Chapter 1

Jason sat the table, drinking a beer, trying to relax. It had been that way for weeks now, even though the Governments complicity had been revealed in his creation. Unable to come in from the cold to use a cliché, the thirty million dollar spy, and assassin observed everyone carefully. What they looked like, how they moved, their eyes, you can never disguise the eyes of a killer no matter how hard you try. He checked his watch again, almost nine thirty, he ought to be going, maybe get some sleep.

It had only taken a week or so before they started tracking him, trying to silence the 'weapon', hoping to ensure no further embarrassment for the Government. Every city required the use of more stolen cards, when would it end, when would he be at peace, or would it only take his death. Admittedly he had willingly signed, but they had so calmly betrayed Jason, it was cold, heartless, and almost reptilian.

Taking a deep breath walked out into the night. His recent injuries had healed, thankfully, but there must be somewhere he could go. The cold night air was bracing, and his exhalations left plumes of condensation rising into the air.

Raised voices were audible from across the road, his trained mind quickly assessed the situation. Checking the nearby area was second nature, looking the opposite way, just in case the noise was a distraction and they intended to 'hit' him from another source. Sometimes these reflexes made him tired, having to constantly assess everything, like a human computer – never without a break from the extreme violence surrounding his life. One thing he would never do was wish for death, maybe fade away into obscurity into another country? He'd tried that before and they had attacked and killed his girlfriend with impunity.

Taking a side alley he walked in, surveying the nearby shadows, looking for any lurking attackers. Turning a corner he saw a fight taking place, obviously gang members trying to rob an old lady, which he overtly ignored, covertly watching the entire affair. About to intervene he moved quickly towards the men, knowing it could be a trap but not prepared to let an old lady die. His hackles rose on the back of his neck, sensing danger somehow, and stopped briefly to scan the nearby area.

It was then a shape fell from the sky, huge leathery wings spread out behind it, landing almost silently. Like a demon of shadow, except Jason saw the lower half of a human visage not covered by a mask, the mouth and jaw were visible. The rest appeared to be some kind of armour covering the whole body. Who the hell was he? But he saw it for what the old lady was, bait; designed to lure the figure out. Half a dozen more men poured out of broken window – all carrying baseball bats, knives or swords.

He rushed to help, but need not have bothered. The figure shook off the attacks easily and moved with the speed of a panther, dodging beneath a strike to suddenly loom over the victim before a strike felled them. He saw what the other didn't, men in the upstairs window and moved inside to deal with them, whoever this person was, and it was a he, the jaw line could only be a male, was a vigilante of sorts, removing the detritus of human society - something which he could identify with.

Bruce knew that he'd been pushing it too far, staying out too late, innumerable bumps and bruises that didn't heal, longer than they normally would. Alfred had warned him of all this many times before and yet despite the minor beating, his body began its betrayal. Fatigue gripped his body, taking over, reflexes slowed, followed by coordination. It felt like moving through amber, fighting against the oncoming tide.

Something was sprayed something in his eyes, followed by a crowbar descending onto the bat vigilante, hitting the figure in the head numerous times, watching the figure sink to his knees, briefly, and attempting to stand. He moved in to lend aid, ducking a swing and using the momentum to propel the man into his friend, immediately lashing out with a throat strike fracturing the windpipe.

While one choked to death on blood and vomit, Jason landed a very fast elbow to the man behind. As another moved in, he kicked his lower leg, causing a stumble, and quickly throwing the victim to the ground disarmed the attacker, and hit another without even looking. Knowing they were there. The bat figure began to rise, blood welling underneath the mask, dripping down his face and off his chin.

An elbow struck another in the chest, at just the right time, catching him as he stepped forward, feeling the breastbone give way and break. One foolishly tried to draw a gun, which was easily removed, the attacker disabled.

A deep gravely voice spoke, "Who are you?" He turned to look at the bat figure, now standing despite the heavy blows. Had it not been for the armour, he'd be dead, but as it is still required medical aid. "You need a hospital"

"I'll be fine" answered the bat figure. Who was this man? Certainly an outcast amongst humanity, a lone figure dispensing justice amongst the underworld of New York City, criminals beware. He'd seen the news but thought it outright fallacy. Peripheral confirmed that the others in the second floor were gone, not obviously wanting to stand and fight, two men had obviously proved too much of a deterrent.

"You still need a hospital, it's a nasty head wound". The voice, it was either changed electronically or he had some kind of training to lower the vocal cords.

Staggering slightly, but becoming more lucid. "Who are you?"

"Jason"

"You got a last name?"

"Yeah, Bourne, Jason Bourne"

"Thank you". Some kind of smoke grenade hit the floor, and within moments the bat figure was gone, and the answer remained a mystery. Deciding not to tarry at the scene of a crime, he ran off into the darkness and the welcome relief of his hotel room.

Bruce Wayne lay in bed, not even waking when Alfred walked in, gasping in alarm at dark matted stains on the bed sheets. He shook his head. Quickly checking for a pulse which did not feel quite right, and the ghostly pallid colour, covered in a slight sheen of sweat did not bode well. He did the only thing he could, called an ambulance. Bruce did not even wake when arrived, and neither did he awake when they drove the owner of the Wayne Enterprises.

There the Ninja Master lay, unconscious in the hospital bed, strapped to all kinds of machinery, watched over by nurses and doctors; but two men who did not stray from their vigil were Alfred, and Lucius Fox, CEO of Wayne Enterprises. Both long time friends and mentors to the Wayne family. "Do you know what happened?"

Alfred looked distracted for a second, lost in a memory, and then without turning, "The camera that Bruce had attached showed that someone sprayed him in the eyes, and then repeatedly struck…", although the Butler never completed the sentence for Lucius soon caught the drift, "struck him I the head"

Hands clasped in front of his body, he rubbed them together with worry.

"It's not like Bruce to be caught off guard like that"

He looked at Lucius this time. "I know, but I kept telling him that he was pushing himself too far; past his normal limits", and then Alfred grew quiet and the words came out the barest of whispers. "Even Batman has to sleep sometimes".

A friendly hand gripped his shoulder. "You told him too". Deciding to change the topic of conversation towards something they could resolve.

"What stopped them finishing the job?" He asked the question because he too had secretly viewed the footage, without Alfred's knowledge.

Alfred stared out of the window. "Someone intervened"

He was already searching for the mystery saviour, but the words were not clear, "Do we know who?"

"They were well trained, not a gifted amateur that I do know"

"Perhaps if I took a look at the footage and see what they can tell us?" The Butler nodded in agreement, too lost in worry to talk.

Sitting in a rented car he watched a house where a family were ate dinner, together. Most police officers thought that a 'stakeout' entailed actually staring intently at the target, but it didn't work that way. Somehow the person being watched became aware, so it was necessary to appear inconspicuous, somebody easily overlooked; which somehow had brought Dirk full circle.

As younger man, he'd almost killed his High-School Sweetheart as part of that hunt and chase, so much so that instead of engaging in the usual sexual activities he'd strangled her instead.

When she had struggled, he started hitting her then, until one moment she had finally fallen still. Luckily he released the pressure on her neck at that point, although that had been more down to shock than common sense at the time; finally following the assault with rape. Cindy had been so emotionally wrought after the incident, having never pressed charges.

Dirk had left school not long afterwards, partly down to shame, but mostly due those hurt filled glances she gave him; then whenever he could get close enough, to see tears running down her face – that and he kept repressing the urges to do it again. There had been little other option, choosing to run away, hoping to never be found; Dirk quickly enlisted in the Marines. After six weeks it quickly became apparent that this was a career at which he excelled; leading to a placement in the Special Forces.

While many held a strong morale compass, his was lacking somehow, whether it was down to what he called 'the incident', or some other reason he did not know. According to the 'psych' reports his was almost nonexistent; enabling him to perform certain actions that were morally ambiguous in nature. When he had burned an entire village of children alive, being warned that 'no witnesses would be tolerated', suffering no attacks of conscience before, during, or afterward; unlike many in his small select squad - the 'top brass' were happy they had finally got a best man for the job.

Now ten years later, that focus had shifted to the CIA, killing people in the USA itself, or outside; Dirk wasn't picky. The years had taught some cruel lessons, but one thing he knew; and he liked to kill. In truth he enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and the kill, sometimes it was almost sexual. So consequently he was also one of those special operatives that had got selected for Black Ops, tasks even more secretive than usual.

His calling and it was this day that another was stalked. Not as part of the job, but more a recreational affair. Cindy, he'd tracked her down at last. She was in the kitchen with some children, and a man – husband­, they both wore wedding bands. A cruel smile etched across his features, and the shadows cast by the lights gave them an almost maniacal appearance, as he entered the house. "Hi Cindy!" shouted the demented psychopath. "Long time no see".

After leaving the house almost an hour later, none were left alive. Closure, he thought. Ten years in coming, but he had enjoyed that bit too, when she was no longer able to struggle. Getting into the car Dirk answered the phone. "Hello".

"We have a job for you. We need you to kill Jason Bourne". He smiled, having always wanted to see how good the 30 million dollar assassin really was. This was turning out to be his best day ever.

Jason swung his legs out of bed, making his way into the bathroom. Certain bodily urges required fulfilment. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, dark rings noticeably circled tired eyes, the whole face was haggard, even, a man who has been running far too long. Stretching, briefly working out any kinks, slid into the shower, knowing it might help wash away some of the weariness, never for long enough.

Once dressed, went out into the sunshine, not that it was a hot day; a crisp day, cold enough not to cause shivering, but the fresh air helped clean out any toxins in his lungs. Face slightly flushed, he got into the car and drove. There was no particular destination planned as yet, but sustenance was required, and then maybe check out, go to another city, he had been too long here. Assassins' senses that had taken over a year to train in and hone, now born of reflex took over. Instantly checking of the mirror confirmed the worse, he was being followed, and it was a police officer.

Dirk drove the police car, the dead officer was in the boot, and soon the body would start to smell. The 30 million dollar assassin had one flaw seen so far, easily recognisable while not incognito; and having matched it to the photo – it was time to begin his work. To ensure success, 'top brass' had asked a large company to provide whatever was required, guns, armour, and anything that had proved too ineffectual in the battlefield – cost reasons, but in this one case they had reasoned it was better than let 30 million dollar accessory walk around.

Bruce was having terrible dreams, constantly running until he encountered a mirror, but the reflection was not his own. It was a man in the shape of a bat. The dream then started again, and again; only this time it was different. The man-bat reached out of the mirror and began to reach the comatose Bruce.

His pursuer had gone, and for that Jason was thankful. Not that he thought the situation was resolved as yet, more a case of put on hold. Something told him it would rear its ugly head again, and so the face had become committed to memory.