Chapter 36: Navigational Errors !
by Brian Mark
It is mid-morning in Gotham City, and, what is gradually unfolding for this unfortunate Afro-American mother of three, is by no means uncommon, amongst everyone using their Satellite Navigation systems, to negotiate the crazy maze of it's busy streets that day.
Mother: ( Banging on her dashboard. ) What is the matter with this thing ? All I want to do is get to the shopping mall across town .
Satnav Voice ( female ): At the next intersection turn right.
Mother: Listen, honey, if I take THAT turn, I'm going to end up in the river !
Child: What's going on, Mama, we passed the right turn for the Mall half an hour ago ?
Voice: Now turn left.
Mother: What on earth ? This is the City Airport !
Voice; Now, take a plane !
Mother: Well, I'll be doggone !
Meanwhile, at the Control Tower, Gotham City Airport, .a massive Airbus Jetliner swoops within inches of the Tower ! Air Traffic Controller Jeffers is on duty:
Jeffers: God Almighty, that was close, Perkins ! What the hell is going on around here ?
Perkins: ( At his radar desk.) I don't understand it, Mr Jeffers, if something isn't done to correct this problem, every plane in America could crash. It's like the whole Country's Satellite System is off the scale !
Jeffers: Let me see that, Perkins. ... What do you mean, 'off the scale' ? ( Takes over at Perkins' control panel. )
Perkins: Just exactly that, Sir, ... It's like suddenly all our navigational systems are operating on a different scale. Planes due to land here thirty minutes ago have overshot Gotham by three hundred miles ! The only plane that has been able to land normally is flight WE 001. It's currently taxiing on runway three niner niner.
Jeffers: And how was IT able to land ?
Perkins: WE 001 is a private jet owned by Billionaire, Bruce Wayne. Of all the systems across the U.S.A. Mr. Wayne's satellites are the only ones that are operating normally.
Jeffers: Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Perkins ?
Perkins: ( Taking back his controls ) I'm onto it right away. ... Flight WE 001, what is your status ? ... Our Flight Controller has an unusual request to make of Mr. Bruce Wayne.
At the same time, a strangely familiar scenario is playing itself out, at the apartment of a character we have encountered once before, a young man with a singularly warped sense of humor. He is frantically making adjustments to a program on his laptop.
Young Man: What on earth ? How can Wayne's satellites prove to be incorruptible, when the Government's aren't ?
Then he switches on the radio:
News Reporter: Our main story today, ... the disruption caused America-wide to road and air traffic networks, as Satellite Navigation Systems go haywire. ... Road networks, that are normally fairly quiet, and run freely on a Saturday morning, have been absolutely chock-a-block, as people relying on their Satnav systems to get from A to B, end up not in C or D, but in many cases X and Y ! ...
Young Man: ( Laughing ) Oh how absolutely wonderful ... Now, how would Hannibal Smith have put it ?... I love it when a plan comes together !
Reporter: The situation across the country, however, is perhaps best typified by a report from our society news correspondent, Naimh Ross, as she has been following the fortunes of Ga Ga Zsabor, who was to arrive in Gotham today to begin shooting for her latest movie.
Naimh Ross: Yes, Ron, it has been an absolutely crazy day for Ga Ga today, as, to cut a long story, if not a long journey. short, poor Miss Zsabor ended up in San Francisco, where she left more than her heart ! ... More like all her nervous energy and exhaustion ! ... Now THERE is another celebrity woman who has let her mask slip this year !
Young Man: Aw, ... you poor thing, ... I've gone and interfered with your celebrity lifestyle. ... The movie shoot will be delayed for a few days. ... TRAGEDY ! ... Niamh Ross, huh ? Great comments, ... maybe a bit of a kindred spirit there. ... I like the style ! ... But where the hell is Batman ? ... Then again, it's not exactly the sort of case the Caped Crusader can handle !
Back at Gotham City Airport, Bruce Wayne has joined Jeffers in the Control Tower, while Alfred has rushed back to Wayne Manor.
Bruce Wayne: By all means, Mr. Jeffers, ... I've just spoken to my Acting C.E.O., and he can give you unlimited access to all our satellites, no problem.
Jeffers; Why, thank you Mr. Wayne, but there is also the problem of computing ower. How can you possibly hope to cope with the sheer volume of traffic, and the calculations needed, to help us co-ordinate the movements of the whole Country's Air Traffic ?
Bruce Wayne: I've already taken that problem on board, Mr. Controller, and instructed Mr. Fox to channel all incoming communications through our very latest computer ( He's talking about the Batcomputer ! ). We have every confidence that it can cope with all demands put upon it, in this instance.
Jeffers: My God, Mr. Wayne, thank you again. .. I hope for all our sakes that you are right, for we honestly thought we were going to lose thousands of lives today, all across America.
Meanwhile, one rather doddery middle-aged man is driving in his car.
Voice: At the next intersection turn right.
The man turns left !
Voice: Now turn left.
The man turns right !
Man: Now, this looks promising.
Voice: Now turn left.
He turns right !
Man: Well I'll be a monkey's uncle ! What have they done to improve this pile of junk ( As he touches his G.P.S. ) ? Not only has the darned thing worked for the first time in it's life, it actually got me here early !
Bruce Wayne is just leaving the City Airport in his unconverted Batmobile.
Bruce: ( On his comms.) What seems to be the situation, Alfred ?
Alfred: ( Monitoring all emergency communications. ) More or less as reported on the news, one is afraid to say, Master Bruce. There have been particularly harrowing episodes, where fire crews have been heading for fires in outlying districts of the city, only to lose their way. It rather looks as if lives have been lost, entirely needlessly, one might add. ... One does think that, in some instances, they may require the assistance of Batman.
Bruce: Very well, Alfred. ... I'm on my way to the Bat Cave. ... Do the authorities have any idea about who's behind all of this ?
Alfred: None whatsoever, I'm afraid, Master Bruce. ... And, for that matter, one does not either. Perhaps Mr. Fox might be able to shed some light on the matter. He, too, is on his way to the Cave, Sir.
As unlikely as it may seem, as soon as the switch-over is made, planes start to make their approach to the Airport, as normal, and begin to land, as normal ! Jeffers, Perkins, and everyone else in Air Traffic Control embrace each other, in absolute relief.
- ( All ) Yes ! ( Hitting the air. ) Yes !
Back in his apartment, the young man continues to monitor the news.
Young Man: ( Becoming increasingly agitated. ) Come on, come on, no major disasters yet ! ... ( Looking out of the window. ) What about all those wonderful accidents, just waiting to happen in the skies over the city ?
News Reporter: And now for some breaking news, ... from the Country's National Air Controller's Agency. ... All flights, both domestic and international have now returned to normal.
Young Man: ( Standing up in complete disgust. ) WHAT ?
News Reporter: Yes, thanks to the co-operation of Wayne Enterprises, whose satellites remain unaffected by the problems afflicting the National Network, every plane in the country has been able to reach its intended destination and land safely, without fear of mid-air collisions or other navigational errors.
Young Man: You're going to pay for this, Wayne !
And in Kyle Manor, briefly. ...
Salina Kyle: ( Stroking Cleopatra. ) Oh my God, Bruce Wayne. It would have to be your satellites, that save the day.
News Reporter: However, up and down the Country, in addition to the chaos and mayhem, caused to everyone using their domestic G.P.S. systems, on our roads, there have been tragic incidents, where people have lost their lives, some young children, as emergency services haven't been able to reach them in time.
Young Man: Oh please, my heart bleeds !
News Reporter: Then again, on a lighter note, the disruption caused to all those systems didn't prove to be a disaster to one man in Wisconsin, an elderly man called Tom Rawlins. ... Tuning onto the news, and hearing about how everyone's Satnavs weren't working, he phoned into his local station, to say that HIS was working perfectly, and, for the very first time ever, his system got him successfully to his destination !
Young Man: Now, that's what I call funny !
Deep in the Bat Cave ...
Bruce: Well, Lucius, is the Computer coping alright with all the extra strain ?
Lucius: You've got to be kidding me right ? ... It's quantum circuits are coping more than adequately with the strain.
Bruce: ( Beginning his transformation into Batman. ) OK, Lucius, by the looks of things, someone has been interfering with the scale on which the Country's satellites operate, am I right ?
Lucius: Very good, Mr. Wayne. I AM impressed. ... In fact, by my calculations, whoever has been responsible for this little escapade, changed the scale from yards to miles, and had the equipment and the skill so to do. Anyone, and anything traveling today using G.P.S. will actually be heading over 1,700 times further than where they should.
Bruce: ( Each piece of his suit slots into place ) My God ! ... Mind you, I can see that you've got that look again, Lucius. ... OK, tell me who you think it is.
Lucius: Remember the little incident over Gotham last year, concerning certain aircraft belonging to the United States Air Force ?
Bruce: ( Then the car transforms. ) Not our joker friend ?
Lucius: The very same. ... exactly the same sort of equipment, the same sort of skill required, and the same sort of 'prank', if you can call it that. The question is, how do we defeat him ?
Bruce: First, Batman denies him the last of his little victories. ... Then, he sends him a message.
Lucius: Excellent, Mr. Wayne. You go and save the World, and I'll help you send the message.
Bruce climbs into the Batmobile, and zooms off.
Batman: Okay, Alfred, where do I go ?
Alfred: There are reports of a fire on a farm off Route 16.
Batman: I'm on my way.
But, before Alfred can give him any more directions, he has to stop suddenly, as an oil truck has crashed into two family cars. A fire crew has just arrived on the scene, as has a Gotham News Network Helicopter, with a reporter and cameraman on board.
Officer: Hey, Batman, it's sure good to see you, here, but I don't honestly think there is anything you can do. One of our officers is already risking his neck trying to cut a kid free, but there has been a gas spill, and it looks like it's about to go up.
Batman: Actually, Officer, I do have something here that can help.
Just then, the beginnings of a fire are evident along the road, when Batman drives towards the spill, turning on the low frequency suppressor, arresting the flame long enough for the officer to get the child free.
Officer: My God, Batman, that is absolutely amazing ! I've never seen anything like that before in my life ! We'll have to get one of those on all our tenders !
Then the car explodes, as a fireball erupts ! Batman gets out of the Batmobile, rushing over to a second vehicle, where a woman is about to suffocate to death, crushed by a steering column. Another officer is trying to cut her free. Batman starts to operate a cutting tool, very similar to that of the officer, but manually, from his utility belt.
Officer: If I wasn't watching it with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe it ! ( Together they cut her free. ) Thanks Batman.
He climbs back into the Batmobile, and heads off towards Route 16.
Alfred: You will be pleased to know, Sir, that, together with Mr. Fox, one has been able to patch the Gotham Emergency Navigation System through our own. .. It means, that the nearest emergency fire crew can be there in approximately five minutes.
Batman: Excellent, Alfred. I can be there in two. I can see the flames from here. It looks real bad, Alfred. Patch a message through to the Ladder and tell them to hurry.
Alfred: One is doing that as you speak, Master Bruce. ... Oh, Master Bruce ?
Batman: Yes, Alfred ?
Alfred: There may be one little problem. ... It's Ladder 21.
Batman: But that's MY old Ladder.
Alfred: Yes, indeed, Master Bruce, yes indeed. ... Might one suggest, that you be both as quick, and discreet as possible, Sir ? ... Oh, by the way, it is two children, who are trapped in the fire, Sir.
He gets there in a minute and a half.
Batman: Here goes !
He hurls the Batmobile through the burning house, and brakes spectacularly next to the best access point to the children, as they scream from the upstairs window. ... The same GNN Helicopter is in attendance. It has followed him all the way.
Children: Batman ! Batman !
He can hear his old Ladder arriving. ... He quickly rushes upstairs, using his entire cloak to protect him from the flames, then gets to the children, grabs them both, activates his cloak's electro-shaping wings, and glides out safely, down to the ground below.
His old friends rush over to provide the children with oxygen and preliminary treatment for burns, and look to congratulate Batman.
Officer: Gee, man, that was some trick you pulled there, love the wings ! ... You know, we sure could use a guy like you in the Department !
He breaks suddenly away, almost robot-like.
Batman: I've got to fly !
Meanwhile, the helicopter has landed, and a news reporter runs to grab an interview with him.
Reporter: O Batman, Batman ! ... Nice job. ... Have you a few words to share with us, about what has just happened here at the farm ?
Batman: (Putting on a gruff, macho accent ) Yes, I have a few. ... I'd like to ask why your helicopter was circling all around a burning building, filming, when you could have been offering assistance to two young children, who were about to burn to death.
The reporter turns to the cameraman, and makes a cut of the throat sign, to scrub the interview.
Batman speeds away.
A little later, the young 'joker' is watching GNN on TV.
Reporter: Breaking News. ... As a long catalogue of near disasters, and disruptions to everyday life across the Country comes to an end, we bring you amazing, as-it-happened footage of two catastrophes, that were narrowly averted, thanks to the heroic efforts of Batman !
Young Man: O my God, No ! ( He pounds his fist on the table ) No !
Reporter: Yes, thanks to secret equipment on the Batmobile, and about his person, Batman was able to both assist in, and effect the rescue of three young children and a woman today. ( All the footage is screened, bar the interview, of course ! )
Young Man: Where does he get all those wonderful toys ?
Reporter: We requested an interview, of course, but, Batman, being Batman, very courteously declined.
In Kyle Manor, ... Salina Kyle is watching the same broadcast with her cat. …
Salina: First, it is Bruce Wayne, now, it is Batman. ... Someone up there must really hate me, Cleopatra. ... Mind you, ... he does look kind of sexy, ... and he did save the lives of all those people today. ... Pity that philandering playboy, Brucie Baby can't show the same sort of courage. ... After all, he did serve for a time in the Fire Department, himself. Whereas Batman, .. now, there is someone who is involved in Law Enforcement !
Reporter: And now back to a more regular item of news, the sudden death of Mr. Kaufmann Burns ( Salina becomes particularly attentive. ). ... Doctors are reported to have diagnosed a massive heart attack, brought on by excessive stress. ... Over to our Society News Hound, Naimh Ross, newly arrived from a quick stay in San Francisco today. ...
Naimh Ross: Yes, Bob, this is actually only the latest of a series of sudden deaths amongst Gotham's jet setting business community, and yet another case of what appears to be severe stress-related problems besetting that community in the City. As we have been reporting over the last few weeks, as many as one in three of the Business Community in our major cities are showing symptoms of such illness. ... Hey take it easy out there, Dudes ! That's all for now. ... Naimh Ross, reporting for Gotham City News, Gotham City General.
Salina: My God, the poor Son of a Bitch goes and dies on me, ... and before he can help lead me to H.D. and K.P. ... CRAP ! ! ! !
Back in the Young Man's Apartment, a message starts to come through on his laptop.
Young Man: What the hell ? ... I didn't activate that program !
Hello, joker ! Nice Try. Better Luck Next Time.
Young Man: OH, I'll get you for this, Batman ! ... Mmm, Joker, .. Joker, ... the Joker ! ... Not a bad name.
Back in Kyle Manor, as Salina is checking her emails, she notices ...
- Hi Kitty, this is Dwayne, can we not talk about this ?