Batman: A New World

Chapter 61 No Frontlines

No Frontlines

A week later, ... on the early morning news:

- ( Naimh Ross ) So Miss Kyle, here we are, back to where it all so sadly came to an end for you, all those years ago, at your brand new safari park ! ... How do you feel ?

- I am over the moon. ... I wish I could say more. ... I only wish my Father was alive to see this.

- For it was your father, Davis, who founded the original Kyle Park ... that had to close.

- They turned it into the Rainbow Plaza.

- Quite, Miss Kyle. .. ( Feeling a little awkward.) .. You certainly have the most impressive array of wild animals, mostly from West Africa ...

- We do have half a dozen Bengal Tigers.

- And they most certainly are another tantalizing attraction. ,,, So when can we expect the Grand Opening ?

- Well, actually, Naimh, thanks to Wayne Construction, the company responsible for building the Park, we are planning the Opening for next month, a full ten weeks ahead of schedule.

- Well, folks, yet again you heard it here first. Gotham's next up-and-coming, family-friendly attraction is due to open in March ! ... This is Naimh Ross, reporting for GNN, in the new Kyle Park, on the outskirts of Gotham.

- ( The Producer ) And end transmission. ... Another great interview, Naimh. .. Thanks very much, Miss Kyle. ... ( Taking Naimh to one side.) .. You know, .. THERE are two people you could do your next two exposees on, Salina Kyle and Bruce Wayne.

- I know what you're saying, but with all due respect, Cynthia, as much as Gotham is awash with wealthy types who hide their true identities, you can take it from me, Salina Kyle and Bruce Wayne are two people who DON'T wear masks !

Meanwhile, safe where no one could find them, in Mayor Linseed's secret bunker, Penguin and the Undertakers set out their plan of attack, in their war against the Joker and his army of criminals, escaped felons and corrupt business associates. Amongst their number there are probably three or four of the top computer hackers in America ! The Penguin himself is, of course, one of those ! Oswald types a quick email message, then clicks on SEND. Then he sets the first ball rolling:

- Ok, ... I'll set the first ball rolling. ... I'm talking to the Hacking Squad here. I've put together an online expression of congratulations to the Joker. I am banking on him monitoring the Internet, for anything relating to himself and his activities. The task in hand is to tag the message in such a way, that we can isolate the small number of people who will want to read it, so that we can identify him and hack into all his correspondence. I already have a few ideas of my own, but this guy is good. I've a friend who has crossed swords with him before on the web, and he is a past master at covering his tracks, and hacking, himself. ... Any suggestions ?

And in Wayne Manor, over brunch, Victoria Bross is just saying good bye to Bruce:

- Goodbye, Bruce ! ... I'm really appreciating all those breakfasts in bed !

- Don't thank me, thank Alfred. ... He's there to meet your every desire.

- Not the one I want him to, unfortunately. ... But I'm working on it !

- By the look on Alfred's face every morning, I would have no doubt. He certainly looks like a man struggling to resist temptation.

- But what about you, Bruce ? ... Given your now legendary reputation with the ladies, I can only come to the conclusion that you're going through a bit of a dry spell, yourself.

- Let's just say that there might be someone special at the moment, that she's out of sight at the moment, and leave it at that.

- Ah, .. out of sight, but not out of mind, ay, Bruce ?

- Maybe. ... GOODBYE, VICTORIA !

She leaves.

Rather conspicuously, Alfred chooses this moment to enter the breakfast lounge !

- Oh, has Miss Bross taken her leave already ?

- Oh, I think you know fine well she has, Alfred !

He is obviously a little more than embarrassed !

The TV is on, and the News begins:

- The news headlines. Could Gotham actually be witnessing the activity of some mutant plant woman ? Yes folks, Poison Ivy has struck again, this time Glamour Club Manager Kenny Stains. The Police have only just released details of the attack, which is purported to have taken place the night before last. Mr. Stains, highly traumatized, has spent the past two nights in the overnight wing of Arkham Asylum, expressing thoughts that he has been infected with the same mutant gene responsible for the green Goddess's transmutation. And there's more on our ongoing story about strange sightings in the Finger Caves outside the City ...

- Ah, never a dull moment in Gotham these days, Master Bruce. And how are we feeling today ?

- Fighting fit, Alfred, fighting fit ! Ready to begin full training again, in fact ! ... According to the Pathology Lab at Gotham General, Pamela must have included in the serum a plant enzyme that helps to repair the heart wall !

- Obviously a woman who thinks of everything, Master Bruce.

- Quite so, Alfred. Quite so, ... which reminds me. ... I have one or two meetings to attend in Wayne Tower today. Then I plan to attend the first day of the Dent Investigation.

- Why, might one inquire, do you want to attend the Hearing ?

- It's just that Pamela was interested in the Dent case. I am hoping that, maybe, I might catch sight of her there. I'm banking on her wanting to see if the opening testimonies will shed any light on who killed her mother.

- And what of our new bodyguard ? ... Is it to be Mr. Yu, as Mr. Ghul requested ?

- Indeed it is. He begins his duties today, in fact. He will be escorting us in the Rolls to the Hearing.

- Clearly Mr. Ghul has an ulterior motive, when it comes to such a choice.

- He wants to spy on us.

- That would seem to be the most obvious reason.

- We will have to keep an eye on the man who is keeping an eye on us !

- Quite. ... But do you think it wise to ally ourselves with one such as Mr. Ghul ?

- The first rule of politics, Alfred, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Meanwhile, in his warehouse hideout, the Joker is discussing certain concerns with his sidekick and messenger boy, Perkins, second-in-command, Harvey Dent and a certain Jonathan Crane:

- You know, old Cobblepot was an imbecile. Calls himself a businessman ! ... The guy only custom built specialist computer systems for Gotham General Hospital for free. He even supplied their regular computers for free !

- ( Perkins ) Why did he do that, Boss ?

- Under the misguided notion that it would treat those with no health insurance for free in return. What a jerk ! But I can say one thing in his favor.

- What's that, Boss ?

- There was absolutely no frightening him.

- ( Jonathan Crane ) With respect, Mr. Joker, Sir, ... that is up to me to say. ... Everybody can be frightened, ... even unto death. ... That is, after all, my speciality.

- Ah yes, ... Crane, the former celebrated Phobia Specialist at Arkham Asylum. You were struck off, if I remember correctly, for administering psychotropic drugs and killing all your patients. ... I guess we couldn't find a greater contrast to old Cobblepot in that regard !

- They didn't only strike me off. They only sentenced me to solitary in the Penitentiary for ten years.

- And thanks to me, you got out in two !

- Yes, ... and for that, I will be most eternally grateful, Mr. Joker.

- Yes, ... you better had.

We now cast our eyes across town, to the headquarters of Ra's al Ghul. This ruthless vigilante has plans for Bruce Wayne. He is a powerful vigilante like himself, and a trusted billionaire in Gotham, ideal to become the local Administrator for Justice, when it is time for him to move on.

- ( Yang Sun Yu ) I am confident all will go according to plan, Most Enlightened One. ... But I am curious, nonetheless.

- Curious, ... how so ?

- Well, I know HOW the Wayne Butler is going to meet his death. I know WHERE he is going to meet his death. I know WHEN he is going to meet his death.

- But you don't know why he must meet his death. ... The answer is simple. In Bruce Wayne we have the perfect candidate for the next Administrator's job. But he is far too principled. Only when he sees someone so close to him brutally murdered, will he be finally forced to cross the line necessary, before he can embrace his true destiny. He must come to share the very desire for revenge that first drove me.

- The stakes are high then, as they like to say in America. ... I shall not fail you, O Most Enlightened.

Back with the Penguin and his Undertakers:

- Item Two, Break-ins and Burglaries. ... I need a safe-cracker, an explosives expert, at least two cat burglars and volunteer look-outs.

Meanwhile, in Wayne Tower, Bruce Wayne just happens to be walking along the corridor where Dick Grayson is working. And true to form, out pops the young man from his office:

- Mr. Wayne !

- Ah, young Mr. Grayson, ... Dick, isn't it ?

- Yes. ... You sure do have a great memory for names, Mr. Wayne.

- What brings you to this particular floor ?

- I have an office here, on a part-time basis of course. Mr. Fox selected me, himself, for the position. I even have my name on the door and everything, look.

- I'm impressed.

- It sure is a pleasure to work for you, Mr. Wayne.

- It's a pleasure to meet so many great people like yourself, and to have you working here.

( Turns to walk away.) ... You know, ... I've just had an idea. ... If Mr. Fox thinks so highly of you, then you might just be the person I need to help me catalogue the library in Wayne Manor. It would only be for a week or two. Would you be interested ?

- ( Really excited.) Would I be interested ? ... Are you serious ?

- Perfectly.

- But what about my job here, Mr. Wayne ? ... Mr. Perkins mightn't want to give me the time off.

- I'm sure I can arrange two weeks special leave of absence with Mr. Perkins. ... Shall we say Monday afternoon, after you finish school ?

- Monday afternoon it is, Mr. Wayne ... Boy, wait till I tell my Ma !

- My butler will answer the door, and will be happy to explain everything to you when you arrive.

- Gee, thanks, Mr. Wayne.

- Don't mention it. .. I'll see you next week.

Bruce disappears into a lift.

- ( Dick, talking to himself.) I just don't believe this. ... First I get to work with Batman, ... now I am going to work with Bruce Wayne !

Back in the Joker's lair, Perkins is sweeping the floor of his office, around the Joker's desk:

- ( The Joker) Do you have to do that now, Perkins ? Can't you make a start on the storehouse ? ... God knows it needs it. Perkins goes out the door.

- Aw Boss, how long are we going to be in this dump anyway. ... The place is filthy, Boss, ( fingering some dust on the store house wall.) absolutely filthy.

- Relax, Perkins, ... relax ! ... Look on this warehouse as purely temporary accommodation. ... Why, even as we speak, I have an alternative, much more permanent place in mind. .. I'm sure that you will find IT more than adequate !

- Oh really, Boss ? .. Tell me more ! ... Tell me more !

The Joker clicks on his laptop, clicking on the local Gotham News Page:

- What the hell ? ...

- Wh .. Wh .. What do ya mean, Boss ?

Napier reads aloud:

- New Rival Gang Challenges The Joker ! We Are The Undertakers ! ... It says here, that, in a message posted in the last half hour, they claim his days are numbered, ... Give up now, before it's too late ! ... Why, ... who do these jumped up, backwoods guys think they are ? ... Forget about the cleaning, Perkins, and get me Dent immediately !

- Right, Boss. ... Immediately.

Outside Gotham Courthouse, there is only a modest-sized crowd milling around, as the key players in the Dent Corruption Hearing arrive.. Bruce, looking everywhere to see if Pamela Eisley is there, has arrived early in the Rolls, with Alfred at the wheel. Yang Sun Yu is there, as their bodyguard !

The cameras of GNN and CNN are there with their respective news crews. Generally speaking, though, there is a fairly low-key, understated atmosphere, Gotham having been thrust into an even worse crisis than the one created by the revelations surrounding Harvey Dent.

Bruce Wayne has exited the Rolls, leaving Alfred momentarily alone with Alfred.

Much to the surprise of the commentators, one of the first people to appear is Capt. James 'Jake' Scribbs. Just as he is about to enter the building, there is a lot of upheaval and commotion, as someone shouts out:

- Be careful, it's the Plant Woman, Poison Ivy !

Momentarily, the Green Goddess, after initially leaping through the air, crouches aggressively. Bearing in mind the news reports about her last two attacks, the security guards freeze, as does Scribbs. Then he cries out:

- Don't let her infect me ! Don't let her infect me !

Poison Ivy attacks Scribbs, secretly injecting him with a syringe.

- (Scribbs ) She got me ! .. My God, she got me !

She tears through the main doorway and then through the toilet door immediately to her right. Two police officers, armed with pistols, give chase, but run into a girl exiting the washroom. They ask her:

- Where's the girl ? ... Where did she go ?

- ( Girl ) It was incredible, the woman can change her shape completely. She pushed me away, then squeezed through that window over there. She's gone !

Other guards rush in, perplexed at what has happened. ... How did she do it ? They all follow the girl out.

The girl is Penelope Eisley !

The guards and police rush out, firing their guns in the air to clear the crowds now gathering, as they make their necessary detour to give chase in pursuit of this green phantom ! Others help Scribbs to his feet and quickly escort him to a secure emergency room Penelope simply begins to melt away in the confusion. Suddenly, Bruce catches sight of her in the crowd:

- Pamela ! ... Pam, ... wait !

She turns around briefly, before, even more hurriedly now, looking to disappear in the crowd. Bruce begins to push through the crowd after her. Then, somewhat inexplicably, he has the feeling of being restrained. He tries to resist:

- Pamela ! ... For God's sake wait !

Then he hears a voice in the crowd:

- Please, Mr. Wayne, you must come with me. It just isn't safe !

- No ! You don't understand. ... I must talk to her !

Then, he loses consciousness ! ... The voice belonged to Yang Sun Yu. He had applied one of his thumbs to the pressure point on Bruce's neck, rendering him temporarily unconscious. Alfred soon joins them, and helps to support him back to the safety of the Rolls.

Meanwhile, back in the washroom, now empty, a young woman emerges from the broom cupboard, having changed her clothes. It is Pamela Eisley ! She simply walks away, as calm as you like !

Back at the Rolls, Bruce begins to come round:

- ( Fevered-like ) It was Pamela, Alfred.

- Just relax, Master Bruce. ... We can talk about it later.

- But it was, Pamela, I tell you !

Elsewhere, someone else who likes to dress in green is busily working away on his quantum computer ! Having already hacked into the computers of every meteorological station in Canada and the Northern United States, and linking them to his own, correlating all the data that they produce, he is coming remarkably close to being able to compute the weather forecast accurately for the next three weeks ! He is, of course, the Riddler.

He says to himself:

- Perfect. .. Oh, perfect ! ... How I love the Jet Stream, you little beauty ! ... According to all irrefutable data, and my equally irrefutable calculations, you are about to begin to swing south again, and draw down around Washington another Arctic Vortex ! ... In three weeks time, they are going to have 8 ft of snow, and average temperatures of – 15 degrees Celsius. ... Thanks to the previous activities of one Lucius Fox, I now have a means of communicating such information to Viktor Fries, as well as the identity of the mysterious KP, not to mention where he can be found at the time. ... Now is the time, Viktor. Now is the hour. Seize the opportunity that now presents itself. Plan your revenge on the man who has made your blood run cold for all these years. He likes to call himself the King Patriot. But he has twisted and corrupted our country beyond all recognition. ... Take him, Viktor. ... You can have him. ... He's all yours !

( Pauses for a moment of self-realization ! ) ... I really have got to stop talking to myself !

Now back home in Kyle Manor, Salina Kyle, in the company of her faithful butler, has just seen the news on TV:

- Poison Ivy again, huh ? ... Where does the chick get all her energy from, Lazlo ? ... Granted, .. that sure was some disappearing act she pulled. I'd love to know how she did it ?

- I take it, Mistress Salina, that you don't believe she has plant-like superpowers.

- Not for one second ! ... Only an idiot would believe such a thing. ... Unfortunately, Gotham is a city full of idiots ! ... What about you, Lazlo ? ... What do you believe ?

- Oh, Mistress Salina, I have heard and seen the most amazing things in my long life, and have been told many tales. ... I always keep an open mind on such things.

- That's fine by me, Lazlo. ... That is fine by me. ... But there is one thing for sure. ... I sure as hell am not going to leave her in the limelight. What do you think, Lazlo ? ... I reckon it's Catwoman's turn.

- Whatever you say, Mistress Salina.

- I want you to listen in to the police communication bands. ... I reckon that's what Batman does. .. ( Reclining, hands on the back of her head, and turning on her swivel chair.) Maybe I'll get lucky tonight, .. Who knows ?

- Will you be requiring any extra assistance this evening ?

- Only your good self, Lazlo. A leopard or a lion can be very intimidating at times. ... I want to date Batman, ... not scare him away !

- Rrrrrrr.

Later that evening, the Joker is in conference with Harvey Dent upstairs in their abandoned warehouse headquarters: A substantial group of their men are playing cards at the back of the storage facility below:

- Okay, Two-Face, who do you think these guys are ?

- These Undertakers ? ... I have absolutely no idea. ... I never came across them when I was on the Force. ... Maybe they're just a bunch of kids trying to act and sound tough, ... Who knows ?

- Honestly, you are one scar-faced, washed out ex-cop. ... I'd at least expect you to say you'll look into it. .. After all, you still have plenty of friends out there. Many of them are working for me now, anyway. You still have contacts in City Hall. You know where a lot of the skeletons are buried. ... And another thing. ... I don't really care for that smile of yours.

- Look, Joker, the smile is all part of the scarring on my face, and we have our friend Larry Dicks to thank for that. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

- Actually there is. ... I hate having to look at disfigured faces. ... There's an excellent plastic surgeon associate of mine, you'd like him, he was convicted of gross mal-practice, something to do with, you know, members of the opposite sex. He was in the Penitentiary, when we broke you all out. ... He reckons he could do a good job on you. ... It would at least wipe that smile off your face !

Suddenly, they both hear a noise.

- ( The Joker ) What was that ?

- It sounded as if someone's trying to force the door.

- ( Somewhat alarmed ) You don't think it could be them Undertakers, do ya ?

- It could be. ... I'll check it out.

Both draw their guns... Dent carefully walks down the stairs. ... The men downstairs drop their cards and their money, collect their Uzi machine pistols and shotguns, and take up defensive positions behind crates and containers scattered about the floor. ... Suddenly the door is successfully forced open:

- THIS IS THE POLICE. WE KNOW YOU ARE IN THERE, PENGUIN. YOU AND YOUR MEN COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR AND NO ONE WILL GET HURT.

Several police officers tentatively begin to enter the building. But all hell breaks loose as the Joker's men open fire. Three of them drop to the ground, and the rest beat a hasty retreat ! Dent is horrified to see what has happened to the officers:

- ( Dent ) Hold your fire ! ... ( They continue firing.) .. I said hold your fire, God Damn It !

They stop firing. Several police sirens can be heard, getting louder and louder, indicating the arrival of more squad cars. The Joker appears at the top of the stairs:

- What are you doing ? ... The cops are beginning to arrive in force. ... We've gotta get out of here fast. Come on !

They head for the rear entrance. Some of them make it out okay, but, suddenly it is their turn to be cut down in a hail of gunfire, by a group of officers just arriving at the scene. It is now the Joker's turn to beat a hasty retreat ! The local Police Captain for the District radios in for assistance:

- Hello, .. Commissioner ? ... Bad news I'm afraid. ... Either the Penguin and his men have gone gun crazy, or we just stumbled on a hornet's nest. Require assistance immediately at the Stubbs Chemicals Storage facility on the east corner of Third. Three officers down. I repeat, three officers down !

- It couldn't possibly be the Penguin. .. It doesn't bear thinking about who you have trapped inside. ... Chief O'Hara is on his way with all the men I can spare. ... If it is who I think it is in there, this might just be the time to end this once and for all.

The Joker makes a quick call on his mobile phone, and within minutes three van-loads of his men arrive, heavily armed. They open fire on the police immediately ! Some of Ghul's crack team of bodyguards appear from nowhere and join the fight. Police radio traffic is intense, as a real battle breaks out around the warehouse. The Captain keeps James Gordon appraised of all up-to-date developments.

There is only one more thing he can think of in the circumstances, contact Batman:

- ( Bruce Wayne, sitting in his Study. ) Hello, Commissioner ?

- Batman, I will make this brief. There's not a moment to lose. We think we might have stumbled on the Joker at the east corner of Third. We will need your help.

- I'm on my way.

Just then, Alfred appears at the door:

- There have been some recent developments, Sir, concerning...

- It's okay, Alfred. The Commissioner has just filled me in. .. I was just leaving.

He presses the button on the small bust of William Shakespeare on his desk. As the secret door opens, he descends down the pole that brings him safely down to his conversion unit. Soon his transformation into Batman is complete. He squeezes awkwardly through the narrowest point of the natural passageway that leads to the Bat Cave and rushes to the second pole that descends to the Bat Rocket ! Off he zooms ! ! !

Meanwhile, across town in Kyle Manor, Salina Kyle is suiting up as Catwoman;

- Thanks for the heads-up on the radio traffic, Lazlo. ( Looking in the mirror, and fixing her lipstick !) I think I'm ready. I reckon it's time we were off, don't you ?

- Yes, Mistress Salina.

The Bat Rocket has taken Batman near to the Tumbler, hidden at a secret spot in Gotham's storm drain system ! He activates the internal computer system with a remote control key:

- ( Batman ) That's strange. It looks as if someone or something has been trying to get inside... ( Climbing inside ) Well, I guess it is simply going to have to wait. We have work to do. ...

( Frustrated ) Why so many enclosed spaces ? ( He straps himself in. Lucius comes up on auto video message.) Okay, Lucius what have we got ? ( He zooms off.)

- Reinforced concrete walls, reinforced concrete ceiling with skylight, building designed to contain a massive chemical explosion. .. That is one mean warehouse. It once contained significant quantities of Hydrogen Peroxide. It still might. Based on all initial information I've been able to access, other than the two doors, the only point of entry is the skylight. There is no way the grapplers will be of any use to you this time, Mr. Wayne.

- Understood. ... So it looks like the skylight, then.

- I reckon so.

- What about the drains ?

- Haven't been able to access the plans yet, the City Council's Network is running slow. The schematics are still loading.

- So it still looks like the skylight, then.

- I reckon so.

Thundering across derelict ground, onto the freeway into Gotham, Batman is on the scene within five minutes ! A gun battle is raging. He carefully makes his way unseen to the one side of the warehouse, where there are no windows, and no ladder. He fires his Bat Rope skyward to scale the wall and reach the roof, only to find that he is not alone when he gets there !

- Why hello, Batman. .. What took you so long ?

It is Catwoman. She continues:

- I see that you came to the same conclusion. The skylight's the best way in.

There is a buzz in Batman's ear. It is a communication from Lucius:

- Actually, the drains would be best. All three main drains for the district join directly underneath, in fact.

He doesn't feel in a position to acknowledge the message.

- ( Batman ) So, Catwoman, what's your game ? ... Normally you'd have attacked me by now. I still have the scars from our last meeting. Surely, you can't be in league with the Joker, now.

- On the contrary. ... I kinda hoped you'd show up, and we could take him down together. I do have some unfinished business with Harvey Dent.

- We all do.

- Well, let me at least be the one who apprehends him. .. You can take the Joker, if you want.

- Okay.

- So you're okay with this. ... we're working together, right ?

- Yep.

- For truth, justice and the American way, right ?

- For truth, justice and the American way.

- Let's go then.

She reaches into her utility belt for a crow bar, and forces the lock to the skylight.

- ( Batman ) What are you doing ?

- I'm going in.

- I've got a better idea.

He opens the window, produces three Bat Bots, and releases them into the building. He continues:

- Now put this on. ( Handing her a mask.)

- Chloroform gas, right ?

- Right.

She puts the mask on and both drop down onto the second floor of the warehouse. Two guys are already lying unconscious, machine guns in hand, victims of the Bat Bots !

- ( Catwoman ) I've definitely got to get me some of those.

- ( Batman ) I'm not entirely sure they're legal.

The Joker hears an alarm ringing in his upper jacket pocket:

- ( To three of his men.) You, you and you go up to the second floor. Looks like we have company.

There is absolute mayhem going on, and everyone on the Joker's side is distracted by the frenzied firefight now in progress. Batman and Catwoman feel confident they can catch them all unawares, but they are absolutely staggered at the sight and sound of two grenades lobbed up from the floor below ! ... Batman quickly grabs Catwoman, drags her to the floor, and leaps on top of her. ... The grenades explode ! ... The three men climb the stairs, and move through the dust and smoke caused by the explosions. ... They are immediately set upon by two understandably dazed and under-par masked vigilantes, under-par but still over-powering when it comes to the three hoods ! Batman takes out one of them. Catwoman the other two ! Catwoman can't resist spraying the three with one of her special hallucinogens:

- ( Catwoman )They'll be seeing nothing but Cat People and Bat People for the next few hours !

- ( Batman ) I don't think that's quite legal either !

As they make their way down the stairs, two more guys turn and begin to aim their guns at them. .. Both hoods are knocked out by two of the Bat Bots, still flying around the building !

Still rather dazed and off-balance, the two would-be allies systematically drag several more hoods away from their firing positions at the warehouse windows. Catwoman simply sprays them with her gas, and they immediately go gaga !... Then both sight their respective targets, at either side of the ground floor.

Batman heads immediately towards the man he instantly recognizes as the Joker, towards the rear of the building. Catwoman leaps and lands on Harvey Dent ! They wrestle, but quickly both are on their feet again:

- ( Dent ) Ah, Catwoman, .. a rematch at last ! ... Now let's see how you get on, when I'm not weak and tired, and doped up with your hallucinogen !

A rather individual category of combat begins, as Dent uses Martial Arts, and Catwoman uses gymnastics and power-running !

More of Ghul's men arrive outside, and begin to turn the tide against those who have come to the Joker's aid.

Meanwhile, Batman begins his tussle with the Joker. Batman's combat skills are way in excess of the Joker's, but Batman is still dazed and off-balance. Both, in their own particular ways are clumsy in their attempts to land blows on the other. While they are otherwise engaged, both fail to notice that a growing number of rounds fired into the building are ricocheting and making holes in several large containers of hydrogen peroxide, stored illegally by Cranberry Stubbs. The liquid is spraying out everywhere.

Batman manages to lay one particular blow on the Joker, which floors him, directly under several sprays of the Peroxide ! He is concussed, and can't get up. His face is being burned and scarred by the chemical:

- ( The Joker ) Help me !... Somebody help me ! ... I'm dying ! ... I'm dying !

But Batman has collapsed, having lost his balance, and suffered a few telling blows at the hands of his opponent. He can't go to his assistance.

Instead, Dent gets the better of Catwoman, and knocks her, winded, to the ground:

- Nice fighting style, Pussy Woman, but fighting is best left to the professionals, even those in their late fifties !

He notices the Joker's plight. He begins to rush to his aid. Just then, sensing a lull in the resistance level of their opponents, the police begin to fire tear gas into the building.

Dent gets to the Joker, while he can still see, picks him up, away from the Peroxide, and towards an emergency hatch in the ground floor of the warehouse.

Batman, on the other hand recognizes Catwoman's plight, and rushes to help her to her feet, and up the two flights of stairs, back towards the skylight, before the Police make their grand entrance.

The ground floor is filling with gas and police officers, as Dent struggles to lift the hatch, and lower the Joker, still screaming in pain, down into the drain below:

- It's okay, Jack. ... Everything's going to be okay. ... The cops can't see where we are, or where they're going. ... We'll be long gone before they even know we've escaped !

- ( The Joker, gasping and in great pain, and in an almost inaudible tone. ) I thought .. ( gasp ) ... I thought I .. ( gasp ) .. I thought I told you ( yell ) .. not .. to call me ... Jack.

- Okay, ... Mr. Joker, ... Sir.

Batman and Catwoman, regaining more of their faculties, are able to exit through the skylight:

- ( Catwoman ) How are we going to get down ? There are cops everywhere !

- Leave that to me.

Batman goes to the edge of the roof, points his mini remote at the Tumbler, and it shoots a collapsed Bat Glider up onto the top of the warehouse ! Batman presses a button on the glider. It opens, revealing what it exactly is.

- ( Catwoman ) Where do you get all those wonderful toys ?

- Trade secret. ... Put your arms around me, and away we go.

- Now that's an offer no hot-blooded woman can refuse !

- Hold on !

They leap off the building and glide safely to the ground, away from the prying eyes of the Police !

Meanwhile, Dent, after waiting a while for an officer to pass by, descends down into the drain, which is more of a sewer really, to join the Joker, and help him to safety:

- ( Dent ) Oh no. here we go again ! ... ( To the Joker.) I hate to have to tell you this, but I have a feeling you're going to need that plastic surgeon yourself.

- NO ! ! ! ! !


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