COPYRIGHT OF THE BAT by Baramos In the darkest night, in the Narrows, in a small one-room apartment, a bedraggled, bespectacled, mildly obese man was feverishly typing on a keyboard and staring at a computer screen. Suddenly, the window behind him shattered, a shadowy figure crashing through into the room, his black boot slamming into the back of the mans skull and driving his face into the computer monitor with a meaty crunch. The man screamed in pain and fell to the floor, glasses bent and askew, blood streaming from his nose into his three-day neckbeard. He stared in horror up at the shadow-clad apparition as it stepped into the surreal glow from the cracked PC screen. The Batman! he gasped as he recognized the black aquiline visage of the Caped Crusaders cowl. You you broke my nose! Ill break more than that, scum. I saw what you did, Mr. Michaels. What Iwhat I did? blathered 23-year-old Gary Michaels. I saw it all, Gary. Through your window. Ive been running a sting operation on you for weeks. Did you think you could do that with a computer and not be brought to justice, you sick FREAK? Batman grabbed Gary by his shirt and dragged him to his feet effortlessly, shaking him. Then Batman put his face right up to Garys and stared directly into his watery eyes. Did you really think your cover as a Pizza House delivery man could keep me from finding you out, Gary? IS THAT WHAT YOU THOUGHT? No! No! Thats not a cover, babbled Gary, thats my job Batman slapped him across the face. Enough with the lies, Gary! Youre part of an international syndicate that deals in the most perverse and illicit material, all through the means of the internet. Gary began sobbing. Im sorry. IM SORRY! I thought it was still legal here. I swear, its not what it looks like. Its hentai, its a Japanese thing, they ALL look 15" Batman slammed Gary to the floor. Not that weaboo bullcrap, you slug. The MP3s! The MP4s! The .avis, the .mkvs! The blasted .cbrs, even! All the filthy muck you bastards deal in! Garys mouth gaped. But but I didnt make any money it was just a couple of albums Just a couple of albums? You crooks make me laugh. Dont you know that one person downloading one MP3 costs the music industry SIX MILLION DOLLARS?! Batman kicked Gary in the side, causing him to double over in pain. That one person downloading two MP3s costs the music industry 100 MILLION DOLLARS?! He kicked Gary again, audibly snapping a rib. That that Gary wheezed, that doesnt make any sense. Shouldnt two MP3s being downloaded cost them twelve million ? NO! Batman kicked him a third time, causing Gary to scream in pain. You creeps and your logic, your justifications, your rationalizations. There are good men and women starving in the gutter because of what youre doing! Artists and job creators out on the street because of scum like you downloading copyrighted material illegally off the internet! Im going to bring you to justice once and for all. Batman grabbed Garys shirt in one hand, dragging him from the floor again. He raised the other and balled it into a fist, poised to slam it directly into Garys quivering, tear-streaked and blood-stained face. Suddenly, a loud POP from behind him made Batman whirl, dropping Gary into a heap onto the floor. In one fluid motion, he threw a batarang direcly into the PC monitor, which had sparked from the damage caused by having Garys face slam into it. It shattered and exploded, sending glass and sparks flying all across the room, a brief illumination before the room was cast into total darkness. It took Batman a few moments to engage his night-vision. He whirled, scanning the room for the perp, but he was nowhere to be found! He ground his teeth in frustration. Every night, he was cast into a never-ending war against crime against the foulest of criminals. It never got any easier. He clenched his fist, then let it fall to his side. He had to resign himself to his fate. He had to sacrifice himself for the good of Gotham City, for the good of the entire country. He had to focus on the task at hand: catching this copyright infringer before he ruined more lives with his nefarious deeds. Batman stepped to the window, scanning the street below. Yes, there was Gary, stumbling off to the south, nearly doubled over in pain from the beating Batman had given him, holding his hand to his side. He must have clambered down the fire escape in the momentary darkness that had overtaken the room. Batman leaped from the window and engaged his cape into a stiff, wing-like appendage, gliding down to the street effortlessly. Gary had managed to reach the corner of the block, falling to his knees beside a lone street lamp, huffing and puffing as he tried to catch his breath. Batman ran to him and leaped out of the shadows, slamming his foot down onto Garys ankle, twisting it savagely. Gary screamed in pain and flailed about on his back, clutching the bruised foot, then stared up in horror at Batman. Did you think you could escape that easily, Gary? I am Batman. I AM THE NIGHT! Batman was about to kick the ankle again and shatter it completely when the loud BANG of a gunshot echoed up the avenue behind him. He whirled, his highly intelligent and agile mind taking in the situation immediately: the woman falling, blood oozing from her neck, dropping her helpless infant to the ground where it wailed in despair, the hooded thief running away from the scene, .357 magnum clutched in one hand flashing in the moonlight, the womans purse flopping from its strap in the other. The man had just murdered the woman for what little money she had and was fleeing down the avenue. Batman turned back to Garyand found that he too was fleeing in the totally opposite direction from the gunman, hobbling and limping awkwardly down the sidewalk, holding himself up with one hand against the side of the redbrick building, his other hand still pressed against his painfully swollen side. Batman looked back and forth towards the fleeing gunman and the fleeing copyright infringer. He growled in frustration. So many times he was presented with this terrible choice, the choice that faced every vigilante, every agent of justice: which crime was more serious, which criminal posed more threat to society. He bowed his head and closed his eyes, meditating. He had worked so long to protect the people of this city, of this entire country, from the forces of evil. How could he continue to choose which criminals he pursued and which he allowed to escape to fight another day? He was only one man. He had limited and finite resources which he could allocate towards one threat or another. It was up to him to judge the seriousness of each, in order to best use his funds towards the greatest goods. I must avenge my parents death, said Batman to the darkness. I must fight against the senseless savagery and evil that took their lives. He turned, cloak flowing behind him, and ran in pursuit of the most evil of the two malefactors. ----*---- Batman caught up with Gary within half a block and knocked him to the ground with a roundhouse kick. Gary screamed in pain and despair as he looked up in horror at the dark knight looming over him. That guy shot somebody! HE FREAKING SHOT THEM TO DEATH Garys shout ended in a groan of pain as Batmans boot caught him in the chin, slamming his head back against the concrete as he almost bit his tongue off, his teeth wiggling in their sockets from the force of the blow. He spat out blood onto the sidewalk. Quiet, trash, intoned Batman. My parents were shot to death by a man like you. It was said Joe Chill loved his cheap Chinese knock-off Beretta. He slammed his foot down onto the same ankle he had damaged before, his heavy boot finally finishing the fracturing. It snapped, and the piece of dirt at his feet screamed for mercy. No mercy, said Batman, as he began his dark work. Gary Micheals would never commit copyright infringement again after the Batman was done with him. Gary Michaels would never be able to do much of anything after Batman was done with him. THIS COUNTRY HAS A DISEASE AND I AM THE CURE! THE END ?