Batman: A New World

Ch 45: The People Against Harvey Dent

Chapter Forty-five

The People Against Harvey Dent

By Brian Mark

Naimh Ross's series of monthly 'Celebrities Exposed' shows is only a few months old. There is no shortage of people to investigate in Gotham ! Our intrepid reporter had always wanted to expose Ga Ga Zsabor, but it is those she chooses to ignore, that are most noteworthy.

Bruce Wayne had gained her total respect for being prepared to risk outright public hostility, to be the person he really was. He didn't wear a mask, no question about it. Then, there was Commissioner of Police, James Gordon. No one could quite understand how someone like him could become Commissioner. Obviously, there was no mask there, either !

She still harbored the desire to be able to do a Special on Batman one day, the Man Behind the Mask, whether or not she would discover his true identity. Part of her, the ambitious part, wanted to reveal who he really was. Another part, the romantic part, preferred him to remain a figure of mystery. Part of her, the passionate part, wanted to know who he really was, and tell absolutely no one, but to woo him, and keep him totally for herself !

This month's show about Harvey Dent, is already a work in progress. She has already recorded the introduction !

- Harvey Dent: Is Double-jobbing ever acceptable ? Some people will always argue, that if it is in the Public's interest to have the best person available to do the job, then exceptions can, and should be made. Can such a case be made for the Head of Dent Security, or Dentsec, and our Assistant Commissioner of Police ?

We join Naimh (Pronounced Neeve ), as she and her camera crew chase Dent around Gotham's Country golf Course:

- Mr. Dent, … Mr. Dent, can you answer a few questions please ?

- If you don't mind having to keep up with me, and allow me and my associates to play our shots, sure.

There now follows a series of fevered exchanges on the move around the golf course !

- Mr. Dent, you own Dent Securities. You are also Gotham's Assistant Commissioner of Police. How can you justify holding down two jobs like that ?

- I run a very successful business, Miss Ross. Lots of people around the world, who have proved their worth in the Private Sector, have been employed in various capacities by governments both national and local.

- But you earn fifty times as much money as C.E.O. of Dentsec, as you do as Assistant Commissioner. It is reckoned that you earned one and a half million dollars last year alone. Why stay in a position that pays peanuts in comparison ?

- ( A little rattled ) I see you've done your research. … I do it out of a sense of public duty. I also seem to have been pretty successful at it too.

- That's another thing, Mr. Dent. How come there is such a need for security services in Gotham, when you claim to have all but eradicated robbery and violent crime in the City. ?

Now that question really does hit home.

- Maybe, it's a question of attacking the one problem on two fronts, Miss Ross, deterring the criminal from invading a person's property, and dealing firmly with him on the streets.

- Some might argue a bit too firmly, to the point of infringing their human rights.

- What about the human rights of the ordinary citizen, Miss Ross ? And the majority of those citizens happen to agree with me. So, if you don't mind. I'd like to finish my golf game.

The trek across the Country Club comes abruptly to an end.

- Damn, I nearly had him there. God, that guy is smooth. But he is hiding something. I know it. … I know it.

Before leaving, she makes a note of the number plates on all the vehicles, saying to herself:

- I wonder if any of the guys he's playing with might give me a clue.

Meanwhile, in Wayne Manor, Bruce is enjoying afternoon lunch with Aunt Harriot. He is catching up with the morning newspapers. One headline reads:

Another Bomb Rocks Center Of Gotham !

Alfred is dutifully serving them both, as usual, and asks:

- Begging the Master's pardon, but would one be correct in saying that the explosion was close to Wayne Tower ?

- ( Engrossed in the report ) Why, yes, Alfred. That's where I was last night, and again this morning. …. That makes three attacks on the center in the space of as many weeks. Thankfully, no one was hurt. There was enough of a warning.

- Was there a lot of damage, Sir

- A lot of broken windows on the South Face, but no structural damage of any kind.

- ( Aunt Harriot ) Well, I think it is absolutely disgraceful. To think that things like that can happen in Gotham of all places. Why, for years now, the City has been so quiet and safe. It is indeed rare to be able to walk the streets at night, and not be afraid you'll get robbed. Now this. … It looks as if we still need Harvey for another four years.

- He certainly keeps robbers off the streets, Aunt Harriot. … Could you pass the salt ?

Suddenly the radio comes on.

- ( Bruce ) My goodness. What was that, Aunt Harriot ?

- Oh, Bruce, don't worry. It's just the latest weather report. I get the automatic bulletin. … Alfred very kindly set everything up for me.

- And now for the latest weather report. The cool dry conditions of the last few days will continue for the next two weeks, until after Christmas, but the same can't be said for New Year, as early reports suggest we're in for another super-cold spell, as an icy front moves its way in slowly, from the Polar regions.

Bruce looks at Alfred, and Alfred at Bruce.

- ( Aunt Harriot ) Oh, how I love my weather reports. .. I really can't imagine, what I would do without them.

A little later, Alfred joins Bruce in the Bat Cave:

- Ah, Alfred. What kept you ? I need a very precise weather report.

- Apologies, Master Bruce, but Miss Cooper wanted one to help her rewind all her balls of wool. .. ( Moving to the Bat Computer ) .. Very well, Sir. .. ( Typing on the keypad ) .. To think, that, in the days of one's maternal grandfather, this exercise might take three days.

- Unfortunately, meteorology is not my strongpoint.

- Ah, alas, in one's previous employment, meteorology had to be one's strongpoint, Master Bruce.

Suddenly, up comes all the necessary data.

- ( Bruce ) Aha. According to what I can only describe as an incomprehensible feat of computing, on your part, Alfred, temperatures are going to fall to around – 17 degrees centigrade for a period of five days or so, from Dec 30th till Jan 4th. That's perfect for Viktor Fries and his team ! … Well, it's either now or never. We better call Lucius right away, to execute that breadcrumb trail.

- Ah, Master Bruce. That may not be possible right away. He tried to contact you earlier, to say that he would be otherwise indisposed this afternoon.

- We'll send him a text, then !

Lucius is 'otherwise engaged' in Kyle Manor ! Somewhat taken aback, to say the least, by Salina's security system, he stands in the hallway, shepherded by her tall, rock-like Herzegovinian Butler:

- My goodness, Miss Kyle, I've never been personally escorted from my car by a leopard before !

- I find that it is a much more reliable system than a mechanical one. I reckon, that your employer and I must be the only owners of substantial properties, who don't have a contract with Dent Securities. .. Good to see ya, Lucius. Walk this way. …

It is a case of Deja Vu for Lucius, as he negotiates a myriad of corridors towards Salina's main drawing room ! Well, it would be the case, only for the Panther accompanying them, trying to nestle against his mistress's leg !

- ( Salina ) Well, Lucius, have you come up with any more possible candidates with the initials H.D. ?

- ( Sitting down, he pulls out a list and reads. ) Well, there is Horace Drysdale, Assistant C.E.O. of the Mid-West Bank.

- Old Horace. I don't think so.

Just then, Lazlo enters, pushing a trolley with tea and cakes:

- Afternoon tea, Mistress Salina ?

- Yes, that would be wonderful, Lazlo. Just set it there.

- (Lucius, seeing similarities with the Wayne Household, under his breath ) Good grief.

- Sorry, Lucius ?

- Oh, .. nothing. .. Then, there's Henry Dunstable, of the Ohio Dunstables, Chairman of the City's Finance Committee.

- Honest Henry ? He wouldn't say boo to a ghost.

Only one more, I'm afraid, and that's Hayley Deaconfield, heiress to the Deaconfield Estate.

- A woman ?

- I'm not sexist, Miss Kyle. … Are you ?

- Of course not. .. Of course not. .. It's just, that I never considered it could be a woman. That's all. … No, surely it's got to be someone else.

Just then, Lucius receives his all-important text !

- But, now you come to mention it, there is one other candidate, I'm afraid we may have overlooked. …

Back at the Country Club, Dent and a number of business associates are finishing lunch, after their game of golf. One such associate, known only to Den remains behind:

- Okay, Dent. I came up with the first three as promised. Now I want the rest of my money.

- You'll get your money. You'll just have to wait a few days, that's all. … The money I had set aside was stolen in the First National Bank Robbery. I can't just go in to the bank, and withdraw half a million dollars in cash. I need to raise it from associates like the ones we just played golf with. … ( Leaning towards his friend. ) You see, I've got leverage on all those guys. .. Some of them have had secret affairs. Some secret bank accounts, One is secretly gat !

- And how do you know all this ?

- Dentsec supplies them with all their bodyguards. Those bodyguards are all former members of my S.W.A.T. teams, and report back to me. I can also access their internet accounts, since they are all constantly under surveillance with my security cameras. I've watched each and every one key in their personal details online !

- What about the Reporter ? What are you going to do about her ?

- Granted, she's beginning to get a bit close. But I can handle her. She has nothing. Maybe she will arouse some suspicion, on the part of some, but I came out of that interview smelling of roses !

- And, if she uncovers more ?

- Well, then the same thing will happen to her, as happen to everyone, who stands in my way. She will have a road accident, a fatal road accident. ….

Well, talk of the Devil, but Naimh Ross is already back at GNN, working on possible leads, that might help uncover some skeletons. After exhaustive research, over a period of three weeks, she is definitely of the opinion that Dent was too clean ! And if someone seems to be too clean, they have got to be using cosmetics ! She has called in a favor from someone she knows in the Police Department, in Traffic, looking to discover the identities of everyone at the Country Club that day. Naimh quickly eliminates all but one of the vehicle owners, as in any way suspicious. A certain Larry Dicks is the only non tycoon ! But there is little or nothing to discover about him, save that he majored in Chemistry at Gotham University.

- Mmm, it might be worthwhile doing a little digging.

Then ext day, after breakfast, Bruce Wayne and Alfred are deep in conversation in the Bat Cave:

- ( Bruce) I know we have our hands full with Harvey Dent, but I've got to get to William Norris, too.

- One cannot help but noticing, that you are running an in-depth analysis of his family and early life, on the computer, Master Bruce.

- I might have missed something before. I don't know.

- All of this, coupled with the desire to train the boy. .. Might one not be, how shall one put it, over-stretching oneself a fraction ?

- I know, Alfred, I know. .. But it's all so important. .. Maybe I'm just looking for some peace of mind.

- One will need all one's strength and mental resources, when the time comes.

- Trust me, Alfred. One knows !

- And, what of the boy ? When does one intend next to meet with him ?

- Ah, the future young Master Dick ? ( Alfred frowns a little. ) .. This afternoon. There is an abandoned warehouse, off Forty-fourth. I've arranged to meet him there.

Suddenly, something flashes up on the monitor …

- Ah, at long last !

- What is it, Alfred ?

- I believe, Mr. Nikma has just replied to our email, Master Bruce. … He has responded with the same hidden algorithm, employed by Mr. Fox. .. Mr. Fox installed a decryptor. .. One can now read his messages and send him one's own.

- Brilliant. .. Now, what does he say ?

- Hello, Batman. How are things ?

- Good.

- You must have a quantum computer !

- Yes.

- So do I. .. Built it last week !

- My God ! .. You never cease to amaze me, Edouard.

- We need your help.

- What do you want me to do ?

- Need you to start blackmailing Dent.

- Why ?

- We are bringing him down.

- How ?

- Oh, good grief. Here we go again !

- ( Alfred ) Perhaps Master Bruce would like some coffee ?

- ( A little exasperated ) Yes, Alfred. I think I need it.

Alfred ascends on Aunt Harriot's emergency elevator !

- Mr. Freeze.

- Good idea.

- When can you start ?

- Already started, dear boy !

- What ?

- He received first email this morning.

- What do you want from him ?

- Another half a million dollars, for the Orphan fund ! Plus his resignation !

- Nice one ! Tell him, he can have two weeks.

- Ok. Bye for now !

- Happy Christmas, Edouard !

- Happy Christmas, Bruce !

- ( Quickly logging off. ) Can you believe that guy ? How did he figure out, who I am ? …..

At home, Harvey Dent is panicking. He makes a series of phone calls:

- Hello, Hawkes ? Meet me in the Cathedral tonight 8.00pm sharp.

- What for ? Why the rush ?

- You'll see. Just be there, Okay ? ( Hangs up.)

- ( Dials again.) Hello, Stubbs ? …

That afternoon, in an abandoned warehouse, off Forty-fourth !

- ( As Dick enters.) Hello, …. are you there ?

Batman descends stealthily on his Bat Rope behind him.

- Boo !

- ( Scared to bits ! ) Gee, you scared me, Batman.

- Lesson number one, Dick. .. First scout around the perimeter of a building, before entering. And, upon opening a door or window, don't only look around, but above as well ! Those guys who killed your friends were professionals.

- You know, who they were ?

- Maybe.

- Gosh, Batman. You gotta tell me. … I wanta know.

- Lesson number two. .. ( Speaking in a deeper voice, repeating what Dick just said. ) You've got to tell me. .. I want to know. …. Caped crusaders have to be well spoken, and to alter their voice-tone. It is all part of the disguise !

- I'll try to remember that. .. But, please, … tell me !

- I can't, Dick. … Not yet. .. It might blow the whole operation, if you knew.

- You're going to take them down ?

- I'm going to take them down.

- Can I help ?

- No. You will need to train for a few years, before a mission like that. … Okay, did you bring your costume, as I

asked ?

- Yup. Here it is.

- YES. Here it is.. Remember ?

- Sorry, Batman.

Dick puts on the iconic costume, not unlike that of the sixties version !

- I know it's a bit ordinary, maybe even geeky, but I'm Robin, and I think I always will be.

- That's fine by me. We can look at the costume again. … Come on, let's start. … Let's try a little self-defense.

Whereupon, Bruce Wayne starts to re-live all those times, when, first his father, and then Alfred taught him so many basic moves and techniques. Once or twice, as they spar, Dick puts up a good show.

- Well done, Robin. .. I can see, why Hawk and his team let you join so early. … But, there are people out there with much better skills…. You know that.

- Yeah, Batman. I do. … Sorry, Yes, Batman. I do.

- Okay. That's it for today, Robin. Same time tomorrow ?

- Gee, Batman. I can't. I start my vacation job at Wayne Enterprises tomorrow. I'm meeting Bruce Wayne himself.

- Oh, I see. .. Well, ask for some time off. Next week. Same time, same place.

- Do you think that's a good idea ? I don't want to lose my job.

- If you're talking to Bruce Wayne, why not ask him. See what he says. Look, here is the hotline number, the Commissioner uses, when he wants to contact me. You can get me at that number.

- Gee, thanks, Batman !

That evening, at the Old Cathedral, limousine after limousine arrives, and well-dressed executive after well-dressed executive exit, walk up the bright white marble steps, and through the mega-ornate front doors, as if attending a Sunday Service. They are the Property Cartel !

Inside the Conference Room of the main office building, the Assistant Commissioner of Police for the city addresses the assembled gathering. There are twenty richly tailored executives in all.

- I haven't got all day, gentlemen. Let's cut to the quick. I need money, and I need it fast. I need fifty grand from each of you.

- ( Cameron Scrape ) Fifty thousand dollars ? It's preposterous !

- In cash.

- ( Press Gutter ) Why, it'll take at least three weeks before the Bank can issue that amount in bills.

- ( Slamming the table ) I don't have three weeks ! … Let's put it like this . I know too much about you all, for you to let me go under… For, if I go, you go with me, savvy ?

- ( Caspar Furey ) Couldn't we just all write you a cheque ?

Everyone nods in agreement.

- Impossible. How could I possibly explain such payments, if there's an investigation ?

- ( Cranberry Stubbs, still bearing some of the nervous scars from his encounter with Salina Kyle ! ) Why do you need the money for, in the first place, Harvey ?

- I'm being blackmailed, you idiot. And, what's more, the guy has got a lot of the information I have about you lot !

They all look at each other in horror.

- ( Crawford Spratt ) Okay, Harvey, okay. We'll come up with the money, won't we ?

They all agree.

- Two weeks. You have two weeks, gentlemen. No more !

The next day, a teenage student is attending an interview, prior to beginning a vacation job at Wayne Enterprises, as a message boy, the interviewer none other than Bruce Wayne, himself !

- Ah, I remember you. Dick Grayson, the boy at the cemetery. How are you, my name is Bruce Wayne.

- I remember, … Sir.

- You probably aren't aware, but I normally leave all the day-to-day running of the business to my acting C.E.O. , but, from time to time, I still like ti get a little hands-on. You know what I mean ?

- Why, … yes

Bruce notices immediately, that Dick's use of language has improved significantly.

- Okay, Dick. All the information you supplied about yourself is in order, most impressive ,in fact. .. You can start right away.

- Gee, thanks, Mr. Wayne… Mmm ..

- Is there anything else.

- Well, actually, yes. … Do you think I could have the afternoon off next Wednesday ?

- ( Smiling to himself ) I don't see why not. … I'll get Perkins, at Wages, to see to it.

- ( Really excited.) Why, thanks Mr. Wayne ! .. Thanks !

Bruce presses a button on his phone lines :

Hello, Perkins ? …

Meanwhile, out on a busy Gotham street, in the snow, two men meet in secret, both dresses almost identically, with their coat collars turned up, and wearing woolen hats:

- The word on the street is, that someone's putting the squeeze on Gotham's rich guys, someone really big.

- Do you know who he is, Joe ?

- ( A bit nervous, looking all around him. ) All I know is, that it could be one of you guys.

- What, a Police Officer ?

- Not just any Police Officer, but someone really big.

- Do you know what Department ?

- It might be S.W.A.T.

- I see. .. Look, thanks, Joe. … It's been a long time, since we first began , well, this unique relationship of ours.

( Reaching into his pocket. ) … Here, there's a couple of bucks. Buy yourself a good cup of coffee !

- Thanks, Boss.

Later that evening, Bruce Wayne receives a phone call on Batman's Hotline,

- Hello. … Ah, what can I do for you, Commissioner ?

- I will need your help to arrest Harvey Dent !

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