Batman: A New World

Ch47: For Whom The Bell Tolls (Part Two)

Chapter Forty-seven

For Whom The Bell Tolls (Part Two)

By Brian Mark

( Naimh is pronounced Neeve, an Irish name ! )

When the people of Gotham wake up on the morning of 31st December, they are expecting a New Years Eve like any other, perhaps a normal working day, a special holiday movie on TV, an office party perhaps, culminating with counting in the New Year, before the Old Cathedral Bell beckons it in.

Instead, they awaken to the news, that all Hell is breaking loose in the City !

While Kharkov and his team were raiding the home of Harvey Dent, Viktor Fries and his small team have hired a taxi in the center of Gotham, with suitcases full of arms and ammunition in the trunk ! Fries gets a message on his phone from Kharkov:

- Dent heading in his car for P.D. H.Q.

- Roger. Over and out. .. Driver, turn right here, then stop the car.

They all get out of the cab, take the cases out of the trunk, and pay the Driver ! … Then, under the cover of darkness, they open their cases, and equip themselves with enough arms and ammunition to stop a tank ! .. They each take up position. Dent's car appears skidding around the corner. .. One of Viktor's men stands in the middle of the road with a Rocket Launcher, aimed straight at the car. The idea is, that Dent should stop. Instead, he swerves, and slams into a street lamp. A little dazed, he gets out, and opens fire with what's left in his Uzi magazine. Fries and his team don't return fire, for fear of killing him. They want to capture him.

Just then, one of the S.W.A.T. teams on its way to Headquarters, diverts to respond to the gunfire ! Their armored vehicle stops. Most dismount. Two remain, and open fire from hatches in the roof. The guy with the Rocket Launcher fires an R.P.G. at the vehicle, and blows it up ! A number of Dent's men throw phosphorous grenades and napalm charges towards their adversaries. As they explode, Fries radios Kharkov:

- We need your help at once. As we predicted, they are using heat-based weaponry against us.

- I'm on my way.

- In the heat of battle, if you pardon the expression, Heidi radios her father:

- Vati, these suits are magnificent. Those weapons are horrible, but they aren't getting them close enough to us.

- As I thought, Liebschen, just as I thought.

A firefight ensues, during which Dent makes his escape into a backstreet. Just then, Kharkov and the rest of the Team arrive in their commandeered vehicles. They get out, and join the firefight, forcing what remains of the S.W.A.T. unit to withdraw. One of them radios in:

- Attention all S.W.A.T. units. Proceed to Palm Tree Square. Firefight with Freeze in progress. Request back-up, .. Repeat, request back-up ! Send Police units to cordon off the area, over.

This causes confusion amongst Scribbs and the whole of S.W.A.T.,as Dent's last command was to defend Headquarters at all costs ! Is this a diversion, or what ?

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne calls Lucius Fox on his mobile, descends on the Bat Pole, is kitted out in the light grey Batman costume, that Christensen recommended, squeezes awkwardly through the passageway into the Bat Cave. His luxury sports car descends from above, in its regular garage, by its hydraulic lift, to be kitted out as the Batmobile, in the unit designed by Lucius. Soon, Batman is on his way ! Alfred calls him on his radio:

- Intercepted Mr. Dent's last call to Police Headquarters. Last reported position, Palm Tree Square. Reported firefight in progress. Main Special Units expecting siege of Police Department building.

- My God, Alfred !

He speeds towards Gotham City Center.

Back in the heart of the City, Dent is clearly dazed, after crashing his car. It was quite a shock to see someone standing in front of him with a Rocket Propelled Grenade ! … Now he is being pursued by two highly trained Arctic Commandos ! .. Now unarmed, he scrambles desperately over walls, knocking over trash cans, in an effort to escape. He can't talk on his mobile, for fear of giving away his position. Suddenly, HE gets a call !

- ( Very rattled ) What the Hell ? … Hello ? … Who is this ?

- It's Oswald Cobblepot, Harvey. .. Sorry, have I called at a bad time ?

- ( Whispering ) No, .. no, ..what can I do for you, old friend ?

- Well, it's more what you can do for Cranberry Stubbs, Harvey. .. See, I had arranged to meet him at his private apartment. He was trying to get some quick money out of me for some reason, but anyway, by the time I arrived, Catwoman had been and gone ! He's lying here in his apartment now, shouting for you.

- Catwoman ? .. Look, I'm kind of busy right now. Just phone for the regular cops.

- You don't understand, Harvey. The guy is absolutely crazy. He's saying all these crazy things about you, things you just wouldn't believe.

- ( To himself ) This is all I need ! … Okay, Oswald. I'll be there as soon as I can.

The two Commandos hear him on the phone, discover his position, and fire warning bursts over his head from their AK 47's. Dent notices he is crouching next to a manhole cover, and he leaps down a drain !

Oswald sets down his phone. He is lying on his bed chair, in the comfort of his own home, in front of a nice warm fire, drinking a glass of mulled wine !

The two Commandos follow Dent down the drain, radioing their position to Kharkov:

- Dent is heading east, Colonel.

- Very good. I have studied those drains. We have been there before, remember ? Herr Fries and I will head him off. We are on our way.

Dent gets another phone call !

- ( Beginning to lose it ) What is it now ?

- It's Scribbs, Sir. Where are you, Sir ?

- ( Whispering ) I'm down a drain, for God's sake ! Send back-up immediately. I'm heading towards Moonbeam Plaza. I'm in the main sewer.

- What about the attack on our Headquarters, Sir ?

- There isn't going to be an attack. Dispatch all units. And get Gordon out of his bed !

- Roger that. Over and out.

Dent speaks to himself:

Come on Harvey. Remember your training. Breathe in. ( He breathes in. ) Three deep breaths. Regain your composure. …. That's better.

Alfred radios Batman once more:

- Dent heading East towards Moonbeam Plaza as planned, but underground.

- Underground ?

- According to his last communication, he is using the main City Sewer.

- Perfect. Oh, perfect. .. Lucius, I don't know how you did it, but you are a genius ! Everything's going according to plan, .. well, … sort of.

- You must be quite close to the Plaza now, Master Bruce.

- Yep, Alfred. .. I think I can see some of Freeze's men approaching as I speak. .. I can't afford to let any get to Dent.

- Be careful, Master Bruce.

- Careful is my middle name, Alfred.

Batman slows down in the Batmobile, and approaches as stealthily as he can. Then he activates the low frequency resonator in the car. This has an immediate effect on Freeze's men. They start to feel nauseous, and pretty depressed. Leaving the resonator working, he sets to work, sneaking up on the Commandos one by one. The snow is melting apace by now, but the light grey color, Hans Anders suggested, is perfect in the brightening gloom, to camouflage him, and little by little, Freeze's men are becoming more conspicuous in their black combats !

Despite feeling ill and depressed, each Commando puts up a significant struggle with Batman. The fights are really impressive. Every martial art is employed, on both sides ! But soon, there is only one man still waiting to surprise Dent, Kharkov himself:

Ah, Batman. We didn't meet the last time our men were here. .. Sorry, Lieutenant Colonel Dimitri Kharkov.

Just then, Fries and the rest of his team arrive. They point their guns at Batman.

- Ah, Batman. Good to meet you once again. (Looking around him.) I see you have been making short work of my men. What's this ? I'm beginning to feel quite nauseous and depressed. You must be using a low frequency resonating device. Let me guess. It is in your car, Ja ?

- Very good, Viktor.

- Ah, so you know my name. Impressive.

- Ja.

- ( To one of his men ) William, go to Batman's car, and switch everything off.

- ( Batman ) That won't be necessary. (He holds up his remote control device, and switches everything off ! )

- ( Fries ) So very impressive. Where do you get such amazing equipment ?

- ( Smiling ) It's a secret.

- Why are you going to such lengths for the sake of Harvey Dent, Batman ? Are you not aware just how duplicitous this man is ?

- Oh, yes. I also know you want to know who K.P. is.

- Do you now ? .. Once more, very impressive.

- And, if you and Colonel Kharkov withdraw your men, in that Apartment is someone with just the right tools to discover just who this K.P. is.

- Sounds intriguing, Batman, very intriguing. … I'm beginning to wonder just who the ultimate source of our intelligence for this mission actually was.

- Sounds like you're on the right track, Viktor, but quick. Dent could get here any minute. Trust me. Withdraw your men. Dent's S.W.A.T. teams are on their way. You are going to have to hold them off.

- ( Kharkov ) Oh, we are going to do more than that, Batman, especially if we may rely on your support.

- Indeed you may, Colonel.

- ( To his men ) Okay, gentlemen, you may lower your weapons.

They all withdraw from around Moonbeam Plaza, and take up defensive positions around the complex. Batman returns to the Batmobile and gets in. He radios Alfred:

- Alfred, we're goin' to need those Bat Drones !

- They are already in the air, Sir. The Computer is pre-programmed to target those in white combats.

Dent emerges from a nearby drain, smells himself, and cleans himself down a little.

- I don't believe this.

The door of Stubbs's apartment is lying open. Without thinking, he makes his way inside:

- Oswald ? .. It's me, .. Harvey. Where are you ?

The hallway is still quite dark. He goes to switch on the light, but it isn't working. He senses it must be a trap. He turns. The door suddenly closes behind him. He's trapped !

A slinky voice can be heard from the shadows:

- Why, hello, Harvey ?... Boy, do you stink ! ! !

- Let me guess, … Catwoman.

- Right first time, Harvey.

Suddenly he feels something sharp in his neck, like a bee sting. It's a dart, fired from an African blow-pipe !

- Okay, lady, I don't know who you are. I certainly don't believe that you're half-cat like people say. Just tell me what you've done with Stubbs and Cobblepot.

- ( Stepping out of the shadows.) I can assure you, they are purr-fectly safe.

Dent might have been through Hell that morning, crashing his car, then chased through the streets and wading his way through a sewer, but he was still a Delta Force soldier, an Ex Green Beret. He lunges towards Catwoman, and engages with her in hand-to-hand combat !

- I'm going to be the one to arrest you, lady. I'm a guy, you're just a woman. My teams are on their way. They'll be here in a minute.

- In your dreams, Mr. Dent !

Catwoman deals more than adequately with Dent. The courses she has been taking with Gul have paid real dividends ! Even before the hallucinogenic drug, she has fired into his system, begins to take effect, she has him helpless on the floor:

- Not bad for a woman, huh ! … But, Harvey. You WERE wrong about one thing. … I'm still part cat !

Unknown to both of them, their exchanges are being overheard and recorded by Batman in the Batmobile, using a window bugging device !

- My God ! What a woman. She really is something else !

Now the drug starts to kick in, and Catwoman knows it. She lets him get up off the floor. She moves panther-like around the floor, disappears into the shadows again, and out comes her panther !

Dent is stunned.

- I don't believe it. It simply isn't possible ! .. ( Becoming a little desperate ) No, .. no, it's some kind of a trick. It's gotta be !

- It's no trick, Harvey. .. It's magic !

Suddenly, the panther appears to have become a lioness, which roars loudly.

- (Dent ) No !

- Oh yes, Harvey, I'm going to eat you !

He takes something out of his pocket, and points it at the cat.

- (Catwoman) What's that you have, Harvey ?

- It's my lucky coin. ... It saw me through real dangerous missions. It brought me back alive.

- Oh, that is interesting. ... But, I'm afraid even your lucky coin isn't going to save you today. And, as for your friends, well it seems as if they're kind of busy right now.

- Please, what is it, what is it you want, anything, anything !

- Oh, .. Meeaow. That's more like it !

Just when it is beginning to get really interesting, Batman has to leave the car.

- One of Freeze's men comes up to him and says:

- We've got company.

Armored vehicle after armored vehicle arrives, packed to the brim with every S.W.A.T. Team member in Gotham ! Scout Drones fly overhead. But the order to wear white combats hasn't been countermanded. Those teams think their foe is dressed in white, too ! Another firefight begins.

- (Kharkov ) Cover yourselves in the snow that remains. Don't let them see, that you are in black combats !

- (Batman ) I have an idea.

Meanwhile, like so many people in Gotham that morning, Naimh Ross wakes up to the News on TV:

Firefights in the heart of Gotham ! That's right, folks. Every single member of S.W.A.T. has been called into action this morning, in an effort to thwart another raid by Mr. Freeze on the City. The fighting first started in Palm Tree Square, then escalated, with rumors that Gotham P.D. Headquarters itself was under attack. Our reporters on the ground have been keen to contact Mr. Harvey Dent, the Head of the City's Special Weapons and Tactics units, but, and again, this is unofficial, it may well be the case, that Mr. Dent is being held hostage by Freeze and his men.

- ( Naimh ) Oh my God !I have just got to see this !

She quickly gets dressed, grabs a quick bread roll, and leaves in her car. Suddenly, the activities of one Larry Dicks are no longer anywhere near as important !

The scene, as it was around Palm Tree Square, is repeated around the Plaza, Arctic Commandos blowing armored vehicles apart with RPG's, and Dent's teams responding with phosphorous grenades and napalm charges. The Bat Drones arrive. Alfred arms two missiles, and fires at the Scout Drones. They are blown out of the sky ! Back at Gotham P.D. Headquarters two S.W.A.T. personnel have a brief conversation:

- What just happened there, Perkins ?

- I don't know, Sir. Suddenly, we just lost all contact with the Drones. .. I think they might have been shot down, Sir.

The remainder of the Bat Drones swoop down in a wave, and fire darts at half a dozen of Dent's men. Direct hits are scored, and all drop down, unconscious. Then, the Drones return to the Bat Cave. One by one, Batman, more camouflaged than anyone, knocks out half a dozen S.W.A.T. members, and takes their white combat suits. He brings them back to Kharkov. Kharkov chooses six men, has them place the suits over their own, and orders them to work with Batman.

Meanwhile, in the apartment of one Cranberry Stubbs, things are getting really interesting indeed !

Dent is convinced he sees Catwoman transform into five different kinds of big cat, and back again. He is quite, quite hysterical !

- Okay, Dent, tell me about our friend, K.P. ... How is he ?

- What, Kensington Payne ? He's real fine, ... okay, a little peeved that I lost all the ready cash he sent me, ... but, yeah, .. he's fine.

- Tell me again, Harvey, why was it you needed that money ?

- To pay Larry for the bombs he made, remember ?

- Ah yes, good old Larry Briggs.

- No, no, it's Dicks, .. Larry Dicks. That's his name.

- Oh, purr-fect, Harvey, purr-fect.

He is now lying on the sofa in the foetal position. She moves towards him, sits down beside him, and strokes him like a cat !

- ( Gently ) Good boy, Harvey. Good boy. I won't let those naughty big cats hurt you, I promise.

Outside, there must be sixty S.W.A.T. members ranged against twenty Commandos, but Freeze has Batman on his side. Captain Scribbs tries desperately to contact Dent, but his mobile is switched off ! Fearing for Dent's safety, he radios Headquarters:

- Give me the Commissioner right away. ... Hello, Commissioner ?

- Yes, this is Gordon here. What is the situation, Scribbs ?

- I haven't been able to reach Mr. Dent for some time now. Freeze and his men are mounting strong resistance. Request regular back-up, Sir.

- Negative, Captain. Repeat, negative. Withdraw your men immediately, and offer Freeze the chance to surrender. I am on my way, to take charge of the situation. Chief O'Hara will be with you soon, with regular support. Over.

- Roger that !

But, sensing, that the game might be up for Team Six and its activities, should Dent be dead, Scribbs gathers that team together, and prepares to lead them in an all out attack on Freeze, trusting that the rest will follow. He radios the message.

Meanwhile, things are proving difficult for the Commandos. One of them reports to Kharkov:

- These Napalm attacks are taking their toll on our battery packs. I don't know, how long our suits can hold

out, Sir !

- It won't be long now, Batman has something in mind. You'll know when it happens.

Just then, Alfred radios Batman:

- Special Teams ordered to withdraw. Police to arrive soon, with Commissioner Gordon. Scribbs planning one last assault, Master Bruce.

- Thanks, Alfred.

Batman warns the six Commandos, then they arc around the perimeter of where the main action is taking place. As Scribbs and his men advance, Batman leaps and tumbles, to stop Scribbs in his tracks.

They both exchange a few karate blows, before one of Dent's men comes up behind Batman. Suddenly, the man is floored ! It is Robin ! There is now a double duel taking place, before both Batman and Robin prove victorious.

- Thanks, Robin.

- Don't mention it, Batman.

- But, you're taking such a risk to be here, like this.

- I heard it on the news, knew something big was happening down here. So, here I am.

- You better be going, before anyone else sees you.

- Okay, Batman. I'll call you.

He leaves.

Meanwhile, the six Commandos have fanned out, and are in amongst Team Six. They use phosphorous grenades of their own, and open fire, largely above the heads of the S.W.A.T. units. Because they are dressed in white, it causes so much confusion in the ranks of Team Six, that they start to fire on each other, and throw their Napalm Charges at each other. Many are killed, or terribly burned !

Batman has Scribbs well subdued.

- Okay, Scribbs. game over. Tell your men to cease firing.

- No, Batman. We still have time. We can do it. We're S.W.A.T. !

At that moment, Police sirens can be heard. Chief O'Hara is the first to arrive with his regular Gotham P.D. units, then Commissioner Gordon.

- ( Batman to Scribbs, with his strong hands gripped around his neck ! ) Now will you give up, Scribbs ?

- Okay, okay... ( Into his radio. ) Scribbs to all units. Scribbs to all units. Cease firing, and withdraw immediately. Repeat. Cease firing, and withdraw immediately.

Kharkov orders his men to do the same, and to give themselves up to the Police.

Commissioner Gordon informs Chief O'Hara:

- Scribbs was under strict orders to withdraw, and deliberately disobeyed those orders. Therefore, he is to be placed under arrest immediately. And the same goes for Team Six, well, those who remain alive, at least.

Meanwhile, as Naimh Ross drives towards the scene, she hears on the radio:

- Breaking news. Earlier reports of an assault on Gotham P.D. Headquarters are now known to have been false. But it looks like war in the vicinity of the Moonbeam Plaza ! Some reports appear to confirm that Assistant Commissioner, Harvey Dent, is indeed being held hostage there.

She heads towards the Plaza !

As O'Hara and his men approach Batman and Scribbs, Batman dashes back to the Batmobile, to monitor what is happening in the apartment. Catwoman has just one last question to ask Dent:

- What about our good friend, Davis Kyle, Harvey ? .. Tell me, ... whatever happened to him ?

- Oh, poor, poor Davis. ... I didn't want to do it. ..

Suddenly, she sits up in shock.

- But, he was standing in the way of progress. ... We didn't need safari parks in the City. ... He discovered too much about the Cartel, .. way too much.

Catwoman becomes somewhat angry at what she is hearing:

- What did you do, Harvey ?

Batman senses that it is time to intervene, and fast ! He dashes towards the apartment.

- I arranged a little accident for him, and made it look like suicide. .. I had the Coroner confirm it, for a small fee, of course.

She loses it completely, and starts to injure him significantly.

In bursts Batman. He pulls her away, and punches her chest. But the apartment is full of wild cats ! They roar at him. He has to step back. Catwoman gets up and calls to the cats:

- Hapa kijana ! Kijana mzuri !

She gets a message from Lazlo on her radio:

- Everything clear at the back.

She dashes out the back door of the apartment, closely followed by her cats, the lioness, the panther, a leopard and a cheetah ! They all leap into a waiting van below, with Lazlo at the wheel, and speed off !

- Did you get it all on tape, Lazlo ?

- Yes, Mistress Salina.

Batman, a little dazed, after being threatened by so many big cats, heads back outside to get some assistance for Dent. On his way, he encounters one of the Commandos, coming in his direction.

- ( Batman ) Ah, William, isn't it ?

- Yes, Batman, William Norris. I thought you might have needed some help.

- You are William Norris ? Not the same William Norris, that fought the Germans before the War ?

- The same. I joined Colonel Kharkov and his team in America, after it ended.

- Well, look, William, ( Taking him by the arm, as they walk back.) I don't know how everything's going to pan out here, but I might just have a favor to ask of you. ...

Meanwhile, paramedics enter the apartment, and begin treating his wounds.

Outside, Kharkov, Fries and their men are all being handcuffed. Batman goes to Fries, and says:

- Sorry, it has had to end this way. There may yet be something I can do.

- Might it be possible to arrange some extra-cool transportation, Batman ?

- Already taken care of, Viktor.

The Commissioner had already arranged with Batman, to have refrigerated containers ready, should any of Freeze's men be apprehended !

- Thank you, Batman.

Just then, Naimh Ross arrives in her car, only to find that the crisis is now over. Freeze and his men are being escorted into a container, some of them just about to collapse, due to suit-failure ! Harvey Dent is being carried out, on a stretcher, into a waiting ambulance.

- Just great ! ( Banging the dashboard ) That Goddamn Gotham traffic ! If only I could have got here five minutes sooner !

Then she notices that S.W.A.T. team members are also being handcuffed !

- Oh, now that is interesting. Why would the cops be doing that, I wonder ? Maybe I had better follow Dent to the Hospital.

She hasn't noticed Batman. Maybe, if she had, she would stay !

Batman remains behind to talk to Commissioner Gordon. He plays back to him the whole recording on his little hand-held. Gordon is stunned :

- My God, Batman. This is quite shocking.

Another announcement on the radio:

Well, it looks as if it is all over, at the Moonbeam Plaza. Assistant commissioner of Police, Harvey Dent is reported to have been safely rescued by the City's S.W.A.T. Teams, and his captors, believed to be Mr. Freeze and his men, are now safely under lock and key.

Says Naimh, as she follows the ambulance to the hospital:

- Something tells me, that is not exactly what happened.

But there is someone else listening to the News on the radio, Larry Dicks ! He says to himself:

- I don't like the sound of this. Maybe it's time to teach you a lesson, Mr. Dent. You haven't paid me my money, and it looks like you aren't gonna either. Just a pity you aren't gonna be around to learn it !

He, too, makes his way to Gotham General !

Back at the Plaza, Batman has a suggestion to make to the Commissioner:

- We should have enough evidence here, to indict Dent and his men, thanks to Freeze and his team. Could we not just let them go ?

- I'm afraid that is just not possible, Batman. I had assumed that their operation would work like clockwork, as it had done before. I never envisaged having to arrest them all. I can only file a request for leniency on the part of the Judge and Judiciary.

Even as they speak, however, the small cavalcade of vehicles, carrying and escorting Freeze, is hijacked by a small team of Kharkov's men, his Reserve Team ! The regular officers in the cavalcade are heavily outgunned, and have no alternative but to surrender. The whole force leaves the scene in the Police vehicles and Container Truck, carrying Freeze's battle-weary Commandos. Says Kharkov to Freeze:

- It always pays to have a Reserve, Viktor, da ?

- Da !

They drive quickly past a couple of blocks, and disappear into a storm drain. There, waiting for them, is another refrigerated container, and a store of more heavy weapons and battery packs.

- (Fries) Next stop, Alaska !

They all laugh !

Meanwhile, at Kyle Manor, Salina Kyle is just returning from Catwoman's assault on Harvey Dent. She sees Lucius Fox, waiting in his car, at the Main Gates. She activates the remote device that opens them. Lucius follows her in, and, after settling down a bit, still in her Cat Suit, makes the stunning revelation:

- ( Very angry ) The guy you are looking for is called Kensington Payne.

- ( Lucius ) I take it that everything didn't go strictly according to plan.

- No, Batman got in the way. He stopped me from killing Dent.

- You tried to kill, Harvey Dent ?

- He had my Father killed.

- I see.

Just then, he gets a call on his mobile:

- ( Holding one hand over the phone.) Excuse me for one moment.

- Yes ?

- Lucius, it's Bruce. Everything went near enough according to plan. The guy you are after is called Kensington Payne. Thanks again, Lucius. We couldn't have pulled it off without you !

- I see. Look, maybe I ought to call you back later. I'm kind of busy right now.

- I understand, Lucius. You've got company.

- Yes, Mr. Wayne.

- ( Salina ) Bruce Wayne ? Can you believe that guy ? .. Does he never give you a rest ? I thought YOU ran that company, anyway !

Later that day, Bruce is resting at home with Aunt Harriot, nursing some bruises incurred in the course of his morning's exertions, when he gets a call on his hotline. It is the Commissioner:

- Bad news, Batman. I have just been talking to the District Attorney, and he is quite adamant. Hospital reports confirm, that Mr. Dent's comments were made while in a state of drug-induced hysteria. In fact, he is due to be transferred to Arkham, just as soon as he has recovered from his injuries. The recording you made will never hold up in court. All the Assistant Commissioner need do is to plead temporary insanity.

- I see. ( Doing his best to disguise his conversation, in the presence of Aunt Harriot ! )

- But, what I could do, is to have him held on suspicion for 24 hours, and, in the meantime, see if I can get some of the Cartel and Team Six to turn States Evidence. It was a pity to lose Freeze and his men like that, but we do owe him quite a debt of gratitude, in a way. I haven't exactly gone out of my way to have him re-apprehended, though. I AM working on a number of leads on the Dent matter.

- Very well, Commissioner. Keep me informed.

- I know it's not exactly what we hoped for, but it's a start. Happy New Year, Batman.

- Happy New Year.

- ( Aunt Harriot ) Why was the Commissioner calling YOU, Bruce ?

- Oh, he just wanted to wish me a Happy New Year, that's all.

- Oh, that's nice.

Meanwhile, over at Gotham General, Naimh Ross is sitting in a waiting room, hoping to get the chance to have a quick interview, even if she has to break the rules to get it ! Outside, Larry Dicks is preparing a remote control bomb device, which he hopes to smuggle into Dent's hospital ward !

As he lies, delusional, and still in a lot of pain, he overhears a nurse saying that he is likely to be transferred to Arkham that very evening. He decides to secrete his way out, and to make his escape ! Grabbing a spare hospital porter's coat, he makes his way past the waiting room. Naimh thinks she recognizes him, and follows Dent down to the ground floor, and out to where he takes a vacant taxi.

Dicks has by now made his way up to Dent's ward, and also reckons he is trying to get away. He runs down the stairs. On his way down, he passes the Police Officer sent by Gordon to guard Dent. The Officer recognizes Dicks, who has recently come under suspicion of being involved in the Gotham bombings. Scribbs, sitting in James Gordon's office has just named Dicks as the Bomber, and agreed to turn States Evidence against Dent ! He radios in the sighting to Headquarters.

Naimh Ross gets into her car, and follows the taxi cab. Dicks sees her car, and thinks it is Dent's. They both drive the same kind of car ! Dicks gets into his car, as it idles next to the hospital entrance, and follows Naimh !

It is getting dark, and the roads are getting busy with revelers. At one set of lights, Dicks has enough time to get out of his car and place his bomb under Naimh's car ! He always fits a magnetic component to his bombs.

Meanwhile Dent has noticed Naimh in the car behind him. He tells the cab driver to turn off the main road as soon as he can. He gets out, pays the driver, and hides. Naimh, not wanting to be discovered, has not been quick enough to notice, just enough to see the taxi turn into an alley way.

Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred comes into the Main Drawing Room, to inform him that Dicks was seen leaving the hospital, after Dent. There is now an A.P.B. out on both Dicks and Dent.

- Quick, Alfred, get down to the Bat Cave and get onto 'Q'. I'll get ready, and join you there.

As Naimh goes to get out of her car in the alley way, Dent gets in the other side, and pretending to hold a gun through his pocket, tells her to drive off, fast !

- You're not going to ruin MY career, little lady !

Soon, Batman is mobile again, and begins to follow directions from Alfred, who has linked the Bat Computer into the City's CCTV traffic system. Using lightning quick face and number plate recognition, Alfred can tell Batman four or five different things:

- Harvey Dent was sitting in a taxi just 60 seconds ago, at the corner of 23rd. He is still in the vicinity. His driver has radioed in, taking another fare. I was initially looking for his car. I thought it was the car behind. Its plates correspond to a car belonging to Miss. Naimh Ross The car behind hers belongs to Mr. Lawrence Dicks.

- My God, Alfred !

- Quite, Master Bruce..

Dent gets Naimh to stop next to a secret lock-up of his. He tells her to get out of her car, and open the lock-up door, throwing her the keys. Meanwhile Dicks has just pulled up, at a discreet distance behind. It is now dark. Dent lifts a gun out of a box in the lock-up:

- See, Miss. Ross, there WAS no gun. (Waving this one. ) Now there's a gun !

Dent tells her to get back into the car, ties her up, and, this time, he drives.

Dicks says:

- Well, well, well, if it's not our friendly television reporter !

Dicks tends to be a bit of an exhibitionist, and likes to make the most of his explosions. So he waits for an opportune moment, when as many people as possible can witness the demise of Harvey Dent !

Dent and Naimh head off in the car again, only out of the City, towards the hills overlooking Gotham.

- Why are you taking me here, Harvey ?

- Because I want to arrange a little accident for you, little lady !

She thinks to herself:

- Why do these things keep happening to me ? It's like someone, somewhere is writing a script for me, and I follow it !

Alfred issues Batman with his next set of instructions;

- The car in question has left the City and is heading up Kane's Hill.

- Kane's Hill, that's it, that's where Davis Kyle was killed. I can be there in five minutes.

It only serves to frustrate Dicks, that there isn't an audience to witness the big boom. If anything, he would much prefer to blow Dent up at 12 Midnight, and shout Happy New Year ! But, no, he had to wait. .. And then he remembers, that some people always meet at the top of the Hill, to celebrate New Year.

- Perfect !

As Dent and Naimh reach the top of the Hill, Dent is very frustrated by the crowds:

- Damn ! Killing you off isn't going to be nearly as easy as I thought ! I tell you what. ( Reaching into his pocket.) I'll give you a sporting chance. This is my lucky coin. Heads I let you live. Tails you die !

Dicks pulls up just a little bit behind, trying to keep out of Dent's sight. He gets ready to press the button on the Remote Control.

Just then, his car is rocked severely from behind. It's the Batmobile ! ... Dicks is temporarily dazed. the crowd is amazed to see Batman, and cheers !

Dent, unaware of what has just happened, tosses his lucky coin, catches it, but ...

Batman rushes out and over to Naimh's car. Dent, still worse the wear for the drug Catwoman has used on him, can't believe it:

- Well, if it isn't the Caped Crusader ! I'm going to shoot you, Batman, and all these people are going to see me do it

- ( Batman ) Get out of the car, Dent, quick !

That is the last thing he expects Batman to say, and, for a split second, he hesitates.

Batman grabs Naimh, and pulls her clear, falling to the ground. Dent, then realises he should try to get out !

Dicks, regaining his composure just enough, presses the button. The car goes up in flames, as one big fireball ! Dent is blown clear, but his clothes are on fire. He screams in absolute agony ! Batman gets up, and rushes over to him, using his special cape to extinguish the flames. The side of Dent's face is horribly burned. Batman calls out to the crowd:

- Someone call for an ambulance, immediately, .. and get the police !

- ( Dent, barely able to speak with the pain.) I'll get you for this, Batman. I'll get you for this.

Then he passes out. Batman then goes over to Naimh, unties her, holds her, and asks:

- Are you alright.

Naimh, in a bit of a real romantic swoon, replies:

- I am now, Batman. .. Boy, I am now. .. How would you like to give me an interview ?

Later on, as Gotham gets ready for the big countdown, Bruce Wayne is at home, with Aunt Harriot and Alfred. Aunt Harriot says she is feeling very tired, and won't stay up. She goes to bed. A little later, there is a ring from the Manor's Main Gate. It is Victoria Bross !

- ( Bruce ) Oh the perfect end to a perfect day ! ... Or year !

- ( Alfred ) Quite, Master Bruce.

- Best prepare some extra supper, Alfred.

- Naturally, Master Bruce.

And after the most incredible supper Miss. Bross has ever enjoyed, conversation turns to the subject of the william Norris Lecture:

- ( Victoria ) When I think how close I came to being poisoned ! .. Have they come any closer to finding a remedy for that poison, Bruce.

- I don't think so, Victoria.

- Well, why don't they just give my adopted daughter a call. She has just graduated top of her class from the most prestigious Bio Chemistry University in the world, and is an expert in poisons. I'll be giving her a Happy New Year call in ten minutes. I'll mention it to her.

- ( Bruce, secretly hopeful.) It can do no harm, as they say.

Meanwhile, down in the Old Cathedral Quarter, the crowds have gathered to cheer count down the new year:

- FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TW0, ONE !

The bell of the Old Cathedral strikes twelve times !

Over in Gotham General Hospital, Harvey Dent is wide awake, and still in incredible pain. He can hear the bell ringing from his hospital bed. He yells out:

- Aaaahhhhhhh !

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