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|Wolf-Batman Begins (Part 1): I Am Vengeance|
Book One: The Vigilante
The sun was high and bright, another beautiful autumn afternoon in Republic City. But despite the warm and pleasant breeze, there was tension and hostility in the park. The "Speaker's Corner" has become popular as of late, to the growing movement known as the "Equalists". A public orator would rally the masses to their anti-bending cause. This afternoon, however, he was openly confronted by the city's newest arrival, Korra.
"What!? I'm not oppressing anyone" the naive young Avatar states, then with a weak rebuttal said "You're...oppressing yourselves!"
"That didn't even make sense!!" the Equalist protester shouted back, as Korra rode off on her polar bear-dog in defeat. More bystanders flocked to scene in defense of this non-bender, easily swayed by the protester's triumph over the "oppressor", thus becoming more hostile and open to the Equalist cause in the process.
Korra was angry, not just at the Equalist, but at herself as well for walking right into that mess. Fresh off the boat and she already got an angry mob rallying against her. Korra just wanted to find the nearest exit, she had enough "strolling" through the park for one day. Of course, the park was no different to the streets of Republic City, twisty and bustling while going every which way. A groan or two from Naga "helped" refresh her memory.
"Don't say it."
Naga wasn't budging. She started whimpering as they entered a heavily shrouded section. The voiced concerns from Naga weren't just about directions.
"Seriously, Naga. You'd don't need to remind me we're lost" Korra huffed, then with a heavy sigh stepped down off the Polar bear dog.
She stood deep in thought, lost in more ways then one. The poverty, the aggressive anti-benders. This was far from the perfect city she was raised to believe. Naga could sense her friend's mental anguish, so she leaned in her massive head. Korra felt Naga nudging her from behind. A smile grew as she turned, only to be nearly gobbled whole with a massive lick.
Korra laughed and patted Naga on her thoughtful head. "Always know just what to say, eh, girl."
The little peptalk brought up her spirits, but just then something caught her eye after turning around for Naga. In this shaded area of the park atop a hill, was a massive statue looking out towards the horizon. Something within her clicked, and she walked over to inspect it.
"Is that?" she mumbled to herself, as she headed towards the memorial. The statue was tall and made of black metal, depicting a figure with a long heavy cape standing upon a gargoyle, as if atop a rooftop. The figure had jagged spikes along his armor, and a mask that hid his identity, but not his stern gaze. She barely made this all out from the few rays of light that cut through the surrounding trees, but Korra could see this gaze was fixed down upon the city. Korra realized through a large parting that one could see a clear view of Aang's statue in the bay from where this memorial stood. She immediately knew who this was, immortalized in bronze.
"Wolf-Batman" she said aloud with delight. "Naga, this...is the Wolf-Batman!"
She may have been the Avatar, master of spiritual balance and all four elements, but in her eyes the Wolf-Batman was in the same league.
"It's really him! The Caped Crusader The Dark... you know!! The greatest butt-kicker this side of the Republic!" Suffice to say Korra was something of a fan.
Thanks to her mother and father, she grew up on half as many bedtime stories about him as legends about the Avatar. Korra fondly reminisced these nightly adventures that put her to sleep. "The tales Katara had about him, seeing him fight in person. I can't believe she and Aang actually knew him!" Naga titled her head in a confused look, so to speak.
"Well, not "knew him" knew him," she corrected herself, "I think." Even as a child she picked up on things like that, regular little detective.
No one knew who it was behind the cape and cowl, just what he did for Republic City in its darkest times. Personally she enjoyed the idea of fighting droves of criminals at once, and being the shadowy brawler..err..defender of the night. Explains a lot really.
"Don't mean to brag, but I mastered plenty of your moves. No easy task from secondhand memory!"
She then practiced a few fighting stances, as if to showcase to the master of martial arts. She spun and kicked trying to imitate fighting off villains like the....almost jumped the gun there. Never mind. So basically she punched and throttled the air, then bowed in respect to one of her idols.
When she rose, she took another deep look at the statue to her hero. Rusted by time, defaced with graffiti, she saw what's become of the fabled figure under the right light.
"Sheesh, you've seen better days. And now that I realize it, you should be in City Hall, or Aang Memorial..."
Korra just then looked back at the view of the bay, realizing she's been pointed in the right direction. From a clear vantage was Air Temple Island. Korra smiled, then took Naga by the reins and walked her through the parting, down to the bottom of the hill towards the exit, then back onto the bustling streets. The encounter with memorial has earlier sights of Republic City. And her mind was now rearing for action.
Back at the memorial, if one looks closely at the base, beneath the grime of forgotten decades, you could see a golden inscription regarding the hero depicted upon the statue.
A hero the city deserved, but didn't want...
A acolyte of the Avatar, but a force in his own right to be reckoned...
The Watchful Guardian
THE DARK KNIGHT OF REPUBLIC CITY
FIFTY FIVE YEARS EARLIER.....
The night skies over Republic City were especially cloudy, darkening the stars and moon from view. This was the last full moon of summer, for the dark nights grew longer and colder, a growing chill in the air that beckoned the coming winter.
As the clouds buried the light of the heavens, they were replaced by the searchlights of an airship, the first of its kind in modern urban aircraft, specifically for the Republic City Police. The idea of this joint United Republic/Fire Nation vehicle was to make a craft that could scan the streets from above, looking for disturbances or to help track known suspects.
But since it was the prototype, it was considered a hazardous rookie job to pilot this contraption. Zooming across the skies with nothing but a searchlight, hoping the thing wouldn't conk out and plummet out of the skies. The two pilots this evening had that general impression.
"Hey, Brosc?" the pilot turned and asked his bored co-pilot, who was busy trying to nap.
"What?" he grogily replied back to Ligen.
"What's the meter on your side read?"
The co-pilot, visibly annoyed, looked and said back "Half".
"Half empty or half full?" Ligen innocently, but nervously asked
"I'm not in the mood for a philosophical debate. Now can I get some shut eye?"
"Come on, you need to take this more seriously! Suppose we run out of fuel, right when theirs trouble!"
"Right when there's....Ligen how many crimes have we sighted, or stopped in progress up here in this flying death trap?"
He took a long time thinking, trying to come up with a numerical response.
"Exactly" Brosco angrily continued. "Even if...IF...we caught somebody. What are we gonna do to stop 'em? Unless we can shine 'em into submission, this thing's got no tactical weapons!"
"Who needs weapons when we got my Earthbending?" Ligen jokingly stated with pride. He flexed his right arm, showing off his firepower.
"Did you pack rocks up in here, that I'm not aware of?"
Ligen had to think long and hard again, deflating his flex and his spirits.
"I thought not. And since your not a metalbender, your as useless in this thing as plain old me!" Brosco finished as slumped in his seat, still fuming. Ligen, now bummed, tried to pass the timey humming.
"Hem-hem-hum-hummmm. Hem-hum-hunnel. Secret..." Ligen's humming turned singing was cut short, when he turned to see his partner's mood hadn't improved, an been replaced by a raised eyebrow of annoyance.
"Oh, boy. How did you ever talk me into signing up for this blasted patrol."
"You said you wanted an air patrol!" Ligen shouted, trying to argue with one eye while keeping another on the steering.
"I thought we'd get one of the regular flying bisons!" Brosco complained, "I just assumed that, since the Avatar found enough of them." "But no, we're stuck in this....THIS...."
"It said metal air patrol, thought it meant the bison had on some new fangled armor!" Ligen sheepishly replied, while Brosco rolled his eyes.
"Women love a man in uniform, but with us.... ZIP. BUBKIS. So with a bison, even if the thing's big and hairy, I figured there's a shot one'd be cute enough to show off and attract the ladies!"
"Oh, come on. We could....show off" Ligen nervously tried to say with a straight face, "I mean this airship may be hard to look at, but we could pick up dates with this bad boy" He tapped on a metal railing. An unpleasant noise rocked the metal contraption, and steam nosily escaped outside. Ligen couldn't even look at his partner, with the evil look he was now giving him.
"This bad boy could crash if you spit at it!" Brosco quipped. "If we wanted to repel them, that showing off this hunk of junk would do the trick!" He sighed, and starred out the window, looking down at the night lights of the city.
"Well...think of this job as insurance. I mean how long before they give up bison?" Ligen asked.
"Your kidding right? Thing's bulky and slow, only equipped with a flashlight...and can driven by anyone as simple as us two!" Brosco turned to Ligen as he ranted, "I don't exactly see the force using whole fleets of these mechanized nightmares, if you catch my drift!"
"Thing costs a fortune, I'll admit. But it's the wave of the future."
"If they wanted the future, the force could use the yuans for better use."
"Like?" Ligen asked.
"Like maybe getting some of those new..."automatic carriages". Seen one of those babies in action?"
"A bunch of fancy beetleheads from the Earth Kingdom got street permits for one. It was sweet!" Ligen said with boyish delight. "Now that's a vehicle that would win ladies as quick as any cute-and-cuddly bison!"
Brosco continued, "Heard tell of faster ones been poppin' up in the Fire Nation, too. With squadrons of those ostrich-less carriages, we sure would do some damage on the tri...."
As the ship starting making a sweep near Dragon Flats, something caught Ligen's eye as he jolted to his feet and looked out the window
"Did you see that?"
"I thought...could of sworn something ghosted by."
Brosco saw nothing, but his partner was taken aback, nothing ever happened like this. As far as they knew, the police owned the skies in this city. Just as he a made a pass away from the Flats, suddenly a black mass swooped by.
"There it is again!" Ligen shouted and pointed out.
"There what is?"
"I'm telling you something's out there...it was big and had...wings!"
"It's probably a bird, or a lemur. Now you pipe down alre..." Brosco started to mumble, before his co-pilot cut him off and pointed up towards the top of the clouds. He dragged him up by his collar to make him look at at where he was pointing.
"I don't see anything" Brosco grouchily said a temper slowly boiling to the surface, as his face pressed to the window, "Now CUT THAT OUT!"
He shoved Ligen back into his seat.
"I'm telling you...whatever it was flew by that way and...and...they looked like, giant...BAT wings!"
"Bat wings!?" Brosco sighed, knowing he'd regret this "Okay, we're taking a look."
He hit the engines and elevated the airship up through the clouds, breaching the top of the city skylight and into the moonlit air. Their mysterious winged friend was no where to be seen.
"Nothing." Brosco responded, with a hidden depth of relief, as the searchlight caught nothing in the cloud banks
Ligen was relentless. "I'm telling you, I saw what I saw when I saw it!"
"Oh your seeing things, Ligen! You should use some shut eye like I've been trying to do!"
His co-pilot was still on edge, looking the horizon over for any trace of the sight he witnessed. The shaken Ligen and his uneasy partner continued their patrol, climbing back down through the clouds and towards the city below.
"You thought you saw bat-wings. Why don't you think for a moment! Wolf-bats can't be up this high, they ain't big enough." Brosco started telling his partner, while trying to remain the level-headed one.
"Believe me, it looked big enough"
As the two pressed on to the patrol route, the black mass that zoomed by stood up atop the roof of the airship. It's head turned towards the lights of the city below, towards the skyscrapers slowly being built towards the heavens. Its "wings" unfurled and blew with the wind, as it then leapt off the air patrol ship. The air carried the figure as he then sailed across the cityscape, turning and diving across rooftops and between buildings, with ease through the urban jungle. It's shadow cast a frightening image along the buildings, as it made its own patrol across inner most Republic City.
The shadow of a giant bat startled what few individuals walked the streets below. Homeless in back alleys spot this fearsome shadow passing overhead, only to look up and find empty skies. The figure then landed atop one of the taller buildings under construction, on a border that divided the high rise downtown with the crime-ridden Dragon Flats. Kneeling atop a construction beam, he looked down across the panorama of the city.
Sending a Message
The two perpetrators escaped down a back-alley, one with the poor man's yuans...and the other with a still bloody knife. As police whistles began to sound off in the area, the two began picking up speed. They sprinted behind garbage bins, avoided detection around back alleys. Then they found a fire escape to the rooftops above.
The first one, then the next thug climbed. Both were short of breath from the lengthy escape on their part, but also still heavy with the thrill of their prior deed. The thrill of a quick kill. The two thugs were cautious enough to not get spotted by the airship, the "latest in police investigation".
With the coast clear, and the steam exhaust clouding their hideaway, they sat back in relief along the roof's edge and began counting their spoils.
"Four hundred and fifty yuans. Told ya the spud was loaded!" The bearded thug laughed.
"Yeah, fat spud shouldn't have been walking the streets" the second, and more jittery thug replied with a venomous laugh "Don't he know it dangerous?"
"Unless you a bender or packin' one these, it can get real nasty..." the first thug said as he took out his knife and looked it over in delight.
"We sliced him up good. Him and those two over near Silk!"
"We sliced and diced ourselves a thousand yuans tonight!" the two reveled in their haul, and their bloody handiwork. That is until a shadow passed overhead.
"What the..." the bearded killer spoke, but his reaction was cut off, by a rope dart that came hurtling out of the exhaust. Lashed around him, it pulled him immense strength backwards. He screamed as it dragged him off into the exhaust. The thug's partner leapt back in terror, as he could hear his comrade's mumbled screams. The screams died down amidst the sound of intense attacks and pounding hits. The kind of hits that break bones.
Armed with his knife, and more jittery than ever he looked all around him, the exhaust that hid him from the police know hid whatever else was on the rooftop.
"Don't come near me! I'll slice ya! Slice and dice ya real..." he thinly-made threat was stopped when he turned only to come face to face with the figure himself. Masked and draped in black, two pointed ears made out this figure as an inhuman monster. In terror the thug struck first, plunging the knife into the figure's chest.
Unfortunately, the figure grabbed his hand, with the blade still stuck in his chest. With a crack he twisted the thug's arm and threw him back. But to his shock, he discovered that the blade he so cherished had broken off. The sharp half was embedded in part of the chest emblazoned with a symbol, a winged creature. He looked up, shaking while still holding the pathetic handle. The figure moved forward, his body was black as night....and the thug could see that this "man", if he was one, had the coldest eyes he'd ever seen. Pale white, that shined even in shadows.
The thug tried to flee, but the towering figure hurtled towards him and uppercut him off his feet. Before he could collapse, he was lifted up and carried by his legs towards the edge. He screamed and begged, but the rooftop disappeared. He looked downward at a long descent towards the street below. The figure now had him by a foot.
"PLEASE...DON'T DROP ME...I DIDN'T..."
"Didn't slice and dice tonight? Didn't kill two innocent people...and try for a third? Stop wasting my time."
Republic City's Finest
The police were on the scene to cart the two hoodlums off to jail. One still passed out, but the other was babbling and incoherent. Two uniforms loaded him up into the back of a steel wagon, all the while he was mumbling and twitchy, about the monster that left him dangling like a freshly caught fish. One very special officer on the scene, Ruì Nī, was at odds about what to make of this mess. Bits of her native Red attire made her stick out from the rest of the uniformed police on the scene.
While everyone was a buzz as to what went down, she crossed the yellow tape to the alley where the two were left hanging from the top of the building. She saw and picked up the rope used in their abduction. Ruì Nī wasn't in a good mood this late at night, but the fact that someone just left this bit of evidence lying around set her off the edge. "Heavy grade stuff. Definitely not amateur" she related to no in particular, inquisitive and aware...unlike her fellow officers at the scene.
"Excuse me, everybody" she said aloud, getting everyone's attention, "Somebody want to explain why no one's bothered to bag and tag this?". What she thought was a simple question brought looks of confusion or contempt from other officers. One of them laughed her off and returned to chatting amongst other officers who seemed to think nothing more was required of them at this crime scene.
Ruì Nī wasn't laughing. She had half a mind to whip out the sword that was strapped behind her back and give him a lesson in police procedure. But he wasn't worth the paperwork. She simply shrugged off the poor excuses for police and stormed off to hand in the evidence.
"Anything I can help you with there...officer?" a figure from behind politely asked, but with undertones of contempt, as he stepped forward. He was tall, at least for a sandbender from Si-Wong tribes.
Ruì Nī stopped in her tracks. This was last person she needed right now, but with a similarly mock tone of delight she replied "Lt. Xar Nol. What a pleasure."
She then cut the crap and flat out asked, "This isn't part of your precinct, what brings you here?"
"A detective goes where he's needed, even if crossing precinct territory keeps rookies from... wasting everyone's time."
"This evidence isn't something you can get in any two-bit store...Lieutenant. Doesn't surprise me why you...or anyone else here for that matter, can't seem to understand the basics of honest police work."
"Heh-heh, very melodramatic there, Ruì Nī. From where I'm standing I see fine enough. A couple of thugs used black market goods to mark their territory. Big whoop. We're down here, officer. I get hands canvasing for wit...""
"For witless idiots? Or maybe more nutjobs raving about giant bats?"
Ruì Nī loved putting Xar Nol in his place, but her quips were drawing attention once again. And the detective was not getting testy. He grabbed her arm and walked her over to the other side of the street so no one else could hear the heated exchange.
"WHO do you think you are, huh? A filthy ashmaker, some two-bit beat cop tellin' ME what to do, or what to investigate!?" Xar snarled, quickly losing the suave facade he had moments ago in front of the others.
"Let. Go." Ruì Nī calmly but firmly stated, as she shoved Xar off and went for her sword, this time for real.
"I'm just trying to help track down this lead! Stuff here's more like military grade rope. The kind only specialized forces can get their hands. Mainly because this is metalbender made"
The tension could be cut by a blade, which Ruì Nī was inching closer to letting lose, as Xar continued to play dumb about the matter at hand. "Your point?"
"Just trying to...you know, investigate crimes. Thought that was the kind of stuff you need to know to join the Republic PD. Or least to pass Detective's school!"
"Apparently I was wrong."
Xar put up his hands, and laughed a little, "You want a medal or something!?" His eyes did all the talking, as with one glare the listening officers around him turned away, not wanting to feel his wrath. Ruì Nī didn't flinch, but she knew things would go bad fast if she openly fought a detective, as especially one with as many ties as Xar.
He then took the rope out of her hands, told her "Alright, fine. Let's just take a deep breath and relax." Xar stepped back and made his snarly disposition disappear once more. He didn't need a scene like this.
"Nice detectiving. But word to wise, leave this to the professionals, sweetheart."
"I will if I see any." The open contempt could have started trouble once more, but Ruì Nī just smiled and started walking. Until Xar Nol took the rope out of her hands.
"Why don't I just run this down to the lab boys? Save you and that bird the trip, huh?"
Ruì Nī knew she wouldn't be seeing that little piece of evidence again. When detectives like Xar weasel their way into a case, it's dead on arrival.
"Sure about that? So long as your not busy...it's only an active crime scene with possible ties black-ops Earth Kingdom.... or Fire Triads."
"Thought you were the best when it comes to us ashmakers?"
"We don't know that for sure. Don't get all high and mighty, rookie. Find a fancy rope, and suddenly the lady cop starts jumping to conclusions!" Xar replied. Before Ruì Nī even rebutted, an officer hailed her down from behind the tape.
"Detective, we just got a falcon in from your precinct. Says they need back-up!"
He raced over and brought her a message. She took a look, until Xar rudely turned around and asked "Something else I can help you with?"
"Another crime in progress. Suspect found hanging upside down a lamp post. I'll just be on my way...Have a nice evening!"
"Yeah. Right" Ruì Nī said under her breath. She shook her head and wanted to head back for a good three hours sleep, when she'd have to report right back in. Just then another officer raced over with a similar message, this time from Boomerang Park. She intercepted him as he was heading for the departing Detective. "I'll give him the message." Not likely.
She looked it over, "Spirits, same MO, means the same...but how anyone be this busy in one night?" Ruì Nī decided she'd head over to the nearest scene at Boomerang, against better judgement.
Ruì Nī then unlocked her Ostrich horse and headed off.
A few blocks away, Xar was starting to examining the rope himself. Even starting stretching it, seeing how tough the stuff was. However, at the end of the block he spotted a familiar face and casually headed over there, making sure now one saw either of them as the figure beckoned him forth.
He met a darkly dressed man of Fire Nation ethnicity, then handed him the evidence.
Xar responded while being handed an envelope, a bulging envelope he slipped into his pocket.
"Whoever took down those two morons used this. High-grade, made by metalbenders maybe. Just got another call that means...maybe this creep's still causing trouble tonight."
"Good work. Glad to see you still doing your job!" He chuckled, getting on the sandbender's nerves.
"Wasn't me, some upstart lady cop. Must be buckin' for promotion or some monkeyfeathers. She's too sharp for her own good."
"She'll be dulled like any blade. Just takes.... time."
Xar Nol smiled, but then bluntly asked "How did this happen?"
"None of your business. It's nothing we can't handle".
"Yeah...cause you've done a bang up job so far! If you had still been doing your job, then Zsasz's guys wouldn't have gotten...."
"DON'T mention that name. Understood, Lieutenant?" the man viciously declared as he grabbed Xar by the collar. He then threw him aside, and from his left fist a growing flame emerged, the light of it danced off his face and revealed half of from the neck up on the side. His ear was gone, and half his the side of his head was burned with a scar. One that looked like a handprint had baked across his face.
Xar backed up as the figure started pointing that flame near his face. "Alright! You can knock off the threats there!!" His criminal contact smiled and lowered the temperature, so to speak.
"Yeesh, the things I do to keep you firebugs happy." Xar mumbled to himself, while his contact breathed heavily and calmed. "Well what now? You-know-how's boys still got collared. Thought you had them all on a short leash?"
"They'll be out in no time. But we'll just have to tighten that leash further. What with this, bat and all."
"Yeah...a giant bat! Huh-he, those freaks are getting worse by the day!" Xar laughed
"Stay out of trouble, detective. And don't spend that all in one place, ya hear." The man himself laughed and then patted Xar on the back and started to leave before being spotted.
"Funny. Real funny there, hothead!"
His contact stopped and turned, then snapped fingers. He jumpstarted a spark and then tossed aside to ignite a garbage can in the alley "I prefer Firefly."
Just Before the Dawn
As the morning was fast approaching, the chill of the night began to fade as glimmers of sunlight began to peak over the mountain vistas surround the city. In the ports on the western part of town, the shadowy figure was busy finishing off a small-time gang of waterbenders.
The Water Hounds they called themselves, but even the vigilante could see they could hardly call themselves a gang. Most ran off at the sight of him, when he burst through the window into their hideout. Those that stayed were easily subdued with precise strikes, at chi-points or more efficiently smack-dab in the face! The crimefighter dodged and weaved around every water strike they could throw at him, it helped that their forms were weak so he could easily break their stances. The only thing they managed was to force the fight right back out the window, and into the open docks. But even with the adjacent bay, their attacks were still sloppy and allowed the figure to subdue them, head-on attacks from dodging or just disappearing and knocking them out with throwing stars from behind. He rounded the unconscious and defeated teenagers into one neat pile. Tied together and ready for pick up when dock workers arrived. He had his back turned tying up the punks, when a non-bender of the lot skulked out from the trashed hideout. Wielding a lead pipe, he snuck behind the vigilante. Seemingly unnoticed, he lunged at the figure ready to strike. The vigilante slugged him in the face with a backhand, without bothering to look or un-resume what he was doing. The punk fell to his knees, to which the figure then cuffed the gang member's hands and threw him into the pile of young thugs. "I'll just make this real clear, children. You may be able to splash water, or throwdown as if you were adults... but I don't have time to deal with the lot of you when real criminals are on the loose!"
He stepped toward an adolescent female, she sat on the ground, refusing to look the fearsome vigilante in the eyes.
"Since you were the fool one to come at me first when the rest, I take it give orders to this sorry bunch. If your lucky to get bail, I don't want to see you here at the docks from here on in. UNDERSTOOD?"
She still refused to acknowledge or respond to him. But the rest of the conscious group let of sorry whelps of agreement to his demands.
As dawn drew near, the shadowy figure then made his exit, climbing up to the rooftops. The port didn't offer tall enough buildings to gain the airspeed momentum. To pick up speed in flight, the figure bid his time. Standing at the edge of the top of the warehouse he just cleaned graffiti from, the figure aptly waited. Then the whistle blew, the early morning elevated train was fast approaching, like the sun that would expose his shadowy identity. He timed it right and as it made the turn around the bend, he leaped off. Slamming onto the roof of the metal car, it was still early yet so there were no passengers that were alarmed by the heavy thud.
Staying aboard for nearly ten blocks, as it neared the heart of the city, he waited for a long straight patch of tracks without enough of the new skyscrapers around him. Nearing the fullest speed the Fire Nation-made steam locomotive could, the figure made a stunning leap and caught the air enough to be lifted backwards and upwards. His cape/glider did the rest, as the updrift allowed him to soar over the rooftops once more, this time heading west.
What few passersby were out early that morning could have swore a black shape had raced past them from above, but his speed in flight was unmatched. The crime fighter hurtled through the misty morning air, and past buildings. He was swiftly nearing the city's edge, where it met the western mountain peak.
The figure began to lose speed as he made a nosedive towards a crevasse along the rock walls of the mountain. The entrance to a cave. The moment the sun began to rise, he disappeared into the mountainside.
A rough landing to be sure, as he dropped down int the cavern darkness. The sound of his harsh landing echoed through the underground, amidst the sounds of now awakened...Wolf-bats.
Thousands occupied this cavern, as the figure climbed to his feet and started heading deeper into his hidden lair. The darkness was soon interrupted by a small stream of electrical lights that guided the passage. Eventually he entered the largest and most open part of the mountain cave, where the Wolf-Bats soared above his head. The figure headed for a brightened portion of the lair, steeping through rock and icy water running past and dripping from stalagmites. He also stepped over....well, Wolf guano. He was really patting himself on the back for wearing thick metal boots for at least this section of the cave.
After reaching a base of sorts within this lair, with training equipment, a bed, and machinery of sorts, the figure sighed an uneasy but weary breath of relief. His first night was over. He sat upon the bed rest and unhooked the back of his mask, which attached the cowl to his cape. With an easy lift, he unmasked and threw it upon a table side. The shrieks of his "friends" filled his mind, as well as the thoughts of his first patrol.
No longer burdened by the black metal, he wiped away the sweat from his true face. He had the jet black hair of Fire Nation, and skin tone.
He wanted to train and prepare for the next night, he had all the martial arts and equipment necessary to train an army. But his body betrayed him, sore and in need of rest. He still persisted, and began striking a wooden block from all angles. Just then, amidst his training and the sounds of the bat-filled cavern, were steps. Descending from a metal staircase nearby.
"I should think, Master Baru. You'd be trying to get some shut-eye." a older gentlemen spoke, as he approached Baru, still ignoring his bodily necessities and training onward. "Bats are nocturnal after all."
"It was perfect, Seji. I had the tactics, the advantage, and above all..." Baru said, intense in his target. He struck the training block with force that it snapped several arms right off. "...they were afraid of me!"
"I know you're too old for me to order you to bed" Seji said grabbed a towel and handed it to Baru, who then began to calm, while wiping further sweat off. "But a man needs his rest...AGH!" he shouted as Baru turned to hand him it back.
"Oh for the love of. Sorry, Seji." Baru then realized and thudded his head with a hand. He still had the ghastly lens still in his eyes. "Been so long, I completely forgot about these things."
"Really, sir. The things that Chief of the Water Tribe comes up with!" Seji responded with a slight laugh, as his heart began to slow.
"For once, I might agree with you on these" Baru said as he took them out...irritating his eyes. His blue eyes. "They may provide me better sight...even night vision. But I really don't buy how he says everyone will be wearing frameless glasses!"
"Most would take a sore nose, and ears, any day to constantly having to wear those. Imagine if you forgotten them and sleep with those things on!"
"For now they'll suffice my needs..off the public market." Baru then placed his fear-tactic white lens in a dish and headed over to a workshop corner of sorts near the heavy machinery.
"Speaking of Sokka's gadgets, how's the grappler coming?" Baru turned to Seji. He then picked up a black device that handled like a small cable shooter
"Seems easy enough, if the specifications are right. The metal-fiber robe is used like a cable, and shot like crossbow...strong enough to lift you where ever needed." Seji told his young master, as he studied the gadget.
"IF it works, it'd certainly cut down on climbing time. Rooftops in seconds. Could even help me while in flight."
"I also brought you something to eat, Master Baru"
Baru smelled the fresh bowl of noodles, sitting on the work bench with the rest of his gadgetry. His stomach could use it, but he fought off the urge to focus on his newly added arsenal. He started to equip it onto his belt, seeing if it would fit or stifle his combat.
"Only way to test it is the hard way", Seji interjected, retrieving back the grappler and setting it aside. He then pointing at Baru's chest, "Just like the rest of your armory."
Baru, oblivious of the blade still lodged in his armor, yanked it out and admired the craftsmanship.
"Souvenir, sir?" Seji jested as he took the blade fragment.
"You should see the other guy." Baru deadpanned, while beginning to take off the rest of the armor. He finished and then sat back upon the bed, thinking about the two slicers he took down earlier than evening.
"Whatever gang he and his pal were part of, something about them struck me, they were more animalistic. At least more than the rest of the bunch I intimidated tonight. No affiliations to nations or elements, just tally marks. These were straight-up killers...for the sport of it"
"Could call for more investigation work on your part, sir. After a good night's, err, day's rest."
Baru didn't have to look up at the standing Seji to realize he was being glared upon. He silently nodded, also trying to mask a small smile from Seji. His muscles were aching and furthering along the incentive to sleep. Before he did, however Seji interrupted while also collecting the armor Baru let sit upon the floor of the cave.
"I really hate to badger-mole you on the subject, sir. But must you really sleep down here in this charming place, as well as train?"
"Not like I'm alone in this place." Baru quipped, while putting towards the wolf-bats above them.
"While part of me's afraid to find you trying to sleep upside down with them", Seji joked before coming to the serious matter, "I'd think you rather stay where you belong. In your own bedroom. Your own home, sir."
Baru stood up and started becoming tense, the subject matter was touchy, to say the least. The cave they were in connected through a secret passageway up to the old mansion that belonged to his parents, to his family back decades when Republic City was still Yu Dao.
"I don't belong in that house, Seji. I'll admit that I didn't like finding out I'd been declared dead...but it's better if Baru Wa-Yin remains that way."
"That was too years ago, sir. You spent two years living on the streets... now you'll spending your days below in this pit? Only to come up for air if your fighting crime, or in disguise?" Seji was trying to hold back an angry tone, but failed.
"Forgive me, sir. I..."
Baru put a hand on Seji's shoulder, trying to put him at ease "You don't ever need to apologize, Seji. I understand what your trying to say. Protect me, like always."
"Only this time, from yourself."
"I should have told you I was... that I was alive. Sooner than I did. I put you through enough already, without this..." Baru continued while pointing around the lair.
"I appreciate that, sir. But as long as I honor your parents, by keeping you alive and safe... even with whatever your plans for the nightlife in this city hold, that is enough for me. I just think, you should be allowed to have a normal life, outside of this cave, sir."
"But this cave", Baru insisted back with regret, "This mission is all that matters now. Baru Wa-Yin was helpless. An angry child living in a lonely estate that had the world offered to him on a plate. Well let the world think he died long ago, there's not much that part of me can do to help Republic City."
Seji shook his head, unwilling to believe Baru is thinking this way, but unable to stop him. All he could do was help and offer whatever advice his young master would allow. Baru picked up his mask and looked down upon it, like an actor gazing upon a skull.
"Only he can keep the promise I made to them, Seji."
Seji sighed, seeing no point to arguing further.
"I know, sir. But don't let him cloud who you are. Don't let this blind you red with vengeance. I raised you and taught you best as I could after your parents died. And despite what you may believe, Republic City will need you as much as it needs...him."
"Very well, sir."
Baru shook off the painful event. Brought back to reality by the sounds of the wolf-bats around him. He breathed deep and laid back upon the bed.
Speaking silently to himself as he began to fall into sleep, "I'll never be blinded by vengeance again, my friend."
"I am Vengeance."
Across town, just a few hours later, Ruì Nī was leaving the hospital. The bright morning was slowly growing darker, as clouds began rolling in. She turned up her collar as she headed for her ostrich-horse, who was parked near a post just outside the building.
"Your shift ended hours ago, officer Ruì Nī."
Ruì Nī turned and saw a mustached man with graying hair and glasses had approached her.
"Gor-Duon?" she was surprised to find that her precinct's detective had found here.
"I figured y'd be home asleep, and yet..."
Ruì Nī interjected, "Yet here I am. Heh-huh, I was just checking out a few leads and..."
"And we need to talk. Come on, there's a little place around the corner. Breakfast is on me."
Ruì Nī hung her head. She knew she was in for it now. She retied the reins of her ostrich and followed Detective Gor-Duon to a little diner. The two sat at a table by the window, and while Gor-Duon ordered hot tea, Ruì Nī passed.
"I' was in bed three hours ago, when I got a call from the One-Two" Gor-Duon began, after taking a sip. Ruì Nī was well aware without mentioning, that the 12th was Xar Nol's precinct
"After an hour getting chewed out by them, then a half-hour from my wife for waking up her and the kids, our captain then..."
"I get the picture, Jin!" Ruì Nī bluntly interjected once again.
"I don't think you do. You go playing detective in other cops' precincts. Openly defing their authority...
"If making Xar Nol look bad is considered harassment. I plead guilty!"
"This is serious, Ruì Nī" Jin said with a stern declaration. "They're screaming bloody murder over this. And that's the official story"
Gor-Duon turned to make sure no else in the diner was listening in, then leaned in with a quieter voice.
"Xar Nol is one of the last detectives you won't to cross. If he sets his mind to it, I might not be able to protect you."
Ruì Nī harshly replied back to her superior officer, "I don't need protection! I'm just trying to do the job required by this badge. And since when did we let scum like Xar Nol run the police? When did we let them corrupt everything the Avatar and Republic City stands for!?"
"Sad truth is, no matter what we do, or what we stand for...organized crime is always present. Even in Aang's republic." Gor-Duon had a tone of defeat in his voice with this statement.
"I'm sorry about stirring up this much trouble, Jin. But I won't apologize for tracking down viable leads which are getting ignored by incompetents, or buried by..."
"Did I tell you stop what you were doing?"
"Ah..." Ruì Nī wasn't expecting this.
Jin had a small but subtle smile on his face, "I'm just trying to put some sense into you, Ruì Nī. If you want to keep up the results, your gonna have to do a better job of keeping yourself off everybody's crosshair!"
"Your...not going to..I mean....ah, huh." Ruì Nī
"You're a good cop. One of the few. Which is why I need you to stopping kicking hornet-buzzard nests. Or at the very least get me called in at less un-godly hours."
Ruì Nī began to relax, sitting back in the bench seat.
"I assume you were at the hospital for the same reason as me?"
"Huh. Oh, yeah. The guy that got his throat slashed by two thugs. Talked with his wife and kid, someone helped stop the bleeding before medics arrived."
Gor-Duon inquisited "The same someone that hung two thugs of similar descriptions from a building?"
"This isn't turf warfare. We got somebody targeting all the triads, skilled and with top-level equipment to boot."
"A vigilante then. Just what I was afraid of" Gor-Duon took another long sip, uneasy at the thought of this someone.
"Unless you wanna take the word of half the city...that it's a giant bat creature!"
"Must be something in the water" Gor-Duon joked.
"He seems to have the same initiative about crime as us." Ruì Nī said with faint admiration.
"We're the law in this city, Ruì Nī. Despite bad seeds like Xar Nol, we can't just let nutcases with fancy gadgets take justice into their own hands."
"Okay, your really sending mixed message her, detective."
"There's a big difference between doing your job without the confines of the badge...and openly assaulting every hoodlum walking he streets at night! The triads have held a delicate balance in the underworld, and if he starts up trouble there's no telling what kind of warfare can erupt if he keeps this up. Despite his good deeds, he's breaking the law. Pure and simple"
Ruì Nī then stated, "Tell that to the boy whose father's in recovery thanks to him."
It was clear that despite being on the same mindset of policing, Gor-Duon and Ruì Nī had separate opinions on the crimefighter.
"Same message the rest of the precinct's are going to get. Find him, bring him in. Is that clear?"
Ruì Nī then sat up, leaving a silver piece on the table to pay. Gor-Duon put his cup down and walked out with her. Just as they exited, the detective asked a very serious issue.
"About those two thugs, at Xar Nol's crime scene. Did they have..."
"Only few tally marks on their arms" Gor-Duon revealed, "Looks like they were just getting started, defiantly part of Zsasz's gang."
Ruì Nī had a cold chill roll up her spine at thought of Zsasz. As the two walked down the street discussing this, a shabbily-dressed man, with a long beard, was fast approaching up behind them.
"I think Xar Nol may know more about them than we do." Ruì Nī continued.
"If he does, then this may tie into the Phoenix Triad. Then we're really in trouble."
"Where do we start?" Ruì Nī asked as the returned to where her ostrich-horse was parked.
"I'll let you know later. We find him, before the "Bat" does. Now get some rest, officer"
"But my shift?" she asked while unreining the horse once again, this time feeding a sugar treat to her ride.
Gor-Duon explained "I got someone to switch with you. You'll get the night shift, since it seems you've gotten use to late hours."
Ruì Nī smiled and got back atop the horse's saddle. "See you then, sir"
She began to ride off, when the horse bucked, sideswiping the man than had closely been following behind them. "WHOA!" she yelled as the man fell off his feet.
"You okay, there." Gor-Duon asked as he raced over. Ruì Nī was still atop when the man picked himself up and dusted himself off.
"Fine. It's all good." he said. He looked up, at which point Ruì Nī caught a glimpse of his blue eyes as spoke. Something about him took her aback.
"You sure? I wasn't looking and could have..."
He just smiled and shook his head, then patted her horse neck. "No. I'll be fine. Been run over by worse. Believe me!" he spoke with a light but forced gruffness. Both Ruì Nī and Gor-Duon picked up on that.
"Right." she nodded to Gor-Duon and backed up the ostrich. The homeless looking man backed up as well, then two more paces for good measure. That made Ruì Nī almost laugh. Almost. She then headed off down the street, as a roll of thunder approached from the distance.
"Sure your okay? You need a few yuans?" Gor-Duon asked, trying to pull out his wallet.
"No. I've got my pride. Get by without needing no donations!" the man said, waving his hands to make the man put it away.
Gor-Duon didn't know what to make of this noble bum, he looked up at the darkening sky. "Well then. You better find some shelter, by the sounds of that sky."
The man looked up in agreement. "Yeah"
Gor-Duon then passed the man and was walking away.
A much deeper voice, intense and clear, then said "Storm's Coming"
This struck Gor-Duon off guard, he turned around but saw the man had already walked away. He thought for a moment, then shrugged it off and began walking himself.
The figure, who was heading up the street, past the hospital, was walking tall now out of view of the police officers. Passersby paid no heed to this seemingly homeless and mangy figure. But as the thunder roared once more, and darkness poured in along with drops of rain, the figure continued on his way. With a long shadow in behind him that seemed to make the shape...of his long-eared persona.
- OH BOY. What a load off! With college work and other crap, it's taken me nearly a year to polish this story, then actually write the dang first chapter. Now with one down, it'll be a piece of cake finishing this first book.
- This story will have elements of all the Batman mythos (the comics, the 1989 movie, some of the Nolanverse, BTAS, the Arkham games)
- Baru Wa-Yin/Wolf-Batman
- Lt. Xar Nol
- Ruì Nī
- Detective Jin Gor-Duon
- Brosco and Ligen
For the collective works of the author, go here.