From the shadowy depths, an ominous figure emerged, his body and mind at one with the murky depths that surrounded him. Cloaked in the same darkness that surrounded him, he strode forward, stopping at the edge of a low wall, clasping his hands behind his back as he gazed off into the distance. Lightning sparked and cracked, slicing through the hot night air, a low rumble of thunder sounding as if the storm were truly alive, unwilling to be confined by the boundaries of space or time, filling the sky and the night with its electric energy.

His mind, however, wasn't focused on the glories of nature in front of him, but rather it was focused inward as his insanely brilliant mind played out a multitude of ideas, thoughts, and scenarios as possible ways to finally lay siege of the man known as the Dark Knight of Gotham and ultimately destroy him.

Each bolt of lightning illuminated the landscape for miles around him as the harsh arc of light brought to life shadows, dark and foreboding. With each flash, it highlighted the fact that darkness, particularly on this night, was a time for terror, a time when plans for revenge were best hatched, where madness reigned and mocked all those who tried to stand in the way of evil, no matter how good their ideals or intentions.

The Dark Knight of Gotham had always thrived in the night, using the cover of darkness in order to strike fear into the hearts of those he sought to capture, using the shadows as a tool to fight the criminal element that had infested his city. He had long ago chosen to make a stand, to take Gotham into his capable hands and wring out the sin and corruption that had become the lifeblood of the city. From that dedication and devotion had come a sense of purpose and pride, an occupation that had nothing to do with money, and a family that had been born of tragedy and togetherness in their efforts to eradicate the very thing that had brought them together.

It's been said that revenge is a dish best served cold and for this man, revenge was simply second nature. And tonight, as lightning laced the sky, the shadowy figure's thoughts were all about defeating Batman, of pushing him towards that fine line between sanity and madness and shattering that arrogant and self-assured disposition that had been a part of the man since he had first taken to the streets of Gotham.

He was determined to undermine Batman's confidence, to destroy everything that he'd ever held dear to him, no matter how much money, effort, or time that it cost him. He was going to, literally and figuratively, bring him to his knees. His mind flowed with thoughts as he scoured the depths of his brilliant mind for a way to take that passion -- that unyielding devotion which comprised the man, and use it against him in such a way that he would never expect and thus, would not be able to protect himself from.

And while Batman was perpetually prepared for any and every eventuality, as he well knew, there had to be some way to extricate the heart and mind of the Bat and drive him to a place from which there was no return: the cold brink of insanity and indifference.

Cold, sinister laughter filled the hot night air as the seed of a plan began to take root, growing and developing until a full-fledged strategy solidified within his mind. He continued to mull over it, searching for potential problems and discrepancies as he allowed a small smile to appear on his face, a smile of pure and disturbing evil that mirrored his plot.

And so it began…

Thanks to DWParsnip for the beta!

Questions, comments, criticism, etc. appreciated.