Disclaimer: Sense my last name is neither Kane, nor Whedon it would be a correct assumption that I own none of the characters involved in this story.
Pairings: Though not the focus of the story the following pairings will be mentioned, or referred to. F/X, Grayson/Gordon, Wayne/Kyle, Drake/Brown and Drake/?
Timelines: BTVS post Chosen. I have mauled the Batman timeline to suit my own ends, placing Bruce Wayne in his early fifties.
A/N: I will be submitting this tail here in increments of four chapters at a time. Sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for you patients.
With the reputation that Gotham City had earned over the years many laymen were often surprised when they heard that the G.C.P.D. is ranked in the top ten in the United States for efficiency, or that the unemployment rate in Gotham was the lowest of any city of its size in the country. The fact that generated the most surprise in many people unfamiliar with the science of statistics, however, was that the dark city of the east cost was not included among the communities with the highest per capita murder rate.
That is, until the numbers for domestic homicide, deaths caused by persons known to the victim, are removed from the equation.
Twenty years ago Gotham ranked third in 'random' murders, but then, seemingly over night, the death rate in Santa Carla, California dropped dramatically and the city that straddled the Gotham River rose to number two. Then, when another small Californian town by the name of Sunnydale collapsed into a sinkhole, in an event that three and a half years later still sparked debate amongst seismologist, Gotham unwillingly took its place as the serial murder capitol.
A fact that most people knew nothing about and mystified the handful of people 'in the know' was that Gotham City ranked last in the Western Hemisphere for supernatural activity. So it was understandable, to a certain extent, that the dark haired young watcher and his three slayer companions watched with anticipation and a touch of amusement instead of fear as a half dozen shadowy figures surrounded them.
"Rona?" the young man asked the dark skinned girl over his shoulder. "You feel anything?"
"Disgust? Contempt?" Rona shrugged.
"Bored." The leather clad brunet added.
"Hungry." innocent looking red head chimed in.
"So, that would be a big no on the dust bunny front."
"But a big yes on the light workout front, Xan." Faith added.
"Yo, One Eyed Willy." One of the thugs, obviously the leader, exclaimed as he stepped forward to face the young man. "You need to be paying less attention to your bitches and more attention to me."
Xander's shoulders stiffened and with a forced smile the one eyed man turned back to gang leader.
"You have my attention." He said through his teeth.
"I don't know who you think you are, Capt. Jack, but the only one allowed to pimp ass in this part of town is Moe."
Ignoring the intensifying death glares from the three women, the street tough puffed up his chest and continued.
"Now what's going to happen is, me and my boys are gonna have ourselves a little party with your talent." He said pulling back his shirt to reveal a large automatic. "And when we're done, Patches, we're gonna dump what's left of your body in harbor."
A smile slowly crept across the thug's face as he watched his intended victim's eye widen and his face pale when he flashed his weapon. That is, until the one eyed man spoke.
"Dear God, please tell me you don't have that hand cannon pointed at your crotch with the safety off."
Unable to help himself the street tough looked down.
And the fight was over.
With unexpected speed Xander reached out and grabbed the man's gun hand and, holding it in place, delivered a nose breaking head-but between the thug's eyes. Continuing his forward momentum the young watcher swept the tough's legs out from under him and followed the thug to the ground. A knee to the diaphragm and fist to the side of the head later the once cocky mugger lay unconscious on the ground.
By the time Xander regained his feet the tree slayers had finished off the remainder of the gang and were waiting for him
"Nice moves, Xander," Violet congratulated, "We'll make a slay-him out of you yet."
"You know, sense you're a guy." The red head volunteered. "Instead of a slay-her you would be a slay-him. And now that I think about it, that sounded a lot better before anyone said it out loud."
"Yeah, I think I'll stick with Xander, Vi. Thanks though"
After glancing around the cluttered alley where they stood for a moment the original Scooby clapped his hands together and continued on to a new subject.
"Well, let's get these idiots tied up, call the police and call it a night. We've got a lot of research to do tomorrow."
"I've got a better idea." Faith countered with a predatory snarl. "How about we hunt that Moe jerk-hole down and have us a little talk?"
Xander took a moment to stroke his chin in false contemplation.
"That's not a bad idea." He drawled. "I could use a little extra money."
"Screw you, Harris." Three voices called out in well practiced unison.
With a goofy grin the ex-carpenter raised his left hand to show Faith the gold band on his finger.
"Damn." She snarked with a grin. "I knew there had to be a reason for me avoid that whole 'I do' crap. Well, I guess we'll just come up with some other way to push your buttons."
Without missing a beat Vi and Rona exchanged a look and a grin.
"Screw you, Harris." The two chimed in chorus.
"Ha ha, freaking, ha."
Unnoticed by the four demon hunters one of the shadow on the rooftop above them detached itself from the surrounding darkness and raised a hand to the side of his head.
"Did you get all of that?" it whispered.
"I've got it." The grim voice from his headset responded. "It looks like we have some new players in town."
"Right, I'm going to follow them and see where they go."
"Agreed. I'm sending the tape to Oracle now. We'll see what she can dig up on our new friends."
With a nod Dick Grayson, better know to the world at large as Batman, kicked off from the rooftop and swung in pursuit of his new quarry.
Chapter 1: Picking Up the Trail
Faith Harris slid through the early morning darkness of the town-home guided as much be the smell of stale coffee as the lone light shining from the kitchen. She paused in the doorway to take in what she saw. Her husband sat crouched over an impressive pile of books and newspaper clippings tiredly rubbing his eye while more piles of books lay scattered on the floor behind his chair. After a moment of watching she softly cleared her throat to make herself known.
"Oh, hi, hun. I didn't wake you did I?" Xander asked, offering a tired smile in apology.
"Bed's getting cold, boy-toy." She said as she took the all but forgotten mug of cold coffee from his hand and dumped it in the sink. "Unless you went form 'the-one-who-sees' to 'the-one-who-doesn't-sleep' you need to get to bed."
"Yeah, sorry." The dark haired man said as he tried to rub the sleep from his eye again. "I think I've almost got this sorted again. Demon fights? Not so much good for the keeping things organized."
"Good for scoring a vacation in the Cotswolds though."
"Not so much a vacation as learning to work together again. That Akquiel demon really did a number on the local team."
"A demon that starts arguments?" Faith shrugged. "I'm not feeling the terror here."
Xander turned in his chair to better face his wife.
"You remember when I got poisoned in L.A. a couple of years ago and went all?" He asked making vague gestures beside his head.
At Faith's shudder he continued.
"That knife was coated with bile from one of these demons. Out of control emotions, paranoia, anger. We're just lucky Sharon and Kalli did their throw-down in Shady Rest and not here. Two slayers going full out at each other could have destroyed the house."
"Yeah." The dark haired slayer snorted. "I've done the two slayer mambo. Been there, done that. Remember?"
"Oh yeah, sorry. I…
"You need to get to bed." She said pulling the watcher to his feet. "You've apologized three times and you haven't cracked one stupid joke. Both are telling me that you need some serious sack time."
"But…" Xander protested as he was lead from the room.
"Nah…ah…ah. We'll pick this up tomorrow. You're no good to me limp."
Faith paused and looked at the man for a moment.
"Damn. You are tired if give you a straight line like that and you've got nothing to say."
Alfred Pennyworth navigated the stairs down into the caves beneath Wayne manor with practiced ease despite his growing reliance in the cane that had become his constant companion over the last few years. At the base of the stairs the ageing butler took a moment to catch his breath and to adjust the oxygen feed that rested upon his upper lip. The familiar sight that greeted him, that of Bruce Wayne pouring himself into his latest mystery, at first had caused a measure of concern in the Englishman, but over the decades that concern had faded to be replaced by a sense of normalcy in the scene before him.
All that had changed in that time was that the middle-aged detective that had replaced the young avenger was now in turn being replaced by the ageing defender of Gotham.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping, Alfred?"
"One could say the same for a certain ageing vigilante. As for oneself, I have found that the need for rest has become less urgent during the passing years."
The corner of the graying billionaire's lip twitched upward for a moment. "And William?"
"It would seem that my protégé is still burdened with a need for sleep."
A full smile graced Bruce's face. "Ah, the weakness of youth."
"Indeed, Master Bruce. And how goes your investigations the evening?"
His serious demeanor returned as the detective turned back to his monitor, unconsciously adjusting the brace on his leg. With the click of a button a motion capture image of a young redhead appeared on the screen.
"Violet Elizabeth Knowles: A native of Madison, Wisconsin. Age twenty, a student of Ohio State University and currently working on her paramedic's certification and as well as a masters in mythology.
With another click of a button Vi's image was replaced with one of a dark skinned beauty's.
"Rona Victoria Williams: Born in Atlanta, Georgia, twenty-one. Also a student of Ohio State majoring in ancient languages and physical education."
"Hardly the resumes one would expect for a pair of master criminals, Master Bruce."
"You'd be suppressed." The master of Wayne manor responded as he clicked the button a third time to show a sinister looking dark haired man with an eye patch and several days of worth stubble.
"Alexander Lavelle Harris: Twenty-six years old. Born in Sunnydale, California. A licensed architect and a class five antique dealer. In 1999 he was arrested in Oxnard for lude and lascivious behavior, indecent exposure and solicitation. The charges were dropped the next day."
"On the surface, the only thing that these three have in common other that the fact that they are all currently reside in Cleveland, is the Red Cross list them all as disaster relief victims from Sunnydale."
"And under the surface?" Mr. Pennyworth asked.
Bruce shook his head. "I'm not sure. Hopefully Barbra will have more information tomorrow."
"And the third young lady?"
The image on the monitor changed to one of a wild looking brunet.
"Nothing. Until her marriage to Mr. Harris three months ago she did not exist."
"If that is the case, perhaps it would be best for us two old men to humor our juniors and retire for the evening and get a fresh start in the morning."
The vigilante smiled up to his old friend.
"You maneuvered me into that didn't you?"
"My advanced age has granted me wisdom as well as a disregard for sleep."
Maureen Stanton, an attractive woman in her mid-thirties, had had better nights. It had taken a lot of hard work, sacrifices and her 'little ace in the hole' to get to where she was now. A penthouse in downtown Gotham cost a lot and the price to keep it was more than the money it took to pay the rent. But tonight her paranoia and her sense of self preservation, both of which were necessary survival traits in the Gotham underworld, had started to itch in the back of her head.
Someone had sent a pimp and his talent as bait into her territory then jumped a half dozen of her enforcers, leaving them for the police battered and bloody. The fact that her unknown rival had left her men breathing was a mistake she would be more that willing to take advantage of, but she would need a target before she could defend what was hers.
Looking away from the Gotham skyline, Moe reached out and touched the intercom button on her desk.
"Clarence, have the lawyers retrieve Joey and his boys from Gotham's finest tomorrow morning."
"And I want full descriptions of this player and his girls in everybody's hands by tomorrow night. I have some questions I want to ask this pirate who thinks he can pillage what is mine."
END CHAPTER #1
Chapter 2: Incomplete Pictures
Rona had woken up, eaten, worked out with Vi and Faith, showered, and been sitting in front of her laptop for three hours before her watcher groggily wandered down from bed.
She and the redhead had been shipped off the Africa by 'General Buffy' to baby-sit the original Scooby after Sunnydale, but the babysitting gig ended and the partnership had started after the two slayers found out about the crazy old guy in South Africa and the commandos he had sent to kill them. The crazy old guy with a grudge about his two sons and something called 'Slayerfest '98'. The crazy old guy that Xander had taken care of without his slayers finding out until after the fact.
When she had found out 'General Buffy' died.
Buffy Summers, the woman who took her place, however, had screamed and yelled and cried and two days later started to brag about her friend 'The Watcher'.
After 'The-Event-Which-Shall-Never-Be-Mentioned' a few months later in Egypt the three Counsel members had been forced to return to The States. Claiming boredom, Faith had joined the group a few weeks later. Since then the four of them had criss-crossed the North American continent helping the local teams put out the fires that the more stationary slayers couldn't handle by themselves.
This, of course, was all a long winded way of saying that Rona wasn't use to research and didn't like it.
"Sorry, I over slept." Mumbled the former carpenter as he flopped down into the fourth chair and reached for a folder.
"Don't touch that!" Rona snapped.
Xander dropped the folder and slid the chair away from the table raising his hands in the universal sign of 'don't hurt me'.
The other two slayers snickered.
"I think someone's a little cranky." Vi teased her friend.
"Nah," Faith added. "I think she's having an allergic reaction to reading."
"Bite me. Sorry, Xan. I've got a computer headache." The Atlanta native apologized.
"No problem." He shrugged with a grin as he scooted he chair back to the table. "So, what's the what?"
"Okay. From what we can figure out." Violet explained. "About a year ago, the local nuthouse burnt down and all the crazies got out."
"Real sickos." Faith added. "We're talking Dru level fruitcakes."
"But get this." Rona said, picking up the thread. "It's like in the middle of the fire they all got together and decided to change their M.O.s. Out of nowhere they all came up with the brilliant idea that instead of leaving stupid riddles when they kill someone and getting caught, they all thought it would be fun to do the whole fake sacrifice thing."
"Have I mentioned lately how glad I am that we deal with demons instead of psychos?" The redhead grumbled. "We're lucky that most of them have been caught."
"No shit." Agreed the Boston Slayer waving a file. "You should be thankful I said yes to the ring, boy-toy. This chick was real Xander dating material. She'd seduce a guy, take him out to the woods, tie him down with vines then get down to some serious knife work."
"What about this guy?" Vi asked, pointing to a pile of news clippings to her right. "He would shoot his victims with some kind of freeze gun, then break the poor people up and use the frozen parts to make pentagrams."
Afraid to ask, but unable to help himself, Xander motioned to the file in front of him.
"What about this guy? Um…" He paused, tilting his head to better read the name on the folder. "Cobblepot. What about that guy?"
Surprisingly he got snorts of derision in response.
"The first one caught."
"That loser was kind of pathetic."
"Watched way too much Hitchcock as a kid."
"Get this." The dark skinned slayer elaborated. "Before this whole thing started this guy once tried to hold the city for ransom by using a bunch of trained penguins with home made rocket launchers strapped to their backs."
A half smile of genuine mirth crossed the dark-haired Californian's face.
"That makes sense." At the three women's looks "What? He probably just couldn't get the ostridges with the freaking lasers on their heads."
Waiting a moment for the tension to completely leave the room, Xander continued. "So, if all the psychos have been rounded up then what's left?"
"Nah. The king psycho's still out there." Rona corrected. "Thing is, none of the other killings fit this guys style."
"Yo, X, this creep may be a grade A, Makes-Dru-Look-Like-An-Accountant, nut job." Faith motioned to the two remaining stacks of clippings. "But he ain't never eaten no one."
"If I had to guess." Vi finished. "I'd say that small stack was the real Big Bad and that the fire at Arkham was a smokescreen."
Removing his cowl, The Dark Knight entered the Batcave and joined the group of people that gathered around the wide-screen computer monitor.
"Sorry I'm late." Dick Grayson apologized as he draped his cape over the back of an unused chair. "I decided to do a sweep of the old toy factory again."
"Any luck, Master Dick?" Alfred asked.
"Alfred. William." Batman greeted the two butlers.
"Master Grayson." The younger manservant, a broad-shouldered Scott, acknowledged.
"No luck. The clown is still avoiding his old bases." Dick said, directing his answer to his mentor.
With a sharp nod of acceptance to the younger man Bruce Wayne reached out and depressed a button on the console. "We're all here now, Barbra. What have you found out about the new group in town?"
After a second the oversized monitor faded to life to show an attractive red-haired woman in her min-thirties looking back at the gathered men.
"Hi, guys." Barbra greeted over the link. "Hi, Dick." She added with a warm smile for her husband.
"Hey, Babs." The former Nightwing smiled in return. "What have you got for us?"
Returning to the business at hand, the original Batgirl, redirected her attention back to the group as a whole.
"Well, from what I can tell, they all work for a London based organization called The Watchers Counsel. Who, or what The Watchers Counsel is, I can't say. I've tried to access their database, but whoever designed their firewalls is an incredible programmer."
Unnoticed by everyone else, Alfred threw Bruce a look and a nod.
"Everything I've gotten so far," Continued the red-headed woman. "Has been from secondary sources. It seams that The Counsel runs several private schools around the world. All of which have been opened in the last three years, including one in Cleveland, and all of which have the same seven names listed as the board of directors."
She pushed a button to her side, the screen split to show pictures of Faith and Xander.
"Including two of Gotham's newest tourist. Mrs. Harris is still a mystery, but I have a possible maiden name. When I realized that all the members of the board of directors for the schools as well as her traveling companions were all listed as 'Sunnydale survivors' I ran a sweep for anyone named Faith in any of the record that survived the disaster and came up with one hit. In early May of '99 a Richard Wilkins III petitioned the state of California to adopt a sixteen year old girl by the name of Faith LeHane."
Out of the corner of his eye Dick noticed that Bruce's face pale at the mention of the name. He kept his attention on the monitor, however, as his wife continued.
"I've managed to dig up more information on Mr. Harris and the best word to describe it is interesting."
"How do you mean, Mistress Grayson?" William asked.
"Thanks for the straight line Will." Barbra smiled. With the click of a button the pictures of the two scoobies disappeared to be replaced by the image of a stone tablet covered in hieroglyphs. "This piece of stone was carved a little over two years ago; it was translated in roughly one hundred and thirty languages and is an official document of the Egyptian Government."
"It also has this." A red circle appeared around a glyph in the upper left hand corner. "The first new symbol added to the ancient Egyptian language in over three thousand years. It represents a man surrounded by chaos. It also translates to the name Alexander LaVelle Harris."
The hacker took a moment to enjoy the stunned silence from the other end of the connection.
"Basically, it states that he is banished from Egypt."
"And more specifically?" Asked the master of Wayne manor.
"Mr. Harris' shadow shall never more fall upon land of Egypt, nor any land that has known the rule of Egypt. Neither shall his feet touch any land that boarders, or is given life from the Nile until the tombs of kings once again burn with the fire of the gods."
"If I may be so bold?" William asked quietly. "What, pray tell, is the fire of the gods."
Without looking up, Bruce answered. "When the pyramids were originally constructed they were sheathed in white limestone. The light that reflected from their sides was called the fire of the gods."
Dick Grayson looked up to his wife with a start.
"Babs, when did you say this was carved?"
Mrs. Grayson smiled approvingly at her husband.
"About two weeks after the terrorist attack on the Pyramid at Giza. I thought the same thing, but if Mr. Harris is the man who blew a chunk out of the Great Pyramid then I've found no proof that there have been any attempts at reprisal."
"Is there anything else, Barbra?" The aging vigilante asked.
She shook her head. "Not right now. If you want me to take another shot at The Counsel's data base, you're going to have to call Tim back to Gotham. Cassie and Carrie can handle Bludhaven right now, but I need another set of hands on the keyboard."
"Do it." The grim older man consented as he cut the feed.
"I'm going to do another patrol." Batman called over his shoulder as he left. "Maybe I'll get lucky."
Within seconds silence had descended upon the Batcave only to be broken a moment later by Alfred.
"William, would you be kind enough to pack a bag for Master Bruce and myself?"
"I believe," The original Dark Knight said, answering the younger manservant's unasked question. "That the Wayne Foundation may soon be considering offering funding to a certain private school in Cleveland."
Thomas Wester would remember the sounds of laughter that chased him down the back allies of Gotham for the rest of his life. It wasn't human. No human could produce such a soulless sound.
No sane human at least.
He was being herded, he knew that. But he also knew that he had no way of breaking free of the trap that he had found himself in. He could only run and hope.
Earlier he had thought that he might be able to force his way past one of his pursuers, but the blood flowing freely down the right side of his face was proof that he had been wrong. The middle-aged blonde woman had laughed at him and casually thrown him across the alley into the wall. She had then stood and laughed until he had dragged himself to his feet and run, his hand pressed to his cheek where her nails had ripped his flesh.
Sprinting around a corner, Thomas staggered to a stop as he almost ran full speed into a man who was…just standing there.
"Don't just stand there! Run!" He shouted as he tried to find a way around the man.
"Run?" The man asked as he steeped out of the shadows. "Now where would the fun be in that?"
"No." Thomas whispered backing away as his mind processed the green hair. The white skin. The bright red lips.
"No." The Joker mocked. "Ya know I just never get tired of that."
Tom came to a sudden stop when he backed up into someone. Looking fearfully over his left shoulder he saw one of the men who had been chasing him, the balding one, standing there sniffing at him. Over his left shoulder the pursuer with the graying hair took his arm in a grip of steel. Behind that man, the blonde woman stood giggling.
The Joker raised his arms in a grand gesture. "Kyle, Tor, Heidi. Dinner."
Thomas Wester would remember the laughter for the rest of his life.
All three minutes.
END CHAPTER #2
Chapter 3: Convergent Lines
Staring out over the mid-day Cleveland traffic as it passed along Prospect Avenue, Bruce Wayne caught himself, once again drifting into the dangerous territory of 'What If'. With more discipline than had been necessary in decades, he forced himself to concentrate on the information he had gained on The Watcher's Council and the school he would be given a tour of in the morning.
The public records of The Calendar Institute that stared back at him from his laptop never mentioned that the school's principal and the physical education teacher were also members of the board of directors, but also never hid the fact. No mention of the fact that the school housed more students in the summer months than during the school year, but the enrolment records were open to the public. In the end the records caused him to ask more questions than they answered.
And the unanswered questions had been increasing from the moment the one eyed man and his three female traveling companions had shown up in HIS city. Bruce hated unanswered questions, but after what he had learned the previous evening the questions had become insistent. Hoping to find answers that he was beginning to suspect weren't there the billionaire, once again, went over in his mind what his butler and long time friend had said the night before.
Alfred Pennyworth waited patently in the silence of the Batcave after the night's meeting had concluded. Bruce Wayne, his charge for nearly fifty years, sat at the massive console that was the nerve center of the operation with his forehead resting on his steepled fingers. After several minutes the former Dark Knight spoke.
"You've heard of The Watcher's Council." It wasn't a question.
"Yes, Master Bruce. I encountered members of the organization before I took employment at Wayne manor. After I had retired from Her Majesty's Special Air Service, representatives of the Council sought to recruit me."
Having gained the detective's undivided attention, Alfred took a moment to collect his thoughts, and then continued.
"The Illuminati are a myth, but like all myths there is a seed of truth. I believe that The Watcher's Council is one such seed. They are subtle and hold a great deal of political influence."
The aging vigilante frowned. "Like The League of Shadows."
"Both organizations do claim the preservation of the Earth as their goal." The butler acquiesced. "The Council, however, is more a society of researchers. I believe the gentlemen who attempted to recruit me referred to the majority of their organization as 'Those bloody librarians'. Also, where the League claims to protect the Earth from humanity, The Watcher's Council proposes to save the world from enemies of a more supernatural nature."
"They're witch hunters?"
"No. Demon hunters."
"So, when the number of ritualistic murders in Gotham increased a year ago…"
"…The young people we are here to investigate were, themselves, sent to investigate, and if necessary, remove what was responsible for those murders."
After a moment of silence Alfred broached a new subject.
"Do you believe it is her?"
Through force of will, Bruce pulled back form the memory. He knew where the rest of the conversation with his old friend would turn. Where it would lead. It was just a distraction. One that he could not afford at this time. When the murders had been stopped then there would be time to look into that mystery.
Wearing a pair of sweat pants, a t-shirt proclaiming that he was the property of Gotham University and carrying a steaming mud of coffee, Dick Grayson wandered down the steps into the Batcave. Pausing briefly on his way to the mats at the main console to set down his mug and flip on the recordings from the listening devise he had planted in the newcomers' home two nights ago.
As he stretched he let the voices wash over him, not consciously listening, but instead allowing the conversations seep into his subconscious. Five steps into his opening kata he paused. Something one of the girls had said had snapped him out of his concentration.
Stepping off of the mats, Batman moved back to the main console and rewound the recording. Taking a long drink from his warm coffee he restarted the tape at the point where he had been distracted.
"If I had to guess, I'd say that small stack was the real Big Bad and that the fire at Arkham was a smokescreen."
Backing the recording further he listened to the conversation from the beginning. His face a mask of control, Dick listened as the strangers dismissed hundreds of murders as a smokescreen. The Watcher's Council was either composed of the most heartless people on the planet, or the most focused.
Putting his mug down, Batman's hand brushed across a sheaf of paper that he hadn't noticed before. Picking up the notes, he recognized the cramped, neat writing of his mentor describing the conversation the former Dark Knight had had with Alfred the night before.
"I don't recognize half of these symbols. I mean, (the sound of papers shuffling) this is 'Void', here's 'Death' and this hieroglyph is a derivative of 'Rebirth', but the rest I've never seen before."
"I've never seen that glyph before, where did you see it?"
"After Glory, when we…"
"Ouch, sorry Xan, forget I asked."
"Demon hunters? Well that's new." Dick said to himself as he finished reading the report that Bruce had left him. During his career, first as Robin, then as Nightwing and now as Batman he had run across a few demons, but the thought that there may be an organization devoted to hunting them was a new one for him. Especially one as old and powerful as Alfred implied. There just weren't that many demons out there in the real world.
"Don't worry about it, Vi, just send the symbols off to Wills. We'll see if she can make anything out of them."
"Way ahead of you, watcher man. Said she was gonna have to bounce them over to Dawn a Giles though. Looks like someone's been trying to hack the files."
Flipping on the monitor, Batman reached over to the hard files Bruce had started on the four strangers and The Watchers Council. Under the five folders was a sixth much thicker file, its pages beginning to yellow with age.
He was surprised by the name typed across the top of the folder. It had been more than twenty years since the last time he had even thought about that case. A thief he and Bruce had had run-ins with when Dick had just started out as Robin. A thief that had reformed and then disappeared.
Opening the folder he found an envelope at the top of the reports marked simply 'Batman C/O Commissioner Gordon' above a date for the letter to be delivered on. The message inside took up only one side of the sheet and was written in a hand that was weak and inconsistent.
Dick's eyes widened as what the letter said soaked into his mind. Looking from the mug-shot that had been under the envelope to the stop-motion shots of the four Council members that stared back at him from the computer screen he realized the resemblance was unmistakable. The hair was different, the eyes and the chin, however, were identical.
It was time The Council met Batman.
Joey carefully patted his immaculately slicked back hair and straitened his sports-coat as he entered his boss's office. Getting beat down by a cripple and three chicks had caused him and his crew to loose a lot of face in Moe's organization. Worse had been when he and his crew had been sent out to find the interlopers that had caused that humiliation with orders NOT to take their pound of flesh, but to report back to the boss when the damn pirate and his whores had been found.
But here he was, mission accomplished, staring nervously at one of Gotham's most powerful crime lords while she stared back at him impatiently.
"Well?" She snapped
"Sorry, Ma'am." He answered, barely holding back the erg to genuflect. "I mean…Um…We found them, Ma'am."
He regained a small measure of confidence at her nod of approval.
"So, ya want me and my boys to fire-bomb their house, or something?"
"Yes, Joey," She said sarcastically. "I've often thought that the only thing my office was missing was to have Gotham P.D. and The Batman crawling out of the woodwork."
"No, Joey wait until one of them is alone and then…" She shrugged. "Well, Gotham is a dangerous city."
END CHAPTER #3