Batman: A New World

Chapter 49: Aftermath

Chapter Forty-nine

Aftermath

by Brian Mark

It is the morning after the Dent affair, and Bruce is reading all about everything in the papers. One particular line catches his eye:

'According to our sources, Batman might have been extensively involved in the successful rescue of Harvey Dent.'

Bruce thinks to himself:

- Gosh, it makes you think, how many other times the papers and TV get things totally wrong.

Then the News comes on TV:

- And there has been one more curious development in the story of Harvey Dent's abduction, more a curious twist in fact. Seemingly, he had been injected with some drug, while being held hostage. Under the influence of this drug, he wandered out of the hospital yesterday afternoon, and found himself the victim of a car-bomb attack. Eyewitnesses of the incident said that Batman and an up-untill-now unidentified woman were also involved. Mr. Dent was badly burned in the incident, and will need extensive treatment in the weeks and months ahead.

- Yep. Just a steady drip feed of information, and, even then the whole story may never come out.

In comes Alfred:

- One considered that you had suffered such an arduous day yesterday, that one took the liberty to investigate this Mr. Kensington Payne oneself.

- Very good, Alfred, .. and ..?

- Absolutely nothing of significance whatsoever, Master Bruce.

- What do you mean, .. nothing ?

- Precisely that, Master Bruce. ... The only person, so named in the World, resides in a rather run-down tenement block in the town of Grandville, near Washington. ... Far from being one of the wealthiest people in the World, he has the most regrettable credit rating, and is in debt to several banks. He has recently been brought before the courts, charged with owing five thousand dollars.

Just then, Lucius comes up on Bruce's Laptop by video link:

- Hello, Mr. Wayne. ... are you sure that Kensington Payne could even possibly be our man ? I have just been on our computer link with 'Q', and the man has no money, is in debt to the tune of five thousand dollars, and couldn't be more ordinary. ( Noticing Alfred ) Oh, .. good morning, Alfred.

- (Alfred ) Good morning Mr. Fox. ... Might one suggest, that the answer Mr. Dent gave, under an albeit unconventional form of interrogation, might have been what one calls a back-up, or cover answer, in the world of Special Forces ?

- ( Bruce ) Possibly, Alfred. But I'm not entirely sure. Mr. Payne might very well have adopted a secret persona, masking a radically different identity, as a means of pursuing a life he wishes to remain hidden. Does that ring any bells, Alfred ?

- Ahemmm. ... One can think of at least two, Master Bruce.

- Perhaps the matter DOES warrant further investigation.

- And, talking about secret identities, I've been thinking about something long and hard, Lucius.

- Oh really, Mr. Wayne ? ... And what might that be ?

- Why exactly it was, that Catwoman should respond the way she did to discovering Dent's part in the death of Davis Kyle.

- ( Alfred ) Yes, .. one wondered about that oneself.

- ( Lucius, a little wrong-footed. ) Oh, really, Mr. Wayne ? I wasn't aware of the details surrounding that part of the recorded conversation. ( Looking at his watch. ) Goodness, Mr. Wayne, is that the time ? ... I had better get ready. .. I have a Board Meeting in less than one hour. ... I'll speak to you about that, again. Good bye, Mr. Wayne.

- Good bye, Lucius.

- ( Alfred ) Forgive one for saying so, but does that not strike one as being rather odd ?

- You bet it does, Alfred ! Lucius doesn't have a Board Meeting this morning. The next one isn't due till a week Tuesday !

- Curious, indeed.

- He's hiding something, Alfred. He's hiding something big time !

Just then, Bruce gets a message on his hotline.

- ( Alfred ) A message from the Commissioner, Master Bruce ?

- No, Alfred, .. from William Norris.

- Begging one's pardon, .. but how does this Grim Reaper fellow have your secret number ?

- Ah, you see, Alfred, the William Norris, who just texted me there, is William Norris's Grandfather. I met him yesterday. He's a different William Norris.

- Oh, do explain, Master Bruce.

- Dr Bill's grandfather, the war hero, wasn't killed by Nazis after the war, as the official story goes. Instead, he was secretly involved in the Arctic Super Soldier Project, with Dimitri Kharkov, before the Pentagon discovered that Kharkov was a double agent with the Soviets. He is of the same generation as my Father. This William was part of Freeze's team. I want him to do something for me, once I can give him word about his grandson's whereabouts.

- And, what might that be, Master Bruce ?

- I want him to try to persuade the Reaper to stop reaping. If not, he is to tell him something about his family.

- Yes, Master Bruce ? What precisely ?

- That Dr. William Norris was, in fact, the youngest of THREE children, not the younger of TWO !

- Thereby meaning he would have to exterminate himself !

- Precisely.

- One steps back in amazement, Master Bruce.

- He has texted me, asking for the identity of K.P. He is now my official go-between with Viktor Fries.

- One fears matters are becoming so much more complicated, Master Bruce.

- ( Impishly ) One does, doesn't one ? ... So what do I say ?

- Perhaps ' Awaiting verification – Kensington Payne, Grandville, Maryland"

- Perfect, Alfred.

Bruce texts the message.

Then the hotline sounds again !

- ( Bruce to Alfred, quietly. ) It's the Commissioner.

- Hello, Batman.

- ( Bruce puts on his gruff voice.) Commissioner.

- Good news, Captain Scribbs is turning States Evidence. We can convict Mr. Dent on all charges, including Conspiracy to Murder, Bribery and Corruption.

- Any sign of Dicks ?

- None as yet. But it is only a matter of time. .. I have made some preliminary enquiries about Kensington Payne, but the individual in question has no record. I believe him to be a decoy for the real bearer of those initials. There is still no sign of Freeze and his men. In the light of our good news, I think exposing Harvey Dent, and arresting him, will trump catching Mr. Freeze.

- Yes, Commissioner.

- I am placing him under formal arrest today. Unfortunately, in circumstances such as these, the fall of our Assistant Commissioner of Police leaves something of a vacuum on the Streets. I have had to disband all our S.W.A.T. units, pending a full investigation. Can I count on your support, in the event of a rising crime wave ?

- Of course, Commissioner. ... Goodbye, Commissioner.

- Goodbye, Batman.

A few moments later, his normal phone rings. It is a traditional phone from the 1920's !

- Hello, Mr. Wayne ? This is Commissioner Gordon.

Bruce is, of course, taken rather aback !

- Oh, hello, Commissioner. This IS a pleasant surprise. What can I do for you ?

- I have some rather unpleasant news for you.

- Yes, Commissioner ?

- I'm afraid it concerns the case concerning the murder of your parents. It is to be re-opened in the light of new evidence.

- I see. .. May I ask what the new evidence is ?

- No, I'm afraid that information is considered sub judice, and must remain confidential, until a new trial.

- A new trial ?

- Yes. And I'm afraid that it involves someone very close to you, .. Mr. Harvey Dent.

- Oh no, Commissioner. Surely there must be some mistake.

- I only wish there was, Mr. Wayne. I only wish there was. ...

Meanwhile, in the Newsroom at the Gotham News Network, Warner Bross and two of his Chief Executives, are in animated conversation with a certain Naimh Ross, a Naimh Ross, who is claiming that she had been kidnapped by Harvey Dent, and that he had tried to kill her !

- ( Bross ) Oh, come now, Naimh. The poor guy has been through Hell. He's lying helpless in his hospital bed ! We know that you've had it in for Harvey Dent for weeks now. You gave it your best shot. Maybe you ended up falling for the guy. You did end up in the same car together, before Dicks tried to blow you up !

- What ? ! ! ! ... Look, Mr. Bross, we have already missed the opportunity to be the first to break the news, that the guy is going to be arrested. I spent two hours down in Gotham P.D. Headquarters this morning, giving evidence against him. Just you wait !

- ( Press Gutter, GNN's chief sponsor ) Even so, Miss Ross, it all boils down to your word against his.

- What are you, some kind of friend of his ?

- (Bross) Naimh ! If you weren't the most popular society news girl in the Country, I would fire you for that !

Just then, GNN's competitor, City News, breaks the story:

- News just in. The story about Harvey Dent turns even more bizarre this morning, with his formal arrest !

- (Bross) What the hell ?

The report continues:

- Apparently, even as early as last night, the Assistant Commissioner of Police was placed under hospital arrest, suspected of a series of undisclosed offences. But, in a statement from the District Attorney's office, the Police are now in possession of statements and evidence, sufficient to bring formal charges against the victim of yesterday's abduction and murder attempt. These charges include, and I quote, Kidnapping, ..

- (Bross) Oh my God.

- Attempted Murder, ...

- ( Gutter) Christ Almighty !

- Bribery, Corruption, Arson, Conspiracy to Murder, Conspiracy to Cause Explosions and Conspiracy. The story reads more like a comic book every day !

- (Bross) I'm sorry, Naimh. It looks as though we owe you an apology.

- It sure does.

- How about a raise in salary ? ... Damn ! ! !

In Gotham General, Dent is returning from one of the Treatment Rooms, heavily bandaged, in a wheel-chair, when he is officially read his rights.

- Take me to jail. ... Get me out of this goddamn place ! .. Take me to jail !

- ( One police officer to another ) My God. He really is crazy. It really does look like a one-way ticket to Arkham for Harvey !

- ( Dent ) Where's my coin ? ... My coin. ... Where's my lucky coin ?

- (Nurse) All your personal effects are safely under lock and key, Mr. Dent. Don't you worry.

As she wheels him away, he can still be heard shouting:

- Take me to jail, I say ! I don't want to go to Arkham ! Take me to the Penitentiary !

Meanwhile in Kyle Manor, Salina is 'working out' in her vast training room, dressed in one of her cat suits, venting her seething anger against Dent, as she swings from high bar to high bar across that room. Enter Lazlo, carrying afternoon tea and cheese:

- Apologies, Mistress Salina, but you might want to watch this.

He switches on the TV.

She somersaults from bar to bar, down from the ceiling, to a TV screen set in the wall !

- Thank you, Lazlo.

She wipes her face with the freshly cleaned towel draped over Lazlo's lower arm !

- ( Naimh Ross ) And so, Harvey Dent, now formerly Assistant Police Commissioner for the City, was formerly arrested today. One by one, witnesses and former accomplices have been coming forward with fresh and damning evidence, connecting him to charges as varied as Conspiracy to Murder and .. ah ..Kidnapping. It is understood, that one of these witnesses is none other than Captain James Scribbs, Dent's right-hand man, while he was in command of the City's S.W.A.T. units.

Naimh continues:

- Ironically for the man most associated with bringing an end to two arson campaigns in the City, and a wave of murders, it is now alleged, that he, himself, was responsible for them in the first place. Cases long since closed are being re-opened, including the deaths of millionaires, Thomas and Martha Wayne, and Davis Kyle. The World was his oyster, .. until yesterday. Then, everything changed. Harvey, it just wasn't your day ! ... Naimh Ross, reporting for Gotham Society News, GNN, Gotham General Hospital.

- ( News Anchorman ) You can learn more about the story in a Celebrities Exposed Special, that Naimh herself was working on at the time, entitled 'Harvey Dent: Agent Provocateur ?', to be sceened later this month.

- ( Salina ) Yes ! .. Yes !.. At last, the chance to get justice for my Father. That son of a bitch is going to pay !

- ( Lazlo ) A cup of tea, Mistress Salina ?

- Thank you, Lazlo.

Across the River, in the Board Room at Wayne Tower:

- ( Bruce ) Hello, Lucius. Did the Board Meeting finish early ?

- ( Feeling awkward.) Ah. ... As you are no doubt aware, Mr. Wayne, there never was a meeting.

- What the hell has been going on, Lucius ? ... As far as I'm concerned, all the evidence about Catwoman is pointing well and truly in the direction ofSalina Kyle ! The Batcomputer, the computer YOU designed, pointed exclusively to Salina at the very start, but you said it was a glitch ! You knew all along, that Salina Kyle was Catwoman, didn't you ?

- Yes.

- You admit it ?

- Yes, Mr. Wayne, though I have not always known. .. Only since your trip to Alaska.

- But, why didn't you tell me, Lucius ? You only work for me, for God's sake.

- I believed she had information and the means, to help me find who it was, who set me up all those years ago. Remember the drug charges ?

- And you think, that it might have been this Kensington Payne ?

- Well, it's been my best lead yet. ... It's been my only lead. ... And I WAS able to deliver Catwoman's services, to help bring down Dent.

- Okay, I grant you that.

- I am truly most sorry. If you no longer require my services, Mr. Wayne, I'll understand.

- And lose the best technological expert in the Country ? ... No chance ! ... Anyway, I kinda like not having to run Wayne Enterprises.

- Funnily enough, Mr. Wayne, I kinda do !

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