Disclaimer: I DO NOT in any form or fashion OWN theses CHARACTERS. I repeat I DO NOT OWN these CHARACTERS. In fact while we're on the subject ALL CREDIT goes directly to DC and the people who created these characters which isn't me once again. So, having said that Please Please DO NOT SUE ME. I still do not have any Money so suing me will be pointless. So now that we've gotten that out of the way it's onto the story.

Hello ALL and welcome. Welcome to my new story….well new being relative, this story is a bridging tale of sorts that connects the dots to the highly anticipated sequel to Batman Beyond Volume 1. If you haven't read Batman Beyond Volume 1 yet I implore you to do so or this story will not make any sense, but I thank you for taking the chance and clicking on this story, LOL! To all my returning readers and reviewers at first I was just going to toss you all into the fray that is Batman Beyond Volume 2 but then after thinking about it I realized that it would be very mean of me to do that to you readers LOL! There are a few elements of Volume 2 that are going to be addressed and it'll probably take me too long to explain it fully in the actually story so some of the back-story is going to be told here in this bridging story and it'll be reflected in Vol 2. This bridging story is also meant to span the 3 year gap that is between Volume 1 and Volume 2. I think the best way to think of this story is kinda like the movie it's named after. Batman: Gotham Knights…snippets and short segments of isolated adventures. Now these chapters aren't going to be very long but hopefully they'll have enough content in them for you all to see the beginnings of the picture that I'm painting. Anyway enough of me talking, I'm sure you all are eager to dive back into the universe that I've created, however, before I go I just wanna say thank you to everyone whose giving this story a chance and please Review (A writer's main source of motivation) and of course I hope you all enjoy…


Chapter 1: The Dark Knight Has Returned

Neo-Gotham-Roland Hotel- 10:40pm- Conference Room-

Standing at the head of a long rectangular shaped table was a man; a feared man in Neo-Gotham city's vast underworld. He had a name once, a real name, but his real name had been lost years ago and in its place another name took hold; the only name that he would ever need for the rest of his life. It was the name that the underworld knew him by and that name was Black Mask.

Black Mask was 6'3, with a powerful build, that was clearly seen through the form fitting pin-stripped blue and black suit, and upon his face was his namesake, a Black skull themed mask that encompassed his entire head and all the way to his neck where a little bit of his tan flesh peeked through.

Black Mask let his seriously blue eyes roam over the men and women that were sitting in the chairs around the rectangular table.

Each of the men and women gathered at the table were involved in the underground world of Neo-Gotham and they either operated within Neo-Gotahm or around it but they each shared a piece of the pie that was Neo-Gotham however, only a select few had the largest piece. Black Mask himself had a considerable piece and it was a fact that he loved to flaunt, but there were four others who had a piece almost as big as his own. He let his eyes travel towards the left and he locked eyes with the first person and it was none other than the elderly and long lived crime boss Rupert Thorne.


Rupert Thorne was an old man, he was in his late 80s early 90s and he was considerably thin. He had a bald head with spots, brown eyes, wrinkled skin and a compact automated breathing machine attached to his nose that delivered pure oxygen into his system. He was wearing a black and blue suit that was a tad too big for him. Rupert was a crime boss that was left over from Old Gotham, but despite knowing how things were back then and how they are now he still managed to stay in the game and keep his iron grip on his territory in Neo-Gotham. And one of the reasons he was able to stay in power was thanks in major part to the alluring woman sitting in the chair next to him, his granddaughter Olivia Thorne. Olivia was a beautiful woman in her late 30's early 40s. She had luscious dark hair, a deep tan skin complexion, crystal blue eyes, and full lips. She had an hourglass figure that was hard to miss in her tight black dress that had a red rose pendant on her left lapel.

Rupert and Olivia stared back at Black Mask who let his eyes linger upon them for a few moments longer until he switched to his other competitor of sorts and that man was Mario Falcone.


Mario Falcone was almost the spitting image of his late father Carmine Falcone, if his father was in his late 30s or early 40s. He was 6'1 with slicked back brown hair, hazel eyes, a clean shaven face, a mustache and fair complexion. He had a slim but lean build and he had on a stylish brown business suit. Mario leaned back in his seat as his hazel eyes briefly locked with those of Black Mask, they didn't immediately say anything but when their eyes spoke volumes.

'Idiot' Black Mask thought to himself in contempt before allowing his eyes to travel to his final competitor; the man in question none other than Umberto Maroni, the grandson of the late Salvatore Maroni.


Umberto was 5'9 with short blonde hair, green eyes, and a clean shaven face that had a few wrinkles. He was a bit chubby but he still had a muscular undertone to him. He was wearing an orange shirt, blue pants and orange shoes. Umberto and Black Mask eyed each other and upon doing that Umberto leaned forward on the table and linked his hands together.

"You called this meeting Black Mask, I assume it was for a good reason. I have several other pressing matters to attend to so if we could please get this over….." Umberto started before he was interrupted by the slightly husky voice of Olivia Thorne.

"He didn't call us to convene Umberto, it was my grandfather." She announced.

At the mention of her grandfather all eyes in the room turned to Rupert Thorne, he eyed all of them for a second before glancing towards Black Mask. Black Mask released a sigh and held out his hand.

"You have the floor Thorne, and like Maroni I have more pressing matters to attend so if you could make your so called announcement brief it would be much appreciated" he stated in an annoyed tone.

Rupert pushed his seat back and he slowly stood up, he glanced at his granddaughter and then around the table at the faces of the 'new generation' as he called it. He cleared his throat and then let a serious look cross his features.

"The Dark Knight Has Returned" he stated.


He let his statement linger in the air for a long moment which gave him enough time to once again glance at the people around the table and they had the reaction he was expecting, none of them were concerned in the least.

"….Is that it?"

Rupert looked directly across from him and looked directly at Mario Falcone.

"Is that it Thorne? The Dark Knight has returned" he asked again.

"Yes boy." Rupert answered, "Batman has retur…."

"First off asshole, I'm a grown man, not a boy, and second who gives a rat ass about Batman returning."

"I give a rat's ass because Batman returning means that my business, your business and all of our business are in jeopardy." He stated before lowering his head and shaking it "I knew this day would come…again." he whispered to himself. Olivia looked at her grandfather and she brought one of her perfectly manicured hands to her chin.

It had been about a month since Batman had announced his returned and the whole city was treated to the Bat-Signal once again shining brightly in the sky. Since then Olivia has noticed that her grandfather had been completely on edge, worrying and nitpicking at every detail in her…their, operation. She knew him well enough to know that Batman returning has spooked him something fierce.

"Is he really as bad as you believe him to be Granddad?" she asked him. He lifted his head and glanced at her through the corner of his eyes.

"No, he's worse Olivia."

"Bah! You're over reacting in your old age." Said Mario, who waved his hand and then looked at Black Mask, "This is ridiculous"

"I don't know." Umberto Maroni said out loud. All eyes in the room turned to him once again, "In my youth…I did hear tales of the Batman but I've never experienced his exploits first hand, I believe we should give Thorne the benefit of the doubt on this one seeing as how the Batman is left over from his time."

"Thank you Umberto." Said Rupert who was about to start talking again but he was interrupted by Mario.

"He's one man…..how dangerous can one man be, not to mention that if he's left over from Thorne's time…then he's got to be at least what…..100."


A few of the gathered individuals gave a chuckle before it was silenced by Rupert who slammed his old and weathered fist down onto the table, and despite his old age he managed to rattle the table slightly, enough to get everyone to stop chuckling.

Mario looked at Rupert's fist and the younger man slowly looked up and locked eyes with the older man.

"You have no idea do you, none…..NOT A F***ING CLUE!" he shouted.

Mario and Rupert continued to stare at each other until Umberto's light baritone voice interrupted them.

"If I didn't know any better Thorne, I'd say that you're afraid of this man."

Rupert turned his head to Umberto and he relaxed slightly. He let the statement mull over in his mind before he gathered his thoughts and answered.

"I…I have seen this man take on a room full of my top men and come out unscathed. I have seen this man leapt across the roof tops; dive through windows and into burning buildings. I have seen him disappear into the shadows like something out of a bad nightmare, I've witnessed him time and time again rise above any challenge thrown his way, I've seen him do many things…impossible things…." Rupert trailed off with a far away look in his eyes.

"You haven't answered the question Thorne. Are you afraid of him?" Mario asked.

"It's not the man that I fear Falcone…it's what he represents. He represents an idea…an Idealism that we, all of us should not be the ones to be feared in the night and that crime and criminals can be stopped. He believes that we should be the ones to be preyed upon and not those out there." He said while pointing towards the window that was behind Black Mask and had a clear view of Neo-Gotham City.

"Well then he's an idiot" Mario announced with another wave of his hand.

"I thought so too….at first; as did your grandfather's" said Rupert before pointing at Umberto and then at Mario, "Hell all of us back then thought that this man was insane but that was until we saw him in action…we saw how hard he fought, the conviction that he had…..the tenacity and determination. And not only did we see it but the rest of Gotham saw it as well. This one man as you put it became a legend. He stood against us…against me, Salvatore and Carmine and showed that the idea of crime being stopped could be accomplished, however it became obvious that he couldn't do it all alone and that's when we became…..admittedly afraid, because the idea of him spread…..and it spread like wildfire. One Batman, became Batman and Robin, then a Bat-girl, then a Nightwing and so on and so forth until we were surrounded and outnumbered by these costumed fools. And soon everything that I and your grandfathers worked for was torn asunder by this…..one man, this idea. That is until…"

"Until he vanished" came Black Mask's voice.


Rupert and everyone else turned to Black Mask as he spoke for the first time in a long minute. The 'head' of the criminal Boss's gathered linked his hands behind his back and lowered his head a bit and looked down at the brown table before him.

"Batman vanished and with him went the idea, which paved the way for all of us to sit where we sit today."

"And now he's returned." said Umberto who had a contemplative look upon his face. Rupert's words circled in his mind and they began to cause him a bit of concern. While not having heard stories of Batman directly through his grandfather, his father Pino Maroni however used to say a few things about him but the mysterious vigilante vanished before either of them felt the full sting of what Thorne was saying about him. Umberto had a deep respect for Rupert Thorne and look in the older man's eyes spoke volumes about the danger of Batman's return. Umberto looked at him and then let his eyes drift to Olivia who eyed him as well.

"What do you suggest Rupert? What do you suggest we do about Batman?" Umberto asked while shifting in his seat slightly.

Rupert turned to him and he pursed his lips together.

"I suggest that we all stop whatever operations we have going on currently and we devote all of our time and effort into finding Batman and killing him before he can regain his footing in Gotham. He's been gone for almost 20 years, he's definitely lost some footing in this city, we can not allow him to set up shop because if he does…then all of the crooked officials and cops and everyone else we have dealings with or pay off will start to back away and our business will suffer greatly. I know it will…it has happened before and it will happen again."

"You expect us…to just stop all of our business dealings and scour this city for one man. No, I'm not going to do that." Mario stated seriously "I have a shipment deal going into Metropolis that's worth about 80 million credits and you just expect me to put that on hold. Hell no, look Thorne, you're so worried about him then you can devote all of your time and money into stopping him alright but me I got bigger fish to fry."

"He's too much for one Boss to handle….we need to pool our resources. We can stop him now if we work together."

"If he's as dangerous as you believe him to be I'm inclined to agree." Said Umberto "Batman has been back less than a minute and he's already managed to take down the Jokerz and the Knightbreed." He continued.

"Oh come on Maroni you're not buying into this, and besides if you remember the only reason why the Jokerz and Knightbreed even operated in this city is because we allowed it…remember, we all agreed that with those idiots running around the cops attention would be on them and not us."

"Yes but Mario….none of us could have imagined how far out of control those two factions would get…..the bloodshed and craziness was spilling over into my business and if Batman hadn't intervened then I would have."

"As would I" Olivia chimed, "The Jokerz and Knightbreed were becoming cancers…but now they've been cut down so Batman will turn his attention to us….my Grandfather is right we need to do something now. Smother him before he smothers us."

Loud murmurs and arguments suddenly broke out among the gathered individuals. Rupert, Olivia and Umberto were arguing for them to band together and take the fight to Batman while Mario and a few other of the minor underbosses calling their crusade against the Dark Knight ridiculous, but all while they argued one man remained silent and that was Black Mask.


Black Mask stood there with his hands linked behind his back watching the scene unfold before him which undoubtedly left a bitter taste in his mouth.

'Look at them, children…all of them squabbling about this man. This Batman.' He thought to himself, the arguments only got louder and louder as everyone soon tossed in their two cents about what to do and all the while Black Mask just watched, 'Thorne….is right about one thing, this man is dangerous. If the mere mention of his name can spark such fear into someone like him then perhaps I should be concerned…..however Maroni has a point. There are too many wheels turning for us to just stop our dealings….so what am I to do?'

Black Mask let out a sigh and then narrowed his eyes.

"SILENCE!" he roared at the top of his lungs. The sound of his voice cut through the arguing individuals like a knife and caused all of them to instantly close their mouths and turn to him.

"Finally he speaks." said Mario before folding his arms across his chest. Black Mask ignored him.

"Thorne, you say we should stop him now."

"Yes, before he too grows out of our control."

"Then you will take point on this endeavor then. You take whatever steps you deem necessary to stop him and anyone who wants to help is welcomed to help him."

"Black Mask com….." Mario started.

"Enough Falcone" Black Mask stated while whipping his head towards him "I'm tired of listening to all of this squabble. If you do not view Batman as a threat then fine don't worry about him…however, if he does come knocking at your door then I don't want to hear any of your bullsh** and that goes for everyone. Am I clear?" he asked.

"…"

"AM I CLEAR!" he shouted.

"Yes." They answered.

"Good, now if we're done here I have more pressing matters to attend to, if you want you can stay and talk amongst yourselves or enjoy my hotel, if not then see your way out."

stated Black Mask curtly as he made his way from the head of the table. He briskly headed for the double doors that would lead him out of the conference room.


Outside the Hotel

Perched on the roof and leaning down with two fingers pressed to the window of the conference room was Terry McGinnis aka Batman. Batman took his two fingers off of the window and he leaned down even further and looked into the room. He saw the one called Black Mask move away from the head of the table and make his way out of the of conference room.

"Hey Damian, have you heard enough?" he asked in a whisper.

"…..McGinnis, what have I been telling you for the past month." Came the voice of Damian Wayne over the communication line.

Batman heaved a sigh and rolled his eyes.

"Have you heard enough…..Prophet."

"I've heard plenty." Prophet replied.

"So do I bust in there now and arrest all of them?" Batman asked.

"No. This is a reconnaissance mission McGinnis. We're just here to gather information on the who's who of Neo-Gotham's underworld, so we can plan accordingly."

"So who are these guys? And who's that guy with the Mask" Batman asked.

"That's Black Mask…obviously someone who has taken up the legacy of the original."

"How do you know that's not the original?" Batman asked.

"Because the original is dead….I know, I was there when it happened." Prophet answered.

"Of course." Batman scoffed, "What about the others?"

"I'm running a facial recognition program and cross referencing the records with the NGCPD, it should be finished in a minute, but the only one I recognize off hand is Rupert Thorne."

"Who is he?"

"A mob Boss left over from my father's time…and from the sound of things he remembers my father very well. Which could either help or harm us in the long run."

"How?"

"He knows Batman and all of Batman's tricks so he'll be ready….you're going to have to be on your toes when you go up against him or anyone who allies with him. It could help us because he's expecting my father…..not you."

"I can take him." Batman stated confidently.

"I'm glad to hear that." Prophet replied dryly.

"So, Prophet, what's the next move?"

"Gather more intel….we study each of them and their operations and then we come up with a plan on how to hit them hard, just like we used to do in the old days."

Suddenly a bright light filled part of the sky. Batman looked up to see the Bat-Signal shinning brightly for all to see.

"I'm picking up a call." said Prophet.

"Yeah I see the signal….what's the situation?"

"Hold on, I'm patching us through to Barbara….."

KRCCHHHHH!

"GODDAMN IT!"

POW! BUDDDDAAAA BUDDDAA POW! Came the loud sounds over the line.

"Commissioner Gordon what's going on?" Batman asked.

"We're pinned down over near the old Firehouse Annex Building in North Gotham. A botched Bank robbery gone wrong, we chased the robbers down but they were prepared and now the assholes are firing off armor piercing laser rounds. We're being ate up over here!" Commissioner Gordon shouted over the line.

"I'm on the way just hold on." said Batman ending the call.

"Hurry McGinnis. I've hacked into some security feeds and Barbara won't last much longer against that type of weaponry." said Prophet.

"I'm on the way."

Batman spread his wings and curled his feet; the rockets in the soles of his feet came to life and propelled him into the air.


End Chapter: Read and Review: Hello all and again welcome to my new story. I hope you all enjoyed the chapter and the seeds that I'm planting for the eventual Batman Beyond Volume 2. As I said earlier this story is meant to be a bridge between Volume 1 and Volume 2 which takes place 3 years after Volume 1. I think you could describe this story as a giant Interlude but this isn't an interlude that you could skip….well you could skip it but there seeds being planted that you might miss that will come up later. As you read in the Chapter Batman Returning to Gotham has caused some ripples in the underworld, by Volume 2 you'll see those ripples become waves that's going to rock Batman to the Core. There 4 Central Characters or Mob Bosses that are going to be prominent in this story and Volume 2: Black Mask (A new yet old character that I'm bringing to the table), Mario Falcone, Umberto Maroni and Olivia and Rupert Thorne. Also unlike all my other stories these chapters aren't going to be that long….I'm going to try to keep it short and sweet and give you readers the meat of what you need to know before going into the sequel that's coming soon. Hey, how did you readers like Damian Wayne's new nickname. I toyed around with a few names and I even thought about calling him Oracle as a nod to Barbara which would have made way for a few laughs down the line between the two of them but I decided on Prophet because I think that's something Damian would probably go with over Oracle…that is if he wasn't killed off by Grant Morrison in Batman Inc….however that's argument for a different day LOL! They always manage to kill off my favorite characters…first it was Spider-Man and now Damian….who will they think to kill off next….Dick, Mary Jane…..sorry I'm ranting LOL! Anyway I hope you all enjoyed the chapter enough to return for the next part. If anyone has any questions for me, comments, rants or raves feel free to leave it in the review…pleas review, or just send me a PM and I'll get back to you ASAP, this is Nomad88 saying Later…..

Next up: Damian Wayne Revealed?