Chapter 1: Apaches Over Gotham
Apaches Over Gotham
It's late November in Gotham, the perfect time for a prolonged night flight exercise for the Squadron of Apaches based at Daniels Air Force Base, at Kane's Field. The engines roar pre-flight, as a simulated strike on a major city conurbation has been meticulously planned. Special Forces attached to the unit, along with the country's latest Strike Drone aircraft, will simulate an attack on selected targets and guide the Apaches onto others. Meanwhile a flight of F22 Raptors prepares for take-off. The signal is green for go. From among the Top Brass we hear the immortal phrase:
- Let's go go go go go !
In the top floor of Wayne Enterprises' Gotham Headquarters, Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Wayne, is hosting a School Reunion dinner party, not for his own year at Gotham High, but for his late Father's!
- Good evening, and welcome assembled guests! It is indeed an honor to take my turn in hosting this annual dinner, in honor of a most remarkable year of students who passed through Gotham High over thirty years ago. And it is indeed a special honor to have been able to take my Father's place and attend in his name. I know, as I look around the room, I am not alone, as a number of you are with us in that capacity also. Well without any further ado, it gives me great pleasure to hand over to a man, who has been like an uncle to me, in fact I call him Uncle. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Chairman of the Year Association, Dent !
- Thank you very much, , congratulations on your latest big business acquisitions and successes by the way! (A certain Miss Salina Kyle sneers a little out of the corner of her mouth in Wayne's direction!) As I look around the room, I can't help feeling that, once again, I am amongst good friends, and also reminded, if it were ever necessary, of close friends no longer with us. Its good to have Miss Salina Kyle with us again this year. Salina, you know how much we all miss your father, Davis, and of course, Bruce, you know how much your father, Tom, meant to us all. Good, indeed, it is to see you all with us this evening, even the infamous Oswald Cobblepot, you old dog!
Meanwhile, in two different living rooms at opposite ends of the city, two young friends are sitting down to play an unofficial games release, circulating amongst a host of school friends. They log on their computers.
- Wow, one says, 'Apaches Over Gotham,' cool !
But someone else is logging on his ! And he's quietly laughing to himself, at least to begin with, but who is he, I wonder ?
- I'm going to be the Drones and the Raptors, says one boy.
- I'll be the Apaches, says the other.
And the game begins. ... Some game!
For, all of a sudden, the pilots in control of each actual Apache, each in turn, lose control of their aircraft, and likewise the remote pilots controlling the Drones back at Daniels! And, what is more, despite it being an exercise, every aircraft is carrying potentially live ammunition!
- Drone One to target enemy special forces in the Kennedy Building I think, and Drones Two and Three to individually target the nearest two Apaches! Arm all available weapons. He presses Enter! And fire !
The remote pilots are dumbfounded to see all the lights on their weapons systems light up and locked on targets!
- Blue on Blue alert ! Blue on Blue alert ! They shout to all within radio contact !
A Private on Comms alerts the most senior officer at the Base, Colonel Clinton Cole.
- Colonel, you're never going to believe this, but we have just lost control of all our aircraft and weapons systems over Gotham, and there is absolutely no way we have of protecting this City!
- Get me the Mayor, the Chief Medical Officer and the Police Commissioner at once ! This is going to be one rough night. How could we have lost control of the world's most advanced weapons just like that, ay Perkins? The Colonel says, clicking his fingers.
- Hello, Commissioner Gordon ? ... No we don't know what on earth is goin' on here. Is there anything you think you can do at your end ?
- Well there is someone I can think of, who might be able to help.
- Not your Assistant Dent and his cowboy S.W.A.T. Teams I hope !
- No, the one I mean is Batman!
- You cannot be serious !
Our as yet unidentified friend's laugh intensifies, as he enters command after command, first into his PC, then a laptop !
Actual missiles leave the actual drones hurtling towards their designated targets. The Apache crews are terrified to see, in their video feeds, real Hellfire Missiles locked on and heading in their direction.
- Wow, this looks so real, both boys cry as the 'game' unfolds !
The Special Forces Teams can't believe what's going on, and duck for cover, as rockets tear through the glass facades of their chosen vantage points. Explosion after explosion rips through some of Gotham's most prestigious buildings !
- Wow, the boys cry, the special effects in this game are amazing !
The Apache pilots just manage to release decoy flares, and dodge the Hellfires, which also explode, only this time into vacant apartment blocks !
Suddenly a secret beeper goes off in Bruce Wayne's inside waistcoat pocket. He attaches a mobile ear-piece, as he moves quietly to one side.
- What is it, Alfred ? He asks.
- I suggest that you turn to CNN, Master Bruce, comes the reply.
Wayne accesses the news on his mobile, and sees footage of the first strikes on each building. A female news reporter is commentating:
- Fire is ripping through the upper floors of the new Rainbow Plaza. One eyewitness claims that she saw a missile strike the 20th floor. There are as yet unconfirmed reports that the Air Force is currently holding a night exercise over the City. The most senior officer on the Base is currently unavailable for comment. This is Niamh Ross, reporting for CNN, from Gotham City.
- I'm on my way, he says.
Meanwhile, as the boys are playing, their families are beginning to hear the news on TV, that the actual buildings exploding in the game are exploding in real life !
More and more boys around the city join in, and each takes control of an aircraft in the game. The team multiplayer mode is activated, and Apache fights Apache, Drone fights Drone, and Raptor fights Raptor. And everyone can see the heat signatures of the Special Forces, which one team has to destroy !
Wayne receives another incoming message:
- (Whispering ) Yes, Commissioner. It has just come to my attention. I'm just getting ready now.
- Something told me you might be !
The Dinner at Wayne Enterprises has to be abandoned. It is just too dangerous to continue. Many are involved in the emergency services. After directing everyone to the emergency exits, Bruce enters a food service shute, presses a hidden special button, and is propelled at amazing speed upwards to the rooftop. A Bat Hang Glider, self-activating, awaits him there, and he is automatically patched through to Fox !
- OK Lucius, ... Alfred, .. what is going on, and how do you suppose we stop it ?
- Mr Wayne, I was just in the middle of a total systems check, from our satellites right down to our radar beacons all across the city, when, all of a sudden, the airways went wild with a signal I simply have never seen before. I have the Cave Computer working on decoding the signal right now, but in the meantime ...
- In the meantime Master Bruce, I suggest you get over to some of those buildings. I've just intercepted communications from the Fire and Ambulance Departments. There are people - men, women and children trapped in two main blocks, says Alfred.
- OK Which is the higher hotspot ?
- The Houston Plaza, Sir.
- OK, I'm on my way.
- Just one more thing, adds Fox, whoever is controlling all those aircraft is doing so most erratically, as if they have absolutely no flying skills at all !
- Thanks, Lucius, I will bear that in mind.
And so, donning his Batman costume in a matter of moments, he is airborne in the Bat Glider, a massive auto-radar guided, gyro-stabilized masterpiece created by Lucius Fox, to twist and turn, and simulate the movements of a Bat Man around the towering buildings of Gotham.
Gliding intricately around the tower blocks, he makes an absolutely miraculous computer controlled manoeuvre, to stop dead, at just the right spot, to effect the perfect rescue of the first family, then the second, and on to the second building, on fire as a result of the night's terrors. He carries all manner of equipment to aid him in said tasks, fire retardant cloak and spare wrap for rescuees, for example !
- O thank you, Batman ! Shouts one grateful recipient of his assistance !
Computer Tycoon Oswald Cobblepot suddenly gets a call on his mobile phone.
- Why Lucius, to what do I owe the honour of this phone call ? Ah, a new type of digital signal you say, riding the airways on two separate bands. And you've almost fully decoded it you say. Nice work, nice work ! Well, Lucius, in answer to your question, if it were me looking to take over the country's Air Force, I'd use a piggy back system, accessing a seemingly unimportant part of a systems layout and then use it to access the more important systems, in relay. That would explain the dual interacting digital signal you've been decoding ! Do you think that young Wayne will be able to save the day ?... Why am I not the least bit surprised ? ... You are most welcome my old friend.
Bruce receives an incoming message on his comms.
- What is it Alfred ? ... I see, you've managed to narrow the primary signal to the Old Cathedral Quarter. I'll be onto it as soon as I can. What about all the secondary signals you are picking up around town ? ... Ordinary family homes ? But that doesn't make any sense !
Meanwhile, the special forces team leader instructs his men:
- Only head for the unoccupied floors of the building. Avoid collateral damage to civilians at all costs. I repeat at all costs ! Then another explosion rips through their building.
- Wow, says one of the boys, that was awesome ! Only for him to hear, in the background, one of the family talk about an explosion in the very building he had targeted ! He tells his parents. Are you sure, Jimmy ? His mother asks. The boy' s father phones the police. The call is intercepted by Alfred, who relays the message to Bruce Wayne.
- That has got to be it, says Bruce. Children have become unwitting pawns in this joker' s game ! I'll instruct the Commissioner to issue an official statement on the news, to tell the families to log off their computers. ... What is it Lucius ?... You cannot be serious, that simple huh ?... The air conditioning and cooling systems ? ... Hello Alfred, I'm on my way to Eerie Three, I' ve got an idea.
- I thought you might, Master Bruce.
Gordon makes the broadcast. All but one boy hear it and log off.
- Activate Bat Drones One, Two and Three, he calls into his sleeve, while rushing to another Wayne Enterprises Building.
Bat Drones launch remotely from above the very building Bruce is heading for, and they start to eliminate the Air Force Drones One by one, vaporizing them to avoid injury and further damage ! They look like large bats in the night sky !
- What ? Exclaims the strange guy at his PC and Laptop. What's happened to all those platforms I wonder. And who is shooting those Drones out of the sky ? This is a job for the F22 's I think. ( Presses button. )
- Ah, now we're talking, says the remaining boy. I have one Apache, but four inbound Raptors !
- ( Bruce getting a call on his mobile ! ) Sorry Aunt Harriot, ( she 's his Great Aunt ! ) I 'm really a bit busy right now, what 's the problem, anyhow ?
- Well, Bruce, it was just that I was thinking, it was getting near bedtime, and wondered whether you were going to be back for supper ! I' ve been trying to get Alfred for ages, but I reckon that he might be listening to his music up loud again. Honestly Bruce, there are times, when I think that we need to get a new Butler !
- I take it you haven't seen the news on TV tonight then, Aunt Harriot.
- Should I have, dear, why, I hope nothing bad has happened ?
- O no, Aunt Harriot, you just go off to bed. Don 't wait up ! Oh, and don' t be annoyed with Alfred. From time to time I give him a few extra special duties to perform !
Bruce activates a secret door in the building, accesses another ultraspeed 'service shute ' and ascends direct to the roof. Another Bat Glider awaits. He straps up and away. The incoming Apache, the boy is controlling, is twisting at low altitude towards Batman's Eerie. He launches, and intercepts the Apache, jumping on to the landing gear. He indicates to the pilot:
- Turn your air-conditioning off !.
- ( The pilot signals. ) What, I can't hear you !
- ( Pointing to the control panels ) The air-conditioning, turn it off !
The pilot complies. The boy loses control of the Apache, but still has full control of the F22 's ! The pilot slows the Apache sufficiently for Bruce to shout into the camera link, direct to the boy, to log off his system, and end the game. Which he does.
- Wow, its Batman, he says. Ma ! Ma !, I've just spoken to Batman, Ma !
- Hey, that's amazing, Dick, and I'm sure you'd love to be just like him one day, Son ?
- O yes, you bet !
- Now come on, and have your supper.
The Raptors are returned to the control of their respective pilots, and normal service is resumed !
- Well done, Lucius, says Bruce, but how did you know the guy was using those systems as a piggy back ?
- There are some things that have to remain secret, ... even from you, Mr. Wayne !
Bruce summons up the Batmobile, heads at breakneck speed to the Old Cathedral Quarter. Alfred directs him in, to the very source of the primary feed, but the bird has flown, and only a laughing set of jaws remains.
- Until the next time Batman. Until the next time, sucker ! He hears coming from the children's toy.