Welcome to the world of 2021, where Bruce Wayne's parents did not die in a dark corner of Crime Alley...
Bruce Wayne's parents were indiscriminately murdered in a terrorist attack on Gotham Towers on a crisp September morning in 2001, along with six thousand other innocent civilians.
Bruce Wayne still wages a war against crime and terrorism, only as Gotham's preeminent citizen and industrialist. After the death of his parents, young Bruce Wayne dedicated himself to business and the rebuilding of Gotham as a city of industry. He is a staunch supporter of the Gotham City police and an American military industrialist. Yet as he bears the private scars of his parents' untimely demise, this is a Bruce Wayne far more dangerous than Batman ever could be.
And for those of you intimidated by this story's immense word count (which is starting to approach George R.R. Martin territory), there's a nice recap of our story so far in Chapter 71. There's also two "new" stories at the end which add to the overall length, one which focuses on Tim Drake. And honestly, the story does get better (and more exciting) as you go along. There's some truly Universe-shaking developments after the first hundred thousand words or so...
Don't believe me?
Read on, dear reader, read on...
Chapter One: The Key To The City
From the dais, Commissioner James Gordon glanced up from his notes at the well-dressed audience of Gotham's luminaries seated before him.
There were friends, fellow officers, dignitaries, and only a handful of members of the press - for which he was extremely grateful. Everyone was dressed up and smiling. This was the rare night where he didn't have to deliver tragic news to a city. To address a Gotham press that didn't care about human tragedy anymore, only the gory details.
But not tonight.
Tonight the Gotham City Police Department were assembled to honor a man he almost thought of as one of his own. Tonight the GCPD honored Bruce Wayne; philanthropist, industrialist, and the best friend a police commissioner ever had. Damned near a son, if he let himself dream a little…
Gordon grinned, adjusted his glasses, and began.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow officers, members of the press, Mr. Mayor…
Tonight I have the privilege to honor a very special man. A true humanitarian and friend of the Gotham City Police Department. I do not wish to embarrass the man by stating his generosity… But I will. To date, his foundation has donated 77 million dollars to the training, equipment, and funding of your Gotham city police."
Gordon allowed the applause to die down before continuing.
"Through the tireless efforts of the Wayne Foundation, our law enforcement, criminal justice system and rehabilitation centers have become the envy of the civilized world. As an officer, the abundant generosity of the Wayne Foundation has allowed me not only to protect this great city, but given us the means and measure to serve her faithfully. While we may not be able to prevent all crime, my hope is that our dialogues and work will mean a safer tomorrow, for all of us.
This is nice. Normally when I read prepared statements, it's a murder investigation."
The crowd chuckled, allowing Gordon to take sip of water.
"If you can bear with a sentimental old cop for awhile longer, I'd like to talk about the man, and not just his money. It's public knowledge that Mr. Wayne lost his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne on that cold day in September, 2001 twenty years ago. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again, the Wayne's were two of the best people I ever had the privilege to meet. That was a dark day for Gotham. And Bruce, again… I am so sorry for your loss."
For a moment, the crowd was completely silent.
"Today, Gotham Towers stand once again, risen from the ashes of terrorism. A monument to the enduring spirit of justice and enterprise of the man we honor tonight. The twin towers represent the two business passions of Mr. Bruce Wayne; Wayne Communications and Wayne Industries. The south tower, a monument and legacy to the memory of his parents and their passion for an industrious Gotham; the head quarters of Wayne Industries. The north tower, a monument to the hope of the future; communication and exchange. The heart of Wayne Communications.
Bruce, you and six thousand other families suffered a terrible loss twenty years ago. But what you've given the people of this city has been so much more. You've given us hope and charity. Tonight let the city give you her deepest thanks and love."
As Gordon shook hands with Bruce Wayne, he gave his daughter a quick wink and a smile. He had been initially hesitant in letting Barbara write this speech for him… it felt like cheating. The thunderous standing ovation dismissed any lasting objections he may have had.
Too bad the mayor had to follow that!