Ultimate Batman - ARC TWO - THE COLD WAR - PROLOGUE

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ULTIMATE BATMAN

THE COLD WAR

Prologue

6 pm. Earliest I've been out all week. Sunsets especially early in winter, my advantage. Still, gangs like these guys are starting earlier as well, hoping to avoid me perhaps. This group of idiots is doing what is a popular trend nowadays, moonlighting while still associated with another gang. Gun dealers are becoming the new outlaws in Gotham. Apprehended a crate of military-grade assault rifles coming off the docks last night. Anyone of those guns will cut a man in half. Hence, when another shipment came through Gotham Harbor an hour ago, primed and ready to be sold to a new up and coming gang; I was there.

And tagged one of the thugs buying it.

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Looking up at the dusk sky as the sun finally sets behind the tall skyscrapers, a man standing inside a garbage-filled alleyway, wearing a short winter coat and a black beanie, breathes foggy warm air into his cupped hands as the snow starts to slowly fall on him. Standing for the past several minutes in 9 Degree cold would make anyone shiver, but the young man’s paranoid glances at the slightest noise makes him tremble. His eyes darting and scanning at any movement at the west and east exits of the alleyway, he continues to breathe into his bare hands as he waits in front of a white van.

“Jeez, joey what’s takin’ so long.” The young man grumbles as he glances at his watch.

The working theory is that while it may be obvious that Black Mask is the probable buyer, another buyer is in town to take advantage of the chaos in the criminal underworld. Discouraging new business is becoming an increasing priority, especially because people like this, often start a city-wide gang war.

Walking over to the driver’s side of the white van, the young man glances at the African American man with his hands firmly kept at the wheel. Glancing at him momentarily, the driver pulls down his red hoodie, “Yo Mikey, where’s Joey??”

“I dunno Tone. He shoulda been back by now.”

“Yo man.” Tone groans, “Ya think the bat got’em?”

Mikey looks at Tone nervously shake his head, “Bat’s been back a week and already everybody spooked-

“Because it’s da Bat, Mike!” Tone interjects fearfully, “I mean, he’s always been crazy, but he’s been extra crazy this week! You heard what he did to the ‘Silent Gang’?”

Mikey shakes his head and waves his hand dismissively, “I know I know…”

“They were all hung upside down in the train station man!” Tones says, leaning his head out the car window and looking around at the overhead rooftops before looking at Mikey, “All ten of 'em…and they were all put in the ICU.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter,” Mikey says as he pulls out a gun and loads it.

However, at that moment, Mikey pulls out his cellphone and reads a message that appears on his screen, “Alright we're done here. Seems like this dude wants to talk to Black Mask directly and he left. Boss ain’t gonna like this so we better …”

Well if the buyer is already gone I better ask who he is.

Suddenly an open-loop rope falls around Mikey’s waist and closes tight around him, preventing him from lifting his hands.

“MIKEY!” Tones yells as before his very eyes, Mikey is suddenly pulled up off his feet and over the van!

“MIKEY!” Tones yell as he jumps out of the car and lifts an automatic machine gun. Before he can rattle off a shot, Tones suddenly sees Mikey kicking his feet in the air as he’s hoised up while the petrifying shadow of Batman drops down to him, paralyzing him with fear.

“OH GAWD!” shouts Tones as Batman drops on him a powerful punch to his face, sending him straight to the ground. Batman lands on the snowy cement ground.

Seeing the kid knocked out cold, Batman lifts his head and looks at the other teen Mikey, kicking his legs from 4 stories up.

“LET ME DOWN!!! AAAAAAAAH!! LET ME DOWN!” he shouts while Batman ties the end of his rope to the car's side-view mirror.

Suddenly at that moment, Batman looks over his shoulder to see an alleyway door from one of the buildings fling open. A man bolts to the alleyway with a bag in his hands. Yet, to the thief’s horror, his eyes open wide man at the sight of Batman standing over Tones like a vulture standing over a dead carcass. Quickly drawing his gun, the young man grits his teeth in fear aiming to kill.

Overzealous. I should have waited.

“FRAH-FRAH-FREEZE!” The young man yells, his hand shaking at the sight of Batman standing before him with his back turned, only his masked face looking at him from over his shoulder and his white eyes - those white blank eyes.

“PUT UP YOUR HANDS!” the young man shouts, his voice echoing down the alleyway.

Batman narrows his eyes but slowly raises his hands over his head.

Smiling evilly, the young man starts to giggle, “ha-ha, I got’em! I GOT THE BATMAN! Yeah, how’s it feel when someone else gots the power huh?! YOU THINK you can stop me? STOP US! GOTHAM IS OUR TOWN YOU FREAK! IT’S OUTTA-“

Batman quickly points his finger at the boy, shooting out at a thin sparking wire that latches onto the young man’s jacket, electrocuting him where he stands!

“GEEYAAAAAAAAH!!!!” the young man shouts as he drops to the cold snowy cement, gyrating and thrashing about as the Batman turns towards him as the mini-taser from his finger fizzles out.

Good thing Alfred updated the suit while I was gone according to my instructions, besides, he loves to tinker.

Looking at the young man on the ground, Batman clenches his jaw at the sight of the young man curling up into the fetal position, “Goo-goo-good gah-gah god-da-da! Wha-Wha-Wha di-did, you do-do to ma-ma-me!!!”

“I shocked you with 300 volts of electricity,” Batman replies and pulls out a black device from inside his black cape and holds it out to him. The young man’s eyes open wide as he sees the sparks from Batman’s secondary taser crackle with blue electricity, “This one as One Thousand volts…”

“oh man no please man no!”

“What kind of weapons did your buyer want?”

“Nothin’ man. He didn't want nothin'!”

Batman narrows his eyes and kicks the man’s legs open before kneeling to his crotch and holding the taser over it.

“DUDE NO! NO!”

“You ever had roasted chestnuts?”

“DUDE I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE PAID FOR HONEST! I HAD RIFLES AND HE DIDN'T WANT THAT! THAT'S ALL!”

My gut tells me different.

Silent, Batman simply lets out a plume of thick white fog from his nostrils. His hallow gaze stares into the petrified young man’s face, contemplating his answer.

“I don’t believe you,” Batman concludes and drives the Taser into the man’s crotch.

The ‘kack-kack-kack’ sound of the Taser drowns out as the young man screams at the top of his lungs, “OH GAAHD! STOP IT, MAN! DON’T TAZE ME BRO!”

Batman holds the taser over the young man’s crotch again while he curls into the fetal position.

“You went into that door a half-hour ago. You were going to meet with a buyer from Bludhaven!” Batman reminds him, “You originally had an arrangement with the Maroni Crime Family! But another buyer came instead, WHAT DID HE WANT! AND WHO WAS HE!”

“That ain’t true…”

“Don’t lie to me!” Batman snarls, “The last thing you want to do before you see the DEVIL himself, is lie, to me.” he growls, “Start again!”

“We were just selling rif-”

Batman grabs the young man’s by the hair and pulls his close this his face, “THERE ARE NO RIFLES IN YOUR VAN!” He shouts, glaring into the eyes of the young man as he trembles in his grip as snow falls on his sweating face.

“Nah-man! It ain’t like that!”

“I think your mind is jumbled, best I clear it for you!” Batman says, raising his Taser to a level position between his eyes.

“Oh, ga-ga-Gawd. LOORD please …”

“The lord isn’t here, just me!” Batman growls, “And my thousand-volt taser!”

“NO NO NO OKAY OKAY OKAY! I’ll TELL YOU! I TELL YOU!” The Young man shouts, holding out his hands to Batman.

“It was just a meet n'greet sorta thing.” The man confesses, “He didn't want guns. He wanted somethin' - bigger. Some kinda…”

ZIIIIP

Streaking past Batman’s face, a small dart shoots into the man’s neck.

Not again.

Batman turns around and touches the side of his cowl. His white lens digitally enhances his vision past all the flurrying snow, zooms past the rooftop of the 6-floor tenement building across the street to the taller residential building built a year ago and zooms in to the figure standing on top of the water tower located on the top of the taller building.

Feeling the young man in his grip go limp, Batman looks at the young man’s mouth foam with bloody saliva as his eyes roll back into his head.

Dropping the young man, Batman turns around and shoots out his grappling hook; anger and frustration tensing his muscles as he’s pulled off the ground by his grappling hook and zooms up to the tenement building. His eyes never off the figure staring at him from on high, watching him approach for a moment before turning around and leaping off the water tower.

Within seconds Batman arrives on top of the icy water tower. Immediately he notices the footprints in the ice of the sloped water tower.

Small holes into the metal, the shooter was wearing spiked shoes for grip. Probably weighed down by his clothes.

Peering over the other side of the water tower, Batman narrows his eyes, the shooter nowhere to be found as the snowy streets and perfectly lined rows of homes remain silent with their lights off. Grinding his teeth, Batman stands up as the snow whips around him.

Second time this week someone’s been killed as they gave up information. Can’t be the League of Assassins. They were still in Gotham but the darts were nothing the sort the League used. Nanga Parbat is the base location for the League nowadays, and their use of metal darts faded out 20 years ago. No this was someone trying to throw me off and I have enough on my mind as it is. Gangs stocking up on weapons as if it was a Cold War, League waiting to see if I ‘pass the test’ or be the ‘lamb of sacrifice’ for them to take this city as their own. Dick is frustrated and using the silent treatment as he recuperates, I taught him better than that. Tim, was rightfully frustrated – I would be too if I was sidelined, but then again, coupled with my frustrations and his own, Tim walking away was the best thing for us and the best time for him to strike it out on his own, he outgrew the Robin position more than he thought he did.

“I love it when you look all stoic?”

Great, I thought she was on the other side of town…

Batman clenches his jaw, remaining as still as a gargoyle despite the prevailing snowy winds.

“You lost some weight, didn’t you? You look good. Not so, bulky.”

Hate it when she looks me over.

Glancing to his left, Batman spots Catwoman, decked in her black skin-tight outfit with tinted amber goggles over her eyes, she smiles seductively.

Her lips in black lipstick, her face smoothed over with pale white face cream to throw off her true complexion, Batman looks at her from head to toe as she remains perched on the icy ledge while the flurries race past her in the cold winds.

Her boots aren’t the same size as the shooter, thank goodness. But she may have information, then again…best to not get her involved.

“Still stuck in your head huh?”

She gets on my nerves.

“Maybe you should’ve stayed out there on vacation a little longer.” Catwoman states, “If you ask nicely though, maybe I could pack a bag tonight and pack as little clothes as a girl could have.”

“I didn’t go on Vacation,” Batman grumbles, turning away from her as his cape whips in the wind.

She’s distracting me. I don’t have time for this.

Catwoman smirks at the sight of Batman leaping off the Water tower and fanning out his cape that allows him to glide down towards the snowy street.

“Hates emotions and ideas of them, what a guy,” smirks Catwoman as she leaps off the rooftop and whips out her pull whip.

Landing on the snowy ground, Batman walks towards the Batmobile as Catwoman swings around a light pole to the street and skids next to him, “Oh come on, I missed you and you didn’t even come to visit me? Are you mad?” she asks coyly, sliding in his way.

“Selina move!” Batman growls.

“Someone had a bad night huh?”

Hate it when she gets in my head like this.

“How would you know?”

“Because I know you have a friend in town and he asked me to see you, you know, to tell you he was around.”

Batman folds his arms and narrows his eyes.

“Oh the arm-folding, now I know I’m in trouble.” he purrs.

“Who found you?

“Red hood.”

That explains it. Playing cat and mouse. And now he’s using her to get to me. Selina has no idea the death game Jason will play with her. Best not talk to her about it. The more she gets involved, the more Jason will try to use her as a target against me. Can’t allow any weak points.

Batman’s jaw clenches with frustration. Letting down his hands he glares at Catwoman’s smiling face that slowly turns into a serious demeanor as she pushes up her amber-colored goggles.

“So you didn’t know then.” Catwoman sighs.

“No.” Batman replies, touching the side of his utility belt, “Stay away from him, he’s dangerous.”

“No really?” Catwoman retorts, “I can take care of myself.”

She won’t listen.

Batman steps towards her and gently grabs the side of her arm. Looking up at him, Catwoman watches Batman’s white lenses fade and reveal his blue irises.

“There you go,” Catwoman says softly.

However, Catwoman watches Batman blink for a moment and clear his throat as he lets go of her.

She’s fogging me up. I have to go. Concentrate on the task Batman.

“Time to go.”

Catwoman jolts back as the top of the Batmobile retract, revealing the red glow from inside the cockpit; the cockpit aglow with red lights position around the leather seat at the center with a one-way black rounding 360-degree view through the letterbox slot tinted windows. The dashboard matte black and in Russian, only Batman can read Russian that quickly, is decorated with a flurry of buttons, switches, and a large green radar beside the steering wheel that resembled something out of a Formula One Car or a Submarine.

“I remember when this thing sat two,” Catwoman smirks, running her hand along the cold metal exterior of the car.

“Well, it doesn’t.” Batman snaps, hopping into the cockpit, “Not anymore at least.”

“Still the loner huh?” Catwoman quips, pausing momentarily as she looks at Bat man’s emotionless face as he straps himself in, “You know after six months some people want company.”

“I’m not most people.” Batman retorts.

“I’m sorry about you know…Huntress was it?”

Catwoman watches Batman’s jaw clench even tighter at the mention of her name.

“She was good. Not like that other one, Batgirl, but she was good. Came through in a jam for me once.” Catwoman recollects, “If you need help though…”

“I’ve got it covered.” Batman retorts.

“Do you?” Catwoman counters.

Batman glances up at Catwoman looking down at him sternly as the snowy breeze whips around her shapely figure.

“Always do,” Batman replies and flicks a switch, causing the top of his cockpit to slide over him, sealing him inside the Batmobile.

Catwoman smirks as she steps back from the Batmobile, “Well you know where to find me.” She mumbles as the car roars to life like a dinosaur of old. Catwoman raises her hands over her eyes as tiny Xeon lights illuminate on the Batmobile’s side as fire explodes out the back, propelling it forward as the Batmobile peels out and roars down the snowy street at great speed.

to be continued...