a smirk. She sauntered over to him, circling him like a predator assessing its prey, oozing confidence with every step. "Tell me you're not this place's overdressed security guard."
"I just go where the crime is," He answered, eyes following the woman's every move. He was well-aware of his reputation in the underworld, and for her to act so nonchalant about their meeting, she either had to be incredibly stupid or very dangerous.
He was betting on the latter.
"You sure you want to cut this so short?" She asked, trailing one finger down the length of his arm as she made another pass. "You haven't even heard me purr yet."
"You won't be purring once you're in prison."
Suddenly, both of their figures alighted with red dots, Bruce turning to see a handful of well-armed men swarming onto the rooftop, their laser-sighted pistols trained on the pair of them. The vigilante silently cursed his lapse in awareness, his hyper focus on the woman allowing the men the perfect opportunity to sneak up on him.
"Target has the package. D.E.O. security squad Omega in response." One of the men said into a small earpiece, taking a step forward.
"I'm handling this," Bruce warned.
"You're on private property," The squad leader retorted, "Interfering with private business."
"We were just leaving," Bruce snapped, disarming the man with a flick of his hand.
He turned back to face the woman, only to be met with the sight of her retreating figure, agilely leaping across rooftops as she made her escape.
"Munitions team, secure the package. The rest of you, Batman is not to leave this rooftop!"
Good luck with that, Bruce thought to himself wryly as he leapt into action, easily disarming the remaining men and leaving them unconscious. As the last man fell to the ground, the vigilante aimed his grappling gun at the adjacent building and fired, knowing that if he were going to catch up to the mysterious woman, he'd have to be quick. She already had too much of a lead.
By some small mercy it didn't take long to find the thief, having perched herself at the top of a building still under construction, the small handheld device she'd been using when their encounter first begun once again in her hand. Bruce grappled up the roof of the building and made a grab for her, which the woman easily dodged. It mattered little, however, as she'd effectively trapped herself between the vigilante and a fifty-story drop without hope of escape.
"This ends here."
"What kind of girl do you think I am?" She asked with feigned innocence, slipping into a fighting stance. "Because chances are, you're right."
The woman launched herself at him, forcing the vigilante to dodge the lethal claws attached to the fingertips of her gloves. She was fast and clearly skilled, but Bruce had honed himself into a veritable one-man army, and soon enough he'd found an opening in her guard, slamming a heavy-booted foot into her chest and sending her sailing into an exposed girder, the woman's head smacking against the metal with a dull thud.
"What a lousy way to end a first date," She grinned, slightly dazed from the impact. "I'd hoped you were a gentleman."
"I was being gentle. Now tell me what you took."
"Just some files, and I've already used this to send them to my employer." The woman held out the device and flash drive, letting them slip between her fingers and plunge into the darkness below.
"You tell me what was on the files, and I'll see about shortening your sentence."
"You know what they say about snitches and stitches," She purred. "And besides, what's in those files isn't my business. My business is stealing them."
Before he could respond, the rooftop was suddenly flooded with light and the thrumming of a helicopter's blades filled the air.
"Gotham City Police! Keep your hands where I can see them."
Knowing they wouldn't pursue, Bruce quickly launched himself off the side of the building before the first of the police's trio of choppers could land, snapping his cape open to catch the wind and glide through the night air. While the cat burglar would soon enough be in the police's custody, there was still plenty of work ahead of him. With the handheld device and flash drive now destroyed, the task of tracking down the thief's employer was now that much more difficult, as was figuring out what they'd stolen. For that matter, he'd never heard of this so-called D.E.O. before, and though the name invoked the image of one of the many alphabet agencies littering D.C., he was sure no such agency was to be found. At least, not officially anyway.
With more questions than answers filling his mind, Bruce glided towards a nearby rooftop just as one unlucky burglar tried his luck at an apartment window's lock, too absorbed in his task to notice the cloaked figure descending towards him.
Laura was elbow-deep in logistics reports when McKenzie waltzed into her office, leaning one hip against the edge of her desk and looking down at her with a shit-eating grin.
"So, Montoya showed me the most interesting article in The Gotham Insider today."
The brunette didn't bother to look up from her work. "Why do I feel like I'm going to have to shoot you?"
The detective pulled out the glossy magazine previously hidden behind his back, flipping through the pages until he arrived at the desired article, grinning as he began to read it aloud.
"Celebrity event planner and notable socialite Silver St. Cloud was sighted this Saturday evening at the highly-exclusive Lux nightclub in Gotham City's Diamond District. In a surprising turn of events that's left tongues wagging, she was joined by Gotham's own resident hero-cop, Sergeant Laura Anderson, with the two women seen laughing and enjoying drinks at the bar. Never sighted together before, we're left to wonder if this is simply a case of newfound friends hitting the town, or if something more is blooming between the two Gothamite beauties."
McKenzie grinned at the scowl on her face, rolling up the magazine and tapping her desk with it. "Just try not to forget us wage slaves when you're off sipping martinis at water polo matches. I'd ask you to still join us for drinks at Cherry's, but I wouldn't want to dim that upper-class aura of yours."
"One," Laura started, ticking off the number with a flick of her fingers. "I am not dating Silver St. Cloud. I helped get her out of Wayne Manor on New Year's Eve and she invited me out for drinks as a thank-you. That's all. Two, I don't even know what water polo is, so don't pull that silver-spoon bullshit with me. And three, the next time you come in here with some mind-numbing garbage written by some hack with a journalism degree, keep in mind that I can fire you."
"How'll I know if they're a hack?" The detective asked, absentmindedly tapping the rolled-up magazine against his knee.
"Everyone with a journalism degree is a hack."
Ben let out a laugh, smiling to himself before he turned to her thoughtfully. "So, the other rumor's true, then?"
Laura stilled, eyeing the blonde suspiciously. "What other rumor?"
She felt her heart drop into her stomach as the most smug grin she'd ever seen spread across McKenzie's face.
"Oh, nothing big, really. Just that you're dating the Batman."
Jim Gordon peered through the lenses of his binoculars at the carnage just across the bay.
Blackgate Prison, its repairs from the Christmas riots finished only three weeks previous, was engulfed in flames, the thick column of smoke emanating from the penitentiary visible from the opposite side of Gotham Bay even without the use of binoculars. The cause of the fire was, for the moment, unknown, the only clue pointing to its origin being a panicked phone call from one of the prison's staff, the man babbling about an explosion before cutting off abruptly with a bloodcurdling scream. As acting commissioner he'd been notified immediately, but one look at the destruction unfolding within the prison's walls, and the captain knew that if he sent his men in there, as understaffed as they were, none of them would be coming out alive. The best he could do, he knew, was to notify the governor to send the National Guard, send some men to line the perimeter to keep the inmates from escaping, and pray that help came along soon.
"You're going to need a better way to get my attention, Gordon. I just happened to be listening to the police band."
Gordon attempted not to flinch at the vigilante's sudden appearance, his presence nearly a physical force at his back. He'd thought to ask Laura, of course, knowing the woman had some way of getting into contact with the Bat she'd neglectedto tell him about, but when he'd stopped by her office and found her with her head in her hands, a gaggle of snickering detectives just outside her door, he'd thought it better just to leave her be. He wasn't so ignorant to believe the vigilante wasn't monitoring the GCPD's radio calls, and once he put out the word that there was yet another incident at Blackgate, Gordon knew it would only be a matter of time before the Batman made an appearance.
"I'm sure we'll think of something," He deadpanned. "Maybe if you gave us your cell number?"
"What do we know?"
"There was an explosion at Blackgate about six hours ago." Gordon nodded towards the burning facility. "They think maybe an escape attempt went bad."
"And the inmates took advantage and overran the guards." Batman finished, stepping forward to stand next to Gordon.
"Afraid so. They're in a standoff with my men positioned outside the prison gates."
Jim sighed. "The entire prison staff."
"Blackgate. Seems like we were just there." The vigilante shook his head.
"You don't have to tell me." The captain sighed, running a hand through his hair, the red strands flecked with gray.
"I'll approach the prison from the river side," Batman decided after a moment.
"That side's impregnable. Practically a sheer wall down to the water." Gordon argued, frowning at the man at his side. He should know, after all; He'd chased the vigilante off that very same side of the prison in his arrest attempt during the first Christmas riot.
When that didn't garner a response, the captain sighed. "Batman, they're all in there, from petty thieves to the worst of the worst, and almost every one has a grudge against you."
"Then they're about to get their shot."
With that, the Bat hurled himself off the side of the building, his cape snapping open to catch the wind and carrying him across the air towards the burning penitentiary. Between the pelting rain and the churning waters of Gotham Bay, Gordon lost sight of the man within moments. Sighing to himself, the captain headed back into the warmth of the precinct. He should have known that there'd be no dissuading the vigilante once he'd committed to a plan of action; The man acted like a one-man-army, as if he was the city's last line of defense and was the only one willing and able to step up and protect its' citizens.
No wonder he and Laura got along so well.
Jim made his way downstairs, the path to his chosen destination so committed to memory from the dozens of other times he'd made the trip, he could have found his way blind. Making his way through the bullpen, he stepped into his protégé's office, the brunette finally out of whatever slump she'd been in and now burying herself in paperwork.
"Get your coat and let's go. We've got work to do."
Frowning in confusion, Anderson nonetheless shrugged on the woolen coat draped across the back of her chair, following him out of her office and into the bullpen. "What's going on?"
"Your boyfriend's about to get himself in trouble."
He was barely able to suppress a smile at Laura's reddening face and Ben McKenzie's howl of laughter at their backs.
"How 'bout giving a girl a break, fellas? I'm just trying to get outta here."
Bruce peered over the wall separating the cell blocks, following the sound of voices echoing up from below his perch. Casually leaning against the prison yard's gate was the cat burglar from two weeks before, somehow once again clad in her gear and surrounded by three heavily-muscled thugs. Each was clad in a makeshift uniform, one from each of the big-name crime bosses that he'd put away on Christmas Eve, and the three were bickering amongst themselves, completely unobservant of both the woman's calculated air of ease and the caped vigilante situated only feet over their heads.
"Our boss wants a word with you."
"I don't think so, buddy, she's mine."
"Well why would anyone need little old me?" The thief asked, feigning innocence.
"Doesn't matter to me lady, I just got orders, and that's that." One of the thugs shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest and staring down the other two, raising himself to his full height.
Bruce launched himself off the top of the wall, gliding down towards the gathered quartet and slamming boots-first into Sionis' man, sending him flying across the courtyard. The other two were dispatched quickly, soon enough leaving only himself and the woman who'd given him such a headache two weeks ago.
"How did you get so popular? Besides the obvious."
"Hey, when things went boom, I was just gonna grab my suit and find a way outta here," She said defensively. "Things are getting too intense for a sweet little thief like me. But then they jumped me, each trying to keep me from joining the others' side."
"What do you mean, 'side'?" He asked.
The woman shrugged nonchalantly, tucking away a strand of hair that'd come loose from under her helmet. "All the heavy hitters hate each other, especially Black Mask and the Joker. They've all staked out their own territories inside the prison. The way I hear it, Penguin has the cell blocks and controls movement around Blackgate; He locked all the staff in a cell on Blackgate's lowest level, the Arkham Wing. Black Mask's taken charge of the prison's Industrial Complex; He decides where there's power, and where there isn't. And the Joker's holding down the Administration building, which has the computers to encrypt the codes for the locks on the Arkham cells."
"Here's the bad news," She drawled, circling him like a predator preparing for the kill. "To get to the hostages, someone has to go to the Industrial Complex to restore power to the Arkham Wing, get through the cell blocks to get down there, and have the Crypto-Sequencer that unlocks the hostages' cell."
Bruce nearly groaned. "This is shaping up to be a long night."
"So let's spend it together."
He fixed her with a hard stare. "Excuse me?"
She shot him what he assumed she thought to be a charming smile. "I can work the bad guys from the inside and feed you information as you work your way through the prison."
"You're a criminal," He said sternly. "Why should I trust you?"
"Because I have an incentive." She purred, smiling.
"What do you want?"
"What you promised me to begin with." The thief pulled the pair of red goggles resting atop her head over her face, looking up at him through the tinted lenses. "You can help get me somewhere less dangerous where I can serve out a shorter sentence."
"You mean some place easier to escape from." He said flatly, easily picking up her meaning.
"You think I want to see those innocent people down there hurt?" She snapped. "I'm just a thief, not a psychopathic murderer like everyone else in here! But if you don't want my help, I'll be on my way, and you can take your chances alone."
"Wait," He warned, halting the woman's retreat towards the yard's exit. "No tricks."
She turned to look at him over her shoulder, a smug smile on her face. "For you, only treats. You gonna be able to find your way around okay?"
"I've got it covered."
She winked, grabbing his wrist and dropped a small earpiece into the center of his palm. "I'll be in touch."
Before he could get in another word, the woman disappeared down a hall leading further into the prison, leaving Bruce with the lingering feeling like he'd made a mistake. With a slight shake of his head, the vigilante pressed a small button on his utility belt, the roar of the Batwing's engine sounding from overhead within minutes. After a few moments, the holographic display on his gauntlet came to life with a flash of blue light, a 3-D model of the prison appearing over his raised forearm, with a small warning flashing above it.
Structure has multiple stress areas and weakened iron supports throughout. Approximately 1,400 life forms detected, 1,100 of them hostile.
With a sigh that sounded only slightly defeated, Bruce turned and headed towards the building the map had indicated was Blackgate's Industrial Complex.
"As you can see, there've been some unexpected developments."
Captain Rick Flag shook his head at the analyst's assessment of the situation, glaring at the image displayed across the Director's screen. 'Unexpected development'? No, this had turned into nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. The situation at Blackgate had been risky to begin with, they'd all known that, what with an unpredictable element like the Joker involved, but risks could be minimized, outcomes accounted for; That was all just a matter of planning and preparation. But this? Some vigilante showing up out of the blue and inserting himself into a prison riot turned three-way turf war between Gotham's biggest crime bosses? That hadn't been planned for, and now everything was on the line.
"There's too much risk of our exposure." He argued. "You need to pull the plug."
"I make the decisions on this op, and I say we keep going." The Director said firmly, shooting him a stern look. "There's something to be gained here."
Taking the dismissal for what it was, Flag gave a stiff salute and exited the office, the young data analyst staying behind to answer the Director's stream of questions. The soldier made his way down the halls of the facility, his long stride carrying him to the large wall of windows that overlooked Gotham Bay. From here, he could just make out the dim orange light that were the flames currently engulfing Gotham County's largest penitentiary, the heavy rain doing little to stem the fire's spread. The bay's waters were no more calm than the skies, the waves slamming into the rocks that lined the shore with enough force that he half-expected the entire facility to be loosed from its foundations and go sliding off the cliff face into the churning waters below. The scene was gloomy, miserable, and oppressively foreboding, the very embodiment of everything he'd come to associate with Gotham City.
As Flag stared out into the stormy night, he briefly considered taking charge of the op himself before quickly dismissing the thought. It wouldn't have been the first time he'd had to improvise and seize control of a mission gone wrong when the desk jockeys back at HQ bit off more than they could chew, but he'd been careful to toe the line since his reassignment to the Director's command. The worst the Army could do was court martial him and send him somewhere he'd never again see the light of day, but that'd be nothing compared to the consequences he'd face now; He'd heard rumors about the fates of men who'd decided to go behind the Director's back, the unspeakable punishments that followed even perceived betrayals, and though he'd never been the type to put much faith in gossip, he had no doubt every muttered word and terrified whisper were completely true, and comprised not even half of the abominable acts under his commanding officer's belt. No, for now, Flag was in her good graces, as good as they were going to get, at least, and he intended on staying there.
After all, he was no fool, and only an utter madman tempted fate when it came to Amanda Waller.