Back in Gotham City, Batgirl follows up on the war between the Chechen and Gamble. She also has a conversation with Dick Grayson while he’s back at college.
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Batgirl sat atop a building looking down on the area of Gotham, now known as Crime Alley, formerly Park Row.
Back in the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, the area was known as Park Row.
Wealthy Gothamites from Bristol crossed the Robert Kane Memorial Bridge or came over from the Rogers Yacht Basin through Newtown to make Park Row the spot for Gotham high society.
Unfortunately, the mid-eighties recession made people in the nearby Bowery desperate; the corruption under Boss Rupert Thorne made crime easier.
That crime spilled over into Park Row, culminating in the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
The high society types fled Park Row for the safety of their mansions in Bristol or the security of extra police patrols on the Upper East Side.
More crime flooded Park Row, the area gaining the name Crime Alley in the nineties.
With property values collapsing, immigrants and minorities filled in the areas the high society (mostly white) types left behind.
To his credit, Gamble managed to squash some of the darker criminal activity when he assumed control of the area in the mid-2000s. He pushed out the drugs and the pimps.
Due to his efforts, Gamble became a figure for community reform — despite everyone knowing what he was really up to.
Other criminals like Penguin and Black Mask let Gamble have his territory, advising him to show no ambition outside of Crime Alley.
Now Batgirl tracked two of the Chechen’s men cruising through Crime Alley.
They weren’t here for weed or gambling; they could get that in the Bowery, which they controlled. Just two weeks ago, the Chechen burned Gamble’s supply of marijuana.
It was not only a warning to Gamble but a show of confidence from the Chechen.
Batman had sent Batgirl to find the source of the Chechen’s confidence.
“You’d think they’d at least slow down a bit,” Batgirl said over her commlink.
Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin, was on the other line via a cellphone patch. While Batgirl was out patrolling Gotham, Dick was in Bludhaven settling into his second year at college.
“Money never sleeps,” Dick said. “Neither do the criminals looking to get it.”
“If they spent half the energy they used thinking up these illegal schemes and instead did something good, they’d probably be just as rich.”
“Then how else would you spend your nights?”
Batgirl thought for a moment. “Studying library sciences and… ugh! Maybe rushing a sorority.”
Dick laughed. “I can’t imagine you dealing with hazing.”
“Being forced to wear the same outfit as ten other girls is the true hazing!”
Batgirl turned her attention back to her binoculars. The Chechen’s men had parked down an alley. Getting out of their car, they headed over to an abandoned theater.
At least, Gotham records listed the place as left. Batgirl knew Gamble ran a gambling racket from the site.
It seems the Chechen’s men knew that too.
“So, are you gonna find the time to go to Gotham U?” Dick asked.
Batgirl watched the Chechen’s men walk around the theater. They played it casual, but Batgirl could tell they were scoping out the place.
“I got in,” Batgirl replied to Dick.
“Of course, you did. But are you going to go?”
“Dad wants me to,” Batgirl said, referring to her father, current police commissioner James Gordon. He didn’t know his only daughter moonlighted as the costumed vigilante Batgirl.
At least he had a decent opinion of the vigilante.
“I’m still working for that start-up company in Burnside, so it’s not like I’m just goofing off. Dad hasn’t put any pressure on me. Yet.”
“Vigilante life doesn’t have much in the way of a 401k,” Dick said.
“Says the ward of a billionaire.”
Batgirl moved from her current position to another rooftop so she could keep an eye on the Chechen’s men. “That why you took off? The no retirement plan part.”
Dick didn’t immediately answer. “Just thought it time for a change.”
“Particularly after that thing with Scarecrow.”
Batgirl referred to an encounter a month ago with Dr. Jonathon Crane. He had created a toxin that could trigger hallucinations of a victim’s greatest fears.
The American military was interested but needed to run a battery of tests and safety protocols.
A private company would pay three times what the government would and pay immediately upon proof the toxin worked. Crane bypassed scientific professionalism and decided to test his toxin on random Gotham citizens.
That’s how he got on Batman’s radar.
Batman and Robin took on Crane, but Robin had gotten a dose of the toxin.
Batman was able to make an antidote, but whatever Robin saw while under the influence really messed him up. He wouldn’t even talk about it with Batgirl despite the close bond between the two.
Dick eventually replied, “Vigilante lifestyle doesn’t have much of a life expectancy either.”
Batgirl smirked. “Says the guy who two weeks ago took a vacation back home to suit up once more,” she said.
Down below, the Chechen’s men had made a full trip around the theater.
While they were at work, Batgirl had also taken in the lay of the land, noting entrances, escape routes, and guard placement. All handy intel she’d log in the Batcomputer later.
“I did it to hang out with you,” Dick said, though it wasn’t compelling.
“You loved it,” Batgirl said as she followed the mobsters.
Dick laughed. “Okay, I missed it a bit. Though I was a bit rusty after a year off.”
Now the men Batgirl followed moved off to another street. Following, Batgirl saw them heading to a pawn shop. The place should be closed at this hour.
However, after a knock at the back door, someone let the Chechen’s men inside.
“I also admit it was kinda nice not having Bruce in my ear correcting every misstep,” Dick added. “How’d you get away with him letting you go solo?”
“I operated solo for years before he actually sanctioned me into the Boy’s Club.”
Digging into the knowledge of Gotham Batman had drilled into her, Batgirl remembered this pawn shop was one of the few Gamble did not control. That made it vulnerable to outside influence.
“As fun as this convo is, momma’s gotta get to work,” Batgirl said.
“Be careful out there,” Dick replied.
“Always. Later, college boy.”
Batgirl cut the line to Dick and prepared to find out who let the Chechen’s men into the hen house.
To be continued tomorrow!
While writing this fanfiction, I used Green Ronin’s Mutants and Masterminds, 3rd Edition RPG, to leave some things to chance. Check it out!
Like this Birds of Prey fanfiction? Check out Mark’s original “Shadowdance” saga books!