By T.J. Keitt
It had been seven years since he was last in Gotham City. Seven years since he had seen the town where he dazzled the masses with his rooftop heroics alongside the man known as the Dark Knight Detective. It was a city where he thought he would spend his life protecting and loving, but then he left to go to college and found himself vowing never to look back. Now as the Lear jet made its final approach and he could see the lights that paved the way to the city from Gotham International, Tim Drake found a sense of dred come over him. He was back in Gotham, not as the colorful Robin, but a fast-track junior executive with AmeriTech. He was home, for all intents and purposes, and now he would have to face him.
After the plane landed, Tim shuffled through the hussle of the airport to find himself as the luggage conveyance awaiting his three suitcases to jet from the ramp at the top of the conveyance and fall down into the rotating conveyer belt. After he had retrieved his luggage, he walked through the airport towards the south entrance where his secretary had arranged for a driver to pick him up and take him to Gotham's luxurious Soundgate Hotel. As he approached the entrance, he saw a little, white haired man with a fuzzy beard holding a white sign reading Drake.
"I'm Tim Drake," his voice eeked out shakily as he approached the driver.
"Very good sir," the driver said. "Right this way."
Tim and the driver passed the security checkpoint and were out on the street before the airport. As his eyes instinctivly scanned the area, he noticed the large number of armed Airport policemen patrolling the area with automatic weapons over their shoulders and K-9s on leehes. Two police cars were driving up and down the airport road moving cars and people along. The driver opened the door to the black limo parked before the south entrance and Tim climbed in, the driver taking his bags around to the trunk. Inside the limo, Tim noticed the doors were reinforced and the glass of the windows was six inches thick and bullet proof.
To exit the airport, the limo had to pass through two security checkpoints were K-9s sniffed checked the car for illegal substances and the officers had to stamp special papers for the driver. These sights were strange to Tim, but he had been prepared for them by some of his associates who often made trips to Gotham. As he watched these processions, Tim shook his head thinking how much his city had changed.
The drive to the city over the bridge and into the city of Gotham revealed a warzone of sorts. The police presincts along the way were barricaded with barbed wire and sandbags and he noticed storeowners who had their sons patrolling outside their stores with shotguns ready. Armored police vehicals ran up and down the streets with their lights blearing and although he couldn't hear it througth the limo's bullet-proofing, gunfire filled the night air. Once they passed through the outer areas of the city, they entered a Gotham where high rises stretched skyward, trying to get air in the cramped city. This was the well-off's part of town, where Tim would be staying.
They arrived at the Soundgate and the driver rushed out and opened the door for Tim then rushed around to the trunk to fetch the bags. The doorman held a little buzzer in his hand and he pressed the button summoning a bellhop from inside who had a luggage carrier to take Tim's baggage to his room. Tim tipped the driver and then entered the plush hotel. The Soundgate was like everything he expected in a hotel of its caliber: a babbling fountain dominated the entranceway view, a piano with player dealt out mellow tunes from a far corner, a lounge with men and women dressed in evening wear indulging in alcoholic beverages was just off to his right, and the tile of the floor was sparkling clean with air that smelled of fine fragrances. To his left was the check-in desk, manned by an attractive young woman who wore a red blazer with a nametag that read Hope.
"Ahh, I'm Tim Drake."
"Mr. Drake," Hope began, "We've been expecting you. Emilio, take Mr. Drake to his room. You'll be in Room 227, here's your key." She dropped an electronic cardkey into Tim's hand and he quickly scribbled his signature on the check-in papers. The bellhop then guided Tim to his room that was a floor below the penthouse.
His room was spacious with a large living room, bathroom with a hottub, bedroom that gave him a view of the city's skyline as his first sight in the morning, and a large working area complete with fiberoptic video conferencing, computer with personal modem, fax machine, and a color copier. Tim tipped the bellhop who placed his luggage in the back bedroom before letting himself out. Tim looked down at his watch: it was 10:15.
He went into the bedroom and looked out over Gotham. "So this is home?" The skyline was as beautiful as he remembered it. The skyscrapers that dominated the nightscape were still in place, just as he remember. What he didn't remember was the plumes of black smoke that rose from Hub City and the police helicopters with sharpshooters hanging out of the door with sniper rifles. He remembered the bright lights of the Gotham Towers that illumintated the dark city, but he didn't remember the sounds of gunfire and screams that seemed to come from everywhere. "What is going on here? Where is he?"
He left his bedroom and flipped on the large television that was built into the wall of his room. It was time for Channel 6's Ten O'Clock Newscast, something he did remember. The anchor, a young black man with a light gotee appeared on his screen.
"Police report finding the body of three young women earlier this evening along the Gotham Docks. Though they have not released the identities of the young women, it is believe that they were all murdered by the serial killer Zsasz. Also today, the harlequin villian Joker and his gang shot it out with police at the Museum of Art. Five officers were killed in the firefight and as of this evening, the Joker is still at large. In other news, Gotham University's football game against Metropolis State was interrupted today when a group of men dressed in camoflauge stormed the field and opened fire on the crowd with heavy machine guns. The police gunned down all five men, but not before they killed 20 spectators and injured 40 others..."
Tim sat in disbelief of what he was seeing. Gotham was going straight to hell and he didn't understand why. He dredded coming back to Gotham, but it was not until he saw this that he began to understand why. Where was he? Tim had to know, he knew Bruce would never let things get this bad. Not on purpose, at least. He had to get some answers, and he would, soon enough.
(To be continued)
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