"Endure the Flame"

Though Barbara Gordon was injured in her last encounter with the Joker, it was her mother who was burned, concussed, and missing a finger when she was admitted to the hospital. Though Barbara should be in the hospital too, she is instead at her father's house, hacking into the Gotham City Police Database and searching for mugshots of people who were accomplices to the Joker, thanks to her eidetic memory. Collecting the images together, she sends an anonymous email to her father with the knowledge that they will all be caught.

Feeling satisfied at having done some good, she walks back to her apartment, but her distraction causes her to bump right into Ricky, who is busy working at a soup kitchen - and who has never seen her without her mask on. Smirking to herself, she brushes off his knee-jerk pickup line, and lets him get back to helping people.

Meanwhile, at St. Luke's Hospital, Mrs. Gordon receives a visit from her son James, Jr. She is surprised to see him as he examines her medications, and looks on her with mock concern. Angrily, she responds that he is not capable of concern, and goes on to shout that when she left her family, years ago, it wasn't because he had frightened her with his typical psychotic narcissism. He is a disappointment to her, she says, warning him that if he hasn't come to kill her, he had better leave, because he will not be getting anything else from her.

At Gotham City Police Headquarters, Commissioner Gordon decides that, despite being low on experienced officers, thanks to the Joker's recent killing spree, they will push forward with trying to round up all of the Joker-thugs who were identified in the anonymous message he received. Nobody will be allowed to walk away without being made to pay for their part in the Joker's crimes. Before sending off his officers, he makes one final announcement: their highest priority should be to capture his son, James, Jr. Turning to Jim, Detective Bullock promises that they will find his son, and make sure things play out as well as they can.

While monitoring the police band on a fire taking place in the Narrows, Barbara is surprised by a call from her brother. Sadistically, he suggests that he should finish the job of dismembering her that the Joker failed to complete. With quiet contempt, Barbara keeps him talking while she attempts to trace the signal on his phone. He is displeased with her attitude, and warns that she will soon be feeling fear again, as the police band begins to report something unusual. One of the suspects she pointed the police to used a suicide bomb that killed the rookie cops who were trying to apprehend him. Though she had thought she could leave this job to the police, in the end, it would be her who had to deal with it, once again.

At another location, the police make a raid on a safe house where three of Joker's men have been told to sit-tight, despite the fact that they should have been gone for a while. As the police, unprepared for the gunfight they will soon face, knock on the door, Batgirl crashes through the window in order to spare them. Confused, the policemen outside wait until the scuffle inside stops, and the door simply swings open. Inside, they find the thugs bound and subdued, raving about a woman who beat them up.

Batgirl is confused as to why these three men didn't have any incendiaries on them - it doesn't fit with the other fires or the suicide bomb from earlier. That is, until she realizes that the reason for this is that they weren't set up by the Joker thugs - it was someone else. She is just in time to save one of the cop's lives before a rocket blasts the police van and the prisoners therein to pieces.

At another location, Batgirl finds a man in a costume, who has obviously been starting many of the fires. She feels exasperation at the fact that, in the end, it always comes down to someone in a costume. He introduces himself as Firebug before detonating explosives that knock Batgirl off of her feet. While she's down, he mocks her prior confidence, and launches a barrage of flames at her.

All the while, James, Jr. watches, musing that his sister hasn't yet fully pieced together his plan.


"Endure the Flame"




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