Batman: A New World

Chapter 51 Better The Devil You Know (Part 2)

Chapter Fifty-one

Better The Devil You Know ? ( Part Two )

by Brian Mark

It is now two weeks since the fall of Harvey Dent. In his inner sanctum, at Gotham P.D. Headquarters, Police Commissioner James Gordon and Chief O'Hara are reviewing the fortnightly crime figures:

Two weeks up to December 31st / Two weeks up to January 14th

Assaults 15 / 165

Muggings 2 / 140

Burglaries 7 / 103

Armed Robberies 0 / 73

Attempted Murders 3 / 33

Murders 0 / 15

The Commissioner puts his head in his hands:

- My God, Patrick, the last two weeks have been absolutely dreadful.

- Indeed, Commissioner. But they would have been a whole lot worse, if Batman hadn't been on hand.

- You're right, of course, Pat. God knows, where we would have been without him.

- His Bat Drones have taken the place of our S.W.A.T. ones. When he drops into a situation, it's like having five extra officers at the scene. The criminal fraternity in Gotham might be growing at quite a pace, but they are really frightened of Batman, to be sure.

- I honestly don't know where he gets his energy from, Chief. Every night this week he has been out, assisting in fifteen arrests, and preventing God knows how many other crimes. Why, only last night he stopped a robbery in a jewelry store. The gang only just managed to escape.

- I know, Commissioner. I was there. To my shame, it was me who allowed them to get away.

- How, Pat ?

- Sure, didn't I drive my Patrol Car directly in front of the Batmobile, as he was giving chase ! Thank God, he managed to stop in time !

Over in the abandoned warehouse, now kitted out a lot like the 'killing house' in Wayne Manor, Batman and Robin have just finished a training session. Unknown to Robin, Batman is feeling quite weak and tired. The effects of the Reaper's drug are beginning to make their presence felt.

- ( Batman ) That was excellent, Robin. I'm sorry, we haven't met for a while, but i have been really busy.

- I understand, Batman, but I could help. I know I could.

- You certainly did, when you got the better of that S.W.A.T. guy.

- But I could do that again.

- You have to finish school first, Dick. It's much too dangerous, ... and you need to develop much more in the way of judgment. That ... will be our next lesson.

- But I want to be ready to take down the guys, who killed the Team.

- You already have.

- What ? ... What do you mean ?

- It was S.W.A.T. Team Six that killed your friends. You beat up one of the guys in Team Six.

- I don't understand, Batman. But they were the Police.

- According to Captain Scribbs, it was Assistant Commissioner Dent, who gave the order.

Robin just sits down in total disbelief.

- I still don't understand. .. They're meant to be the good guys.

- There were very few good guys in Dent's S.W.A.T. teams.

- But how can we trust anyone in the Police again ?

- We can trust Commissioner Gordon, and the men HE trusts. Again, Robin, it is a question of judgment. Sometimes the bad guy is hidden in plain sight. He might even be your best friend. In the Commissioner's case, he was his Deputy. Judgment, Robin, next time, judgment.

Later that afternoon, Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox are meeting with Pamela Eisley in Wayne Tower.

- (Lucius) Good afternoon, Miss Eisley. My name is Lucius Fox, and this is Mr. Bruce Wayne. We are delighted that you have taken this project on board. You possess the most impressive credentials, Miss Eisley.

- I love my work, Mr. Fox. I love plants. I love trees. I love what they can do. I love what they can produce.

- That's very interesting, Miss Eisley.

- They breathe in what we breathe out, and breathe out what we breathe in. They help regulate the distribution of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen around the earth, and in the Atmosphere. They provide us with food to eat, and things to drink. They provide us with fuel. They produce medicines that make us well, and poisons that can kill or maim. And they can produce the antidote for those poisons.

- (Lucius) And that is why we are here, Miss Eisley.

- I will need two weeks.

- (Bruce) Excuse me.

- I like to work to deadlines. I can do this in two weeks.

- (Lucius) You consider, that you can do in two weeks, what the rest of the world's botanists and bio-chemists say is impossible ? Come now, Miss Eisley.

- I've already been working on it, Mr. Fox.

Bruce is intrigued.

- (Lucius) How so ?

- For six months now, I have been researching plant immune systems, plant antibodies. How poisonous plants, themselves, counter poisons.

- Fascinating, Miss Eisley.

- How to poison poison, basically.

- What do you need ?

- Oh, I'll let you know. If I can have a blood sample from an infected subject, I could start tomorrow.

- (Bruce) You can have one today.

- Then I can start tonight. I charge two thousand dollars a day, plus expenses.

- (Lucius) Lady, you have got a deal.

- I'll need the whole floor, and ... total privacy. No interruptions. Notify me an hour in advance, if you need to consult with me. ... I will need help getting all my specimens up here.

- The Tower's staff are totally at your disposal, Miss Eisley.

- Excellent. ... I notice, you haven't exactly said a great deal, Mr. Wayne, for someone who owns the place.

- (Bruce, deliberately feigning rudeness.) I own the whole Company.

- (Lucius) Ah, Mr. Wayne is a man of few words. ... He leaves all the day-to-day running of the Company to me.

A little later, Bruce is in the Company's Medical Room, and gets the Nurse to extract a blood sample ! The sample is duly coded, thereby maintaining the patient's anonymity. The Nurse simply thinks her Boss is conducting his own, personal Biology Project. After all, he has done it before !

Later that evening, as Pamela Eisley is helping to move her equipment and specimens into Wayne Tower, she is mortified to see Bruce Wayne entering the building with two beautiful women, one on each arm ! He was obviously attending a social event on the top floor.

- Why the creep ! ... Mom was right about Wayne. Eye candy, that's all he wants, eye candy. If there's one thing, he's not interested in, it's intelligent conversation !

Determined to be true to her word, and feeling a sense of loyalty to her employer, Lucius Fox, she would start her research project that evening, but finish early !

- I think it's high time you had a visit from Poison Ivy, Mr. Wayne !

Now, you might well be wondering, how she had got on with her Sister, when it came to enlisting her into Team Poison Ivy. It was no problem at all ! As, she had correctly assumed, Penelope simply leapt at the chance to be Poison Ivy B ! .. They both trained together when they could, and developed an intuitive mutual understanding, that comes natural to identical twins. Keeping the existence of her Twin Sister a secret was made so much the easier, as it was the policy of the Children's Home, to give all the unfostered children there the surname, Francis, after their Patron Saint. Pamela's Sister was called Penelope Francis, and she had been known as such, since she was 18 months old !

That evening, she gives her Sister a call !

As she studies blood sample WMG ( Bruce's address, Wayne Manor, Gotham ! ), and isolates the pathogen, she can't help noticing similarities between the Reaper's Poison, and one of her own ! Now, Pamela might create plant-based poisons, some of them potentially fatal, but never with the intention of administering a fatal dose to anyone, no matter how evil he might be.

- Surely, it couldn't be that simple, could it ? ... Now, if I could just figure out the plants that guy used to make the pathogen, I reckon, I might just have the poison I need to form the basis of the anti-toxin. .. Yes ! ! !

Later that evening, his social evening having been interrupted, Bruce has just changed his clothes, after thwarting another jewelry store robbery. The strict secrecy arrangements surrounding the routes, he takes in the Batmobile, mean that he has to leave it in the nearest storm drain, before returning to Wayne Tower.

In the Main Entertainment Lounge (There are three ! ), he discovers that the social evening has come to an end. Joe, his favorite Floor Man informs him, that the young ladies have gone home, and wished to express their appreciation to their host, having left with two of his junior Company Executives !

- Well, you win some, and you lose some. Goodnight, Joe.

- Goodnight, Mr. Wayne. .. Shall I switch off the lights ?

- No, Joe. It's okay. I'm kind of thirsty. I need something to drink first. ... He pours himself something to drink, feeling a bit of a twinge in his chest, feeling really tired after the evening's exertions.

Suddenly, the lights go out !

- No, Joe. Didn't you hear me ? .. I said, I was going to switch off the lights.

- I'm not Joe.

It is a woman's voice.

- Celia, is that you ? I thought you'd gone home with Mike Jones.

- No, I'm not Celia either. Actually, Bruce, you don't know me at all.

Bruce starts to look round the room for the nearest alarm.

- Well, now that we are on first name terms, may I know yours, Miss ...

- Ah, no, Bruce. That information must remain classified. ( Though dressed as Poison Ivy, she doesn't want to leave any clue, that might cause him to suspect Pamela Eisley. Tonight is not the night to make any reference to plants ! ) ... Celia, huh ? ... What happened, Bruce ? Did you strike out tonight ? Did I not see you with TWO beautiful women tonight ? Did you stay behind to dry your sorrows with booze ?

- Actually, it's water.

Surprise number one for Pamela !

- Okay, Bruce, it's time that the world of women taught you a lesson for all the philandering and cheap, meaningless exploitation of women, that has become your trademark of late.

Suddenly, Bruce hears the crack of a whip from the opposite corner of the lounge ! He is taken aback, as he hears the same voice come from that corner:

- You don't seem to be the least bit scared of me yet, Bruce, but you will be. You will be.

- It's Catwoman. You're Catwoman, right ?

- No, I'm not Catwoman. Did you want me to be ? ... Oh, come on, Bruce. Don't tell me, that you fancy her as

well ?

Bruce is baffled, as he hears the woman's voice coming regularly from different parts of the room, yet with no sight nor sound of movement !

- (Bruce) Have we met ?

- I thought I told you, we hadn't.

- Because, if I offended you in any way, I am truly sorry.

Surprise number two for Pamela, .. and for Penelope ! They don't expect Bruce Wayne to make apologies.

- You don't get it, Bruce. Your behavior is quite unacceptable. Tonight womanhood gets her revenge !

Pamela is the first to leap at him, inflicting several karate kicks to the chest and side ! Bruce doesn't have the energy to fight, and it hurts.

- What is it, Bruce ? ... Ah, maybe you didn't totally strike out, tonight after all ! Maybe someone, rather than something, has taken it all out of you, this evening. Well, how does it feel to be roughed up by a woman, Bruce. i'm going to take even more out of you tonight !

Then Penelope has a go at Bruce. Again, he is dumbfounded to be attacked from the opposite direction ! Kicked, battered and bruised about the chest and face, this assault seems more intense this time for some reason. It definitely didn't seem like Catwoman ! For a start, this very angry assailant was dressed in green ! Bruce reckons talking is his only chance of surviving the night:

- You talk about womanhood and exploitation, but it's all an act. I'm a businessman. It's my way of keeping my competitors off-guard, if they think I'm only interested in women and booze.

- Come off it, Bruce ! To you, women are just objects to parade and take advantage of. Even if what you are saying is true, you are still using us. You're a typical guy. It doesn't matter to you, if a woman has a brain. Why, I bet you wouldn't pay the blindest bit of notice, if a woman engaged in some intelligent conversation.

- Not true at all. Why, only today, my C.E.O. and I employed a brilliant young woman, probably the best in her field in the world. She's a real expert in plants.

Now it is Pamela and Penelope's turn to be taken aback a little.

- Oh, really ?

Bruce continues:

- Really. I was most impressed. I'm a biology graduate myself. I studied plant biology, and look forward to comparing notes with the girl tomorrow. What was it she said this afternoon, plants breathe in what we breathe out. They help to regulate the distribution of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen around the World, not to mention providing us with nutrition, medicines, fibers for clothing and building materials.

Surprise number three for Pamela ! She thinks to herself, that he has remembered her part in the conversation word for word, and remembers she omitted clothes and building material in the list of benefits, brought to the World by her beloved plants and trees.

Suddenly the perception about Bruce Wayne changes for both sisters ! Pamela concludes:

- I have to go.

And, with that, there is suddenly nothing, .. silence. Bruce looks all around him, and this mysterious female intruder is nowhere to be seen.

- Now, that was all I needed tonight, running into a champion for women's liberation, .. ( Feeling his cuts and bruises.) who knows karate ! ... Owwwh !

He goes to the nearest intercom unit, to call for Security:

- Hello, who is this ?

- It's Perkins, Mr. Wayne.

- Ah, Martin. We have an intruder on the premises. Alert Security throughout the building. Block off all stairways and exits.

- Right away, Mr. Wayne !

As the girls abseil down an air vent shaft, one says to the other:

- I think I was wrong about Bruce Wayne.

- I KNOW you were wrong about Bruce Wayne.

- He really is quite dishy.

- Yeah, .. quite a catch !

- Do you think we only fancy him for his money ? that would only make us feminist hypocrites.

- Not if we think he's a real dish !

- Then are we only interested in him for his looks and his body ?

- Shut up, Sister.

Once they reach the floor Pamela is working on, they stop, and climb through the vent into her laboratory. Changing into the same laboratory coats and SHORT skirts, they prepare for the final ruse, gathering some antibiotics and elastoplasts:

- I saw him first.

- Maybe, but I was the last to touch him.

- You were beating the guy up !

- All's fair in Love and War !

The Alarm is sounding throughout the Tower.

It is Penelope who gets out the door first, asking the Security Guard she meets, what is going on. She makes her way up in the elevator, to find Bruce Wayne, and comfort him !

Into the lounge she bursts:

- Mr. Wayne, are you all right ? ... Here, let me look at these cuts and bruises.

Can you believe it ? I know I can't !

- Oh, thanks, Pamela. I didn't know you were working so late.

- Oh, one thing you'll learn about me, Mr. Wayne. Once I start something, I just can't stop.

- Oh, please, Miss Eisley, you can call me Bruce.

- And you can call me, Pamela.

Meanwhile, Pamela has had to remain behind in the lab. She has to spend the night there !

Just before he retires for the evening, Oswald Cobblepot gets a rather mysterious, but threatening phone call:

- We're coming for it, Oswald.

- Coming for what ? .. Who is this ? .. Is this some kind of a joke ?

- No joke, Oswald. We want your Business, Oswald, your Company, and we are going to get it.

- If this is someone from the Property Cartel, I'm not interested. I won't sell.

- We're not the Cartel, Oswald. If you don't do what we say, we're going to kill you.

They hang up. Oswald is understandably deeply perturbed. There now seem to be new kids on the block, and very violent kids at that !

- Oh no. Not again.

Finally, that night, as Bruce opens his front door, Alfred is there to greet him, as always:

- May one be so bold to enquire what happened to you, Master Bruce ? You didn't suffer those injuries at the jewelry store.

- We have another female super-villain on the loose, Alfred. ... ( Feeling his bruises again.) Shall we say, she paid me a less than friendly visit this evening. ... The Woman in Green, that's what I'm calling her for now. ... But, Alfred, all these gangs, all this violence, this woman a case in point. ... I'm beginning to wonder, whether this was the time to bring down Harvey Dent.

Clearly Bruce is not the only one in the City thinking that, as everyone goes to bed in Gotham !


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