I had to walk across the frozen wasteland of a far off corner in Siberia, into the heart of Russian. It took three weeks to trek through that land, especially since Bane wasn't with me. I remember when I was younger, Bane would put me on his shoulders, and walk me through large banks of snow.
As I had gotten older, Bane had decreased in his protection over me, allowing me to walk alone, even sending me out into the cold for days to test my skills. At times he had randomly attacked me to teach me to be alert.
I had heard about buildings and houses before, in books, but I had never seen them with my own eyes. Human architecture was truly magnificent.
But I wasn't here to admire the scenery.
Vantork was a powerful man, he had dirty deals in just about every government on earth. He ran the mercenary trade in Russia. He is not a man you willingly cross. If you do, you tend to disappear for awhile. If or if not you show up again, that depends on whether what you offer him reimbursed him for what you took. He is a man that doesn't hold grudges, he lets the money decide whether you live or die, and from what Bane has told me about money, when the economy is good, then it'll buy you anything, but when it becomes about who kills who rather than profit, money will do you nothing other than pad your coffin.
But right now it isn't about murder or death, it's just about money.
I stared over the desk at Vantork, "I need to get over seas."
He nodded, "I can arrange for it, but you're an interesting case. No records, no story. It'll cost you, and much more than the fee for this conversation."
I waved my hand, "Money means nothing to me, but I have plenty of it. Now, stop beating around the bush, and tell me what one trip will cost me."
"That depends on where you're heading."
"Gotham City, New York." I said.
He nodded, a small smile stretched across his face. "Now, that certainly will cost you."
"Six thousand euros."
One day later, I was sitting in the cargo hold of an airplane, along with a mother and child, and three men. The men were mercenaries, every single one of them had guns and knives. I could tell just by looking at them, the battles they've had, and the lives they've taken.
This is a mercenary transport, and the best part is no one cares who I am, as long as I've paid my money. Another plus? There won't be a record anywhere on Earth about this flight.
These men are scum, they have no right to life, because the people they've killed weren't soldiers, they were women and children. They didn't give a damn about the lives they were destroying, as long as they were paid.
But that's no reason not to make friends.
"Gentlemen?" I asked, walking over to join in on the poker game, "Do any of you know a good military grade supplier in Gotham?"
One of them, in his thirties looks up at me, a scar running down from his right temple to his nose, across his eyelid. "Who are you, kid?"
"Nobody." I said, sitting down and picking up my hand, "Absolutely nobody."
But once I was in Gotham… that was when I truly understood the gravity of my job here. When I walked down the street, people bumped into me, constantly. These buildings were taller than any trees I had ever seen. But I had to get to my first destination.
So I walked into an alleyway, and managed to climb down a manhole. I followed the map Bane had given me, and walked a ways in the sewers, until I came to the marked room.
There were stacks and stacks of guns and ammunition lining the walls, and a pine desk, barely standing, in the center. I set my duffle bag down on the table, and sat down in the chair carefully.
I leaned back in my chair, watching the putrid water fall and run down the tunnels. So this was where everything had started in my mother's battle?
I browsed the internet, going over the list Bane had left me. Bank accounts, contacts, safe houses, and snitches. I'd better contact these people then. I typed away at the laptop all day, accessing back records, establishing my contacts, bribing snitches, and then getting eight different fake ID's for different occasions. If I need to be over eighteen, if I needed to be over twenty-one, or if I needed to be incredibly under aged. And then variations of those age groups, with my residence listed in several different parts of New York. If my travels took my to Brooklyn, an ID from Gotham would be suspicious.
After a few searches, I found out that Gotham was far from crime free. Yes, organized crime was gone, so there was no more mob, but there were still gangs, and lots of them. Car bombs, murder, stealing, the usual that came along in turf wars. Batman had returned two years ago, but after seeing several clips of out of focus photos of this supposed Batman, and a youtube video some kid had taken I quickly came to a conclusion.
This Batman was not my father.
I had taken to just living in the bat cave a few years ago, easier to do training, and I didn't have to pay rent. And once night came around, so would the Batman. Because four years ago, things became bad in Gotham City. Gangs rose up everywhere, most of them kid gangs, and drug traffickers, but gangs none the less. Sounds easy to bust, right? Wrong. Here's the problem, no matter how many gangs you take down, a new one pops up right where you took down the old one.
Because as much as gangs were bad, people on the streets needed protection from other gangs. So they throw their lot in with the bigger gang so their store doesn't get robbed, pay a fine every month, and get their money's worth of protection.
I had no problem with that, when you're on the streets, you make a call to save your skin. But the more money a gang gets, the more powerful it becomes. And that was what I had a problem with.
So Batman went out every night, and he tried with all his physical and mental strength to keep the gang problem down. And he saved a lot of people, but he was no where close to getting rid of the problem.
I dropped to the ground, immediately getting into a push up position. I have to do two hundred of them, and that's just the warm up.
After Bruce had left me the bat cave, Alfred had gotten my stamina up, and showed me several techniques he had learned in the military. But it hadn't been enough, so nine years ago I had left, and searched out every traditional martial arts teacher I could find.
And yes, I did find one. Her name was Lady Shiva. And she was evil. I don't mean tough ninth grade algebra teacher evil, I mean a different kind of evil. The kind of evil where she takes one look at you, sees your arm is broken in two places, you can't see through one eye, and there's probably some internal bleeding going on from a jacked up rib, and she says, "Pick yourself up, ten mile run. Stop being a weakling!"
That kind of evil.
But… I finished my push ups and looked down at my shirtless body… it paid off very well. (A/N: Imagine Dick Grayson's body type)
Alfred's voice popped up out of nowhere, "If you're done admiring yourself Master Blake, Mr. Fox is on the line, and he wants to go over a new addition to the Bat mobile with you."
I nodded, "You got it Alfred."
At first, having a butler was very weird, especially since I didn't pay for him. After Bruce left Alfred a little money in his will, Alfred bought stock in the business all of Wayne Enterprises had been transferred to. With Talia dead, a lot of her assets went to that company, and they climbed back up to most powerful in the world years ago. So needless to say, Alfred made a pretty penny off of that. With all the shares he's bought in it, Alfred owns eight percent of that company.
And eight percent of Wayne Enterprises, it's apparently a lot. Because he manages to run all of Batman's necessities, and keep the home for boys above them running through many donations.
I got dressed, and went to the phone, "Fox? Yeah, I'd like to go over the designs. Last week I was trying to sneak into a warehouse, and got in a tight spot. I called for the car, but there was a glitch or something… Thanks, I'll stop by later today."
LATER THAT NIGHT, WITH GORDON:
"I need to retire." He groaned, stretching out in his chair. He was beginning to really hate young teenagers and their tendency to form groups to kill off another group.
If he had to look at one more dead kid, he was going to cry. And Gordon never cried. Gangs could never be stopped, it was a fact becoming clearer and clearer to him. The moment you uprooted one, three more sprang up and squabbled for it's territory. Like grey hairs.
Nasty little bastards.
Grey hairs were about all he had left now.
"Damn kids and their warfare." He cursed. But it wasn't all kids. Most of these gangs were run by grown men, who took advantage of angry kids. And Gotham had far to many angry kids. Children of prostitutes, rapes, and psychotics.
He honestly couldn't blame them fully. In their positions, with their same options, and their hunger to be accepted, he would mostly likely have chosen the same path.
He's lost in his train of thought, until there's a knife against his throat. "James Gordon?"
A female voice, young. Teenager to early twenties. Slight Russian undertone, and slow to speak. Not frightened hesitation, more like she's just not used to it.
"Yes, are you here to kill me?" He asked, slightly amused. "If you are, make it quick, I'm a busy man. And try not to get blood all over the carpet."
"Gotham is in shambles, you've gone to war over it many times."
Gordon suppressed a laugh, "Yeah, against the mob. But the mob was one organization. Gangs are thousands of smaller ones, they aren't connected in any way, so it's like trying to bail out a cruise ship with a tea-cup, while it's raining."
"… What could make a dent in it? What could pull Gotham out of this ditch?"
Gordon considered her question, vaguely noting how familiar this situation was to him. "We would need a major victory. There's a couple large gangs around, bringing them all down at once would be the best scenario I could think of, but it's next to impossible. Like I said, they aren't connected-"
"They'd need a face behind the deed."
"No." Gordon said quickly, "Not like Batman. They need a hero with a face, not a hero with a mask. They need someone like-"
"Yes. But new. People always want new heroes along with their old war heroes." Gordon allowed himself a small smile, despite being in such a vulnerable position. "Now, why the questions? You have a school report to do or something?"
The grip on the knife tightens for a moment, and he fears she's about to kill him.
"You won't see me for awhile." She said quietly. "But when you do, I will either be dead, or I will have what you need."
And then she's gone.
Gordon frowned as he looked out the window, searching for a figure, trying to see her. But there was no trace.
He picked up his phone, dialing an untraceable number given to him by a younger version of his late friend. "Gordon here, I've got a small notice for you. Just someone you might wanna keep an eye on."
But John didn't see her that night. Or the next. Eight weeks went by without another word.
Gordon feared the girl dead.