Gotham, October XX 1931
Jack Smiles is about to make a mark on the world. About 20 feet below him is his target — two men who he had been following for the past couple days. He knows only two facts about them:
Fact 1: Cash doesn’t seem to be a primary motive for these men, as they target actors in alleyways after performing a show off of Broadway, using knives on their faces.
Fact 2: They have leverage at the police station – charges have been made against them, yet they have not spent more than 10 minutes in a jail cell.
Justice needs to be served to these men in one way or another, and Jack decides that a bullet is the best way to do it. After jumping down from his platform above, he shoots both of them. One of them goes down, the other one is left standing, looking at the man in shock. He asks why, in which Jack threatened, “Leave these people alone or I’m coming back,” before taking off.
Seymour Smiles was having a fantastic nights rest for once, despite the bizarre dream he was having about a flaming silver L inviting him to join them. A phone call abruptly wakes him up, from the Times editor. He tells him about the recent crime that happened by Broadway, and after a stop at the donut shop, Smiles makes his way over there. He learns from Nygma that the man used a gun that shoots 9mm bullets, and that he has a feeling that it’s not the last time that it’s going to happen. The conscious man didn’t have much to say about what happened – he didn’t get a good look at the face because he was so focused on the gun, and he simply said that he was drinking with a friend. The police began to cart him off to interrogation, and promised Smiles that they will give him a heads up once they’re done. He gets more information later, though learned that the man mysteriously fell down a flight of stairs on his way down to the room, and was carted off to the hospital shortly after.
Smiles heads back to the office to write a story about what just happened, and begins to discuss with the Editor on names to call this guy. The two of them are then interrupted by a coworker who drops a paper on the Editor’s desk – a special edition from the Gotham Post – “Exclusive Interview: Batman Vows to Bring Down Falcone”. Steamed about the whole ordeal, and questioning if it really did happen, Smiles gets back to work on his own article.
Nettie wakes up around her usual time – 11 AM – and finds out that a certain Mr. Wayne wants to speak with her. She remembers her previous time with him – tightly wired guy, a little strange, and while she did successfully take him to bed, she does not remember a single thing about it except for the fact that he was gone the next morning with a single note, saying that he’ll call her sometime. Figuring that this must be the time, she gets into contact with him. Bruce tells her that he wants her to be his gal for a party later that evening. It is a black tie event, and they will be checking for weapons, so he warns her not to bring the Derringer that she had on her the last time they went out together. She agrees to come, so he tells her he will pick her up around 6:30 PM.
Jack is sitting at his desk, processing some paperwork when he receives a manilla envelope from the postman. Curious, he opens it and sees a photo from the previous night of him shooting the two men in the alleyway. The included note simply said “What shall we call you?” Looking around nervously, he hides the photo and note in his desk.
Later that day, Jack goes out to practice some shooting at the range. The men down there seemed very impressed by how good he was, and commented that the guy that did the shooting last night seemed comparable in skill – the shots were very precise and clean there as well. Though if they had to put money on it in a contest, they believed that Jack could take the mysterious shooter on. Regardless, all of the men seemed very happy about those two guys finally getting what they deserved.
Feeling confident, Jack decides to go for a bigger target that night – Falcone’s son. He had heard rumors that the man hires prostitutes, and randomly beats them for fun. The pattern suggests that he does this around the new moon, which happened to be that night. Jack scouted the area where these women usually turn up, but doesn’t find anything, and decides it must have been an off night for him.
Meanwhile, the party is in full swing, and has most of Gotham’s distinguished attending. Nettie carouses with the guests, looking for a customer. She finds a guy from the west coast, who is interested in making small specialized purchases – body armor, machine gun, helmets, gas, anything of that sort, for quantities of less than 100. She was interested until she learned that the man can’t match her price, in which she lets him know that there are other dealers around, and even gave him names, before walking away. She also runs into the Penguin, who tells her that she’s welcome back at the Iceberg at anytime – business seems to go up whenever she shows up.
A disgruntled Smiles was also at the party – while he usually doesn’t report on the social beat (and it was very clear by the level of dress he was wearing), he was requested personally to be there. The man in question, Thorn, was very happy to see Smiles attending, told him that he was a huge fan of his work and that’s why he wanted to have Smiles there – to write about his big announcement. This seemed to butter him up considerably, especially with a promise of a personal interview afterward. Nettie spots Smiles having a conversation with Thorn, and is very interested in speaking with him as well. She lets Smiles know that there is a drink waiting for him after his conversation with Thorn.
Dinner was served shortly after, and near the end of it, Thorn stands up and clinks his glass to receive attention. He announces his concern about the violence in the city of Gotham, the vigilantes taking their own matters at hand, and what he will do about it. Thorn was proud to let him know his alternative – his “Justice Legion”, an auxiliary force that will work with the police to catch anybody working outside of the law. He makes his plea that the police should be the only ones allowed to carry out justice, and only by working through the system will there eventually be peace in the city.
The waiting staff passed around envelopes to everyone in attendance (sans Smiles, who was having a hard enough time getting their attention as is). The letter inside matched what Thorn was asking for: donations to put his force together. Bruce Wayne stands up and announces that he personally wants to be the first person to donate, and writes a check for 200,000 dollars. Thorn and Wayne pose for pictures with the check, with Nettie allowed in as well once she donated a sum. Nettie then volunteered to give kisses to anyone who donates a certain amount, and was having a difficult time at first due to the wives in attendance but eventually got a couple takers.
Thorn then begins to speak about Silver League radio and how wonderful it is, in which people started to tune out to the conversation. He cheerfully announces that if anybody would care to join the organization, he will personally put them into contact with some very convincing people. Bruce mutters a question to himself, wondering why one of the most corrupt councilmembers turning a leaf like this. Nettie calls him out on this, wondering what he meant, but Bruce announced that he has to leave due to a massive headache that he had gotten.
Pleased with himself, Thorn then meets with Smiles in a comfortable room away from the public. Smiles then gets down to business, asking Thorn about his motives. Thorn, now a devotee to the Silver Legion, was utterly convinced of their message to do good, and he wishes to do the same in his work. He grew sick with with the corruption happening inside Tammany Hall and outside on the streets of Gotham, and announced that he has quit his job to focus on forming the Justice Legion. His true motive on running for Mayor in the upcoming election came out a bit after, where he wishes to evoke positive change that will eventually benefit the city. He believes that restoring confidence in the police force is the first step to bring order, and responded that he was not concerned at all with the police resisting his help. If they refuse, after all, it would just make them look bad – the force is rather corrupt in areas, and refusing help to change it puts them in a tight spot. When asked on how the Silver Legion plays into all of this, he says that they gave him something to believe in, which he believes the city so desperately needs.
After wrapping up the interview, Smiles then goes out to meet with Nettie, who was being accosted by a rich man. The man begins to insult Smiles, and the two of them began to argue, which quickly was escalating into a fight. Nettie put a stop to it, gave Smiles a contact card, and spent the rest of the night with the guy, eventually being able to ditch him.
Smiles’ article about Thorn’s plans was headline news the next day, which sent the precinct up in a roar. Later that afternoon, Thorn and two men wearing brown suits with a silver L show up to visit the station, letting them know that they should expect a stream of information on criminals in the neighborhood within the next few days. Jack stood up from his desk and asked if the information is reliable, Thorn curtly replied that of course it would be, double, tripled checked even. What good would police be if they didn’t get correct information? The three men promptly leave. Jack, feeling uneasy about these men, tries to sneak away to follow them but gets caught by his boss and is sent back to his desk.
Nettie calls Bruce to see how his headache is, and if he was feeling any better. Alfred picks up the phone and informs her that Bruce had a long night. Nettie questions this, since he said he was ill, and Alfred said that he definitely was ill after all of the establishments that he visited after the party. Alfred does say that Bruce is awake, and that he will put him on the phone. Bruce does groggily pick up, and tells her that he forgot about her and the party entirely. Offended, Nettie hung up on him, despite his pleas.
She then decides to head over to the Times and speak directly with Smiles. She arrived at a good time – Smiles was arguing with his editor on a strange new vigilante that had come out (not the one that day, in fact), and that he wasn’t going to report on such nonsense. He lets her know that they will have a better chance of talking if they both leave, and they hurry out to do so. She takes him to a nice place, and honors her promise of getting him a drink. After some conversation, and many drinks later, her true motive comes out – she wants to know his contacts, to sell weapons to vigilantes. Unfortunately for her, even while drunk Smiles is completely married to his job, and the conversation ended shortly thereafter.
After a short nap, Jack decides to visit Thorn’s mansion. He studies it for awhile but doesn’t see any patterns for the guards – quantity is making up for quality. Jack believes that it may be better to get one of them alone to get some information out of them, so he shadows a group of two who are leaving down to a subway station. A robbery was taking place when he walks in, and draws a pistol at the two robbers when they made their way for the exit. Jack yells at them to empty their pockets and give the stuff back. The thugs are unconvinced, so Jack slugs both of them with his bullets. The men shouted in surprise before he shoots them in the head, then immediately leaves.
Feeling a massive hangover coming on, Smiles gets to the scene of the crime shortly after and learns from Forensics that the MO matches up with the shootings from the previous night. Unlike the previous night, however, there are both witnesses and lights in the station, so he was able to get a description of the man. Smiles feels that if he didn’t know better, the shooter could have been his son, Jack – but dismisses the thought. He and a few police officers come up with the name, Lone Gunslinger, to describe the man for the time being, and after a few photographs and receiving an illustration based on witness description, Smiles gets to work on crafting the story. He wakes up from his desk the next day to find a nice gift from Nettie – a brand new camera and an apology for the night before.
The police station is full of angry chatter about the most recent crime, saying that the vigilante is playing right into Thorn’s hands. Jack, laying his head low at his desk, receives another manilla envelope. He waits until he gets home before opening it this time, and sees a photo of him killing the two men in the subway station, with another note saying, “What are these guys to you?” Jack burns it, then contemplates killing Thorn directly. Deciding it is a bad idea this time, he votes against it, yet still cannot resist the urge to take into the night again to deal some justice.
As he scouts from the rooftops, he hears a thump next to him and footprints coming in his direction. Jack takes off and hides, but the voice simply calls for him to come out and talk. Jack steps out from his hiding place and sees that it’s Batman. They discuss the mansion, and Batman tells him his theory on Thorn: he is a puppet, and that he is taking his orders from someone. Jack asks Batman why he can’t just go in there and take out a few guys on his way to Thorn, but Batman tells him that it’s not his style – he wants evidence and does things the right way. Jack says that the police will be owned in a few days by that guy, though Batman scoffs on the suggestion. Batman asks Jack what he thinks of the name that the press gave him, which Jack dislikes, then turns the question back to Batman on his own personal choice. Batman tells him that people are afraid of bats, which is a plus, but it also fits in to some of the things that he does, then proves it by gliding off. In awe, Jack leaves, trying to think of a moniker to distinguish himself.
Nettie goes gambling at Sadie’s, and all of the attendants are impressed except for Sadie herself. The two of them spend the evening staring each other down and one-upping each other.
The next day, Justice Legion members are filling in the precinct and causing ruckus by giving too much information – some good, others conflicting. Jack tries to find out where one of the Legion members are from, and follows one of them to his home in Lower Manhattan. He shows off his badge when the man answered the door, and wanted to ask some questions about his job. The man talks about standard stuff, from his duties to his personal life. He then talks about how wonderful the Silver Legion is, and while he wasn’t that excited about it in the beginning, he once heard the Disciple speak and thought that he was so convincing that he immediately signed up to be a member.
Thanking the man for his time, Jack left to call up his dad to look into this Disciple fellow. Smiles thought that was more interesting than the new “Turtle Vigilante”, especially since the Silver Legion seemed to be getting more mention lately. He informed Jack that he would check it out after he took some pictures of guy that was saved from a fall by the “Bow and Arrow Vigilante”. Smiles makes his way over to the building and found out that the Disciple speaks at 7 that night. He asked if he could have a personal interview with the Disciple afterward, but was instantly denied.
Bruce gets into contact with Nettie, and wanted to take her out on a date that evening, which surprised her since it was such short notice. He told her that she needed to dress down for it, and that she needed to bring her guns because it may get a little weird. She let him know that he was always a little weird and that’s why she liked hanging out with him. He seemingly smiled to himself, then tells her that they were going to listen to a sermon by the Silver Legion that night, at 7 pm, followed by a nice dinner.
At 7 pm, the place was packed – Bruce and Nettie managed to get a seat easily, while Smiles had to shove an old lady off for hers. Jack monitored the building outside for any suspicious activity. The beginning of the sermon was rather boring, though gotten lively once the Disciple comes out. The people watched in awe, and while Smiles seemingly got caught up in it, Bruce and Nettie were able to resist whatever was happening in that room. The Disciple wasn’t talking at all – it was a voice that was projected into their minds directly, it seemed. From outside, Jack noticed that the hall was eerily quiet for a church sermon, one that he expected to be rather loud and grandiose.
After the sermon, Jack sought out his father in the crowd to ask him how it was. Smiles rapturously spoke of how excellent the sermon was, and that he finally found the truth after all of these years. He took off to write a grand essay on what he had just heard, and Jack, concerned that there was something strange going on, took watch of the building. Shortly after, he saw a van come around the building, pick something up and drive away. Getting into a taxi, he orders that the driver follows it, which excited the driver, since he had always wanted to be a part of a chase. The driver did an excellent job following the van across the city, which eventually stopped at Thorn’s mansion.
Meanwhile, Bruce and Nettie go to a nice place for dinner. He tells her that while she was many things – a sharp dresser and a shrewd business owner, he wanted to meet the woman under the makeup and thought that there was something there. Nettie on the other hand, tells him that she is rather disappointed with the date. The whole ordeal was weird at the sermon, especially since the Disciple didn’t say anything. Bruce suddenly looked very angry, his eyes flashing red and his muscles tensing, muttering “They need to be stopped – there’s more than meets the eye with these guys.” Looking down at his hands, he puts the bent fork and knife aside, asking for another set. Nettie asks if Bruce is okay, he replies that while she is nice, he is not. While she assured him that she’s not nice either, he tells her that the city is an abyss, and so is he, and neither one like what they see in each other. Apologizing, he gives her a card an address, promising that he will go on a much better date the next time, on his personal plane, which impressed her very much.
Jack went out to seek the Batman, in order to share what he had learned. They find each other, then Batman asked if Jack wanted a piece of the action down in the mansion below. While Batman doesn’t think that Jack could take them on himself, he believes that the man can be of some use for him. Jack said if he thought that he could take on the project himself, he wouldn’t have looked for Batman in the first place. Batman tells Jack that the gun thing is unwarranted, since you cannot apologize later – sometimes we all make mistakes, and that’s not one that you can correct. Jack assures him that he doesn’t make mistakes. Batman then asks Jack if it’s possible for him to make some noise to distract the guards while he deals with the mansion himself, and Jack thinks that’s something he definitely can do. The two of them then travel to the mansion rooftop, and then Jack asks Batman for his grappling hook so he can make a clean escape afterward. Batman gives it to him on the condition that he can keep the body count low, and then sends him off.
Jack lands by the garage and takes out the shotgun, waiting for some guards to pass. He sees a pair and aims for their knees, crippling them instantly. The noise from the shotgun blast and the resulting cry from the injured alerts people to the area. Jack takes out the grappling hook, aims for the rooftop but misses. He instead hits the wall and injures himself, but is still able to climb on the roof and escape, trusting Batman to carry out his work.
In the morning, Smiles looks at the 14,000 word essay he had written on how wonderful the Silver Legion is and immediately burned it, not wanting the world to see the worst work he had ever written. Thorn was found pounding on the doors of Tammany Hall, pleading to come back in but nobody would let him. The citizens of Gotham woke up from their daze, confused about the strange event that had just happened.
Nettie on the other hand was taken out on a fabulous date with Bruce Wayne on his plane that evening. It turns out that Gotham is a beautiful city at night.