Batman: A New World

Chapter 56 The Nature Of Things

The Nature of Things

Deep within the bowels of the Wayne Department of Applied Sciences:

- I know you're tired Mr. Wayne...That is why I've made you this. ...

Lucius uncovers a brand new vehicle for Batman.

- I call it the Tumbler.

- Why the Tumbler ?

- Because ... it tumbles.

- Ask a foolish question. ...

Bruce is absolutely transfixed by what he sees. Nothing could be more different from the sleek forms of the Batglider, the Bat Drones and the Batmobile ! It looks like a tank for a start !

- ( Bruce, jokingly ) Where's the cannon, Lucius ?

- Very droll, Mr. Wayne. Very droll. ... In one of these machines, Mr. Wayne, you don't need a cannon. .. It's more of a steamroller ! ... Its radically angular structure, coupled with its paper-silk-graphene composite layers, makes it almost impervious to RPG's, and its unique forward and rear suspensions can survive a drop of 60 feet.

- But how do you build all these things, Lucius ? Who all helps you, and what do you tell them in the way of a cover story ? ... What happens when they see all this hardware on the streets, in the possession of Batman ?

- There are no people involved, when we are working on Batman Projects, Mr. Wayne, ... only robots. Observe.

And lo and behold, as Lucius begins the production of more parts for the Tumbler, a myriad of robotic devices begins to work on the accompanying accessories for the new Tumbler !

- ( Bruce ) Impressive, ... most impressive.

- I think we can rely on the robots, in the matter of strict confidentiality. ( He giggles, as only Lucius giggles. ) Every robot is linked directly to the Bat Computer below the Manor. ... They can build you anything you need, Mr. Wayne, anything you need.

- When can the Tumbler be ready, Lucius ?

- Tonight, once I've fitted her out with her grapplers.

- Grapplers ?

- All will be revealed tonight, Mr. Wayne.

Just then, Bruce gets a text message:

- Hi Dwayne. In a bit of a rush. I want us to meet. If you feel the same, can meet you tomorrow afternoon for

coffee. Just name the time and place, Kitty.

- Still no word from Miss Eisley ?

- ( Bruce, somewhat distracted. ) Ah no. ... She is already a week overdue in making contact with a vaccine. Things are getting pretty desperate. I don't know how long I can keep this up. ... The Tumbler will certainly help, but things have reached breaking point. Gotham is descending into near depravity and anarchy. Ghul's men are good, but there are just not enough of them for the police to be able to cope, and Batman is all but spent.

He texts back:

- Let's do it. Viali's, Rainbow Plaza, 1.30pm. See you then.

- It really is that serious.

- Honestly, Lucius, you have no idea.

Bruce was feeling remarkably confused. Two women were interested in him, and he in them, at the same time ! He knew that, in a way, he was on the rebound from one of those relationships. He also knew that he was dying. .. Why meet Kitty under those circumstances ? ... Curiosity for one thing, hope that he might yet cheat death, for another.

Meanwhile, at home in his rather eclectically decorated apartment, Ra's al Ghul is in serious conversation with Commissioner Gordon, the decor a curious amalgam of ancient Arabian mosaic-work and Far-Eastern mysticism:

- Basically, Commissioner, this anonymous new would-be Godfather is a puppet of the most powerful magnate in the Country, a man who has taken immeasurable steps to disguise his vast wealth, and the power that accompanies it, a man by the name of Kensington Payne.

- ( Gordon, not wishing to reveal any foreknowledge about Payne. ) I see. ... You have no idea concerning the identity of this puppet of his ?

- I have my suspicions, but I don't wish to discuss them until they have been confirmed.

- I quite understand.

- Oh yes. There is one other thing.

- Yes.

- In response to the growing shroud of darkness descending on the City, I have taken the liberty of deploying my own personal bodyguard on the streets, a force of Ninjas, ... more than adequate in dealing with the threat posed by most of the criminal elements running riot at night.

- I will inform my men, Mr. Ghul, ... but I must advise you, that any excessive use of force, on their part, will be subject to the full rigor of the Law. ... I will not tolerate a return to the methods employed by my former Assistant in that regard.

- You need have no worries. I will instruct my men accordingly. Goodbye, Commissioner.

- Goodbye, Mr. Ghul.

Now, to describe Ghul as a mystic would be a misnomer, though that indeed was once a term he would have used in describing himself. For instance, he had believed he had lived many times before, as the same man, with the same destiny, to eradicate corruption and crime, whatever its source, and restore the World to its pre-ordained path of justice and peace. He was a man of visions, and, at times, these visions were remarkably accurate in revealing many hidden details about the activities of corrupt individuals, he would encounter on his extensive travels. Then he came to realize, that these 'visions' were rather the result of his innate ability to tune in to the vibrations and energy emanating from parallel worlds, and that he had been born at various times in the histories of many worlds running parallel to our own. There had been many parallel versions of Ra's al Ghul !

This is how he had discovered the identity of the person, he had called the 'Key Player', at the heart of all major Washington affairs, Kensington Payne, and, yes, the true identity of Batman, Bruce Wayne ! Not only had he perceived who Batman really was, but he had also gleaned that, in many versions of Gotham's history, it was Ghul, himself, who had trained the Caped Crusader, and not Alfred, Yes, having delved into the personal history of Alfred Pennyworth, it wasn't difficult to recognize the most logical alternative mentor, a situation he was intent on rectifying !

Just as William Norris had chosen a name like the Grim Reaper for himself, he had chosen the name, ' the Demon's Head', to strike fear into his enemies. At least, one of his parallel selves had done so, in days long gone by ! At times, his ability to tune in to alternative realities, gave him the edge in defeating his adversaries. At times, his perceptions would prove false. Divergences in the parallel worlds would result in false assumptions. It was an inexact science, but a science it was, nonetheless. Parallel realities were part of the fabric of the Universe.

Later that evening, in the well-secreted lair of Dent's successor:

- ( Napier ) Well hello, Harvey, how's the face, ay ? Ha, ha, ha, Has anyone told you it's like you have two faces ? Ironic, Harvey, ay ? .. You were two-faced all those years, in the employ of the City, and now you really do have two faces ! ... I want you to do a job for me tomorrow.

- What kind of a job ?

- I want you to kidnap Bruce Wayne.

- Bruce Wayne, why ?

- Let's just say he has been a thorn in my flesh for way too long, him and Batman, that is. ... He's proving most unco-operative in my endeavors to enter the bank lending sector. He must also know where the anti-venom for the Norris pathogen is.

- Why do you want the serum ?

- Because I am dying, Harvey. The pathogen is killing me. ... We kidnap him, rough him up a little, and hold onto him until his sidekick, Fox, allows us to take over his bank, he tells us where the antidote is, and, maybe, we let him go again. Who knows ?

- Maybe ? ... You're not thinking of killing Bruce Wayne?

- Oh, come now, Harvey. ... I know all about your singular attachment to the guy, but that's all changed. You're both on opposite sides now. ... Anyway, a certain individual by the name of K.P. informs me, that you had his father blown away, ... your best friend, and the guy's mother. In fact, it's probably one of the murder wraps they were lining up for you, while you were in Arkham. ... You've done it before. ... All I'm askin' is, that you do it again.

Basically, we keep Wayne alive until Fox has been able to speak to him, and he tells us where the vaccine is. Then, you waste him. I'm also banking on Batman showing up to try and effect another of his famous rescues. He has got in the way too often, the latest occasion, when he thwarted a security van heist I meticulously planned. I want you to waste him, too. Now that shouldn't be nearly as difficult. After all, he is one of the guys, who helped to bring you down. .. You have a score to settle.

- ( He continues. ) Fox, too, needs to be taught a lesson. He's only gone and bought the World's most advanced computer company under my very nose.

That night, Batman takes possession of his new Tumbler. It is an inelegant machine, lacking all finesse, a veritable 'bull in a china shop', but it can drive in all terrains, and seems totally indestructible. Yet it is fully programmable to find its own way back to pre-arranged destinations, with its own radar-guided steering and control system activated. All he can say is:

- It's a robot on wheels ! There's no other way to describe it.

He is about to take it out for a test drive. No sooner has he climbed inside, than he gets an unwelcome message from Alfred:

- One is afraid it's going to be a very rough night, Master Bruce, and a long one. For the first time ever in an American city, the Commissioner is about to announce a night curfew. There is a shootout in progress at a derelict warehouse at the corner of Tenth Avenue. The gang had just robbed a security van, when the Police gave chase, but they are so heavily armed, and there are so many of them, that the Commissioner fears an absolute bloodbath.

- I'm on my way.

Batman tears away at great speed towards the warehouse. Just then, he gets a phone call on his hotline:

- Yes, Commissioner.

- Bad news, Batman. ... Things have got so bad in the City tonight, I'm about to call a curfew. I'm particularly worried about a shootout at a derelict warehouse at the corner of Tenth Avenue. An armed gang has just held up a security van, but there are so many of them, and they are so heavily armed, that I fear an absolute bloodbath.

- I'm on my way.

As he negotiates his way through the streets at speed, there are riots in progress, but these stop momentarily, as the participants gaze in wonder and bewilderment at the sight of Batman's massive machine, as it passes by. Then they start again !

As he passes one riot in particular, Batman notices a group of sleek-looking ninja-like figures, descending down ropes, suspended from a specially adapted cargo helicopter, owned by Ghul Security. Each shadowy figure chooses his target, and soon renders him or her unconscious !

- ( Batman ) That's certainly one way of doing it, I guess.

All of a sudden, a little old lady crosses the street in front of him ! ... He is about to apply the brakes !... But the Tumbler stops dead all on its own !

- Phew, that sure was close.

Just then, a pre-recorded video message from Lucius Fox appears on a small screen in front of him:

- The vehicle's radar-activated power-braking system gives it a stopping distance of about 10 feet, .. give or take one or two inches. ... I trust you were wearing your seatbelt, Mr. Wayne.

- Very funny, Lucius. .. Very funny.

When he gets to the warehouse, the situation is so grave, that the Police are about to withdraw, and let the gang escape. Chief O'Hara is on the scene. He is dumbfounded at the sight of such a machine. Batman sticks his head out of the hatch at the front of the Tumbler:

- What's the situation, Chief O'Hara ?

- Oh, it's you, Batman. .. It's no use. There are just too many of them, ... and our guns, well, sure they are no more than pea-shooters against what THEY be carryin' !

- Mmmm. I have an idea.

- Sure I was really hopin' that you might.

- ( Slipping back inside the Tumbler. looking at the controls. ) Now, what was it Lucius said about the grapplers ? ... Ah, yes, ... here they are. ... ( Two missile-like pods carrying the grappler devices rise up out of the vehicle.) Wow, and they are target-sight-activated and all !

Batman aims at the top of the warehouse, and fires. Two large, weighty barbed grappling hooks, attached to heavy duty rope, launch and find their mark exactly where Batman has aimed. He slips the Tumbler into reverse, and bingo ! Almost half of the building, housing the gang, descends to the ground in a heap of rubble. Many of the gang are injured, the rest stunned. The Police move in, retrieve the loot, and make all the necessary arrests.

- ( Chief O'Hara to Batman. ) Oh, now, Batman, sure that indeed is a sight for sore eyes, and somethin' that I could never ever have imagined seein'. ... By golly, I will be havin' words with the Commissioner, to see if the Department couldn't be investin' in something like that, ourselves !

Fifteen minutes later, Napier is watching the news, expecting to hear about another security van heist of his, only

to discover what has just happened at the corner of Tenth ! Dent is with him.

- I don't believe it. .. .Words fail me. ... They absolutely fail me, Harvey. ... He has done it again, ... and in another brand new toy. .. Tomorrow, Harvey. ... This ends tomorrow. ... He dies ... tomorrow.

The next day, after a very long night and morning, supporting the Police on the streets, Batman can finally escape the confines of the Tumbler, sending it into a neighboring storm drain, and secretly accessing a secret entrance to Wayne Tower, to become Bruce Wayne once more. He is absolutely exhausted, and has no idea how he is going to face meeting Kitty for the first time.

- ( Emerging from the main exit. ) Oh, why did I choose today, of all days, to meet the girl ? ... Hold on, ... right, it wasn't me who arranged to meet today. It was Kitty.

He calls Alfred on his mobile:

- Hello, Alfred. I changed, and had a shower in my apartment. Just heading to meet my mystery date now.

As he gets ready to call a cab, he is suddenly grabbed from behind by two men, chlloroformed, then loses consciousness ! He is quickly taken away, and bundled into a van, that then hurtles away from the scene.

Back in Wayne Manor, Alfred is most concerned, having heard something, that could only have been described as a scuffle:

- Master Bruce ? ... Master Bruce, .. are you there, Master Bruce ?

Alfred immediately heads for the Bat Cave, and activates Bruce's tracker in his mobile phone, only to find that his phone hasn't moved, and is still outside Wayne Tower. He looks to video message Lucius.

High in Wayne Tower, within the confines of his office, Lucius Fox is informed of this unfortunate turn of events by his secretary.

- Hello, Alfred. I have just been informed that Mr. Wayne has been kidnapped. I'll get back to you.

His secretary is of course very upset, and it is all Fox can do to calm her down:

- Thank you, Miss Perkins. ... yes, it is, indeed, a terrible thing to have happened. ... Yes, I will phone the Commissioner personally. Don't upset yourself now. Go on, back to your work. .. Mr. Wayne wouldn't want us all to fall to pieces, now, would he ? ... ( Lifting his phone. ) Hello, Commissioner Gordon. This is Lucius Fox, of Wayne Enterprises. ... I wish to report a kidnapping. ...

Meanwhile, Salina Kyle is waiting at the Italian cafe, as arranged, her heart beating ten to the dozen, wondering what on earth Bruce Wayne will make of it, when he discovers who it is he has been dating ! She wants this meeting more than anything. Her safari park is likely to be ready, a full six weeks ahead of schedule. Her penguin and polar bear enclosures were ready three days before, and their new residents took up residence the day yesterday. To Salina, it doesn't matter how many girlfriends Bruce has had recently. She owes him everything, and she wants to give him everything.

- But where is he ? He's late.

Now, that was always one of Bruce's redeeming features ,through the last few frosty years. He would always be on time, despite all the pressures of a business tycoon lifestyle. Bruce Wayne was never late. She keeps looking at her watch. Maybe he has been in an accident. Or maybe he has had cold feet, and changed his mind. What a disaster !

Just then, she hears something on the news:

- News just in. In a most audacious act of criminality, Gotham's most eligible bachelor billionaire, Bruce Wayne, was kidnapped by two masked men, and bundled into the back of a plain white van. The Police have no idea where he has been taken, nor whether he is even still alive.

- Oh my God, Bruce !

Around this time, Bruce slowly, but surely regains consciousness.

- ( Feeling his head ) Oh, where am I ? ... What happened ?

Then he hears a most familiar voice, that he first welcomes, then has second thoughts about.

- ( Harvey Dent. ) Hello, Bruce. ... ( To two guards. ) It's okay. He is all tied up. He's not going anywhere. You can leave us.

- ( Guard ) But the boss said ...

- I know. ... Just leave us, right ?

- Where am I, Mr. Dent ?

- That I am not at liberty to tell you, Bruce.

- You will have to forgive me, if I don't feel like talking to you.

- That I quite understand. ... Look, if it's any consolation for you, Bruce, there isn't a day goes by, when I don't regret doing what I did. ... I came to appreciate that I owed your father my life, and I took his. ... You have got to believe me, I am very, very sorry, Bruce.

- And, what about my mother ? Are you sorry about her, too ?

- I was always sorry about your mother, more than you will ever know. I cared for her very deeply. Bruce. I never thought she would be there with your father.

- She was prepared to sacrifice herself for him, as you should have been.

- That I know, Bruce. Believe me, that I know.

- But why ? Why ?

- He had discovered what was really going on.

- You mean, what you were really doing.

- Yes.

- And so the noble dies at the hands of the ignoble.

- That is exactly it.

- And you are doing exactly the same today, ... only to a whole city now.

- That was not my doing.

- But it was inevitable, should you ever be discovered. You corrupted the very forces that are designed to prevent such things.

- Very well put, Bruce. .. You should consider a career in politics. ... You're right, of course. I guess, .. deep down, I know that, too. ... But I have to tell you, Bruce. Things aren't looking too good for you.

- What do you mean, exactly ?

- My new boss intends to kill you.

- Ah, I see.

Back in his office, in Wayne Tower, Lucius Fox gets a phone call:

- ( Fox ) Hello, this is Lucius Fox.

- We got your boss, Lucius. What are you goin' to do about it ?

Lucius immediately recognizes the voice, and replies:

- What do you want me to do about it ?

- ( In a deeply menacing tone. ) Oh, ... I think you know.

- You want me to sign over control of our bank, in exchange for Mr. Wayne's safe return.

- You got it in one, Lucius. ... Basically, I want you to sign it over to the First National.

- Presumably, because they have already agreed to co-operate with you in all your dealings.

- Why, Lucius. You are not just a pretty face !

- But I will have to call a meeting of the Board of Directors. It could take weeks.

- Call for it today. ... Have it meet today. .. That's what they did at First National. ... That's what you are gonna do at Wayne Enterprises.

- And, if I refuse.

- Wayne will die.

- How do I know he is still alive ? .. You've already killed people. How do I know you haven't killed Mr. Wayne ?

- You can talk to him, if you like, but no tricks, understand ? ... ( Sounding like the stereotypical female New York telephone operators of old. ) Hold on, please. We are putting you through to Mr. Wayne now.

- Hello, Lucius ?

- Is everything okay, Mr. Wayne ?

- I'm fine, Lucius. I'm okay.

The line suddenly goes dead.

- ( Again, acting the operator. ) Oh, I am sorry. I'm afraid we lost our connection with Mr. Wayne. Is there any other service you require ?

- No, .. that will be all... I will do as you require.

- Now that's better, Lucius. ... Now, couldn't we have saved everyone a whole lot of bother, if you had only co-operated sooner ?

Back in the Joker's lair, Bruce Wayne sits bound and gagged, chained to a radiator. If it wasn't for his state of health, and the fact that he had been awake all night, he would have had the strength to break a pipe, and get free. But He is sick. He is very sick. He is deep in thought:

- This is it. This is how it ends. This is how Bruce Wayne dies. It is how Batman dies. That's life, or rather death. (He smiles.) Batman was never superhuman. There was nothing about the natural order that said great guys like Batman can't die, ... even when still young. Thank God, I began to train Dick. He can take over, when he's ready. It's crazy, though. I was training him to take over as Batman, but didn't think about who would take over as Bruce Wayne. Ideally, Dick is the guy. He should work alongside Lucius and Alfred, living in the Manor. Why didn't I set the wheels in motion, to prepare the ground ? ... But then again, I have forgotten about Alfred. He'll work it out. ... Yeah, that's right. He'll take the boy under his wing. After all, that's what he did with the young Bruce Wayne. That's what he did with the young Batman. ( Again, he smiles, as a myriad of happy thoughts and memories flood through his mind. ) And then there's Kitty. I never did get to meet Kitty. I wonder who she is, and what she's like.

Just then, a guard comes in, unlocks the chain, and says:

- The Boss wants to see you, right away. Come with me.

He takes Bruce into an adjacent, darkened room. He remains bound, but the guard removes the gag.

- ( Napier, from a darkened corner. ) Welcome to my little home, Bruce.

- Who the hell are you ?

- Don't you know me ? You've stood in my way often enough, .. you and Batman, that is.

- What do you mean, I've stood in your way ?

- Oh, remember, that little matter of making your computer system available to the National Aviation Agency, the day I brought it to its knees.

- That was you ?

- It was. ... ( A bit more menacing. ) And then, you refused my offer to relieve you of your little bank.

- I couldn't do that. You know I couldn't.

- Why not ? .. Other people have. ... And then, there's the little matter of the antidote to the Norris pathogen. You still won't let me have it.

- What do you mean ? I don't have the antidote.

- Oh, come now. Surely the doll must have told you I needed the antidote. ... You are dealing with a desperate man, Mr. Wayne. You see, I'm gonna die, if I don't get that serum. I fell victim to the Reaper. ... But I just don't want the serum for myself. I'm gonna make money out of it. Lots of wealthy influential people have been infected by that poison. I'll be able to decide who lives and who dies. And some of them deserve to die, Bruce.

- You still haven't told me who you are.

- Patience, Bruce. Patience. ... All will be revealed, when Batman tries to save you.

- Batman ?

- Yes, Batman. You see, you might say that you and Batman made me the man I am today ?

- How do you mean ?

- You both have thwarted my plans in your own different ways. ... I would have been very content to play tricks on Society from time to time. You know, gettin' my kicks out of causing crazy, funny things to happen to people.

- There's nothing funny about people getting killed.

- ( Abruptly ) I think there is. ... But Batman would go and spoil things. He always spoiled things. ... But my expertise had nonetheless been recognized by a higher authority, and I was singled out to take over as the City Godfather. So, here I am. ... You know it's funny. It really is funny. Batman made me the man I am today. .. He even gave me my name.

- What name ?

Napier steps out from the shadows.

- ( Very menacing. ) I'm the Joker.

Meanwhile, in Kyle Manor, Salina Kyle is anxiously waiting at home, periodically turning on the News, as is Alfred, back in Wayne Manor, to hear if there have been any developments in the kidnapping. For the tenth time, she switches on the TV:

- It is now four hours, since Gotham billionaire, Bruce Wayne was attacked, and bundled into a van, outside the Headquarters of Wayne Enterprises. There have been no further developments in the kidnapping.

She switches it off again.

Back in his lair, Napier is telling Bruce a few jokes !

- You'll like this one. ... It'll really knock you dead !

The irony of the comment is not exactly lost on Bruce.

- A panda bear goes into a bar. He says to the bartender, 'give me a hotdog'... Well, the bartender gives him the hotdog. The Panda is kinda hungry, you know, and he absolutely wolfs it down. ... Then he reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a gun. The bar quickly empties, as he points the gun at the ceiling, and fires it in the air. Then he heads out the door. ... Well, the bartender doesn't quite know what to make of this, so he rushes out after the bear, and asks him what the hell all that was about. The Bear replies, I'm a Giant Panda for God's sake, look me up in the Dictionary. ... So he goes back inside, ... goes to the .. bar library, ... and opens a dictionary, whereupon he reads: .. Giant Panda: large bear-like mammal, native to China, eats shoots and leaves. ... Heh, heh, heh. Eats, shoots and leaves. Get it ? ... I love performing to a captive audience !

- (Bruce) Great delivery, very professional.

- Why, thanks !

Just then, an alarm sounds in the building !

- ( Napier ) What the hell ! ... ( Then smiling.) Ah, ...it's Batman.

Bruce just looks rather bemused.

He heads out the door, leaving Bruce still bound.

- ( To one of his guards. ) What is happening. Where is he ? Where's Batman ? What is he doing ?

- We don't know, Boss. ... Nobody has seen him anywhere. ... It's like he's a ghost, or somethin' !

He heads along a security corridor. Suddenly, the lights go out, and two lock-down doors close on him, one in front, and one behind !

- Now what's happening ?

He starts to bang on one of the doors.

Meanwhile, the door to the room, where Bruce has been sitting, opens. ... It is Harvey Dent !

- ( Dent ) Quick, Bruce, there isn't much time !

He removes Bruce's ropes.

- ( Bruce ) What are you doing ? .. I don't understand.

- This is a breakout ! Quick, come with me. ... Oh yes, you had better put this on.

Dent produces a gas mask ! Bruce puts it on. Dent produces his own, and puts it on. He guides Bruce through a variety of corridors, and up some flights of stairs, passing a series of guards, who have been rendered unconscious. Emerging on the roof, Dent explains to Bruce:

- Chloroform gas.

He smashes glass panels in a window on the roof of the building.

- What are you doing, Harvey ?

Basically, the building has been assaulted by Batman and his chloroform bats. ... To my shame, I was planning on framing him for a few crimes I was going to commit before I was arrested. I was going to do all this, to make it look as though he did it. ... There's a fire escape on the far side of the building. Take it, and you should be well clear of the Joker in ten minutes.

- But, what about you, Harvey ?

- I have to stay here. All I ask is two things.

- What do you want me to do ?

- Wait for two hours, before going to the police, and the second, spray this, three feet in front of my face. ... It's chloroform. Do it on the staircase, and control my fall. I've got to make it look like Batman did this to me as I was chasing him back onto the roof. ... Good luck !

Bruce does as he says, and makes his escape.

After ninety minutes, everyone in the building, who has been chloroformed, begins to wake up. The Joker is released from his temporary prison, and an emergency evacuation is effected to a secondary location.

- ( Napier to Dent, furious.) How did he do it, Dent ?

- He did what I would have done, Boss. He had given Wayne a secret transmitter in the event of this happening to him, and he launched his assault early, using our very security system against us. He literally pulled the plug in the building. We lost all power, and he released his robotic bats to disable our men. One of them disabled me.

- What about the security cameras ?

- Disabled.

- He's going to pay, Dent. Batman is going to pay !

By the time the Police arrive, they are long gone.

Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce is in conversation with Lucius and Alfred:

- I was very lucky.

- One is grateful to the Almighty that you are alive, Sir.

- But not well, Alfred.

- ( Rather sullen. ) Mo, Master Bruce.

- ( Lucius ) You can't have everything, Mr. Wayne.

- You know, that's true, Lucius.

- I'm just glad, that I didn't have to hold that Board Meeting.

- Have you any idea, who this 'Joker' might be, Master Briuce ?

- No, .. but I do know he has been infected by the same pathogen, .. and I rather suspect that, in the past, he might have been some kind of comedian.

- ( Lucius ) What makes you say that ?

- Let's just say he is very proficient at telling jokes. ( Feeling his aching back. ) Some were even rather good.

- ( Alfred ) Apologies, Master Bruce. .. There is someone at the gate. ( He leaves the room. )

- Lucius, there is a little matter I wish to discuss with you concerning young Dick Grayson.

- Ah yes, the young Boy Wonder. ... What do you have in mind ?

- I want you to promote him.

- You want me to promote a part-time school kid, working one day a week ? What do you want me to make him, a Director ?

- Yes.

- Excuse me, Mr. Wayne. Either my ears are deceiving me, or the undoubted hardships you experienced this afternoon have rather scrambled your brain. ... Did I hear you correctly, Mr. Wayne ?

- Yes, you did, Lucius. ... Of course, not right away. ... The boy is way too young. ... But maybe a series of little promotions, ... extra responsibilities, a meteoric rise, when I'm gone, ... a directorship by the age of 21.

- Ah, ... I'm beginning to see what you have in mind.

Just then, Alfred appears, with the hint of a smile now on his face:

- ( Alfred ) A special delivery, Master Bruce. ... For you, Master Bruce. ... In a small refrigerated container, Master Bruce. There was also this note. ( He hands it to Bruce. )

- It's from Pamela.

- ( Alfred ) One thought it rather might be.

- It's the serum !

- One thought it rather might be.

Bruce reads the note quietly to himself:

- Dear Bruce, please find enclosed the serum you commissioned. Apologies it is a little late, but I took the liberty to try it out on some rats, first. I infected with the poison first. It worked, and the effects were almost immediate ! I enclose enough vaccine for 1000 doses, and the formula for producing enough to effect a world-wide cure.

Courtesy of the world of plants !

I really miss you, Bruce,

Pam.


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