That I will do the best that I can
To be a good example of man
And I know one day that you'll understand
You deserve the best that I am
You deserve the best that I am
Best I Am by Flaw
THE DAY GOTHAM FROZE OVER
By Lois Lane
Gotham has seen better. For today's younger generation, they have never lived a day where the city wasn't known for its corruption and crime. Even the late Baby Boomers would be hard pressed to remember a time where they could once walk the streets of this fallen city in safety, never having to look over their shoulder for the inevitable mugger.
That is how most people see Gotham. Gone are the days of budding infrastructure, spiraling skyscrapers, and powerful industry. Gone are the younger, brighter minds that were suppose to keep this city advancing forward, instead seeking out better opportunities in fairer cities, such as Metropolis or Gateway City.
And yet, despite the dark gloom that has descended onto this once great city, there are still those who believe there is something worth fighting for. Two men stood up for that belief in the last month, taking on the mob families that have been draining the city of its hope, prestige, and opportunity. "No more!" they proclaimed in unshakable defiance.
With a hand gripping the overhead handle, Gordon stared directly out of the windshield of the speeding car, his heart pounding with every second that passed. It wasn't because Essen was driving much too fast—he had requested such speed in the first place—or that in order to make it to their destination, she had to mount several curbs and running more than one light.
No, with every second that passed, they were that much closer to the end of Gotham. One bomb was all it would take. What kind it was or whether or not the bomb squad could disarm it Gordon did not know, but that wasn't going to hold him from at least trying. He had no idea what this bomb was truly capable of, but since Fries was involved, it was going to be big. A man that smart wouldn't devise a bomb that would take out only one building.
In his gut, the words he had used earlier, "the end of Gotham," were probably close to the truth. How it would happen, whether it was in a blaze of flame or something else, again Gordon didn't know. For all he knew, the bomb could be going off at any second. They could even be rushing straight into their deaths, powerless to stop this bleak future.
Gordon wasn't one to give in, though. Even as a younger man, there had only been one time that he had ever given in. That time was when he had looked away from the actions that his fellow officers committed all while wielding the badge as a shield. To allow other people to be victimized by the people that he had stood beside and taken an oath of protection with and then do nothing as they emulated the corruption that seeped from the bowels of this city, it was a sole regret he would carry with him to his grave.
When he was appointed commissioner, for a moment he had the naive thought that he could turn the whole department around, make it into the ideal that it should have been. He knew there would have been resistance, certainly, but he had underestimated it. He had struggled with that corruption and for the longest time had gotten nowhere.
Yet, at this moment, even that corruption was about to be wiped away but not by any efforts of his own. No, a man with a vendetta was going to accomplish what he himself couldn't, but that man's way was of a more final solution, one where nothing would follow. How could anymore decision be made if no one was left to make them?
He shifted in his seat as Essen mounted the curb again, honking the horn in tandem with the siren, as if making enough noise would convince any and all pedestrians to get out of their way. A quick glance at her reveal that she was perfectly calm and collected, even as the actions she were taking were anything but that.
They darted into an intersection, barely slowing down as Essen took an extremely sharp left, the back of the car swinging as tires skidded against the pavement. In view were large spires of ice, the giveaway for Fries' rampage and they were heading right for them. The ice was thicker the closer they got to the Nora Fries Foundation, and for a moment, Gordon wondered how they were going to get in.
Only now did it occur to Gordon that Fries may have frozen shut all the entrances to the building and if that was the case, reaching the bomb had become harder. He shook his head to clear it. He couldn't be thinking like that. Maybe Fries had missed something, anything, that might give them access to the bomb.
Another turn, this time to the right and they were only a block away from the Foundation. Gordon tightened his grip on the handle while his heart pounded in his chest. They were here and they were still alive. There was still a chance to shut this down before it was too late. He couldn't give up hope, not until the last second.
It was time to get focused; he couldn't allow other thoughts to cloud his mind. He couldn't spare time to wonder what his daughter was doing at that moment, if she was afraid or if she was even aware of what was going on. If things were to go bad, he would prefer that she remained in the dark about it.
He didn't need to think about what might happen if they did succeed with defusing the bomb. He had made that threat back at Wayne Enterprises, but was it really an empty one? Could he follow through with it and fire anyone who didn't follow his orders and take to the streets after him? Were they behind them, following in Essen's dust and trying to reach the Foundation as fast as they were? Were they waiting it out in Wayne Enterprises, expecting for the worst to happening and giving it all up like it was a lost cause?
Now was not the time for doubts. Now was the time to for single-minded action. He couldn't afford to let his doubts and thoughts distract him from the matter at hand. All he needed to do was concentrate on trying to save this city from certain destruction. No, not certain destruction. If he had anything to say about it, it would be potential destruction. Potential destruction that would not be realized no matter what he had to do to achieve it.
Due to ice obstructing the road up ahead, a sharp turn had them heading away from their destination, at least until they hit the next intersection. Gordon remained unphased by the sharp turns, the only thing on his mind being what they were going to do once their arrived at the Foundation.
What nasty surprises had Fries left behind before beginning his…his assault on Gotham? The man was not stupid and must have left some kind of defenses on or around that bomb. Something that would delay them, prevent them from saving the city. Had he encased it in ice? Found someone who he promised to pay in exchange for guarding the bomb with the full intention of never paying up? Was he relying on the complexity of the bomb to stall them until detonation? There were so many possibilities and Gordon knew so little of Fries that he could not predict him.
If these theoretical defenses proved unsurmountable, then...no, he couldn't think like that. What ifs would be of no use here, especially since if they failed, none of it would matter anyway. Just focus on stopping the damn thing, Jim. That's all you needed to do right now. Stop that bomb then worry about the fallout.
He jolted out of his thoughts as the next sharp turn Essen made not only brought them within inches of an eighteen-wheeler's grill, but also brought into sight the icy fortress of the Nora Fries Foundation. It was dead ahead...probably not the best words to use right now but it didn't change the fact that they were heading straight towards the icy walls that covered the building on all sides. Or the sides that were currently visible to Gordon.
Please, oh please, let Fries miss something. He didn't care if they had to go into the sewers and blow a hole through the building's foundation, they had to get in there. There was no other options they had.
Essen was gunning it; on this side of the Foundation, Fries had neglected to ice the street and make it harder on them. Maybe it had slipped his mind or he hadn't thought that anyone would discover the bomb until it was too late, but that didn't matter. They did know and they were here, the sounds of accompanying sirens reaching Gordon's ears. So they weren't alone.
Essen slammed on the brakes and they skidded to a halt. Gordon was not about to reprimand her for. If anyone was annoyed by the skidmarks, they could call the Department of Transportation or whoever took care of the roads to clean it up. Without a word, he shoved open the passenger side door and scurried out.
With firearm in hand, he was already yelling out orders to anyone that could hear him, demanding for someone to find a way, any way, into the building. He wanted the bomb squad here fire minutes ago, he wanted this place secured, and he wanted it all done now.
As the backs of other officers passed by him and ran ahead, Gordon tilted his head up, looking for anything, a window on an upper floor maybe that had escaped Fries' icing, when something standing on the Foundation's roof caught his attention.
He was instantly reminded of the museum heist, something that seemed like it had happened years ago instead of the weeks that had passed, as he took in the dark shape that stood up there stoically. It was the Batman, he knew him by sight despite the distance that was between them. Tall, dark, and larger than life, his cape billowing about him, Gordon had a sense that he was looking down at him, as if trying to convey a message.
Then, just as he had at the museum, he turned and retreated further onto the roof, disappearing from sight. It wasn't abrupt as the last time, making Gordon think that the Batman wasn't in any hurry.
Meaning that there was no threat at hand. Hopefully.
Regardless of that, for the first time that night, Gordon felt that everything was going to be okay.
To most of us, we know these men as the vigilantes Batman and Ice-Man. One cloaks himself in the night, wrenching it away from the firm grip of criminals and gangsters; the other wields the awesome power of ice indiscriminately, ensuring that the evil men of this city would never have a second chance at continuing their ways.
This all changed a week ago when the Ice-Man began a rampage the likes Gotham had never seen before. A former employee of Wayne Enterprises, cryogenist Dr. Victor Fries began lashing out at the very people he claimed to protect, ending the lives of many people as they were frozen alive, or trapped inside their vehicles and left to die.
It was still all over the news, even with Mayor Hill's press conference declaring that it was all over. Images of ice growing in downtown Gotham—not very far from this location in fact—people hideously frozen alive, emergency personnel trying to treat those among the living, and hospitals overcrowded with the injured continued to flash on the plasma screen television even as newsanchors continued to talk about all of it inanely.
It had brought a lot of business Elliot's way. When he wasn't in the corporate boardroom or his office, he would typically be found in surgery, using his medical skills to the fullest. He really was a prodigy with his surgical skills so why not put them to good use? The PR from it would be a godsend.
Elliot had lost count how many surgeries he had been involved with since the Ice-Man's freak out. He had been going on little sleep, his exhaustion comparable with going for days working on nothing but paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. None of that kept him from watching the continuous press coverage or thinking about how this could be used for his own purposes.
Not all the injuries caused by Gotham's ice age reject were going to be bodily or life-threatening. If he was to be honest, he was keeping a close eye on those with...certain injuries. People who would benefit most from a certain future product of his. People who would be in need of some kind of...miracle if they wanted their looks back and fast. But he couldn't just choose anyone. It had to be someone...special. Someone with the right...qualities even.
There was an opportunity with all this, he could practically smell it.
If only he hadn't needed to go to Wayne Enterprises. Right here was a prime opportunity staring him in the face and he was having to wait on his childhood best friend's corporate lackeys to come to a decision. He was growing impatient for a final decision, one that could make or break his dream child and wouldn't you know, Bruce was involved with it.
Bruce always seemed to have some kind of part with any plans of his own.
If Bruce did anything to mess this up for him, oh would he ever regret it. He may be Thomas Elliot, wealthy billionaire, prominent Gotham socialite, genius surgeon, and reputable bachelor, but none of that meant he was stupid. Far from it; he was always six steps ahead of everyone. Always.
Bruce should know by now not to cross him. No matter what game it was, what activity, or competition, he had always finessed his way to the top, outsmarting the other ten times out of ten. Bruce hadn't even managed to beat him once in those games of chess they used to play all the time.
Yes, he was brilliant, and this new facial cream was the epitome of it. It was going to be his mark that he would leave on humanity, on the world itself. Nothing was going to come between him and that glory.
Not even Bruce.
Why did this happen? Many supporters of the Ice-Man have asked this question, some loudly, many to themselves. Was it the dirty, grim reality of the city that caused this man to snap? Did he realize that he was fighting a losing battle and decided to lash out at everyone he felt was at fault? Assuming that Fries was right that the people of Gotham are responsible for the city's current status, was it right of him to attack them?
It goes without question there are bad people in Gotham, just like there are bad people in every city across the globe. But in order for there to be bad people, there has to be some good people, no matter how few. How else would we be able to determine who was good and bad without some of each? Without one, there is no good or evil, light and dark, yin and yang; there would only be normal.
But whereas Fries came to believe there were no more good people in Gotham, there was one man that refused to accept that. Ever since he arrived on the scene, shocking the world from atop the Gotham Museum of Art, the Batman has fought for the goodness he must believe still exists. Why else would he put his life on the line if not for this reason? Say what you will about adventure-seeking, ulterior motives, or just plain stupidity, the Batman's action are not of a man who is out for thrills. Fighting the scourge of society with nothing more than his bare hands and a mask, he risks injury, maiming, and death every time he ventures into the dark underbelly of the city.
Though the crisis was averted, that still did not mean that there wasn't plenty of paperwork that needed to be filled out. No, the excitement for Jim Gordon was not quite over. Even with a press conference declaring that Fries' rampage was over, there was still the legal fallout to handle.
For one thing, due to Fries' unusual condition, they were having to make a special holding cell for him, one in which the temperatures were subzero degrees so he could survive in it long enough to be brought to trial. So far, Fries had maintained his right to remain silent and since they couldn't bring him in for an interview without putting him in that suit and risk him figuring out a way to reactivate it, he was stuck in whatever freezer they could find for the meantime.
During that time, Gordon found himself in his office, having to work on putting together the case against Fries so that it could be presented to the District Attorney. It was easier to say what crimes Fries hadn't committed than what he had.
He had to take a break. Raising a hand up, he removed his glasses so he could rub the bridge of his nose. He swore this domestic terrorism crap was going to be the end of him.
There was a sharp rap at the door, and with a grunt, Gordon called out, "Come in."
He recognized the sound of heels and he had to be sure that it wasn't a certain nosy reporter whom he had heard was leaving town very soon. Not soon enough for his tastes, but he would wish her well anyway. To his relief, a much more pleasant woman was in his presence.
"Lieutenant Essen? How may I help you?" he greeted her. A thought occurred to him and he added, "Any new leads in your investigation?"
Essen's lips curled wryly at him. "About that, I'm reporting that there has been no progress in the Batman investigation, Commissioner."
"Growing frustrated?" he asked, leaning back in his seat.
"I'm handling it as well as anyone in my position would," Essen answered neutrally. "So long as the Batman continues to appear, the case is not going to grow cold. How are things going from your end? Any problems?"
"Other that finding a way to keep our Ice Man alive, and by that I mean finding a freezer to stick him in, the biggest hurdle I'm facing is figuring out what evidence the D.A. needs to do his job," Gordon responded. "It's not that there's a problem with evidence, it's just that there's so much of it to go through. With as many witnesses as we have and as many cameras that were recording this, along with the fact that ice is his M.O., we have this in the bag. It's keeping him alive until trial that's the hard part and trust me, none of our organized crime friends are going to let him live long enough to be tried by a jury of his peers. They'll want to skip to execution if you know what I mean."
"Then I suppose we'll have to deny them that," Essen replied. "Everyone has their day in court, even someone like Fries."
"Well, now that we have had one vigilante cross the line, you can bet there will be more pressure to take down the other one," Gordon commented grimly.
"You don't sound too...happy about that," Essen said carefully.
"I don't? Must be the stress that's getting to me," Gordon excused himself. "You know," he continued thoughtfully, "if you want, I can move you to other cases if you don't find chasing bats to be to your liking."
"You're going to have to try harder than that, Commissioner," Essen replied. "But, if it means anything, I'm not as motivated to bring this vigilante in."
"Are you trying to tell me something?" Gordon asked, leaning forward in his chair.
"Don't mind me. Just speaking out loud is all," Essen said as she turned to leave.
And these two men, when contrast together, make great examples for how this city views itself. One man believes good can be found here while the other sees none. Each held their ideals without hesitation, ultimately leading them both to face each other head on. The results of their confrontation can still be seen in Downtown Gotham.
Fries ended up losing the battle, but the fight for Gotham is far from over. One night does not erase the many years of bad choices, wrecked infrastructure, and abuse that has been wrought. Crime has ruled this city for too long to be purged by one night of extreme measures and brutality.
But what this night of devastation has done is started something. Attention has been shined down on what ails this city. It isn't the ineffectual city officials or the corrupt policemen. It is the people, the ones that allowed this sad state of affairs to arise, but no more!
"Collecting trophies, Sir?"
Bruce didn't bother turning his head to greet the butler. Instead he kept his attention on the newest addition to the cave. A tall stand stood before him with a square, glass container sitting on top of it. Within the enclosure was Victor Fries' Freeze Gun, displayed for the the only audience that would ever see it.
"Something like that," Bruce answered after a moment of gazing.
"May I ask why it's here? Wouldn't it be more beneficial if the police had it?"
"It's too dangerous to let the GCPD keep it," the billionaire responded before turning away from the weapon and walking passed Alfred. "Too many corrupt men are under that roof and all it takes is one of them to get their hands on it to make a bad situation. It's one thing for Fries' suit to be held; it's another for his primary weapon."
As he reached the chair before the giant computer, Alfred replied, "I believe Commissioner Gordon would be most disappointed to hear that."
"He'd probably agree with me to keep it out of their hands." Bruce took a seat in the chair and immediately began typing on the computer. The computer screen began flashing images of newspapers, specifically the ones covering the Fries Incident. "There are too many men that wouldn't hesitate to get rid of him right now and it would be too easy for one of those men to slip into the evidence locker, grab the gun, and put it to use."
"And I suppose you told him this when you confiscated the weapon?" Alfred inquired casually. "Since he asked you to keep him informed of your comings and goings."
The corner of Bruce's mouth twitched up for a split-second. "It's a conversation we may have."
A silence fell upon the two men as they viewed the latest headlines. Alfred had made his point, though the younger man found himself hesitant to challenge it. There were some things that were best left unsaid and he was considering that this was one of those things. The less Gordon knew about it, the less it would affect him. Their professional relationship was tenuous at best and neither man could afford exposure to it.
As an image of the Gotham Star appeared on screen, Alfred broke their silence. "Ms. Lane certainly knows how to write an editorial."
"Yes, she does." And this was most likely the reporter's last one in Gotham. Metropolis was beckoning her and she had all but packed up her entire apartment. Bruce couldn't help but feel a small sense of loss. She was the only person that knew who he was and with her departure there was no one to fill it. Although he had gotten into this business with the intent of remaining anonymous, it was somewhat relieving to have another person know. Now it was just him and Alfred again.
Still, he wasn't one to let acquaintances be forgotten.
Pushing himself out of his chair, he began walking towards the exit, Alfred following him an a respectable distance. It wasn't long before he stood before his suit as it hung on a steel stand. The belt was on a nearby worktable just waiting to be resupplied. Yet, he found his focus being drawn to the suit's chest. "Something's missing," he said out loud.
Alfred came to a stop behind him and to the side, glancing at the armored costumed. "What seems to be missing, Master Bruce? We've already added modifications."
Bruce ignored the butler's words. Instead, he continued to talk out loud, "It needs a bat." A hand raised up and he pointed a finger right at the chest. "Right here."
Gotham cannot go back to the days of allowing mob families run this city, controlling City Hall and the Gotham City Police Department. Otherwise the people who have lost their lives will have been for nothing. But there is a glimmer of hope that these dark days are coming to an end. As long as there is one person that stands up and demands something more, not only of himself, but of the people, then this city is finally on the path to recovery. There have been many who have tried and failed, but this time, there is a feeling that this won't be just like the others.
This time Gotham has a guardian, always watching, always vigilant. The era of the Batman has come.
Hope has finally returned.
And thus the first part has come to a close. I would like to thank my co-author AnonymousVoid for all his help and to all the people who have read, reviewed, and enjoyed the story. This story is far from over and part two will be coming along soon. Keep your eyes out for The Sixth Move.
Until next time,