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L.A. Knights

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Emerald Flame". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Changes in the stream of time ripple far and wide, affecting the fate of many, including a certain Pretender.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralCyclone + 1 otherFR1529,33433310,13512 Feb 1020 Aug 10No

Second Knight by AnimeRonin

Title: L.A. Knights: Second Knight

Author: Anime Ronin

Rating: PG-13 (some swearing)

Summary: The transformation begins. Part of the Emerald Flame series.

Disclaimer: I do not own Batman, Pretender or Buffy/Angel, so don't bother suing me. Any other series that are going to be put forth will be denoted at the beginning of each chapter.

Chapter 1

(Jarod Bruce’s Office)

Jarod stifled a groan as he sat back in his chair, his body aching. He was in relatively good shape for a man his age and profession, varied professions, actually, but to become the Batman, he had to become better, stronger, faster, and to push himself harder. As such, he was aching. This didn’t stop his mind from working, though. The Centre had long ago tested to see where his threshold of pain was in respect to his ability to his cognitive abilities and he was only starting to reach the barest limits.

He smirked darkly at how, once again, the Centre was helping him unknowingly in his quest.

His phone buzzed and he sighed as his personal assistant called to him, “Yes, Zoe?”

“It’s time for lunch, sir.”

“I’m fine, Zoe.”

Somehow he could _feel_ her glare through the telephone speaker, “Sir, you barely ate breakfast this morning, so you _are_ going to eat lunch. I’ve already taken the liberty of ordering you something from your list of favorites.”

“What would I do without you, Zoe?”

“Probably go off on one of your hair-brained adventures again, sir. Last time it was playing a clown at the Children’s Hospital.”

“Their clown called in sick,” Jarod said defensively.

The speaker phone shut off and his office door opened, revealing his personal assistant with his lunch. His stomach growled a bit and his mouth watered, telling him just how hungry he really was.

“You need to eat better, sir. I’ve already had to deal with your doctors calling me at all hours of the day demanding that you eat healthier,” the matronly woman said sternly as she put down his lunch.

“I’ve lived a very structured life so far, Zoe, so I want to taste some of the finer things in life.”

She arched an eyebrow at him, “Three tacos from the roach coach at your building site, two donuts and a Mister Fizzy is _not_ ‘the finer things in life’, sir.”

He sighed, knowing she was right on several levels. Yes, he liked these things because it showed him just how much he had missed in life while enslaved by the Centre, but there was also the other aspect of his life that demanded he be in the best shape possible. He would have to limit himself to one or two of these ‘meals’ a week… “You’re right, Zoe. I’m not giving them up, though.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to, sir. Now, when you’re done with this, you have your one o’clock meeting with…”

(Centre Operations House, Los Angeles)

“Broots, talk to me.”

The man coughed a bit, wiping away his lunch of beef tacos from his mouth, “Um, well, this is everything I have on ‘Jarod Bruce’, Miss Parker, and so far it’s more complete than anything else Jarod’s ever done. An entire background from birth records to schools, job history… the works.”

“Stop fawning over his skills, Broots,” Andrea growled, wondering why she had quit smoking.

“Be nice, Miss Parker,” Sydney said calmly.

She smiled at him, a smile more befitting a shark than a human, “When have I ever been nice, Syd?”

"When you’re talking to your father,” Broots muttered.

“What was that?”

“Nothing."

Miss Parker growled. She hated to admit it, but Jarod had done one hell of a job. “Syd, do you see anything that we can use here?”

“Not without putting the Centre at risk, no,” the doctor said quietly as his eyes looked over Jarod’s work. He then stopped, frowning, and pointed to one screen, “Broots, what is that?”

“Um… it looks like a bill of sale. Several, actually.” He tapped his keyboard some more and the screen blew up, allowing them to see more. After a few seconds of looking, though, Broots spoke up, “From the looks of it, Jarod bought out a half-dozen holding companies around the country. Nothing too major, really.”

“What is it, Syd? What are you seeing?”

The man grinned slightly, “Look at the names, Miss Parker. Do they seem familiar?”

Andrea looked at the names for a moment before the names clicked, causing her blood pressure and the want of a cigarette to both spike, “That son of a-“

“They’re Centre holdings,” Broots mumbled, his mind making the connections. He did some work on his computer for a few seconds before he whispered, “They are what we wash our budgets through.”

“Thank you, Mister Wizard,” Miss Parker growled as she read over his shoulder.

“I wonder if your father knows about this,” Sydney mused.

As if on cue, her phone rang.

(Rooftop, Later that night)

“I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

Sydney smiled, “Miss Parker, Jarod has offered us an olive branch. The least we can do is hear him out.”

“We’re meeting him on his turf and on his terms. When has that ever worked?”

“Honestly, Miss Parker, I could not tell you seeing as how it’s never been tried before,” Sydney offered with a shrug.

Andrea glared at him but said nothing as she popped another stick of gum into her mouth. The phone call to her cell had been her father, who had asked her if she knew anything about the sales. It had not been a pleasant conversation to say the least. Her phone had rang a second time, though, and she had thought it was her father calling back to apologize for being so blunt and harsh to her.

She was wrong. It was the source of her nearly constant irritation these days. Well, one of the sources, though Broots took fifth place behind both Jarod and Lyle, Raines and Sydney.

Andrea looked down at her watch and snorted, “Ratboy’s late. Typical.”

From behind her and Sydney came an all-too familiar voice, filled with amusement and just a hint of edge, one that she rarely heard from him, “I’m afraid I’ll have to take offense to that, Miss Parker.”

“Jarod,” Andrea growled, turning, “I’m surprised…” Her rant stopped dead in its tracks as she took in the sight before her. It was Jarod, she couldn’t deny it, but he was wearing… “What in the hell are you wearing?”

‘Batman’ smirked at her as only Batman could, “I recently discovered comic books. What do you think?”

She stayed silent for several minutes, taking it all in as quickly as she could, but she eventually just shook her head, bringing her hand up to her throbbing temples, “That’s it, Jarod. You’ve finally lost it completely.” She turned and looked at Sydney, who appeared to be smiling behind his hand, “Just so you know, Sydney, I blame you for this.” She turned back to Jarod… Batman… Ratman… rat bastard, whoever he was, and growled, “So, insane outfit aside, have you finally decided to give up, Jarod?”

“I just wanted to see the look on your face,” Jarod said as he fully stepped out of the shadows.

Andrea pulled her sidearm and shook her head, “There’s only one way off of this roof, Jarod, and it’s behind us. You are coming with us and, if you’re lucky, I’ll even let you keep the costume without too many bullet holes in it.”

“Au contraire, Miss Parker. I think you’re forgetting something,” he said before he leaned back and fell off of the roof, something in his hand.

She and Sydney rushed to the edge of the roof, hearing a ‘pop’ from the air, and, when they reached the edge, they saw his caped form swinging away from the building.

Minutes after he disappeared from their sight, Miss Parker finally grumbled, “He’s insane.”

“No. He’s Batman,” Sydney countered.

She gave Sydney a frosty glare and he returned an unrepentant grin in return.

She really needed a cigarette.

(Mid-air)

It had been a calculated risk all the way around. First the phone call, then the meeting place, and finally his theatrics. He knew just what buttons to push on Miss Parker, true, but she had shown a willingness to shoot at him in the past, which had necessitated his escape via grapple. The original plan had been to use his cape to glide down to another rooftop, but that also put him in the line of fire for far too long and he was still getting the handle of the increasingly difficult physics of it. Maybe if he had a lighter-weight material but with higher tensile strength…

A scream from an alleyway broke his musings as he landed on a rooftop.

He was moving before he really had a chance to assess the situation; a woman was being stalked by what appeared to be a pair of thugs, general street thugs at that. One was armed with what appeared to be a switchblade and the other a broken bottle.

It might have a fair fight had he not had the element of surprise and dropped onto the knife-wielding one… but as he had learned from the movies of ninja noir, ‘If you are forced to fight fair, you have obviously failed’.

The bottle-wielding thug turned, his eyes wide and jaw slack, allowing Batman to lash out with a roundhouse kick that sent him to the ground.

All told the fight, if one could call it that, lasted a grand total of four seconds… a personal best.

“Miss? Are you al-“ Batman’s words stopped in his throat as the woman grabbed him by the throat and her face… morphed, a physical impossibility as the superciliary ridge, frontal bone of the cranium, the supra-orbital ridge and the nasal bone were all, well, bone. Her eyes, which he had not gotten the best look at before, were now gold, mixed with red, giving them a very terrifying look, but her canines had also extended.

“You fool,” the woman (?) hissed at him, gripping his throat with enough force to cause his knees to start to weaken. “Do you have any idea how hard it was to get those two to take the bait? What a feast they would have made once their blood was properly seasoned with terror?”

Batman reached up to her wrist to try and free it but found that it wasn’t moving, in fact it was only gripping his neck tighter, closing off blood flow to his brain. He was already starting to see spots in his vision and his breathing was becoming more and more labored. This… this wasn’t how it as supposed to be…

The woman frowned, though, her facial expression becoming inquisitive as she looked him up and down, “Why are you dressed like Batman?”

“I… _AM_... Batman…” he managed to growl out as his vision began to fade.

She smirked, “Is that so?”

In a desperate attempt to get free, he jammed his thumb into the woman’s elbow, striking the nerve there in hopes that it would cause her to release him. The attack was sudden enough and so unexpected that she released him and jerked away, cradling her arm and hissing at him.

“You will pay for that, Batman.”

With his head swimming slightly from the blood rushing back to it, he could only respond on instinct and he kicked her leading leg with enough force to cause her to buckle slightly. With this slight victory in hand, he pressed on, pushing the disorientation out of his conscious mind as he went work picking her apart. Every strike she made to defend herself he used against her, counter striking and, eventually, crippling her.

That, at least, was what he thought when she slowly got back to her feet a moment later, wiping the back of her bleeding mouth, “You insignificant little PRICK! Do you have any idea how much that hurt?!?”

Jarod’s hand went to his belt and he produced a single orb that he normally wouldn’t have used this close to himself. Given, though, that the woman had managed to regain her senses and mobility after that beating in only a few minutes, though, he was going to have to take the risk as he threw it to the ground at her feet, causing the orb to explode and a very fine powder to fill the air between them.

It started with an itch to his nose and quickly became a watering of his eyes, tickling in the throat and a burning sensation on his skin as the capsicum did its job on him. On the woman, though, the effects were more noticeable as her eyes began to water and she began pawing at herself.

“What in hell’s name have you done to me?!?”

“I’ve dusted us both with capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers. It’s a little something I cooked up,” he explained. “It’s effective, as you can tell.”

She snarled and clawed at him, her eyes watering enough to make hitting him almost impossible, “I am so going to turn you for this, just so I can enjoy breaking you time and time again, mortal!”

Anything else that would have been said, threatened, promised or otherwise was cut off when the woman pitched forwards slightly and a blood-tipped shaft protruded from her chest. She looked down at it dumbly and her mouth worked a few times before…

Jarod shook his head to clear his eyes. He knew that capsaicin had some odd effects on the sensory organs, but he didn’t believe hallucination was one of them.

“What the hell?”

Jarod went for his grappling gun and fired it, feeling the need to get away as he saw a group of blurry people approaching him. The situation had changed too much to control and he had obviously misjudged it from the beginning. Dealing with these new people, especially in his currently diminished capacity, would not be wise.

As he rose into the sky, though, he could hear one of the figures mutter, “White people are really, really weird.”

(Temporary Headquarters, Miss Parker)

Andrea looked at the tumbler of Scotch that she had poured herself the moment she had returned and idly watched as the amber liquid sloshed around the vessel, “What the hell happened out there tonight, Sydney?”

“I’m afraid you’re going to have to be more specific, Miss Parker.”

She glared at the older man, “You know exactly what I’m talking about, Syd. Jarod’s done a lot of batshit crazy things since he escaped but this? I mean, come on! He’s not Batman!”

Sydney leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers in front of him, tapping his forefingers for a moment. After that moment, though, he stood up from his chair and walked over to the windows that looked over the facility below them, his arms clasped behind his back, “Tell me truthfully, Miss Parker; if you had the chance to walk away from the Centre, to just leave it all behind, would you? _COULD_ you?”

She looked at him oddly, “What are you talking about?”

“Jarod has had two goals that have driven him for years: his desire for justice and his search for himself. In embracing this identity as his own, he has found a way to unite those two goals. This is a very important step for him.”

Andrea snorted and drained her neat Scotch, “Are you really trying to tell me that him dressing up like a giant bat and acting out a comic book fantasy is a _good_ thing?!”

“’Good’? That is debatable, yes, but it shows that he is becoming more grounded in the world.”

“Syd, dressing up like that will get him ‘grounded’ in the psych ward. Again. And how does this apply to your question?”

“It applies in just how far he is willing to go, Andrea. That he has taken this particular step is a sign that he now understands the way he has been living these past few years is unsustainable.” He turned to her and his eyes bored into hers, “On some level, you’ve always known that as well. His continued running would stop one day and necessitate your changing as well. You’ve lived this chase for far too long to do anything else and we both know it.”

Andrea frowned, putting he glass down as she focused on part of the man’s diagnosis, “You mean he’s going to stop running?”

“I think he already has. He’s not running anymore because he’s found a way for him to be himself… just as you are going to have to find a way to be yourself once this is all over.”

She walked over to where he was standing and looked down at the facility with him. It wasn’t something she could put a name to if she had to, but the place was oddly sterile. In a way it reminded her of the Center but, to the best of her knowledge, it was entirely separate and had been offered to them for a price, a price that had been paid separately. “It’ll never be over, Syd, not until he’s back at the Centre.”

(Rooftops)

The group of children, which he had pegged ranging from about fifteen to possibly twenty, which spanned racial divides of African American, Asian American, Anglo American, and Mexican American, had successfully found, stalked and presumably terminated three others like the woman he had seen dissolve. It was very effective in it’s means but he couldn’t understand what was going on, not yet, so he had decided to follow them. It had, of course, only raised more questions than answers.

Then again, the best mysteries often did.

As he heard the sirens closing in on their location, his own watched buzzed, reminding him that he had to get back. Yes, he had a very flexible schedule, but Zoe also had him attending a breakfast with the local charities that were petitioning his company for assistance and he had to be presentable… not like the last time.

Jarod shuddered as he grabbed his grapple gun and fired off a line. Zoe had, in no uncertain terms, laid down the law that he _would_ get at least six hours of sleep a night in order to keep from nodding off in the middle of important meetings like he had a month prior.

'I wonder if I could hire her as a butler…’

Down on street level, frowning as the ambulances came at them, Gunn heard something else and looked up. Nothing. Maybe he was hearing things. Didn’t they say that stress was cumulative?

(Bruce Tower, one month later)

It had been a very long, very frustrating and, often times, sleepless month. His own training aside, Jarod had poured over the video that he had taken, a scant two hours, and he had enhanced it to the limits of even his capabilities. He studied each frame, each face, each movement… and he still couldn’t come to a concrete solution. On the one hand, the group, lead by one Charles Gunn, appeared to be fighting… vampires.

The thought always brought a frown to Jarod’s face. Vampires. The entire notion of an animated corpse, most commonly with a demonic entity in control of it, if you believed both popular fiction and what occult references he could find, rankled him.

This, of course, didn’t do more than add another facet to his research. The first thing he had done was to ask Zoe what she knew about vampires and such and she’d first given him a look and asked if he was feeling alright. Once assured that he was fine, she gave him the ‘common knowledge’ information regarding their strengths, weaknesses, limitations and some movies she was going to get for him to watch. Some of the movies had been quite entertaining where others had been outright silly, with several bordering on both. Really, Tom Cruise as a vampire?

Regardless, Jarod had poured his waking hours and sleepless nights over the information that had trickled in at first about Mister Gunn’s group; runaways, mostly, orphans and a few who didn’t have any records that he could find. It worried him that children were fighting these things, often times coming out just even or with a victory, but they also had their losses: in the past month, three of their numbers had died, been killed ‘in the line of duty’, despite his help in sending the ambulances… help that was starting to come back to bite him. They were changing their patterns now, their hunting locations, making it more difficult for him to find and observe them, and it also ran the risk of them seeing him. He just wanted to help …and help he would.

It was a calculated plan that he had come up with over his breakfast of Pop-Tarts, orange juice, a fruit medley and the five morning news papers; it was risky, inherently so, but the risk/reward stratagem proved that it would be worth it.

His intercom buzzed, “Mister Bruce?”

“Yes, Zoe?”

“Your ten o’clock is here.”

“Send her in.”

The door opened and Alonna Gunn walked in, obviously nervous.

Jarod smiled, “Please, come in, Miss Gunn.”

“Um… okay.” She made her way across his office and sat down in the offered chair.

Jarod chuckled, “Nervous?”

“Very,” she admitted. “I signed up for this at a job fair and, well… I don’t have any experience.”

“I know, but I also believe in on the job training being one of the best preparations for the business world. I was thrown into the deep end myself, so I understand where you are coming from. Now, you’re here about the intern position?”

The young woman nodded, her tension easing a bit, “Yes, sir.”

“Good. Tell me, why should I hire you?”

(The Centre, Miss Parker’s office)

Andrea checked her watch and sighed. Right on time. Jarod’s little mind games always came with annoying regularity and, on cue, the next one appeared with the afternoon mail in the form of a large box.

Sitting across from her, Sydney had a Cheshire-like grin, “Well? Are you going to open it?”

She glared at him as she grabbed her letter opener, “You know, one time he’s going to go just a little too far and I’m going to have just enough rope to hang him with.”

Sydney simply shrugged at her as she cut open the box, “Miss Parker, you know that Jarod always has a reason for his games. Play along.”

Inside of the box were a garment box with a ‘1’ on it, a smaller box with a ‘2’ on it and an envelope with no return address, only ‘READ ME LAST’ on it.

Setting the boxes on her desk, she opened the garment box and blinked. On top was a cream-colored silk blouse, one she guessed would probably fit her like it was made for her. Under that was a pair of dark pants, boot cut and made of a durable material. At the bottom of the box was a pair of dark brown leather riding boots, hand-tooled and obviously works of art.

Frowning, she put the clothes aside and opened the smaller box, frowning at it’s contents; an action figure, dressed in much the same clothes as the ones in front of her.

Sydney chuckled but didn’t offer a reason why.

Her patience wearing thin, Andrea tore the envelope open with a growl and that growl turned into a snarl as she read the letter.

-It was either this or the leather catsuit and bullwhip. Jarod.-

Sydney reached over and took the action figure, “I must say, Jarod’s sense of humor is seems to be improving. I dare say that he has you targeted perfectly with this choice.”

“I think this is his way of getting even with us for the Team we sent after him in LA, Syd.”

“I highly doubt it, Miss Parker. Not only is that nothing new, but if he truly was irritated, he would have done something else-“

Andrea’s phone rang, startling her. It rang a second time and she answered it, “Parker.”

“Angel.”

“Oh. Daddy. How are you?”

“I’m confused, dear. Why would Jarod be sending me an action figure? One with the name…” There was a pause, a pause which only made her frown, and then her father’s voice came back, “Raysh al Ghul?”

Andrea sighed and wanted to cry. When she finally got her hands on Jarod, she wasn’t going to kill him, no, that’d make the pain end too quickly…

(Hideout)

Alonna sighed as she sat down onto the couch, drawing her brother’s attention. “Hey, ‘lonna. How’d it go?”

“I got the job.”

Gunn and several others perked up at this news, “Hey, that’s great. What’re you doing?”

“I’m an intern at Bruce Industries. Mister Bruce… Jarod… hired me himself.”

“Um… Jarod Bruce? Isn’t he, like, one of the richest businessmen in town?”

She nodded, “Fifth, as of this morning.”

“And he hired you _himself_?”

“Yeah, he did. He said that it infuriates the HR people to no end but he likes to meet the people who will be working for him, something about first impressions and seeing what they are made of.”

Charles came over to the couch where she was and sat down, frowning, “He didn’t hit on you, did he? Because if he did-”

She shook her head, “No, Charles, he didn’t. Jarod’s a nice guy. He said that we’re a lot alike, getting thrown into the deep end on the first day. He’s got his quirks, though.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Zoe, his personal assistant, said that he always finds time at least once a week to go to the children’s hospital and dress up as a clown. He also apparently has the weirdest eating habits she’s ever seen. What kind of a grown man eats cold pizza on purpose?”

Charles arched an eyebrow at her.

“Okay, rephrase: what kind of a grown man with means to get it fresh eats cold pizza on purpose?”

(Jarod’s Office)

Zoe tapped her foot and pointed to Jarod’s chin with an arched eyebrow.

Jarod rather guiltily wiped off some of the pizza sauce, mumbling, “Sorwy.”

Zoe was about to say something to the effect of ‘don’t speak with your mouth full’ when the electricity in the office, in the entire floor, in fact, died.

Jarod was reaching for the hard-line phone on his desk when the power snapped back on.

(Elsewhere)

It was a quiet place, nothing was stirring… not even a mouse, as the story went.

That quiet was suddenly shattered when a body appeared out of thin air and fell to the ground. He lay there for several moments before he groaned and began to move.

(Jarod’s Office)

“Mister Bruce!”

Jarod jerked awake and almost turned his chair over at Alonna’s exasperated shout, “Wha-“

From outside of his office both could clearly hear Zoe’s cackling.

Alonna’s foot tapping shook Jarod out of his stupor and he smiled guiltily, “I’m sorry, Alonna. It won’t happen again.”

She put a sheaf of articles and research papers that he had requested on his desk, her expression one that told him she didn’t believe him. Zoe, it seemed, was having a great deal of influence over the young woman…

His mind quickly removed the last vestiges of sleep from his mind as Jarod sat up, “What is it, Alonna?”

“The reports you wanted, sir, though why you are investigating disappearances is a little beyond me. Isn't that what the police are supposed to do?”

“I'm checking specific crime rates in areas that I have a vested interest in,” Jarod said as he took the files.

“I know that part of town, sir, and I also know the areas you have projects in and proposed projects,” Alonna said with an arched eyebrow. The message was clear to Jarod – 'nice try, but you fail'.

Jarod hated failing.

“It's a personal side-project, Alonna,” Jarod assured her before he looked back down at the reports, effectively dismissing her.

Alonna shut the door to her boss' office and growled at it, doing her best to keep her temper in check.

“You get used to it, Alonna. He's very protective when it comes to his personal side-projects,” Zoe told her.

“I know he is, ma'am, but the place he's looking into is a black hole of sorts.”

Zoe looked up from her computer and frowned, “What do you mean?”

“People go in but they don't come out. Not even the cops go down there unless they have to.”

Zoe's frown deepened, “Is that so? What constitutes 'having to'?”

“Dead bodies,” Alonna said with a shiver. “From what I heard, a bunch of them were found just piled on top of one another.”

“And the police haven't caught who is doing this?”

Alonna shook her head, “From what I hear, they're writing these people off as homeless and only putting as much effort into it as needed. It's... it pisses me off!” She stomped her foot and shook her head, “I just wish someone would do something about it.”

On the other side of the door, Jarod nodded as he thought 'Somebody will be, Alonna.'

(Night time, LA alleyway)

Gunn shook his head as he pulled the hood of his jacket up to ward off the light drizzle that was starting to come down. It was at times like this that he questioned why he did what he did; he was sitting outside of a residence known to cater to the bloodsuckers and he wanted to get some real intel on the groups that visited before he committed the others to the raid. As such, he was doing his best to not get too soaked while waiting for people and things that might not show.

Yes, sometimes he hated his-

He froze in mid-thought and sank back into the shadows a little more. Something had rustled behind him.

“You can stop trying to hide. I've been staking out this residence since before you showed up.”

Gunn's eyes narrowed at the voice in the darkness. It was a cheesy cliché that vamps tried to pull off (and Simms, too, on a regular basis, regardless of how often he was told not to or how often he almost got shot doing it) and it never ended well. Still, he stayed silent.

“Charles Gunn,” the voice started again, and there was no hint of amusement or sarcasm in it. “Age eighteen, though there is some disputing this due to legal records from the LAPD and social services files. Brother to Alonna Gunn, who is currently employed at-”

Gunn growled and stepped out of the shadows, his hand clenched around a stake, “Come out on where I can see you. If you know so much about me, you know better than to piss me off.”

The figure that stepped out of the shadows gave Gunn pause for a second; again he was having the same thought of 'white people are crazy' along side the thought of 'why is this guy dressed like Batman?'.

“I know a great deal about you, Mister Gunn, but the one thing that I am curious about is why you are out here alone.”

“What makes you think I'm alone? Maybe I've got a crew stashed around here just waiting to jump on someone who thinks that they can sneak up on me?” It was a bluff, yes, but it was a good bluff in his mind.

'Batman' shook his head, “No, you do not. As I said, I have been staking the residence out before you got here and my thermal imaging system would have picked up others by now.”

Gunn growled and pulled his stake out of his pocket, “I don't like people spying on me.”

“It is an occupational hazard when it comes to dealing with... vampires,” Batman said, though Gunn picked up on the slight distaste when he said 'vampires'. “Sun Tzu won many wars when he had accurate information that the enemy did not have.”

“So we're the enemy now?”

Batman's eyes narrowed, his voice dropped to a slightly menacing tone and he leaned forwards a bit as he growled out, “Did I say that?”

Had he been there any longer than he had, Gunn might have been tempted to belt Batman across the jaw. It might not have done any good, but he would have certainly felt better.
Batman leaned back with a nod, “Good. Now, I have noticed a rather disturbing pattern in the local neighborhood and one of the points of intersection is this residence.”

Gunn's temper started to get the better of him as he half-shouted, “Then why have I been freezing my ass off out here if you've got all of this handled?”

“Because I wanted to see what you would do.”

Gunn blinked. 'Do'? What [u]he[/u] would do? “What are you talking about?”

“I have been watching you and your group for some time now and, while crude, your effectiveness is... encouraging.”

A few things clicked into place and Gunn pointed a finger at Batman, “That was you, wasn't it? You're the one who has been calling the ambulances.”

“Guilty as charged. Though, in retrospect, it was obvious you needed help.”

“We were doing just fine without your 'help' and now we've got half of our crew under CPS watch because of it!”

Batman shrugged, “Considering you had a thirty percent casualty rate every time you went out, I figured you would have appreciated the help.” He then looked over Gunn's shoulder and nodded, “I think that is the person you are looking for.”

Gunn spun and looked at the house. Nothing. Turning back with a growl, Gunn was about to give the crazy white man a piece of his mind but nobody was there.

Shaking his head a few times, Gunn growled and went back to his surveillance post. This night couldn't get any worse.

Several hours later, back at the hideout his gang was using, Gunn was staring at his bed and knew that his earlier thought of his night getting no worse was wrong. A big bundle was on his bed and there was a note on top. First on the note was that he needed to get better locks on his doors, that it had taken 'him', meaning Batman, a whole ten seconds to get through them. Among the other sundry things, Batman had left behind the bundle as a 'gift' and told him to use it in good faith.

His night got worse as he started to try it on and both Simms and Alonna walked in and found him in a skin-tight armored body suit, a vest, a utility belt and gloves.

Thus was the rather inauspicious beginning of the career of Gangbuster, to the sound of wheezing laughter from his sister and second in command.

AN: Alright, finally, it's done. Now Jarod has help, though both have a long way to go. Reviews, please.

The End?

You have reached the end of "L.A. Knights" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 20 Aug 10.

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