Curiosity

Chapter 1

The back alley between 5th Avenue and Parkway was silent and still, the only sounds coming from a few alley cats chewing their dinner. Suddenly, their ears perked up as footsteps came rushing into the alley. They merely glanced at the human rushing past them, then returned to their dinner.

The human running through the alley, however, was not so calm. His clothes were torn, his eyes were wide with fear, and his breathes were coming in gasps from his out of shape body. And every so often, he glanced up, as though expecting something to fall from the night sky.

As if to meet the man's expectations, a dark shape suddenly dropped in the shadows before him, causing the man to stop in his tracks.

"Have a nice jog, Mr. Jenkins?" the darkly clad figure asked, white eyes almost glowing in the shadows of the alley.

"No! N-no! It's you! Get away from me!" Jenkins screamed, still panting from his run. He attempted to back away, as the figure emerged from the shadows, revealing the bright red bat insignia on his chest.

"Not so fast, Mr. Jenkins," Batman said, grabbing the man's shoulder as he prepared his thrusters. "We still need to talk." With that, he launched into the air, Jenkins still struggling in his arms, heading towards the nearest skyscraper.

"Now then, who were those people you were dealing with?" the Tomorrow Knight asked, his voice adopting a low growl he'd learned to take on when interrogating criminals.

"I-I don't know! I swear! I'm just a mid-level guy! I don't know any- Aaaaah!" With a small push, Jenkins' explanation was suddenly cut off as he began falling to the concrete hundreds of feet below. Terry sighed. Why did they always have to make him do it the hard way? Wasting no time, he leapt from the roof himself, using his thrusters to give him an extra boost towards Jenkins' bound form. Roughly, Terry grabbed the man and began the glide back up to the roof of the skyscraper.

Jenkins was a shivering wreck once they reached the top, his screams choking in his throat.

"Alright, Jenkins. One more chance." Terry threatened, cracking his fist for emphasis. "Because to be honest, after that tiring cat-and-mouse game you decided to play earlier, I don't know if I can catch you a second ti-"

"Alright!" Jenkins cried out. "It was for some organization. My boss was the one who made the deal. I was just the delivery boy. Honest!"

"Then start delivering some answers." Terry hissed, grabbing the man by his lapels. "I already know who your boss is. In fact, I'll probably be paying him a visit tomorrow night."

"He didn't need to know that, McGinnis…"

Terry chose to ignore the Bruce's critique (mostly out of annoyance but partly to keep the criminal underworld of Gotham City from thinking that Batman talked to himself) and continued the interrogation.

"Now. What is the name of that organization?" he asked, clenching his jaw.

"I-I don't … it was some foreign group. From outside of Gotham. I just know the guy's name I was dealing with. Called himself Harken. That was all the info I got on him, I swear!"

"And what did you sell him?"

"I-I don't know! Something in a canister…"

"I know that already! What was in the canister? Where did you steal it from?" Terry demanded.

"I-I'm not sure what was in it… but I know we got it from Wayne-Powers. The southeast branch. We had some sort of insider… I dunno who though!" Jenkins stammered, his face white with fear.

"That's all he knows, Terry."

"How can you be-" Terry started to ask, before he remembered he was still gripping Jenkins, who, in spite of fear, was giving him a quizzical look. He growled instead, "How can you be such a lowlife scum!"

"Eeep! I'm sorry! I won't do it again, I swear! I'll go straight!" Jenkins cried, cowering.

"Nice save," Bruce added, sarcastically. Terry had to stop himself from making another reply. Instead, he changed his hold on Jenkins and took off into the night.

"Alright, the police have Jenkins," Terry said looking down at the flashing police lights in the street below. "Though I still think I could've gotten more information out of him."

"No, you couldn't," Bruce replied.

"Like I was going to ask before, how can you be sure?"

"I've been doing this longer than you. Trust me, that was all Jenkins knew. One drop was enough to break him. Though next time, you might want to use a line…"

"Hey, I caught him!" Terry protested.

"How could you be sure you would?"

"With his body? He had more wind resistance that I did. That would be the only factor difference in our falls since otherwise we'd fall at the same rate. Plus I had the thrusters to give me extra propulsion-" The old man's sigh on the other end made Terry pause. "What? I sometimes stay awake in science class."

"Just get back to the cave," Bruce sighed again.


"I analyzed the footage you got of the deal with the suit's video feed," Bruce explained as soon as Terry entered the cave. He never turned from the monitor, instead slowly playing the video and carefully watching for the right moment. Terry had to admit, it was strange knowing he had broken up the criminals' deal less than an hour ago and here he was watching it again on the Batcave's large monitor. He watched again as two cars pulled up to an empty lot and each party emerged from their vehicles. Jenkins, his driver, and two guards stood to the left while across from them the four from the other group stood near their car.

These were the member of that mysterious organization Jenkins had been referring to. Foreign to Gotham was right, Terry realized, as he had never seen any of these men before. For the most part, they were indistinguishable from the usual Gotham thugs with one exception: they kept every single distinguishing feature of their anatomy covered. And whats more, they didn't use masks or costumes. Rather, they wore large trench coats with the collars turned up, large-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and even gloves. The only exception was their leader, who wore no hat, allowing his shoulder length black hair to fall over his upturned collar. Harken, Jenkins had called him.

Terry continued to watch as Jenkins began to cross the lot, a large canister in his hands.

"There," Bruce stated, suddenly stopping the footage. Terry peered at the screen then shook his head.

"I don't see anything." he commented.

"Just a moment," Bruce replied, typing in a few keys. First the screen zoomed in on the canister, then the image sharpened, allowing Terry to see a number printed in black on the rim of the canister.

"What is that? A serial number?"

"Exactly," Bruce confirmed, picking up a piece of paper to his right. "I checked it in the Wayne-Powers database. It came up in an encrypted file…" He paused, as though waiting for his protégé to come up with the answer.

"Meaning someone in the company's trying to hide something," Terry replied. Bruce nodded his approval.

"Once I got through the encryptions I managed to find out what that particular item was." With that, the old man turned around in his chair and pressed a button on the keyboard, bringing up the aforementioned file for Terry to see.

The boy's eyes widened as he read the information.

"Nuclear material? In Gotham?"

Bruce nodded.

"But isn't that illegal?"

"Hasn't stopped them before," Bruce replied, turning back around. "On a side note, it looks like the manager of the Southeast division is going to be looking for a new job in the morning."

"But what interest would they even have in stuff like that?" Terry asked.

"Recently, the manager of the Southeast division has been expressing interest in 'specialized' energy experiments. Looks like he was referring to nuclear," Bruce explained. "Wayne-Powers has some of the best engineers in the country. Other companies in cities without a nuclear ban would pay top dollar for the results of such experiments. For example, LexCorp in Metropolis."

"Do you want me to investigate the Southeast division tomorrow?" Terry asked. Bruce shook his head.

"No, you have something more important to do," he answered, bringing the video back up. The image of Jenkins giving the canister to the organization filled the monitor. "There's nuclear material loose in Gotham. And it's not coming from Blight or a reactor."

"But I don't even know this organization's name." Terry protested.

"I do." Bruce replied. He typed a few buttons on the keyboard, allowing a new file to pop up. "Harken's a member of a terrorist organization known as the Tiger's Claw. It formed from the remnants of a terrorist group formerly led by Red Claw. Each member goes by an alias, their backgrounds completely wiped away. It makes their members incredibly hard to track or investigate."

"So how do you know this Harken guy?"

"This group came to Gotham several years ago. Harken was one of their members then."

"He's using the same alias?"

"An alias is permanent in the organization. It's the only way the group keeps track of its own members." Bruce explained. "It's also their one weakness. That's the only way I've been able to track them at all."

"Got it. Say, can we watch the rest of the video? It was just getting to the good part." Terry asked, a smirk forming on his face.

"You mean the part where you let Harken and his group get away?" Bruce admonished.

"Hey, I was busy with Jenkin's group. I thought he was the one I was after." Terry protested.

"Yes, and he almost got away too."

"At least I remembered to take out his driver first! His guards just slowed me down for a minute. Besides, I knew I could outrun him." Terry explained. Bruce shook his head and sighed.

"At least you got a tracer on Harken's car." he finally gave.

"Exactly," Terry agreed, as he began to stifle a yawn. "Well, if there's nothing else, I'm going to head home. I'm bushed."

With that he turned and began to head for the stairs.

"Oh yes, and your mother called again. Remember to pick up the milk," Bruce reminded him. The boy simply raised his hand in reply and continued up the stairs.

Once Bruce heard the usual metallic clang of the door to the cave shutting, he began to place a call.

"Irena, please." he said to the person on the other end. He waited a moment. "Long time, no see. I know I'm probably the last person you ever want to talk to again, but I need your help…"