Batman: A New World

Ch 43: Snakes In The Grass ( Part Two )

Chapter Forty-three

Snakes In The Grass ( Part Two )

By Brian Mark

It is the morning after the day before, and Bruce is eating breakfast with his Aunt, Harriot:

- Bruce, dear, would you mind passing me the salt. .. Alfred never quite puts enough on my eggs.

- I think Alfred is only thinking about your continued good health, Aunt Harriot.

- I'm sure you're right, Bruce. I'm sure you're right. ….. But, talking about good health, Bruce, are you sure you're alright ?

- Why shouldn't I be ?

- It's just I heard on the News, that a lot of people had been poisoned at that lecture. You WERE in hospital, you know.

- That's true, Aunt Harriot, but I was hardly affected at all.

- Oh Bruce, I'm so very glad to hear that, … ( giggling ) .. so very glad.

Enter Alfred.

- Please pardon the intrusion, Sir, Miss Cooper, but you requested a visit from Mr. Lucius Fox. He has just arrived at the Main Gates, Master Bruce.

- ( Fixing her hair. ) Oh, is that delightful Mr. Fox coming today, Bruce ?

- Yes, Aunt Harriot, but I'm afraid it's purely a business call.

- Oh, what a pity. … Make sure you arrange a social call, sometime soon.

- I'll make a point of it, Aunt Harriot, .. just for you.

- ( Giggling again. ) … Oh, Bruce, .. now you are embarrassing me. …. Gee, is that the time ? .. I had better get ready for my Sewing Circle.

After showing Lucius Fox in, Alfred retires to his private apartments. He has previously typed in every conceivable answer to the problem of Bruce's poisoning. His heart sinks, as he peers at his monitor:

' None Found '.

Alfred weeps.

Bruce joins Lucius in the main drawing room of the Manor. ( There are three ! ) The TV is on in the background.

- Ah, Lucius. I'm real glad, you could come at such short notice. I need your help urgently.

- Why, Mr. Wayne ?

- I need you to come up with a secret, hidden computer algorithm, and fast.

- Why, Mr. Wayne ?

- I want to get a message to the Riddler.

- Why, Mr. Wayne ?

- Dent is going to be so edgy, and panicking, now that someone has compromised a number of his secrets. The Riddler robbed him of half a million dollars, so he is also going to be looking for some quick cash. It makes him very dangerous right now, and he will be looking out for potential enemies. If we tried to present evidence, that could bring him down, there are few we can trust right now. There's no telling, what he is capable of. I want him to think he has only one enemy. I want Nikma to appear to be blackmailing him, even bribing him, the sort of thing, he has done with so many in Gotham. It will unsettle him, but have him looking only one way. …. I also want you to lay a breadcrumb trail, to entice Viktor Fries into paying us a visit.

- Why Mr. Wayne ?

- What's the matter with you, Lucius ? Can't you say anything other than 'Why, Mr. Wayne ?'

- I'm a man of few words, Mr. Wayne. Surely you should know that by now.

- The Fries team are the only guys I know, who can stand up to Dent and his men. They nearly took out the whole of Gotham's S.W.A.T. units, remember ? … ( Becoming a little more fevered. ) All we need is a really cold spell, like last time. Oh, yes, … and maybe you could help me bring Catwoman into the picture, too.

- Why, Mr. Wayne ? ( A little more concerned about this. )

- She always comes up with ways to keep her victims off-guard. .. She's obviously very computer literate. … In fact, when I asked you to track down our mysterious hacker friend, I had half expected you to find that it was her. .. If only we could tie Dent in, somehow, with the tycoons she targets. … I know, it's probably a long shot, but it's worth a try. … And there's one more thing. … I want you to produce more equipment for me, only this time, to suit a fifteen year old boy.

- Why, Mr. Wayne ?

- Because I want to train him to become Batman.

- Why, Mr. Wayne ?

- Because I'm going to die, Lucius.

Stunned silence. ….. Then:

- I don't understand.

- You heard about the poison scare, following the Norris Lecture the other day. Norris has styled himself as the Grim Reaper. He's trying to save the World by poisoning a third of it. He got ME that night. .. I've got six months.

- I was thinking, you were beginning to sound manic, Mr. Wayne. Now I know why. .. Is there no cure ?

- No.

Bruce turns up the volume on the TV, to hear the News, only to catch the very end of a programme presented by Naimh Ross :

- Well, that concludes this month's Society News Expose Special on Ga Ga Zsabor. I bet she sure wishes she hadn't had that photo with Dr. Norris rushed to the Papers now. Tune in next month, when I will be taking a close look at Assistant Police Commissioner Harvey Dent. …. What makes him tick ? What lies behind the most successful figure in the history of policing in this City ? … Are there any skeletons in the cupboard ? This is Naimh Ross, your Society News Reporter, Gotham City News.

- ( Bruce ) Oh, that is just brilliant. .. I really like that girl, Lucius, but she has an absolutely lousy sense of timing !

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