Batman: A New World

Chapter 55 New Faces (Part 2)

New Faces ( Part Two )

Meanwhile, at Gotham P.D. Headquarters, Commissioner Gordon receives the latest in a long line of such phone calls:

- Hello ? ... Ah, Mr. Bross, ... what can I do for you ?

- ( Warner Bross ) I've just received a weird, sick phone call. .. I don't really know whether to take it seriously or not, but ...

- Let me guess. Someone wants to control your network, what you broadcast, and who you employ to read the News. If you don't comply, they have threatened to kill close members of your family. Am I right ?

- Why yes, but how did you know ?

- The same individual has been making such calls to business owners all over Gotham. It's like a plague.

- If I don't do what he wants, he says that he will kill my mother. What do I do, Commissioner ? ... Can you offer her any kind of protection ?

- None whatsoever I'm afraid. My only suggestion is to send her away for a while, until we can get to grips with this individual.

- But he said, if I did something like that, he would start to bomb our network ?

- Did he now ? ... Now that is new. ... To the best of my knowledge, he hasn't threatened bombings before.

- Do you have any idea who he might be ?

- None as yet, Mr. Bross, ... and it would be ill-advised of a Police Commissioner to impart that information to the proprietor of a Television News Organization, if I did.

- ( Half laughing. ) Point taken, Commissioner, point taken.

Back in her laboratory, Pamela Eisley is watching the News, eagerly waiting to know the outcome of the Dent Hearing:

- ( Naimh Ross ) While we are waiting for a statement from the Gotham Court of Appeal, concerning Harvey Dent, we have some breaking news about a dramatic incident in the City today. Batman successfully thwarted a jewelry heist this afternoon - I am tempted to say, single-handed. But no. It seems as if the Caped Crusader now has a partner, a Boy Wonder, his name, ( His picture flashes up on the screen. ) Robin.

- ( Pamela ) Oh my God, not Batman again. ... Batman, Batman, Batman !

- ( Naimh Ross ) And now for the result of today's Hearing. Over to Mr. Henderson Spratt, representing the former Assistant Police Commissioner, who will read the statement to the Press:

- ( Spratt ) According to the ruling of Judge Piglott, Head of the City's Court of Appeals, it gives me great pleasure to be able to announce that, pending no further instance of unusual behavior on the part of our client, he will be transferred to Gotham State Penitentiary in two weeks.

Pamela switches off the TV in disgust:

- Typical. The rich and powerful guy gets the decision he wanted. But, why should anyone prefer jail to an asylum ? ... Maybe, it's because you get a better kind of crazy inmate !

Just then, Bruce Wayne pokes his head around her door:

- ( Bruce ) Hello gorgeous. It's only me again.

- Oh, hi, Bruce. I was just watching the news.

- So what's the latest ?

- Dent has got what he wanted, as long as he's a good boy for two weeks. And the wonderful Batman has been out being a hero again.

- ( Half-joking ) I take it you don't exactly like Batman.

- No I don't. ... Okay, he's nowhere near as bad as Dent, but he was nowhere to be seen when my mother needed him, the night of the fire.

- But am I not right in saying, that Batman DID save your mother ?

- He saved my stepmother, ... not my real mother.

- But I don't think Batman was around as early as then.

- ( Cynically ) Oh, right. He just happened to be around in time to save my Stepmother.

- Quite possibly. ... But, ( A penny begins to drop. ) who did you say your family worked for again ?

- Cadbury Hawkes. .. Why ?

- Because I think I remember you.

- You do ?

- I was a trainee firefighter in those days, with Search and Rescue. It was my Ladder that answered the call that night. I found your father.

- But, what about my mother ?

- There was no way anyone could reach her. Two of my buddies nearly died trying. ... I'm sorry, Pam.

- No, it's not your fault. ... Wow, who would have thought, ... you, of all people actually saved my father ?

- ( Modestly ) In this case, let's just say it's a small world. ... But what happened to you, Pam ? From what I remember, you suffered quite a lot of scarring to your face ?

- No, I had always had that scarring. ... It only cleared up later. ... As you can see now, I don't have a problem.

- Well, that's one good thing that happened in your life, Pam.

- And you're another, Bruce.

- What about tonight, drinks in the Entertainment Lounge ?

- Which one ?

- The Main One.

- ( Laughing at the number of entertainment suites. ) That sounds great. I'll see you around eight ?

- Perfect.

Bruce leaves to meet up with Lucius. Fox informs him of the conversation with Ghul. He continues:

- Mr. Wayne, I reckon that Mr. Ghul knows about our friend, K.P., and not only that, but who he is. Who knows, but maybe he even knows who you really are ?

- ( Contemplating deeply. ) A gangster-hunter, who uses gangster methods, huh ?

- That's about the size of it, Mr. Wayne.

- Ah, it never rains but it pours. ... I must admit, Lucius, so many problems are coming at once, I really do think I'm fast approaching overload.

- Oh yes, and there's one more thing.

- Yes, Lucius ?

- When I made our initial overtures with regards the purchase of Dent Security, I discovered that, in the last few days, Ghul had also made an offer to buy.

- Did he ? Did he, indeed ?

- But, given the unfortunate situation that pertained previously, and the conflict of interests, the State Judiciary blocked his bid.

- They couldn't have Ghul in the same situation as Dent. They couldn't afford to make the same mistake twice.

- Precisely.

Meanwhile, Pamela Eisley is just getting ready to leave her laboratory, to get ready for her next date, when SHE gets the phone call !

- (Horrible, snide voice. ) Hello Pam.

- Who is this ?

- Your next patient.

- Patient ? ... I don't have any patients. I'm not a doctor. ... I'm a botanist.

- A botanist that has the cure for my disease.

- I beg your pardon.

- Let's be brief, Pamela. With all the spare time you have had, to spend with Bruce Wayne, you must have made a great breakthrough in the search for a cure for the Norris pathogen. ... I want it, and I want it now.

- I'm sorry, but it is already spoken for.

- Ah, so I was right. You DO have the cure ! ! !

- I really fell for that one, didn't I ? ... But who the hell are you ? ... Is this some kind of cruel joke ?

- No, it's not a joke. ... I'm deadly serious, ... with the emphasis on the word, ' deadly '.

- ( Really spooked. ) What do you mean ?

- Basically, Pam. If you don't hand over all the antidote, we're going to kill you.

- My God.

- God has nothing to do with this, Pam. But, if his job were ever up for grabs, I think I'd take it !

- Why do you want all the antidote ? ... There are thousands of people who will need it, if it proves effective. They'll die without it.

- Exactly, ... and they'll pay big money for it. ... Oh yes, and I'll want the formula, together with the patent rights !

- No chance, SICKO ! ! !

And she hangs up. Really rattled, she takes some time to gather her thoughts, and think what she is going to do next. A little later, she gets a call from her stepbrother, Warner Bross. He tells her all about the threats HE has just received.

- ( Pamela ) So there really is a whacko, .. and he really is dangerous.

- I'm afraid so, Pamela, extremely dangerous. ... If he has threatened you, he really does mean it.

- Well, in that case, Warner, could you do me a favor ?

Around this time, Bruce is getting ready for his date. His faithful Butler is preparing him for the occasion !

- ( Brushing Bruce's evening jacket. ) One could not help but notice this evening, that Batman has a new associate.

- Yes, ... that was most unfortunate. ... I tried to get him away without being seen, but it was too late.

- One understood that the boy was being trained to take your place.

- Maybe things have changed.

- But the streets are much too dangerous for the boy.

- Don't worry, Alfred. I know. ... I don't intend to involve him at all, for the foreseeable future at least. In fact, the last thing I said to him was to lie low for a while, and to wait for all the fuss about Robin to die down, before we resume training. Anything interesting to report ?

- No doubt, Master Bruce is aware that Harvey Dent seems to have won his Appeal.

- Yes, I heard it on the News. ... I'm sorry, Alfred. ... It really did seem the perfect form of justice, after what he did to you all those years ago.

- One must confess that one was somewhat of that persuasion, but ours is not the way of the World.

- Indeed, Alfred, indeed. ... Anything else ?

- One has been doing a little research on Mr. Ghul, Master Bruce.

- And what did you find ?

- Though one usually has no time for conspiracy theorists, Sir, there are several, whose allegations about Mr. Ghul tend to ring rather true.

- What allegations ?

- Well, Master Bruce, it would seem that once the maestro has worked his magic, and 'dealt' with the problem of corruption to everyone's satisfaction, he leaves, what these theorists call Zsars or Princes, puppets of his, in control of the day-to-day running of their Justice Systems. This is part of the deal Ghul makes with his clients, before the contract is signed.

Alfred continues:

- These are his trusted guardians of justice. They will use any means necessary to prevent injustice, but this also extends to their own, or rather Ghul's personal view of social justice and norms. If one person's view of freedom and justice clashes with theirs, they are threatened, imprisoned or they simply ... disappear.

- Allegedly.

- Allegedly, Sir.

He takes the jacket from Alfred and adds:

- Immaculate as ever, Alfred. ... Any word on the Grim Reaper ?

- One's sources back in England lead one to believe, that Special Branch was tracking him as far as Scotland, but the trail went cold.

- How did they find out Norris was in the Country ?

- Oh, no doubt they have their sources. ( It was Alfred, of course ! ). .. But, of course, until he begins to re-create his usual pattern of killing, one is unable to begin accurately tracing his movements.

- Keep me posted, Alfred. The sooner we can effect an encounter between him and Norris Senior the better. ... Oh, by the way, did you walk Doodles today ?

- Twice, Master Bruce. ...And I gave him his bath.

Later that evening, Bruce is on his way up to the Entertainment Lounge, to meet Pamela. He goes to get into an elevator, and who should be coming out, but Dick Grayson !

- My goodness, Dick, what are you doing here ?

- My goodness, Mr. Wayne, I didn't think you would remember my name !

- I never forget a name, Dick.

- No, I was working here tonight, tidying some files for Mr. Perkins in Accounts. I work here one night a week, for three hours after school.

- I see, Dick. Well, keep up the good work.

Bruce gets into the elevator, thinking that was a close one, and how strange it felt to meet with his trusted young friend just after their last meeting, under a different identity ! ... Then he begins to put himself in Dick's shoes, ... what it must feel like, to be in the News and the limelight, as one person, but to be totally unrecognized as another, as himself. In a way, it was easy for Bruce Wayne, alias Batman to empathize, but then again, Bruce Wayne was a billionaire, with lots of recognition, billions of dollars worth !

By the time he reaches the Lounge, he is a little late. ... However, there is no sign of Pamela anywhere. He tries to contact her on her mobile, only to find that it has been switched off.

- Strange. I hope nothing has happened to her.

After fifteen minutes, he is deflated, and beginning to feel that, again, the chance for love might have passed him by. ... Then he gets a call patched through to him by the Company switchboard operator:

- Thank you, Miss Perkins, I'll take the call. ... Hello, Mr. Bross.

- Please, ... call me Warner. ... Look, sorry, Bruce. ... Pamela asked me to call you around 7.30, once she had packed most of her specimens ...

- What do you mean, packed all her specimens ?

- Gee, .. I'm really, really sorry, I was in a meeting. It overran. I couldn't make the call. ... She was really frightened, Bruce.

- Frightened ? ... Of me ?

- No, ... this real bad news guy. He's trying to take over the City. The Police know all about him. ... He wanted what Pam was working on for himself. He threatened to kill her, Bruce, if she didn't do what he wanted. ... She has gone into hiding, Bruce, ... left Gotham. I can't tell you where she has gone. I don't even know, myself. ... I know you were beginning to get close. ... In fact, I think she felt she was helping to protect you, by moving out of your premises.

- ( Beginning to realize the consequences of all of this, regarding his own weakening condition. ) Did she say anything about what she was working on ?

- Oh yeah, but don't worry. She said that she would find a way to get the antidote, and the formula to you, in the two weeks she agreed. ... And, don't worry, Bruce. I know I'm a News Man, but I'm also a brother, and I won't release anything publicly about the drug and its importance, until I hear from her that it is, indeed, effective against the poison.

- ( Quite dazed. ) I see. ... Yeah. ... Thanks. ... Thanks, Warner, for letting me know.

Bruce dashes to the elevator, descends to Pamela's floor, only to find an almost empty laboratory, where the Garden of Eden had been.

Poor Bruce. Just when he felt he was beginning to live again, literally, ... and when he was beginning to love again, he is stopped in his tracks. He is almost totally numb.

As he heads for his car, in the underground car park, he hears the sound of a large explosion in the distance. He is relatively unmoved. As he gets into the car, he switches on the radio, to learn that there was a thirty minute warning, before a massive bomb destroyed a department store in the City, one of three belonging to an up-and-coming guy, who had started from scratch in a street market, to become a millionaire One third of his business had been destroyed in a moment.

Bruce can only imagine, that here is one man, who has taken a stand against the extortion racket blanketing Gotham, now for Bruce a darkening storm. The warning, so the news man announces, is believed to have come from someone claiming to be the Gotham Bomber.

- ( Bruce ) Dicks.

It is Bruce's darkest moment since learning of his parents' deaths fifteen years before. The City he loves is at risk. The girl he loves is at risk. The life he loves is at risk. He goes to bed that night deep in thought and despair:

- ( To himself. ) What of the future ? ...

The next day would see a welcome change in fortunes, ... to some extent.

Alfred is serving Bruce his breakfast, appreciating the crisis he is experiencing:

- Good news, Master Bruce, concerning Mr. Norris.

- ( This perks him up a little. ) Oh, really ?

- It would appear that he is staying in the port of Aberdeen, in Scotland. Special Branch suspect that he is to be smuggled out of the country, in return for a not insignificant amount of money.

- Money no doubt supplied by our mysterious K.P.

- Quite.

- How did you track him to Aberdeen ?

- His usual pattern of killing entails, one hesitates to use the word, 'culling' individuals from a wide variety of professions. ... In fact, the trail went cold for Special Branch, when the man who was tailing him died suddenly in his sleep ! ... One can only postulate that the poor officer in question had been the third Police Officer to have been making enquiries about him, and suffered his fate accordingly.

- ( Thinking out loud.) Aberdeen, ... Aberdeen, ... ( Reading from his tablet. ) Yep. According to the latest text from William Senior, the Fries Team are currently training in the Orkney Islands, and could land him anywhere in Northern Scotland at a moment's notice. ( Starts texting. ) I'm sending him all the necessary information now.

- Very well, Master Bruce. ... Oh, Master Bruce.

- Yes, Alfred ?

- One could well appreciate, given the wide range of concerns and difficulties the Master is currently dealing with, that the forthcoming High School Reunion might have slipped his attention. It is to take place on Saturday.

- ( Remembering. ) Yes, of course. ... Thanks for reminding me. ... ( Somewhat dejected. ) That's another engagement in the main Entertainment Lounge.

A few days later, Norris is eagerly packing all his things, getting ready to leave the UK within the hour. There is a knock on his door. He opens it, and is addressed by someone he thinks is a stranger:

- Hello, William.

- Who are you ?

- Don't you recognize me ?

- My God, ... it can't be.

- Believe it or not, I am your Grandfather !

- No. This isn't possible. ... This is some kind of a trick. It must be. Why, you look younger than I do. Whoever sent you has done a remarkable job, finding a doppelganger for my Grandfather. You look exactly like him.

- That's because I am him. I am William Norris, or rather, Captain William Norris, ... of the Arctic Soldier Brigade.

- The Arctic Soldier Brigade. ... I have heard of that unit.

- That's because the project in its latter stages was being funded by the same individual that is funding YOUR project, William.

- Cryogenics, ... soldiers frozen for decades, ... the cream of countries' special force units combined, available again and again, over decades, ... able to operate at ease in mega-cold conditions. ... Grandfather, ... is it really you ?

- Of course it is, William. Of course it is. ... After the War, I was taken ill, ... quite seriously. The Doctors thought I would die, when I was offered the opportunity to take part in an experimental project. I was to be cryogenically frozen. The scientists told me, that, in return for my participation, I would be a priority case for treatment, come the time when a cure for my condition could be found. I had no idea, that, in fact, it was a military project. When I awoke, ... they did cure me of my disease, but I was effectively confined to an ice prison, unable to survive temperatures above -8 degrees centigrade.

He continues:

- Elements within the American military were particularly interested in my insurgency skills, operating deep behind enemy lines in Hitler's Germany. They wanted to use me as an Arctic Sleeper in Alaska or Siberia, as a Specialist, should the Soviet Union ever invade the U.S. by that route.

- ( Like a child. ) Grandfather ! ( He hugs him. ) It is you. ... I thought it was some elaborate trick. ... You have no idea, how I have wanted to meet you. ... But I had long begun to lose hope by now. Even if you had survived the War, you couldn't still be alive. The Grim Reaper takes his toll of us all !

- A name you now have taken for yourself, William, ... a name I too once bore.

- How do you know about that ?

- I have my sources, William. Remember my speciality. ... I want you to stop. ... No one has the right to play God, as you do. Mankind cannot hope to be master of his own destiny, even if his fate is to be dictated by the problems of overpopulation.

- I disagree, Grandfather. I'm sorry, but I disagree.

- I know you do, Willliam. ... I understand. Believe me, I understand. ... But, no one has the right to decide who lives and who dies.

- But you did, Grandfather. ... You did.

- I only killed those who believed they had the right to do what you are doing now.

- You haven't come to kill ME, Grandfather ?

- No, William, no. ... I have come to get you to stop. ... You are my Grandson, and you have become a mass murderer. ... You even have my name, .. a name you have disgraced.

- ( Clearly conflicted. ) I am sorry, Grandfather, I really am. ... This is crazy. ... This is a moment I have longed for all my life. ... I'm in a great hurry to leave. ... I know it is unlikely that we can ever meet again.

- You don't have to go, William. ... We could talk. ... Our team could help you till you make your decision. ... The most important thing is, that you stop. ... Just disappear. ... Stop this madness.

- I would, if I could, but I can't, Grandfather. This is my life. It is my purpose, don't you see ? .. If the world goes on as it is, life will be absolutely impossible for many, and unbearable for even more . ... Every third child must die !

- But you are a third child, William.

- Sorry ? ... What did you say ?

- You are a third child.

- What do you mean ?

- Your mother and father had a severely handicapped daughter before your sister was born. They had her adopted. She is still alive today. Look, I have the evidence right here, copies of all the documents.

Norris grabs them from his Grandfather !

- Let me see those ! ... Are you sure this isn't some kind of a trick ?

He starts to read the papers.

- William, as much as you are a great disappointment to me, you are still my Grandson, my own flesh and blood. I would never dream of tricking you like that.

- I don't know what to say. ... My God, ... I don't know what to say, ... or what to think. ... There's so little time.

- There is lots of time, William. ... Just postpone your trip. Come with me.

- No, Grandfather. The arrangements are made. I have got to go ... now.

- Well, in that case, what are you going to do about it, William ? ... Are you going to bring this madness to an end ? ... Or, are you prepared to see yourSELF as a third child ? ... The choice is yours.

- I'll think about it. ... I will have to.

- I'm so sorry, William. ... Goodbye.

- Goodbye, Grandfather.

A few days later, Lucius is talking on the phone to Oswald Cobblepot:

- Well, Lucius, any word on the sale of my business ?

- Yes.

- Well ?

- There was only one interested buyer.

- And ...

- You are talking to him.

- What do you mean ?

- You are talking to the new owner of Humanitec.

- Humanitec ? ... It hasn't been called that since ...

- Since it was so cynically stolen from under that long nose of yours, all those years ago.

- And you bought it. you say. ... I don't know what to say, Lucius. ... I'm really touched.

- Let's just say, I am turning the clock back to its proper setting, .. to that time when it was our dream to run Humanitec together.

- Look, when all this is over, that is exactly what we are going to do, if you don't mind a bit of double-jobbing !

- I look forward to it, old friend. ...

- But it's going to be so dangerous for you, once the news gets out that you are the new proprietor.

- True, Oswald, but you and I know that I have just the right person to protect my interests, and the Company may just prove to be the ideal bait to hook this ne'er-do-well.

- I half expected our extortionist friend to use at least one proxy, to try and buy up the business.

- No, Oswald. ... It would have been too easy to trace back the connection to the original source.

- You're right of course.

- So, Oswald. Would I be right in imagining that you still intend to engage in this personal vendetta of yours ?

- You would

- So what are your plans, ... Penguin ?

- Heh, heh, heh, meh, meh ,meh, meh. ... You'll just have to wait and see, Lucius. Let's just say I have a few gangster methods up my sleeve, myself, when it comes to dealing with these hoods, not to mention a few interesting surprises.

- I wouldn't expect anything less, Oswald. ... I wouldn't expect anything less. ... It sounds as if we have a bit of gangster war brewing in the City.

As Lucius hangs up at the end of their phone call, he switches on the TV News:

- Two important items of news make the headlines today. Gotham's Police Commissioner Gordon confirmed today, that the recent spate of six bombings in the City, have all been carried out by the same individual, and that they all bear the hallmark of the Gotham Bomber, widely believed to be university drop-out, Larry Dicks. And another story, bound to make the headlines over the next few days, concerns the discovery of a body in a canal in Amsterdam, Holland. Unconfirmed reports, .. and I stress, that as yet they remain unconfirmed, suggest that it is the body of William Norris, the self-styled Grim Reaper. More on these stories after the following messages. This is Bob Kane, reporting for the Gotham News Network, Gotham.

- ( Lucius ) My God.

Meanwhile, as darkness begins to descend on her rapidly developing safari park, Salina is literally over the moon about the progress made, and ahead of schedule, as virtually all the resources of Wayne Construction are brought to bear on the project. Despite heavy rainfall over the previous two days, and the potential for the heavy vehicles to churn up the surface, very little damage has been done to the grounds of the proposed park. In fact you would scarcely recognize it as a construction site at all. Salina expects to be able to house her initial shipment of African big cats and gazelles within the week.

She has also come to learn that it seems to be all off between Bruce and the girl who was working for him, on HIS special project.

As she settles down on the sofa, with a cup of coffee dutifully prepared by her butler, she strokes her pet cat, and observes:

- You know, Cleopatra, I've been thinking. ... If Bruce is less than interested in beginning a new relationship, maybe he might think again, if he hears from someone, from an old one.

Elsewhere, as much as all hell has been breaking loose around the City for weeks now, even more is breaking loose around Gotham, this particular evening. Stores are being robbed, women in the streets have their purses stolen, another bomb goes off in a city center department store, and armed gangs drive around the Center, firing Uzi Machine Guns indiscriminately into stores that have closed for the night.

Bat drones have been releasing auto-bats, that fire knock-out darts at their intended targets. Batman has run out of Bat Charges to throw. He uses the Batmobile's microwave emitter to render a number of muggers so depressed, that they simply give themselves up to the Police ! However, feeling decidedly weak, Batman, now beginning to seriously question whether he can continue any sort of exertions as a crime-fighter, has all but given up trying to thwart the efforts of those criminal elements now running amok in Gotham.

His task is, however, made a little easier, with the presence of Ghul's men on the streets. A number of the ringleaders behind the UNREST find themselves quickly and unceremoniously under ARREST, ... and rather unofficially, I might add!

A day earlier than officially scheduled, Harvey Dent, following a period of much more settled behavior, is being transferred to the State Penitentiary. Judge Piglott has made the decision, and has recommended an early transfer, so as to avoid unnecessary publicity, a media circus, as he put it, a sentiment echoed by Warden Robert Crichton, Governor of the Gotham State Penitentiary.

The time for the official transfer has arrived. Guards from the Criminal Wing of Arkham Asylum officially handed him over to armed police escorts, who now, in turn, place him in the custody of two armed prison officers. Dent begins the 'Long Walk', as it is traditionally known amongst former inmates of the prison, along a dimly lit corridor, before he officially registers his name in the prison guest list ! Those officials, accompanying such an auspicious guest, don't know if the smile on his face is due to the horrible burns to that side of his face, or to the transfer his lawyers have so rigorously fought for on his behalf.

He soon finds himself in a prison cell. His two guards pass comment:

- Welcome to sing-sing, Harvey.

- Yeah, Harvey. ... Maybe you will take up music lessons ! ( Laughs. )

- Yes, Mr. Assistant Police Commissioner, it is time for you to sing a different tune ! ( Laughs. )

The guards are suddenly taken aback by the sounds of distant explosions, clearly coming from within the prison complex. They become increasingly rattled, with each fresh explosion. Looking in the direction of their most recent inmate, they notice that his smile seems to be intensifying ! Then the alarm sounds. The entire prison goes into lock-down. Emergency doors close. The guards begin to panic. The prisoners, in what is a special secure section of the prison, begin to cheer what seems to be a mass breakout attempt in the Penitentiary. Dent, too, begins to cheer, but, as time goes by, he begins to look at his watch:

- What's the hold up ? ... They should have been here by now ?

Fearing for his own personal safety, Governor Crichton tries franticly to make contact with the rest of the Penitentiary. But all the phone lines are dead. He is unable to contact the Special Response Tteam, especially trained to deal with riots or escape attempts in the prison. He doesn't even have his mobile phone. It is a prison regulation that all such phones be placed in staff lockers, to avoid interference with the security system. There is absolutely no way for anyone among the prison staff to contact the Gotham P.D. !

Gunfire can be heard, grenades explode, doors are blown. Eventually, the door to the special section housing Dent blows ! In rush two members of the Special Response Team.

- ( One of the guards. ) Thank God, we were really worried. ... What's going on ?

The two S.R.T.'s gun down the guards !

- ( Dent. ) What kept you ?

- Ah, Mr. Dent, you're not the only guy we've been ordered to release ! Everyone on this block is to be freed.

They let him out, and begin to unlock other cells.

- What do you mean, ordered ? ... I didn't order this ! ... I thought you were only coming for me !

- There's been a change of plan.

Meanwhile, Batman is half lying down, exhausted. Suddenly he gets a text message. He lifts out his phone, Bruce Wayne's phone ! He accesses his internet message service:

- Hello, Dwayne. This is Kitty. Could we talk ?

He slumps back, half smiling, half frustrated:

- Oh, Kiitty. .. You really do have a crazy sense of timing !

A little later, Dent is escorted in a darkened vehicle to an unknown destination. He soon finds himself in the company of a not unfamiliar individual:

- You ! ... Dicks, you bastard !

He rushes to get hold of the man who planted the bomb, which almost killed him, but is restrained by two strongmen protecting Dicks.

- ( Dent ) Thanks for the scars, Dicks ! Thanks for the face !

Suddenly, he hears a voice coming from a darkened corner of the room:

- ( Dent ) Come now, Harvey. Come now. ... Let's forgive and forget, huh ? ... After all, you've just been freed from jail. ... Maybe there's a case to be made, to be thankful for small mercies. ... I'M the one who actually ordered the operation on the Penitentiary, not YOU. ... Dicks is working for me now, and, believe it or not, so are you. ... Yeah, ... we got a lot of good people out tonight. ... I guess the powers that be neglected the fact that you selected most of the Special Response Team !

- Who the hell are you ?

- ( Stepping out from the shadows. ) Mr. Dent, you have the pleasure of addressing the new 'de facto' Mayor of this city. ... Sorry, the name is Jack Napier. ... I'm the Joker.


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