I understand that some of the events in this story do not necessarily line up with official Batman mythos, but I don't care and I don't want any heat for that. I am writing my own Batman tale. So, here we go…
Things are not always as they appear. Sometimes, light can be dark and happiness can be well-hidden sorrow. Sometimes, something sinister can seem perfectly harmless. Sometimes, things that seem anchored in unchanging tides can shift…
Because the tides were coming in, I knew I should have been down in the harbor, but getting there took some time. Bludhaven is, if possible, practically worse then Gotham, whose streets I had worked for most of my young life. Perhaps this was because the Batman had cleaned them up so well.
True, one or two unwitting or particularly arrogant crooks might poke their noses out from under the cracks, trying to take from the world what they themselves did not possess, but Batman had a habit of putting people in their place rather quickly.
Only the insane or the insanely greedy would try and take a snap out of Gotham these days, which just so happened to be the kinds of people that did. However, common criminals ran amok in my city. No one was afraid of me like they were afraid of the wraith that lived in Gotham, at least not yet.
Thinking of my old mentor brought a small smile to my lips albeit, a sad one. The Batman was a lot more ruthless these days then he had been back when I ran at his heels. The death of Jason had taken a lot out of him and he still had not gotten over it. It had taken a lot out of me too. I felt sorry for the new Robin, whom I had seen but never really met. He was so young, much to young to bear the burden of Batman's darkest days.
Well, I couldn't think about that now. The harbor was a mile away and I had just heard a scream from the opposite direction. Giving a sigh, I started towards my new destination. There was a woman cornered, trembling like a beaten dog, while a man advanced on her, crooked yellow teeth bared in a ruthless smile.
I swung from the rooftops lithely and landed on the man's shoulders, landing with just enough weight to kick him down and out. The woman gazed at me with wide eyes, still trembling. "Come here", I said gently, crouching on the thug's limp form. She came towards me slowly, gazing every so often down at the man who was beneath me. "Are you alright?" I asked, standing up and hopping off. She nodded.
"You… you're Nightwing?" she asked. I gave her a grin.
"Yes I am", I replied and bowed low and deep to her, "at your service my lady." She gave me a small, wavering smile.
"You work with Batman?" she asked.
"Occasionally", I replied. She nodded. Batman was a name she trusted, as most people did. Nightwing was a name drifting through the winds, for now mostly unknown. "Let me just tie this guy up", I said, "and then I'll walk you back to your house."
"Thank you", she said graciously to me.
"No problem", I grunted as I heaved the man towards a nearby pipeline. I dumped him unceremoniously on the ground beside it and bat cuffed him to it. I slapped my hands together in a gesture of work finished and walked towards her. She took an involuntary step back; eyes watching my every move like a mouse watches a viper. "It's alright, I said soothingly to her, I won't hurt you. Why don't you tell me where you live so I can take you there."
"Its rather far from here", she said.
"That's fine", I replied, "are you just walking home from work?" She nodded. "My advice to you", I continued, "is to take the bus from now on. I'm not always in this side of town you know." She nodded. "How about you give me the address to your place."
"5567 North Woodland." I nodded. It was far. I mentally sighed; it was on the other side of the city. But, it would probably take the woman all night to walk there and it would only take me about ten minutes.
"Alright", I said, "here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to hold on tight to you and we're going to swing across the city to get to your place." She looked at me doubtfully.
"We're not going to ride in the Batmobile?" she asked.
"I don't have one just yet sweetheart", I said, "but when I do get one, you can be the first to ride in it." She smiled at me.
"Come here", I said, beckoning her. She came to me slowly and warily. The fear on her face seemed to age her ten years, although she couldn't have been more then twenty. I put my arm around her and said, "Alright, put your feet on mine and hold on tight to me."
"But", she said, "what if I let go?"
"Then I'll catch you", I replied playfully, "don't worry. Batman used to carry me all the time on these sorts of things. Of course, I would be on his back, buried in his cape, but the same sort of concept applies." She smiled and I could tell she was imagining the scene. While she was still distracted, I shot my cable and off we swung.
She screamed out in terror at the sensation of falling and her nails dug into my neck, but I held on to her tightly and we continued to swing. I could have taken her on my bike, but she seemed like a nice girl and I thought I might give her a little fun.
Soon, just as I had predicted, her screams changed from fear to delight as the wind whipped her hair behind her in the cool night air. She seemed sad even, when we landed, that her wild ride was over. "Thank you", she gasped.
"No problem", I said again "but I need you to do me a favor."
"Anything", she replied.
"Call the police and tell them Nightwing left some garbage for them to pick up."
"Ohh yes", she said, "I will."
"Now, you be careful", I said to her.
"You too", she replied, "wherever you're going."
"Down to the docks my fair lady", I said, "but worry not for me." Then, I grinned at her, saluted and swung off into the night. It felt good to help people. Batman, though people trusted him, probably would have scared the crap out of the girl just as much as the man who had been trying to hurt her. She seemed like a nice girl too.
Batman didn't like my methods or the way I treated the people I saved, but I didn't want to be feared like he was, or at least, not as much as he was. I didn't want to be dark like him. That simply wasn't the way I was.
I swung down to the docks and landed lightly behind one of the enormous transportation boxes. Just as I had suspected, a large ship cruised silently through the water and into the harbor.
I had gotten a tip a few days back that a ship was coming in at the dead of night, dropping something off, and then leaving when the tides came in. Well, here was the proof that the tip was right. Perhaps I owned that guy more money then I thought.
I crept onto the ship as quietly as I could. The night was so silent, however, that every tiny sound was magnified a hundred times. I flitted from shadow to shadow down the dark corridors and into the interior of the ship.
The symbols I saw on the sides of it were weird. I didn't really recognize any of them. The normal ships carrying drugs held the markings and lettering of recognizable countries, but not this one. Perhaps I had stumbled across something bigger then I had thought. Perhaps it was nothing at all.
The cargo hold was not very big inside the ship and the boxes it carried were nondescript with miscellaneous items. A transmitter here, a few scraps of metal there. What was it I had found? I thought, for a moment, about calling Batman, but reconsidered. No need to alarm him without cause. I wasn't even sure about any of this yet.
After I had gone through all the boxes and carefully repacked their contents I turned to go. A prickling of the hairs on the back of my neck told me to be wary a split second early. I ducked just as a fist came down furiously right where I had been. Sliding to one side with the agility of a shadow, I lashed out at my attacker.
It was a person dressed in red and black, a strange mask over their face. I could see no skin, just the flashing of colors. The person called urgently in a distinctly female voice to what I assumed to be communication device of some kind, in a loud, fast language I barely understood.
Then, I realized what I was hearing, Darken, one of the dead languages from the North. "He's found out our plan, take him down", she said. What plan, I wondered, silently thanking Batman for making me learn snippets of stupid dead languages. I wished someone would tell me what I had found out though because I honestly didn't know.
The woman continued attacking me, even as she spoke into the communicator. I gave her a quick kick, for which she was unprepared, and had her on the ground. I grabbed her by the collar. "What's going on here?" I roared in Darken. She wiggled out of my grasp and darted away.
I followed her as quickly as I could, but she was as agile as I. She led me off the ship and onto the docks, pushing over an old homeless man in her haste to get away from me. He toppled backwards into the water, but I had no time to make sure he was ok. I reached out and grabbed the woman's costume, but it ripped away and I was left with only a scrap of cloth. I tossed it to the ground and continued running.
It was then that I found I had her cornered. She was flattened up against some of the large boxes just unloaded onto the docks. "No where to run", I said and then felt something bury itself into my flesh. I looked down in shock at the dart sticking out of my arm and gazed back up at the woman. Then, I toppled to the ground, the last thing I saw being the old man dragging himself up onto the docks from the water like a wet rat.