Chapter 33: Love Triangle
We join Bruce Wayne, in a large room in Wayne Manor's West Wing, dressed as Batman, going through a number of training exercises, in the company of one Alfred Pennyworth. The room is darkened, with all the latest state-of-the-art technology from the newly formed Applied Sciences Department of Wayne Enterprises. Bruce swings on horizontal poles, uses his pneumatic-powered grappling hook to hoist himself high, then a new memory-wired cloak to part-glide to the ground.
- ( Alfred ) So what do you think of our new Killing House, Master Bruce ?
- Well, ... considering Batman doesn't, as a rule, go around killing anyone, ... and that this is not a 'house', ... I love it ! ! ! !
- Begging the Master's pardon, Sir, the Killing House is what one called it in the course of one's previous form of business. .. One took the liberty, and brought you the morning papers, Master Bruce. You really are creating a bit of a stir as Gotham's most eligible playboy, Sir.
- Much as I would love to say that it's not that difficult, Alfred, I have got to say that it really is ! ... Even more late nights, darkened surroundings, people I have never met before. ...
- Ah yes, ( A little awkward ) now, how do you Americans put it ? ... One gets the picture.
Meanwhile, at one and the same time, Catwoman is going through a most similar training regime, in a similar room in Kyle Manor !
- ( Lazlo ) Your morning papers, Mistress Kyle.
- Why, thank you, Lazlo. .. (Starting to read them) ... Oh that Bruce Wayne ! ... He is so infuriating !
- Infuriating Mistress Salina, why so ?
- Okay, so I didn't have much time for the billionaire whizzkid to begin with, .. but he at least carried with him some respect, ... But now, ( flicking the papers with the back of her hand ) ... look at him, ... surrounded by all those glamour girls ! ! ! He's lost any modicum of respect he had left in my eyes ! ... ( Remembering ) O Lazlo, did you remember my laptop ? ... ( Lazlo points to the near corner of the room.) ... I have one final piece of the jigsaw to chase up, from the Burns Files. ... Oh yes, and I want to send an email. ( Starts typing. )
- Dear Dwayne, ... why did you ever pick such a crazy name for yourself ! ! ! ... Anyway, ... just thought I would get in touch again, and keep you posted on everything I have been doing. Just got in from some early morning shopping. Now about to get down to a little light reading, what about you ? When are we finally going to meet up ? ... You know I can't wait until we actually, finally see each other ! ! ! ( She clicks on Send, then returns to her training routines, … spins, leaps, climbs, then a pinpoint landing ! )
Back in Wayne Manor, Bruce, as Batman, moving at lightning speed, has just started to use Bat Charges against stationary and robotic moving targets dotted around the room.
- Honestly, Alfred, these new Taser charges, Lucius invented, are just the job to quickly disable and disorientate anyone up to no good in Gotham. ... And they are amazingly light and accurate !
He goes to his laptop to check his emails, .. reads, then types:
- Yeah, I know the name is a little bit odd, but the early emphasis was on humour ! .. Good to hear from you, by the way. Boy you sure are one committed shopper ! I had a pretty uneventful evening last night. Boy, I can't believe that we are actually going to meet up, you and I, ... after all these months ! .. I wonder what we will think of each other ! !
He clicks on Send.
This process continues, as Batman and Catwoman train rigorously, each preparing, as best they know how, for the next time they will meet ! They interrupt their session periodically to continue their internet conversation !
- ( Salina ) Oh, that reminds me. I have started my Kung Fu lessons ! A girl like me can never be too careful on Gotham's streets at night.
- Who is your Instructor ?
- I can't remember his name. It is really kind of strange. He was born an Arab, but has spent most of his life in the Far East. … Look, Dwayne, I've got rather a lot of work to do now. I better go. Bye for now ! ! !
As had been the case, after her encounter with Cranberry Stubbs, Salina Kyle had spent first hours, then days, then weeks, digging through endless amounts of information, she had acquired, from the now panic-stricken Kauffmann Burns. She had already discovered a major player in the corruption game, by the name of a certain ' H.D. '. Now, she had uncovered an even bigger fish, ' K.P. '. She begins wading through some final bits of data remaining, that she had not yet quite had time to scrutinize. She momentarily goes to her favourite Live News Feed on her laptop:
- Meanwhile, Gotham's golden boy billionaire just doesn't seem to know when to let up ! ... Is he, or isn't he dating glamour model, Suzie Bridges ? Or is it Miranda Millar, the tabloid favourite, that Bruce Wayne has his eyes on ? This is Naimh Ross, Gotham Society News, here in Gotham.
Salina: ( In a fury) Oh !
Back in Wayne Manor.
- ( Alfred ) Oh, Master Bruce.
- Yes, what is it, Alfred ?
Alfred: Miss Cooper would like to have a word with you, at your earliest convenience.
Bruce: ( Rather preoccupied ) Really Alfred, ... You don't happen to know what she wants to talk to me about, do you ?
Alfred: With respect, Sir, ... might not one care to guess ?
Bruce: Ah, ... right. Thank you, Alfred, that will be all.
He continues clicking on his laptop, only this time he is investigating Viktor Fries ! He has hooked up to the Batcomputer in the Cave.
- O Alfred, ... I've been looking at Viktor Fries again, ... and the various personnel and technology, that he may have at his disposal ... Any future encounter with him and his team does seem extremely daunting. How soon do you think that your friend Christiansen can join us ?
- Why, he is 'joining' us next Saturday. One took the liberty of consulting the master's diary. We will fly by your private jet to Archangel, and will be residing with him at a luxury complex, that belongs to one of his closest associates.
- To begin training, right ?
- To begin training.
Meanwhile, back in Kyle Manor.
- I don't believe it ! I just don't believe it ! Why the dirty rotten Son of a Bitch ! ... Lazlo ! ( Pulls on a rope beside her!)
- You rang ?
- Well, it looks as if we have just found our next victim, Lazlo, ... Bruce Wayne. According to the last entry in Burns' private diary, it seems that our whizzkid playboy has been concealing a majority shareholding of mine, in one of his biggest and most successful subsidiary investment companies. It was bought, in a private arrangement, by my Father, to provide me with the sort of funds I would need, if I was ever to start up the Safari Park again.
( As she starts typing again feverishly on her laptop. ) ... Well, okay, Mr Wayne, this is it. Prepare to be the target of the most sophisticated electronic hacking equipment on the planet ! ...Time to find out, just what sort of a bad boy you really are. ... What have you really been getting up to, then ? ... ( Types away, ... then throws her hands up in frustration ! ) ... Hey, this can't be right, surely. ... ( Tries again ) No, I don't believe it ! .. It's impossible !
- What is it, Mistress Salina ?
- I have never come across anything like this before ! ... All the information you could ever want on the day-to-day business of every corporation and concern, under the name of Wayne Enterprises, ... and even the most extensive resume of the life and career of Bruce Wayne, ... but that is where it all begins and ends ! ... As soon as I try to dig deeper, I get barrier upon barrier, like the walls of Minas Tirith, in 'Lord of the Rings' ! .. ( She suddenly notices something ) ... O my God ! ... O my God ! ... That Son of a Bitch's system is initiating an automatic counter-search against me ! ... He's getting closer. ... He's getting closer ! (She quickly logs off on her laptop ! ) ... Phew ! ... I think that I might have made it just in time ! ... That's a relief !
- ( Lazlo ) My God ! If that is the level of security on Mr. Wayne's domestic computer systems, then what must his private home security be like ?