Batman: A New World

Chapter 54 New Faces (Part 1)

New Faces ( Part One )

The next morning, in Arkham Asylum, after a night of violent thrashing on the part of one Harvey Dent, attendants arrive to kit him out with a straitjacket.

- ( Dent ) Oh no ! ... No you don't ! ... You can't do this ! ... I won't let you ! ... Where are my lawyers ?

As they grab hold of him, one says to him:

- Hey, Harvey. .. Come on, be a good boy. Don't make this any more difficult for yourself !

He continues to thrash about. The other attendant rather unprofessionally makes the comment:

- That's a very nasty burn you've got there, Harvey. ... Gee, ... I've never seen one like that before. ... One side is perfectly okay, .. no problem. You wouldn't think there was anything wrong. ... But, seen from the other side, .. gee, I wouldn't like to be in your shoes ! ... And, what's with the crazy smile on that side ? ... Is that going to be permanent, Harvey ?

They have only just secured all the belts, when two lawyers arrive.

- ( Dent ) Thank God, you're here. ... Look what they're doing here. See what they've done to me. ... Did you do as I asked ? ... Did you get the Hearing ?

- ( Lawyer ) Yes, Mr. Dent. It is scheduled for 2.30 this afternoon. We will be making your case for transfer then.

- Now, that's more like it !

Across the City, in Wayne Tower, Lucius gets another call in his office:

- No tricks, no traces, okay Lucius ?

- Look, who is this ?

- Have you thought about our little arrangement ?

- Yes, and the answer is no.

- I presume that you discussed the matter with Mr. Wayne.

- Naturally.

- YOU mightn't have any next of kin, Lucius, but Wayne does, right ? .. Miss Cooper, .. right ?

- Are you threatening us ?

- Yes.

- Let me talk to Mr. Wayne again.

- I think that would be most wise !

That afternoon ...

- ( Harriot ) Oh, Alfred, Isn't it wonderful ? I'm going on a world cruise.

- How wonderful, Miss Cooper. Will you be traveling alone ?

- No, I'm going to have a new friend, Martha Cobblepot.

- Delightful. It is always a worthwhile experience, making new friends.

Back at Wayne Enterprises, Bruce Wayne and Lucius are in their office. Bruce is on the phone to Commissioner Gordon:

- Thai's right, Commissioner. Someone is trying to take over our bank, and has made threats to kill my Great Aunt, Miss Harriot Cooper.

- Alas, Mr. Wayne, this is not the first instance of such a call these past few days. There have been several, and not everyone has been brave enough to fulfill their civil duty as you, Sir. Do you want us to supply her with some protection, two armed officers perhaps ?

- No, that will not be necessary, Commissioner, though the offer is very much appreciated. My Great Aunt will be leaving on a world cruise within the week, and is going to stay with a friend, before she leaves.

- Well, if you're sure, Mr. Wayne. ... Unfortunately, our hands are tied at the moment. We have absolutely no way of identifying who is responsible for this activity. Even the most advanced computer tracing devices at our disposal can't isolate the source. ... It is very much as I feared. A massive power vacuum has occurred in the City, since the fall of Mr. Dent. ... Indeed, the Mayor has considered the situation so grave, that he is employing an outside agency to help us cope, until we are able to return to normal policing. At first, i didn't like the idea, but now I'm not so sure.

- I see, Commissioner. So, in other words, you are asking me to wait.

- I'm afraid so.

- May I ask the name of this agency ?

- Why yes. Ghul Investigations. They are a world-wide concern, with a proven track record in stamping out corruption. ... I am sorry I can't be of any more assistance. Why, I don't even think Batman could help us with this one. Perhaps, when Mr. Ghul begins his responsibilities, we will know a lot more.

- And when might that be ?

- Tomorrow.

- I see. ... Thank you, Commissioner. Bye for now.

- Good bye, Mr. Wayne.

He hangs up.

- Well, Lucius. It's very much as we suspected. We have an anonymous individual taking over the City, and there is nothing anyone can do about it, and he knows it. The Mayor has turned to Ghul and his agency to combat the menace.

- You don't think that Ghul might be behind the attempted takeovers ?

- Quite possibly. It is a remarkable coincidence that he turns up here when he has.

Just then, Bruce gets a call on his mobile phone, or rather, Batman's !

- ( Putting on his gruff Batman voice. ) Hello, Commissioner, how can I help you ?

- Batman, I really need your help. Gotham really needs your help.

- Presumably you are referring to the aggressive moves to takeover the City.

- So you are aware of what's happening, then ?

- It seems that someone was waiting in the wings, ready for Dent's Empire to fall.

- You don't think that it could be our friend, K.P. ?

- Now you come to mention it, Commissioner, that might be exactly what is happening.

- Could it possibly be this Kensington Payne ?

- He would certainly be worth re-investigating. But be careful who you trust, Commissioner. The man's reach may be long. If he is our man, he can buy loyalty anywhere he wants.

- My sentiments exactly, Batman. ... Meanwhile, can I count on you and your machines to deal with some of the muscle they are likely to employ ?

- You can, Commissioner.

- Thank you, Batman.

- Goodbye, Commissioner.

- ( Lucius ) Reading between the lines of your conversation, Mr. Wayne, it would seem that you have your hands well and truly full. Now, more than ever, you are going to need that antidote, and WE are going to need more equipment, to help compensate for the damage done by the Norris pathogen. Any word from Miss Eisley ?

- Yes, Lucius, YES ! The news is very good. We had dinner last night, and we are going to see each other again sometime soon. In fact, I should be nipping along to see her, to make our next date, right now. ... ( Looking at Lucius, who is obviously somewhat frustrated ! ) ... Oh, I see what you mean. Sorry, Lucius. Yeah, she has worked a real miracle, Lucius. She thinks she will have an antidote for us in two weeks, and it is tailor-made for ME ! Sorry, I didn't tell you sooner, but when both crisis and romance call at the same time, ...

- I quite understand, Mr. Wayne. I quite understand. ... Back to the problems in hand.

- Okay. It is obvious what this gangster has done. He has waited for all hell to break loose in Gotham, after Dent's arrest. Who knows, he might have been responsible for much of that, as well. With everybody already stretched, he has made his move on everyone with money in the City.

He continues:

- Obviously we have to step up our own personal safety arrangements, and security has to be tightened in all our premises. We could easily be fighting to defend ourselves for a time. We will need more cameras, and more security staff. Oh yes, and I want us to buy Dent Security. It is the easiest way to protect the people most threatened by all of this, and we certainly don't want that business falling into the wrong hands. We'll dismantle all Dent's secret surveillance devices, and dismiss all the staff involved in his blackmailing activities.

- It's as good as done, Mr. Wayne. ... And what about our friend, Mr. Ghul ? ... The man insisted on seeing me again. I have an appointment with him for later.

- Again, no to the deposit, but, wearing my Batman hat, perhaps the enemy of my enemy is my friend, for the time being at least. We might well end up supporting some of his teams. ... Gosh, the word 'Teams', in connection with Gotham's security, carries with it curious echoes, doesn't it ?

- You might say that, Mr. Wayne.

- (Radio) And now for the latest news. First up, Harvey Dent's Appeal Hearing. Lawyers representing our former Assistant Police Commissioner will be arriving shortly at the City Courthouse, to present their case against his incarceration in Arkham Asylum. They insist he is now perfectly sane, and fit to be transferred to Gotham's State Penitentiary. Watch this space !

A few moments later, Bruce sticks his head around the door of Pamela's Laboratory in Wayne Tower:

- Hi, Pam. How are things going ?

- Oh, hi, Bruce. .. Oh, largely routine, but all the microscope analysis of the process, so far, is very encouraging.

- Great news !

- I really enjoyed last night.

- Me too.

- Listen, Bruce, I'm afraid I have to go right away. I'm heading down to the Courthouse for the Dent Hearing.

- Really ? .. I didn't expect you to be interested in Harvey Dent, like that.

- Yes, as it happens. ... You see, our home was part of the Manors he is supposed to have targeted in the Gotham Arson campaign. My family worked for Cadbury Hawkes. That's how my mother died, my real mother, and how my father ended up so ill. There is a chance he will show up in person. If he does, I want to see the guy, .. up close, eye to eye, if possible.

- (Bruce, looking at his watch.) Gosh, is that the time ? ... I have to be somewhere in a hurry. ... I'll see you later then. Bye !

- Bye.

A little later, Batman is sitting in the rafters above the door of the Warehouse he uses to train Dick Grayson. Dick arrives after school. He first scouts around the outside of the building, enters and looks up, to see Batman sitting there above him:

- Hello, Batman.

- Hello, Dick.

Batman drops down, using a Bat Rope:

- ( Very pleased ) You looked up, Dick ! You looked up ! ... You scouted round the perimeter fist, and you looked

up !

- I only did what you told me to, Batman.

- That's what you're here for.

After Dick changes his clothes, they work with Bat Charges, These are thrown as close as possible to the intended target, temporarily incapacitating him, using specially adapted taser energy. Batman has already set up a few dummy targets.

- ( Robin ) These charges are incredible. If only the Team had had these, when Dent's men attacked us, more of us might have made it.

- They provide an instant method of counter-attack, Robin, as do Bat Flashes. They really can get you out of a lot of trouble.

They also practice a little jiu jitsu. Then comes the main lesson:

- Judgment, Robin, judgment. ... You can know all the right moves in a combat situation. You can have the best equipment at your disposal, but what goes on up here ( Pointing to his head. ), that's the most important thing. You might have noticed, Dick, that more often than not, I rescue people. I'm not primarily a crime-fighter. Here's a scenario for you. You are in a burning building. Three people, maybe more need you. Two are children, one four years old, the other nine. Who do you save first ? You have got to realize that you will have to make decisions on the spot, in the heat of the moment, no pun intended. Realizing this, before you start, is half the battle. Being ready, exercising the mind, developing wisdom and understanding, working hard at school, learning how to improvise. I've had to employ all those skills since I started.

- But it isn't enough to know the ages of the kids, and how many adults there are.

- Yes ? .. Go on.

- The youngest child might be relatively safe, the other less. If you free the adults, they might be able to help carry one of the children. It all depends on what you find, when you get there.

- You really are quite mature for your age, Dick.

- Batman ?

- Yes.

- When are you going to tell me who you really are ? ... You know who I am. Why can't I know who YOU are ?

- Ah, Robin. .. Here is a case in point, when judgment is required on my part. .. You are still young, in some respects mature, yes. But you will be impetuous. Its only natural. You were impetuous the day you helped me against Dent's men. If you knew my name, you might use it by accident, when others are around, maybe our opponents. When I was your age, I would have been the same.

- It's just, I want you to be my friend, not just Batman.

- I know, Robin. I understand.

- Can you tell me, where you get all the neat equipment ? ... The car, the glider, the drones ?

- Again, Robin. If I told you that, it would be easier for you to figure out who I am. It would amount to the same thing. I know this is something that could come between us, but there you have judgment again, making the hard decisions for the sake of the cause. But, don't worry. It won't always be like this, you'll see.

Meanwhile, over at the State Courthouse, the Press and News Reporters are out in force to report on proceedings at the Dent Hearing. Much to the disappointment of Pamela Eisley, Dent doesn't appear, but Scribbs, Dent's second-in-command, is there. In fact, Pamela passes him in the crowd, as he makes his way in to give evidence. But that fleeting encounter carries with it incredible significance. For it is enough for her to smell the same stale type of tobacco on his clothes, as she smelt on the man who started the fire in her home, all those years ago !

- It was him. He's the guy ! But they're going to let him go free. ... Well, I don't care. He's going to pay. That guy is going to pay.

Meanwhile, Lucius Fox is talking to Ra's Al Ghul in his office:

- I'm sorry, Mr. Ghul, but the answer is still no. We cannot accept such a large deposit from you at this time.

- May I ask why ?

- I am sorry. Perhaps you are aware of the spate of threats against moneyed interests in the City.

- Why, yes. That is why my agency is operating here. The Commissioner and the Mayor have briefed me on these matters.

- Then you will appreciate that we are likely to be most sensitive about a massive new investment in our bank at this particular juncture.

- I quite understand.

- Forgive me for asking, Mr. Ghul. .. Call it suspicion on my part, if you want, but why did you come to Gotham when you did ? An acquaintance of mine has been attending your own personal karate school in the City, for some time now, long before this current crisis broke. Surely that cannot be coincidence on YOUR part.

- Quite right, Mr. Fox. Of course it was no coincidence. .. The truth is, I had been aware of Mr. Dent's activities for over a year. I was shadowing those activities, only to find, that measures were finally taken to bring him to justice.

- But that was long before the Mayor requested your services.

- Of course. I like to be, ... now how do you Americans put it, .. ahead of the game, .. several moves ahead of my opponents and potential employers alike. I have been on the trail of Dent and men like him, for a long time in this country. It is always only a matter of time, before things get so out of hand, that suddenly my services are required. If you want to thwart or apprehend those responsible for insidious corruption in a country, you have to be at least its equal in the methods you employ.

- And what sort of methods would THEY be, exactly, Mr. Ghul ?

- Ah, alas I am not at liberty to divulge that information, lest it fall, shall we say, into the wrong hands, Mr. Fox.

- I see. .. Very interesting, Mr. Ghul. Perhaps if you approach a bank based in another city, with branches here in Gotham.

- Perhaps.

Back at the warehouse, Batman and Dick Grayson are coming to the end of their training session, when suddenly they hear the sound of shots and screams ! They rush outside. A group of armed men are holding up a security van, parked outside a nearby jewelry store. They have pistols and shotguns, and are pointing them at the Guards by the side of the road !

- ( Batman ) Okay. Dick, you get changed and go home. I'll take care of this.

Dick says nothing, then goes back inside. Armed with Bat Charges and Bat Flashes, Batman runs at speed, to take up position behind the gang, now loading their loot into their getaway van. Suddenly they are dazzled, some temporarily blinded, as Bat Flashes explode on either side. They all scatter, and Batman catches several of them with his taser charges. They fall to the ground, shaking almost uncontrollably. But three escape with bags full of jewelry, and head across waste-ground, in the direction of the warehouse. A police car arrives on the scene, and officers begin to arrest the robbers. Batman, suffering the effects of the Norris pathogen, runs after the others, but can't catch them.

Dick hasn't changed his clothes. He wanted to wait, and see if Batman would need help. Hiding behind the warehouse, he waits for the opportune moment to throw two Bat Charges. He throws one, .. then the second. Two of the gang fall to the ground, totally incapacitated. The other is momentarily stunned, but remains armed and dangerous. Batman has almost reached them, when Dick uses a little jiu jitsu on the guy, knocking the gun out of his hand, and bringing him to the ground.

In the distance, a newspaper journalist and photographer, who have been covering another story in the area, are also running towards the scene. Batman reaches Dick first, and secures the remainder of the gang with restraining tags.

- ( To Dick ) Quick, we've got to go.

But, before they can leave the scene, the journalist, a woman, calls out to Dick. He turns round. The photographer

takes his picture.

- ( Woman shouting. ) Excuse me, ... young man. ... Who are you ?

- ( Dick without thinking. ) I'm Robin.

- ( Batman ) Come on ! We can't stay here. I rather think you have said too much already !

- Gee, sorry, Batman.

A second police car arrives, this time on the waste-ground. Two officers retrieve the loot, and make their arrests. Batman takes Dick to a hidden access point, that leads down to the Bat Rocket, and its railway track below.

- Gosh, Batman, I didn't know you had a rocket car as well. It's unbelievable !

- There are lots of things you are yet to know, Dick. Now let's disappear !

- They both lie on the Bat Rocket, and away they go !


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