XXXVI

Five years on from being unceremoniously ousted from the Wayne Enterprises board by a group loyal to his father’s original vision for the company, Detective Bruce Wayne now spends his daylight hours working at the GCPD cleaning up the loose ends that Batman can’t.

By night, Batman’s ongoing dance with Gotham’s colourful underworld has recently become intertwined with the pursuit of a mysterious new vigilante in town, Eko. Seemingly sharing a common enemy, Eko’s motives seem well intentioned, but their methods cross moral lines that have becoming increasingly difficult for Gotham’s heroic trinity to ignore.

As a chronostorm approaches, a deadly shift is about to ripple through the city, bringing with it new threats and allies, the fall of justice, and the rise of a dramatic redistribution of power that will result in the city’s long standing tribal lines of heroes vs villains being blurred, forever changing Gotham’s future … and it’s past.

Vignettes of a Dark Knight universe.

V

Upon arrival they sat, impatiently, in the van as the gates to the compound slowly opened. The journey had been slow, in the same way a long afternoon at work is slow, although in reality it had only taken a little over an hour.

There was still an uncomfortable feeling lingering within the group, unsure if they had been successful. Sure, they heard – and felt – the blast, but the haste with which they had left meant that the charge hadn’t been set in the location that had originally been planned.

It would likely be a couple of days before they knew for certain if it had worked.

XVIII

“The green cylinder. On the other side of the room.”

There was significant static on the intercom, however, the instruction was crystal clear.

“Break it open.”

That didn’t seem like the most brilliant idea, especially given the past events at this particular facility.

However, this was no mere suggestion, it was a demand.

I

He stood in the centre of his 37th floor apartment gazing out at the Japanese city. Surrounded by a small crowd of faceless bodies, he had no idea why or how he had gotten to be there.

What appeared to be a nuclear power plant in the distance was spewing purple lightning into the sky. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before. Something clearly was not right.

The building began to quiver as the light show intensified, slowly but steadily building to a violent shake. The tone and pitch of the buildings rumble suddenly changed, dramatic, like cutting into a harp with a chainsaw.

Floor to ceiling plate glass windows exploded outwards as the ceiling began to crumble. The tower collapsing in on itself, debris enveloping a final pulse of the distant light show. No pain was felt, just darkness.

He awoke in a cold sweat. 3:21am. Wednesday.

XX

Beyond the flickering a red, softly pulsating, light. Below the light a door. Even from this distance it looked heavy, and very locked, but it was still a door.

Above the door an understated sign.

[J.A.S.P.E.R]

IX

I’d tell you how all this started if I actually knew. All I have are rumours and tall tales. Everything from a bad business deal, to the assassination of some high ranking official.

Whatever it was resulted in all communications from the government ceasing, it’s as though they no longer exist. However we know that’s probably not the case, as someone had to have given the order for the national guard to step in.

III

A sunlit afternoon, my younger self chasing a familiar yet distant face through the tall grass overlooking the sea. This feels like a memory, but I know that it’s not. I dream so rarely that it’s usually easy to tell when my mind has escaped reality.

Right now in this moment I’m about 12. I haven’t actually been 12 for decades. And possibly I haven’t felt this free for just as long.

Nothing seems to matter, no consequences, no expectations, no judgement. There are other people around, they don’t see us or simply don’t care, it doesn’t matter which. Relaxed, free, comfortable, all the things missing from everyday life.

VI

Reaching the corner Miles, the self designated leader, went first. What he found was a whole lot of nothing, he motioned for the rest to follow him.

They had no other choice, the elevator had closed and there were no controls to call it back again.

Rounding the corner they were greeted by more corridor, devoid of all features aside from a pair of flickering fluorescent lights about half way down that provided intermittent illumination.

XVII

Their living room wall was now mostly string, push-pins and post-it notes. The TV sits unplugged in a corner, all non-essential furniture piled up on the other side of the room.

The only concrete piece of information he has to work with is a name. Jasper. Ok, ‘concrete’, is probably overstating it, but that is how it feels compared to everything else.

But still, who is Jasper?

The, now mostly ransacked, contents of their apartment has turned up nothing, no further clue as to who Jasper is and how – or why – he can explain why Eve had stepped into the path of a train that evening.

It has been three weeks and he knows no more now than he did then. The authorities have been of no use, her death ruled a suicide in the absence of anything to prove otherwise.

The police don’t believe that this Jasper character exists, and as he rifles through yet another closet even Jake is beginning to question it. Then he notices something behind what seems like the 47th box of shoes.

VIII

The shock wave rippled through their camp site, and several hours earlier than they were anticipating. The plan had always been to be further from the impact site, but communication delays had hindered them before their egress had even begun.

By the time they got out they knew they were unlikely to get as much distance as desired, still they had pushed on long enough to ensure they’d be safe, and they were.

While they were all now awake, it would still be hours before they would know if it had worked, and to what extent. Only then could they return.

XXX

Files. Guess that shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did. Feels like half a dozen or so, but not much good to me, the light from the clock is not even remotely sufficient enough to read anything. I toss them aside and try the top drawer. Nothing, it’s definitely locked. Odd, every filing cabinet I’ve ever seen has a single lock that secures all the drawers at once. But, hey, why would this be a normal set of drawers, nothing else about this situation is normal.

The voices are still there. No clearer, no closer, still not concerned.

Feeling my way around the filing cabinet there is something wedged underneath it, feels like another file, but I can’t pull it out. Shoving the cabinet, it doesn’t budge. Sure, I’m not the strongest guy in the world, but I should be able to move a small filing cabinet without too much difficulty, right? Not this one, it doesn’t move a millimeter, like it’s bolted to the ground. Why would it be bolted down on top of another file?