"What else is interesting regarding the Gotham Trade Center attack is the immense number of trades that were run through the computers in the brokerages housed in the Gotham Towers during the attack." Nygma looked, as his partner pulled out more graphs and charts. "While everyone was trying to escape death in those towering infernos, while Gotham firefighters were running up dozens of flights of stairs to save the people in the upper floors, the computers were unattended, with no one monitoring the trading."
Gordon remembered that day. He had been on the scene, helping to establish a command post not far from the Gotham Trade Center.
"They were laundering money – by the billions," Nygma whispered. "Then, despite being over-engineered for just such a catastrophe, both the Gotham Towers collapsed, as did a third skyscraper in the Gotham Trade Center, later that day."
"As you can see from these photos, the buildings were imploded, Inspector," Callahan picked up. "This destroyed the evidence of the money laundering, burying the computers that the trades had been run through in mountains of debris. The third building housed regulatory and enforcement agencies; destroying their offices ensured there would be no real investigation of the evidence buried in the rubble."
With someone honest in the mayor's office, Bruce Wayne thought, Falcone would be brought down, Gotham City would be able to deal with Aladdin, and hundreds of thousands of people – perhaps millions – would live.
He thought back to the financial and economic crisis Gotham City was now facing, and how Edward Nygma and Linda Callahan had traced it back... just as the attack on the Gotham Towers had been used as a cover for money-laundering and financial empire-building, so was this happening now under the cover of a different kind of crisis. On the surface, it looked so very different, but underneath, it was the very same thing!
"Batman! Hell, he's becoming a folk hero in Gotham," Nygma commented, as Dawes and Gordon exchanged glances.
The remark caught Bruce Wayne's attention.
"I bet if his name were on the ballot, he'd win by a landslide," Callahan agreed.
Dawes and Gordon again exchanged glances. Bruce Wayne was not sure about Rachel, but he knew Jim Gordon agreed, deep inside. More than that....
But, somewhere in the back of Bruce Wayne's mind, something lurked just beyond his consciousness....
They looked glorious and majestic, light-colored towers against the deep blue sky.
Something was wrong.
There was a fire.
No, there were two fires, one in each tower, high up.
People were trapped above the fires.
"The fire department. Call the fire department," Wayne said urgently.
"The fire department is already responding," a voice came from behind him. The voice was soothing, familiar -- it was his mother. Martha Wayne's voice continued, "Several companies of firefighters are on the scene, and more are on the way."
Wayne felt a little reassured. There would be some deaths, but those buildings could withstand any fire, and the fire department would soon have the fires put out. Some people would die, but most would live and, in time, things would be okay again, and life in Gotham would go on.
The cold, masculine voice came from behind him, and Wayne looked in horror as first one tower, then the other, collapsed. Hundreds of firefighters and emergency workers, plus thousands more innocent people, trapped....
The buildings fell... they fell forever....
The people fell... they fell forever....
Giant clouds of pulverized concrete enveloped Gotham City in a thick blanket of dust as the Gotham Towers came down.
"Pull the other one, too," the cold, masculine voice from behind him commanded, and another building, near the first two, but emptied of its people, collapsed as well.
Bruce looked around... those grand, indestructible structures, the pride of Gotham, were now so much dust and rubble....
The people that had been inside were dead, their fragile bodies broken, their blood running in the gutters of Gotham City.
Bruce wanted to cry, but was unable. "Mom?" he gasped.
"The danger is not past, Bruce," his mother's voice answered.
Bruce looked. Some men had an object, and they were moving it into place in Gotham City.
The object was a piece of equipment of some sort, some kind of container.
"Now it's Gotham's turn to touch the sun," the cold voice came again from behind him.
Bruce looked at the container... inside it was the power of the sun!
"Bruce... don't be afraid."
Bruce looked; it was his father, Dr. Thomas Wayne. "This disaster can still be prevented. Just don't be afraid."
"What must I do?"
"You can stay with me," came the answer from his left. Bruce looked. It was the Eurasian girl from the market they had passed through on their way to the train station. "I cannot ignore my earthly desires," she added, approaching him.
He looked again at Gotham City. Whatever the men were doing, it was about to happen. They were about to unleash the power of the sun to destroy Gotham City!
It was well after midnight, and Alfred had stopped in to the Batcave to see what could possibly be keeping Master Bruce.
He peered into the shadows.
Bruce Wayne was asleep in his chair in front of the Batcomputer.
He looked comfortable, it was warm near the Batcomputer, and Master Bruce didn't sleep enough, Alfred reasoned. Better to leave him where he was.
Bruce ran to stop them, but he couldn't possibly get there fast enough.
He had to fly!
He flew.... His robes became wings.
He looked at his wings -- they were black! His whole body was black and rubbery. Bruce Wayne was a bat!
He flew at the men.
Too late, the men noticed him. They looked up at him. They were terrified!
Some ran away, others drew weapons. They fired at him, but to no effect.
He swooped down on the men, again and again, and they panicked and ran. They turned upon each other, they killed each other, deliberately and accidentally; the survivors scattered, fleeing for their lives.
Their plan had come to nothing; the sun was safely inside the box, and Gotham City was safe from the men.
Bruce landed, satisfied.
The giant, glorious city in front of him became a light, and a figure walked towards him out of the light.
The figure was the Son of the Emperor of Heaven, and the light behind Him was His Father!
Bruce fell to his knees before the figure, as the figure said to him, "When the time comes, you will remember this vision, and the men who seek to do this thing will learn of My Father's indignation."
The figure stretched his hand forward towards Bruce. "You did not choose Me," the figure declared, "I chose you."
The noise woke him up. He looked around the Batcave. It had to be the raccoons, he thought, as he settled back into his chair.
Anyway, there was something there, in the back of his mind... just out of reach... what was it...? The Gotham Trade Center... a financial meltdown... Aladdin's ties to the mayor's office and to the city council... Falcone... heroin... Ra's al Ghul... forced prostitution... illegal arms sales....
He turned again toward the noise, and saw The Ancient standing behind him.
Standing up, he greeted The Ancient, but The Ancient just smiled.
Then, The Ancient stretched his arm out toward him.
Touching Bruce Wayne's forehead, he softly whispered, "Remember."