It was well after midnight when started out following this mysterious newcomer and she found it more of daunting task than she had anticipated. This person was really good at what he or she did, she thought that it could rather be a 'he' than a 'she' as this person's movements were not quite as graceful as say a woman's would be. He was very good she knew as she had seen him do his thing all night long as she followed at a generous distance.

No, in fact, Catwoman felt she was certain that this person was male, because she had encountered a woman once that moved in the same manner but she moved with the grace of a cat and this man just went through the motions. She had a difficult time following him though for just as she thought that he was moving on a clear path he would disappear into the shadows. If she hadn't seen him on the rooftop duking it out with Nightwing she would have thought that it was Batman himself. She followed him even with difficulty she had of losing him every so often, but each time he would disappear into the shadows movement on the edge of her periphery would alert her to his position again.

She followed him for hours until right before dawn when she finally lost sight of him for the last time in Robinson Park. She let him go then not bothering to go after him in the park where Poison Ivy had made her home recently. She had seen enough to know that this man was no threat to her or her domain and besides if he did become a threat she would deal with him swiftly and efficiently and so for now she left him alone until she could learn more about him. Also, the chances were that Nightwing had already told Batman about the newcomer and they would be looking into his background too if anything of that nature existed.

Feeling pretty confident with her assessment, she turned on her heel and left for her home, she was tired form chasing the newcomer all night, but she told herself that it needed to be done. She needed to know what his deal was and so far as she could tell, he was just another guy trying to make a difference in the city and she doubted that his crime fighting career would be a long one while Batman was around and had a say in things. After all Batman considered Gotham City his city and he was adamant on protecting it himself with only a little help from a select few.

24 December 2001

It was another clear morning in Gotham City and even though it was still cold many of the city's denizens braved cold to go to their respective jobs, important or menial. Winter was far from over and every one that lived in the city before the 'quake knew that the coldest time of winter was yet to come. The days of fine weather did nothing to alleviate the cold and so the people went about their lives without complaint about the cold or in some cases the lowly existence of the miserable lives.

Wind of the murders had inevitably caught up to the mayor and he had visited the commissioner the previous day telling him that he needed to get this murderer behind bars and fast. It was a royal ass-ripping from the mayor, but the commissioner took it all stoically in stride as he knew that the mayor too was getting his ass handed to him from the upper echelons.

So it was that the day began with a meeting at Gotham Central, which was abuzz with activity early in the morning, that the commissioner had called for. The Mayor was present for short time as he introduced the team of FBI agents that was going to assist in the solving of the apparent serial killer case then he left.

When the mayor departed for City Hall, the men of the G.C.P.D. made their grievances known to the commissioner not even worrying about the FBI agents still in attendance. They felt it was unnecessary for the FBI to assist them on this case, but Gordon assured the men and women that it was ok and that the mayor was merely taking precautionary measures in order to get the case solved as expediently as possible.

Gordon dismissed his team, all except for Bullock and Montoya, whom he introduced individually to the agents as the investigator in charge of the case. Bullock and Montoya in their turn kept their misgivings quiet for the time being and shook the agent's hands as they were introduced.


Lau stepped into the terminal at Archie Goodwin International Airport after disembarking the airplane which had just arrived from Metropolis where the Triads' base of operations is located. He went to Metropolis to report that the assassination of Leung was successful and he had been richly rewarded for a job well done.

As he walked he was a little angry with himself and the Triads for this unnecessary detour, his next kill he decided would be confirmed by some other means. He needed to get back on track with his list of twenty one of which fifteen still remained. He was still waiting to retrieve his luggage when he spotted the woman that stood some twenty feet away from him. Somehow she seemed familiar to him, but for some reason he couldn't place her. There was just something about her that bothered him and nagged at the back of his mind. She looked straight at him without any sign of recognition, but he was sure that he knew this woman. He also knew that she wouldn't know who he was because the last time they spoke and saw each other was fifteen years ago, on the day of betrayal, the day his brother Chen died.

She walked right by him after collecting her own luggage and again she looked at him without recognizing him, but he saw her eyes and there he found the one thing that link the knowledge and memory of who she was. Shiva! was the exclamation within his mind and it sounded as loud in his mind as a gunshot out in the open. His luggage came by then and it was then that he decided that he was going to follow her. It was fortuitous that she was here in Gotham at this point in time. She was second last on his list of 21 and it was not yet time to deal with her, but he thought it prudent to keep note of her whereabouts as he didn't want to go hunting for her later.

Lau followed her at quite a distance and he knew that he had to be careful not to lose or to be spotted by her, because Shiva's reputation was well documented in the world of contract killing. So he followed her like he would follow a mark and all the while he wondered what his young and former student was up to. It was another reason he was unhappy with the fact that he needed to go to Metropolis.

He was trying to figure out why exactly Shiva was in Gotham at this particular point in time as her presence made little sense to him. Then as he trailed her at his chosen distance he noted that they were now in the Upper West Side, the territory of the Yakuza.


Lady Shiva walked the snow lined sidewalk with measured confidence that she would not be recognized by anyone in the city as her disguise was applied to the point of perfection it had even fooled the incompetent security staff at Gotham's Archie Goodwin International Airport. Although, she thought, the man at the terminal seemed quite interested her, but she pushed the thought aside as she remembered the disguise she wore. She smiled then, the disguise was quite clever and it enhanced her already exotic Asian features.

She came to Gotham at the behest of the Yakuza who had paid her airfare and arranged a place for to stay in. They had contacted her two days ago and requested that she be in Gotham within a days' time, but she had told them wait that she was on a job and that she would only make it to Gotham after 48 hours. She had to wonder now why they had contacted her; she knew that they surely have their own assassins, so she made a note to ask them precisely that.

But even as she made that mental note she knew that it wouldn't matter anyway if they paid her enough to do the job they expected her to do. It never really mattered to her what the minor details were as long as she got paid and paid very well. And so she continued walking along there in the Upper West Side to the hotel where the Yakuza had arranged a room for her to stay in, while she stayed in Gotham. It was the Upper West Side in which the Yakuza operated from and so the hotel room had come at no cost at all. She decided to go there first and relax after the trip from Hong Kong. Let them wait, she thought, they requested my services not the other way around. Shiva smiled then and continued on to her hotel.


Bruce awoke with a start when Alfred entered his room to bring him the morning newspaper. He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed and accepted the Gotham Gazette from Alfred.

"There seems to be no news of the Kryptoniume in there whatsoever. It seems that all information concerning the metal is indeed being kept confidential."

"That's good and I would like to try and keep it that way for as long as the project is running. I am meeting with Clark later today. It seems that he has some interesting information concerning the Kryptoniume. We're meeting at his fortress so I will be gone for most of the day I suppose. Make sure the others continue with the investigation."

"Will you then be informing Mr. Kent about the discovery of Dr. Faulkner?"

"Not yet, as we don't know for sure what we are dealing with."

"But surely Mr. Kent has a right to know what you have learned via Dr. Faulkner. He has just as big a stake in this as you, in not more."

"Alfred, I don't want to make any assumptions just yet. I know what the doctor told me and it is fascinating to be sure, but it was probably a fluke, happenstance if you will. I just want to know all there is to know about this metal first. I don't want to jump the gun here."

"Well, as long as you know what you are doing…"

"I do."

"Good. I sincerely hope that you do. When you are done getting ready, breakfast is on the table." Alfred said and left Bruce to get ready for the day.


Dick made his way over to the Clock Tower on his motorcycle to where Barbara Gordon lived and where she operated from as Oracle. She provided information to Batman and his allies as well as the Justice League and other known crime fighters.

He was still fuming over the previous night's run-in with this 'Vengeance' character; he could believe that he had let his guard down like that. It was such a rookie mistake! He scolded himself. Then of course there was the whole episode back at the cave when he and Batman went through the fight move by move and after he had performed Vengeance's moves as well as he could remember them, he had endured Batman correcting him on his form every step of the way.

He thought that he had moved away from the criticism and correction and yet there he returned to Gotham only to endure it once again. Will it ever end? Will I ever move out from under his shadow? He asked as he parked his bike in the tower parking area.

He put those thoughts aside as he knew he had to focus on finding out who Vengeance was and why he was in Gotham. He then pushed the buzzer and Barbara's voice called for him to come on up as the elevator doors opened. Dick got in the elevator and in seconds he was at the top of the Clock Tower where Barbara lived. As he stepped out he felt a certain pang as memories came flooding back to him of the times he spent with this remarkable woman.