Batman: A New World

Chapter 17: Batman Begins !

Batman Begins !

by Brian Mark

- Well Good Morning, Lucius. Welcome to Wayne Manor !

- Good Morning . Thank you for inviting me.

- Please, come in and sit down. I have asked my Butler to prepare us some morning coffee and muffins. So how are you, my friend, and how are you getting on with the suggestions I gave you the other day ?

- ( They both sit down in the Drawing Room ) Well, Mr Wayne, ( as he produces drawings from an attaché case ) I've taken the liberty to draw up the following designs and specifications, for the various equipment you wanted me to work on, but I must say, that I do still consider the particular items a little peculiar, if not irregular to say the least.

- Sorry, Lucius, I thought that we had already covered that one the last time. I was simply asking you to come up with some working prototypes for equipment, that I might approach my old Department at Search and Rescue with, as a way of effecting rescues in the most dangerous situations they face.

- But a high-tech hang glider ?

- In black.

- Yes, .. in black, ... and bullet-proof body armour .. ?

- In black.

- Yes, ... in black, .. and a fire-retardant cape or blanket.

- Also in black.

- Quite, Mr Wayne, ... quite. I must say that it all still seems to be highly irregular. As I said at our last meeting. I would expect to be meeting with representatives of the Rescue Services themselves today, to discuss the necessary specifications, but as I see, I seem to be the only one here.

- Well, Lucius, depending on how effective all this equipment I have ordered is, I would like to be able to present it to the Service more as a fait accompli, if you get my drift ?

- I'm afraid I do, Mr Wayne, I'm afraid I do.

- Ah. Here come the coffee and muffins now. ( Enter Alfred, silver tray in hand ! ) You haven't met my Butler before, have you, Lucius ?

- No, I don't believe I have had the pleasure, ... apart from earlier when he showed me in, that is.

- Alfred, ... Lucius Fox. Lucius, .. .Alfred.

- Why, Good Morning, Sir.

- Good Morning, Alfred. Is it alright to call you Alfred ?

- Why yes indeed, Mr. Fox, yes indeed ! And how would you like your coffee, Sir ?

- In black.

Bruce Wayne smiles impishly !

- As you no doubt remember from my CV, Mr. Wayne, I am particularly interested in the field of automation. No doubt you have heard of the great Pierre Jaquet-Droz ?

Alfred looks down directly at the table, and coughs !

- Why no. Should I have ?

- Perhaps if you would pay more attention to your Butler. .. Your $20,000 table clock is a Droz original, I believe, .. Eighteenth Century. ... Droz was the leading expert in the field of automation in his day. His Writing Boy still bewilders experts today, with it's intricate clockwork precision and programming. .. You are also wearing a Droz wristwatch, Mr. Wayne.

- ( Distracted ) Yes, it was my Father's. ( Bruce lifts his laptop, and googles up a video of the Writing Boy in action. )

- Hey, Lucius, … that truly is remarkable. … You weren't kidding.

- May we continue, Mr Wayne ?

- O yes, O yes, you can say anything you want in front of Alfred. Alfred is well used to keeping secrets !

- Well then, this Hang Glider. ( pointing at the relevant section of the specs ) I suggest using automated technology, based on gyros and auto-correcting stabilization to assist the brave rescue worker, in the dangerous task of flying such a device. And, take it from me, he would have to be very brave indeed, to the point of near recklessness !

- Well, I was rather thinking of test-flying it myself, first. Do you think you could possibly customise it to my size and weight ?

- I suppose I could, Mr. Wayne, but do you think that's wise ?

- Let's just say, this is one of those more sensitive matters, that we discussed during your interview, Lucius, and leave it at that.

- Very well, Mr. Wayne, very well. ... Then, next, we have the bullet-proof body armour, in black as you have repeatedly suggested. I have been experimenting with the whole field of nano-technology.

- Nano-technology ?

- Yes, it's the technology of the very small, down to the very atomic and molecular structure of materials and functions, Mr Wayne. ... I suggest that we make both the armour and the cape using carbon nano-tubes. These are molecules refashioned in the shape of tubes, providing one of Nature's strongest structures, marrying strength with lightness ! Then, there's also silk and paper to consider. Layered together, they provide a light-weight, but extremely strong, absorbent armour, that could resist crossbow bolts in the days of the ancient Chinese. Layered with my nano-tech materials, they should provide the Search and Rescue worker with all the protection he requires.

- I love it, Lucius, I love it. And the cape, or blanket, too. Also carbon nano-tubes ?

- Yes, but layered with New Zealand wool, one of the most heat-resistent, fire-retardant materials on earth. When was the last time you saw a sheep catch fire, Mr. Wayne ? .. And finally soaked in my latest fire-retardant solution, never before tested on a human being before. Now let me guess. You'd like to be the first to test that too, Mr. Wayne.

- Yup. Got it in one.

- Why in black, if I might be so bold ?

- You are always bold, Lucius, sure that's what I like about you ... It's just that, when I worked in Search and Rescue, the bright orange tended to make you an easy target for the armed and dangerous, who would want to take a pot shot at you. That's all.

- My God, .. I see, Mr Wayne, I see ... Well then, ... there you have all my specifications. All I need are your measurements and weight, and I can proceed, in having these produced right away.

- Excellent, Lucius, excellent. Well, we can leave it at that then, Lucius. Alfred will show you out.

- Thank you, Alfred. ...Look, tell me this...Who is the Gardener here ? ... The rare plants and flowers you have around here are fantastic !

- Alas, there is no Gardener as such, Mr Fox. But if there were one, that would be me, Sir.

- Why, Alfred, congratulations ! Were those Pancratia I saw in front of the Main Entrance ?

- They were indeed, Mr Fox. They were indeed.

- And by the Main Gate, Cremastra, right ?

- Right again, Mr Fox, I see you know your rare flora and fauna.

Whereupon both pass away the next half hour, or so, in the Wayne Manor Greenhouse and Nursery !

- Alfred, I really love that particular type of Arisaema, ... and then there's that beautiful Ammocharis ... And how on earth did Mr Wayne come by that Dactylorhiza ?

- Ah, how indeed, Mr Fox, how indeed ?

Well, within a fortnight of their meeting, Bruce Wayne was finally able to take charge of the whole array of equipment he had ordered, and Alfred helped him to put the new technology through its paces. Let's face it, there was hardly anyone better suited to do that than Freddie McLeish !

They took the Hang-Glider to the cliff-tops overlooking the City, and found that Fox's particular, individual wizardry worked like a charm. It almost flew itself ! Bruce was even able to land on a narrow ledge with pinpoint accuracy !

There was only one way to test the fire-retardant cape and blankets. Pour gasolene over an area of the Wayne Manor Courtyard, set it alight, and walk through it with his old service boots on ! These also worked like a charm !

Finally, it was time to test Fox's own particular type of Kevlar ! Alfred takes out his Browning Automatic ! Bruce puts on the chest and back pieces that Fox had had moulded especially around his body, but only after he has donned Alfred's own personal bullet-proof vest ! Alfred directs no less than six rounds at close range to Bruce Wayne's heart. Bruce falls down, groaning, as if in great pain, and clasping his chest.

- O how very droll, Master Bruce, very droll. Maybe it is my highly experienced eye, but I could tell after the first shot, that Mr Fox's armour wasn't even dented by the rounds fired, let alone penetrated !

- I guess I should have known better than to think I could fool someone like you, Alfred.

- Yes, indeed, Master Bruce, yes indeed.

- But this Body Armour is absolutely incredible, Alfred.

- I would go as far as saying revolutionary, if I may say so, Sir.

- I see that he has also included some extra material as samples. ... Are you thinking what I'm thinking ?

- The thought had crossed my mind, Sir.

That evening, Bruce is talking to his Great-Aunt.

- It's maybe something that I might wear at a fancy dress party sometime, Aunt Harriot. Do you think that you could make me a pattern ? I have someone who'll be able to do the cutting and sowing !

- But Bruce, a bat mask ? Whoever heard of going to a fancy dress party, as a bat ?

- Well, there is always a first time, Aunt Harriot, there's always a first time !

- Well, alright, Bruce. I have already taken all your necessary measurements. I can have the pattern ready for you tomorrow.

- Why thanks a million, Aunt Harriot. You are a miracle-worker ( as he kisses her on the cheek ).

- Aw, I wouldn't go as far as saying that now, Bruce.

Alfred was soon able to take possession of Aunt Harriot's pattern and, using special tools, cut and fashioned Fox's spare material into a Bat Mask ! Soon everything was set. Bruce trained regularly with the Hang Glider, until he felt ready for his first mission.

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