Life was fading from him, veins and flesh tearing itself apart, dripping the precious scarlet liquid of life within his lungs. His old mind remembering things of the past, remembering the last time he wore the fabric that made him who he truly was, his brilliant mind recalling every detail. He watched with blue eyes how Gotham was burning, watched how he had failed it. He gazed down at the figure crumpled lifeless at his feet, displaying wounds that would never heal, body soaked in blood. The ma-, no! The boy wore the black, his last and final heir to a failing legend and idea. His fault, not the boy’s.
"I am sorry, old man, I… I-"
The man woke with a start, fighting his way back into life, body slick with sweat and frame tensed. He could feel the tremors in his hands, feel the weakness in his limbs that had once held immeasurable strength and endurance. He forced himself upwards, swallowing the taste of dried up blood, ignoring the taste of iron now lingering in his mouth. Why could he not let death embrace him, let this attack on his heart be a kind gift from death. His eyes were wet with fresh tears, leaking unashamed down his face in steady streams. The once stone of a man was now running with cracks, deep and unending. He had seen too much, experienced too much, lost…. too much.
Another voice said, this one the worst, forcing the now six feet tall frame almost to its knees when it finally stood up, only the remnants of his former willpower kept him upright. That or shame. Each voice was a dagger through his already shattered heart, wounding him more than any injury every could. Not even the intricate spider web of scars on his front and back could compare with the pain he felt at remembering those words…. those… last words.
Fresh tears joined the old as the old man began moving forwards, joints aching and frame protesting. A lifetime spend fighting crime, jumping off rooftops and mending broken bones did not age a body in a nice way. Each movement would feel like needles coursing through your spine, your muscles tearing and veins popping. The old man, the ghost of Bruce Wayne, bit his way through it, finding this type of pain a mere distraction compared to the pain of loss. He fought his way downstairs, making his way to the location where his former true self used to live, not this decrepit old shell of a man who had lost everything. He glanced around the room and noticed the layers of dust, the rusted spots and noticing the damage only time could do to metal and wires. He took it all in, let it torment him for a full minute before he decided that it would not hurt him anymore. It didn’t.
He made his way down even further, chest aching, fingers feeling numb. He suspected that his heart would soon be assaulted again; veins no longer able to force enough blood to the delicate organ. He ignored the obvious symptoms and forced this ancient frame of his downstairs, into the vault, bright blue eyes adjusting to the darkness as if it were second nature to them, searching around until he found what he was looking for; a final tomb for Bruce Wayne.
He forced his battered old body towards the object, placing large, yet frail hands against the stone lid, sliding it forwards, granting him entry. He felt his heart struggling, fighting against impossible odds; time, age, injury, grief, loss. He felt fresh blood fill his mouth, spilling past lips and mixing with the tears at some points. He forced himself forwards, inside the tomb. He had to linger for a few more seconds. He had to! He owed it to them, to those he had failed to protect, or guide. He heard the voices again, telling him their last words, some of them protégés, some lovers, and some friends, however few they might be. They weighed him down, threatening to engulf him in darkness, yet the last fragments that remained of the dark knight held on for just a second longer, closing the lid and letting go, feeling his body sinking deep within the unholy liquid that had belonged to his arch enemy. He felt his heart give out, lungs filling with blood as he began to lose consciousness. The last thing he could hear was the corrupt jewel that was Gotham burn and collapse underneath its own twisted soul.
Twenty five years later
“-And that is only in the recent weeks. It seems that another crime gang has decided to claim a piece of Gotham. In other news: A remarkable two point five percentage increase for Wayne industries, showing again the brilliant economical mind that is Lance Wayne. Numerous economist predict further growth on the stock market thanks to this latest revelation by Wayne industries. Some mi-“
The tall twenty five year old closed the television as he stopped in front of the large window, eyes scanning the diseased and corrupt city that was Gotham. His frame stood tall and powerful, shoulders broad and limbs trained and sculptured to brutal efficiency. His dark black hair was cut short and face shaven. The only thing that would remind him of his former self were his cold icy blue eyes; eyes that had seen too much to belong to such a young man. Those eyes were staring down on Gotham, taking it all in. From the archaic gothic style structures and statues to the technological marvels and steel masses that reach for the very skies itself. Gotham is a shy jewel of progress, economical might, yet deeply corrupted in its heart. Gangs, villains and the criminally insane roam and rule the underworld, controlling nearly a third of Gotham hostage.
At one time, many years ago, a man had risen from the edges of this darkness, risen against the darkness that had formed him. The dark knight, Batman, the crusader of the shadows, the individual went by many names, yet none could question the impact he had on the city. One man could somehow muster the strength to do what an entire city could not do themselves, stem the tide of pain and suffering and keeping the darkness at bay.
The man had given his entire life in this pursuit, watching how his protégés, successors, allies, …. son…, died, all so that Gotham could have a chance at peace. Batman had bleed for this city, taking in all the darkness so that no one else would have to. In the end he died alone, frail, old, battered and mind broken from realisation that he had failed Gotham in the end, his heirs and predecessors simply not of the same calibre to fill in the gaps were the first batman was aging and slipping.
Now, twenty five years later, something new would arise. Like a phoenix, a true heir would rise to defend Gotham. Instead of rising from the edges, this new rebirth was born in the very darkness itself, moulded by it so that it had no flaws. He would finish what he had started, former body now restored, better than before, carrying the accumulated knowledge of ninety years of crime fighting and live experiences within the proud and unsheltered body of his reborn self. Bruce Wayne had died twenty five years ago, leaving himself to be his next heir, the Lazarus pit restoring and altering what had been damaged. The pit took something from a person each time they used it. For twenty years Bruce Wayne had battled the pit, letting it restore and better him at the price of something. Twenty long and excruciating years had been spend fighting it, only letting the pit take what Bruce wanted it to take. In the end Lance Wanye had risen from the pits; a perfect warrior of justice that would take on the mantle once more.