Batman: Green Dawn

As Batman continues his newborn crusade, not only must he battle crime on the streets, Bruce Wayne must also handle the demands of his dual life while maintaining the trust of those few he calls friends. But most of all, he must confront a lethal new menace wreaking havoc on a struggling Gotham City. Fighting enemies both old and new on both sides of the law, he will discover that at the heart of the calamity is an adversary as beautiful as she is deadly…

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Part One: Twilight's End
Chapter 1

Gasping for air, he ran, his heavy steps raising up knee-high splashes that echoed through the narrow backalleys crowded with refuse and debris.

Passing by a large dumpster, he suddenly dropped down to crouch behind it, quickly looking up into the night. Squinting, he saw nothing but raindrops, but he knew better—that thing was up there

He began running again.

Ahead of him, something fell to the ground—not water! Panicked, he scrambled into yet another alley, barely wide enough for him to squeeze into. Reflexively he crouched down, covering his head with the dirty poncho he had stolen from some drunk he killed a few days ago. He fought to control his breathing, willing his knees to stop shaking.

Amid the ceaseless raindrops, he thought he heard something pass overhead—he dared not look.

A minute passed, then five, then ten. The dreaded attack from above never came. As gingerly as a man his size could, he crept out into the main alley, then cautiously peaked his head around a corner. A few blocks in the distance, he could see the dark winding silhouette of the Eastern River, and beyond that, the shining towers of midtown.

Fear instantly gave way to joy. After weeks of hiding and running from the cops and from… ithe was about to escape this hellhole. Many of the others had been recaptured, but he had remained free all this time. Now, a short trip across the river was all that was needed to make his escape.

Grinning ferally, he pulled out a long steel pipe. The hunted was now once again the hunter.

Cursing, Hasan had no choice but to stop the car. He was thoroughly lost.

We Deliver Anywhere in Gotham! That was the slogan of Ralph's Pizzeria, which Hasan was a deliveryman for, and because they really meant it, Hasan was making a midnight delivery run into the worst part of the city. Tonight he had delivered his dozen pizzas to a nondescript building deep in the center of the island. The dark-suited man who took delivery said nothing as he paid, but unlike others in this rundown neighborhood he didn't seem scared or even depressed about being there, which said much of the likely reason for his presence. But that was neither here nor there for him—what was his problem was trying to get back to the 12th Street Bridge. The waterfront was in plain view, but he was stuck trying to navigate a maze of one way streets, many of which were blocked off. Some had potholes so big they couldn't be traversed, and virtually all the street signs were missing.

He was more frustrated than scared; Gotham was a tough town, but it wasn't much worse than his native Kashmir, not even if you counted the recent mayhem. Stepping out into the cold rain, he squinted, searching in all directions. The intersection he was at was deserted, with only a flickering traffic light providing illumination. He knew where the exit road to the main thoroughfare circling the Narrows was, but he needed to find another way to get there. Finally, he saw it: a sign that pointed to another road that led to the thoroughfare. Smoothly he ducked back in and started the engine.

He shook his head to shake off the water when suddenly broken glass showered him from his right. Something had smashed the right window of his car, and before he could react a large arm had reached in and unlocked the door. Fumbling to remove his seatbelts the right front door flew open and a huge figure surged inside.

Panic filled Hasan as his assailant began to pummel him, shock waves of pain surging everywhere as a fist crushed against his ear and metal struck his head. Instinctively he shielded his face and throat, but the blows continued raining down on him. He felt himself spinning in midair, then landed with a thud on his side on the wet pavement. Now the man began kicking him in the groin and stomach, and darkness flooded his vision.

Laughing, he gave the deliveryman another kick to the face, then sat down and began driving away. He had not traveled a block when suddenly bright lights exploded in front of him. The car shuddered and began spinning out of control. Frantic, he slammed on the breaks and just managed to keep the car from flipping over. It was then that he saw it: a huge dark shape, horns sticking out of his head, with wings trailing from behind.

There was no time for fear—summoning all his rage and hate, he pulled out his pipe and swung. His first swing cut through air as the man sidestepped. Something like a bag of bricks smashed into his face; no stranger to physical punishment, the blow actually staggered him, but he quickly recovered and turned about. Shaking his head, he looked around to get a fix on his opponent.

A sharp wave of pain shot up his left leg as a kick crushed his kneecap from the side. Now he did fall to the ground, arms flailing about. He saw the figure above him, glistening black against the midnight sky.

Cursing, he struggled to get up as a continuous rain of kicks and punches struck him. His head snapped left, right; and then there was nothing.

Silently, Batman stared down at the mammoth still form of Luis Varone, nearly half a foot taller than him, short cropped hair and pitted skin, his massive arms covered in tattoos. A serial mugger and suspected murderer, he was one of the last of the inmates who had escaped Arkham still at large. He bent down and cuffed him, then headed back to where the driver was still lying on the street. The driver, a small but stocky man of Middle East background, was badly beaten and moaning, but fortunately still conscious. He went back to the car, but couldn't operate the radio inside—it was broken. Grimacing, he took out a tiny two-way radio from his belt.

Running away from the crime scene, he spoke quickly: "This is an emergency, there's a carjacking victim at Larson and 17th Street in the Upper Narrows. I need an ambulance sent—"

"This is a police line, who the hell are you?" came an exasperated voice.

He couldn't help but smile. "A friend. Send a medic and the police, there's something here you might want back."

There was a pause on the other side. About time they started figuring it out. "I see. All right, we'll get a dispatch there. For the last time you are ordered—"

The radio went dead. "I don't take your orders," he said to the silence around him. With a sweep of his cape he disappeared back into the shadows.