The Bowery was a thriving market square on the coastline of Gotham Harbor. Not quite the brilliance of the Diamond District in the heart of the city, the west Gotham borough glowed in the night with neon billboards and the lights in the thousands of open windows of various malls, department stores and above all, the finest dining the city had to boast for. It was the perfect mockery of civilization that somewhere in its dark corners, it saw the activity of even Gotham’s festering black market. Not every establishment located within the bounds of the Bowery was alive with prosperity. The large vacated building was once a supercenter grocery outlet. For years it sat dormant, decaying with age. Homeless found it for shelter among other unsavory uses, which explained the stale smell. But the building was vacant tonight. Cars were parked outside, not including the large black van parked inside through the large garage like door of the building’s entrance. Four shop lights were set up around the back of the van, providing a clear view for the gathering of men all standing about, watching as the dealer displayed the AK-12 assault rifle in his hands.
“Latest thing from Russia, my friends,” he grinned. “Shoots 7.62s, a heavier round than your standard, cop wielding M4. This puppy is slick, got a collapsible and foldable stock and sight and grip mounts, completely modifiable for all your needs. Accessories not included,” he added smugly. “This my boys is a rare deal available only tonight, right here, right now.”
“So what, it’s a Mother’s Day sale?” a man from the attending group mocked.
“Yeah, a sale for some sweet hardware any mother would be proud of,” the dealer said smoothly. The group sniggered. “So we got a deal, or what?” The men all exchanged glances, nodding with pleased looks on their faces. “You boys are making a very good choice, the dealer said as he tossed the AK-12 to a man in the crowd. “Ricky Leblanc guarantees it,” he said with a slight bow. Suddenly four encircling flood lights died with a snap as power to the entire building was sapped away.
“What the?” one of the men exclaimed. A crash sounded from atop the van, drawing the attention of every man in the room. Their hearts raced and eyes widened in terror as a shadow with two long, sharp bladelike ears glared back at them.
“Aw crap it’s the Bat!” a deep voiced man shouted, sounding like nothing more than a scared little boy.
“No way Man, I’m out!” Another exclaimed as he turned away and ran to the nearest door. Two men, armed with stubby yet loud CBJ-MSs. The submachine guns rattled in the thugs’ hands as they fired at the roof of the van not caring about the punctures of the bullets in the interior. Bruce dove to his right, rolling to his feet as he landed on the floor with two batarangs already drawn from the dispensers on his utility belt. He cast them simultaneously, watching each blade stick into the henchman’s hands. Like roaches, the crowd had scattered as Bruce dealt incapacitating blows to the two gunmen. Ricky Leblanc grumbled hysterically as he ran to the driver’s door of the van. Bruce dug through his belt again drawing, a device from one of his pouches. He grasped one of the two heavy ping-pong pall sized weights and pulled the other, drawing out a thin chord from a reel inside the ball. Still grasping one of the weighted balls, he swung the other over his head before casting it at the fleeing weapons dealer. The bola trap wrapped securely around the dealer’s legs. He stumbled forward before crashing face first on the hard floor of the building. Slowly, Bruce made his way to where Leblanc struggled and tried to pry the chords free from his legs. Delirious with fear, Leblanc yelped as he saw the demonic figure approach then tried to crawl away on his stomach like a worm.
“Let’s talk,” Bruce growled as he grabbed Leblanc by the back of his leather jacket. “You will answer my questions or learn what it feels like to have your leg bend the wrong way,” he threatened with grit teeth.
“Okay, man, whatever you want!” Leblanc screamed. Bruce grabbed the dealer with both hands by the collar and lifted him off the ground. Leblanc’s bound legs kicked and swung wildly with panic.
“Who do you work for?” Bruce demanded furiously.
“No one, man,” Leblanc stammered. “I’m my own boss.” Bruce sent a punch into the dealer’s abdomen.
“You’re just a gunrunner, hired trash to push weapons for the man in charge. Now lie to me again, I dare you,” Bruce growled with bared teeth.
“Okay, okay,” he wheezed. “Some guy, not from around here, I don’t know his name.” Bruce growled in his throat as he slammed Leblanc to the ground on his back. The dealer groaned, dazed from the impact of his head on the floor. Bruce lifted him off the ground, looming over him menacingly.
“A name, now!” he demanded.
“Oh come on, man,” Leblanc pleaded. “He’ll kill me dead if I talk.”
“I’m here, he isn’t and I’m worse,” Bruce threatened. Leblanc wouldn’t give in. Holding him down with one hand at his throat, Bruce grasped the dealer’s ankle with his free hand as he stood on his knee cap. Slowly he pulled the ankle upward with the knee still braced tightly to the floor. Leblanc felt the agonizing strain and howled in pain. With only a mere centimeter more, the leg would snap.
“Penguin!” he bellowed. “He calls himself the Penguin!” Bruce halted, releasing the leg. “I swear man, I aint lying!” Suddenly a voice spoke in Bruce’s ear. From the transceiver installed in his cowl, the proper, gently refined voice of his loyal butler resonated in his ear.
“Sir, something’s happened,” he reported. Bruce nearly missed the voice, unused to having the direct contact with Alfred via the communication uplink of the computer back in the cave. With Leblanc still pinned to the floor, Bruce quickly incapacitated him before standing back in the silence of the shadows.
“What is it, Alfred?” he whispered.
“It sounds like, like a bomb, Sir. I’ll patch the police band to your com link,” Alfred reported. “Just have to find the right switch,” he muttered out loud. A moment later and a radio transmission burst in his ear. Bruce flinched as he reached to his belt and adjusted the audio output level controls. There were still some kinks to work out with the new system.
“-on two thirty-seventh and fifth street. I repeat, we have a ten-thirty-three on two thirty-seventh and fifth street. Location verified as Mama Sandra’s restaurant.” Bruce fired his grapnel to the ceiling, launching up to the open broken skylight where he had entered. Bruce climbed out onto the roof then froze where he stood. Up the street, nearly ten blocks away, a hot orange glow pulsated, spewing a vast billowing column of black smoke into the night sky.
Every channel was bordered with a ‘BREAKING NEWS’ ticker and the image of a towering building surrounded by other large structures emblazoned with neon signs and giant billboards. The tower’s roof was in ruins and engulfed in a crown of flame, belching plumes of black smoke.
“What a tragedy,” Alfred sighed. “All those people. Most likely mothers and fathers out celebrating for Mother’s Day,” he noted with a grief laden tone. Bruce sat in the large black chair set behind the three giant screens of the new computer. Over the rushing of the waterfall, the cave echoed with the voices of newscasters, narrating the only few limited details they had on the shocking attack. According to them, it seemed unanimous; there was no sign of a threat, no cause or purpose but there was one detail the reporters foolishly overlooked.
“A bombing on a restaurant named Mama Sandra’s on Mother’s Day,” he stated out loud, resting his elbow on the armrest as he rubbed his square jaw. There was more to this attack but only time would tell.