The Dark Knight Returns
AN: Hope this chapter meets with your approval; a few details were a bit tricky to work out, but we're getting back to the main movie storyline, and what may be the last days of Gotham…
Sitting in the basement that was the closest thing they had to a safehouse right now, Kate stared at the map of Gotham they'd put together depicting the current territorial situation- including markings depicting the path taken by Bane's assorted trucks- and cursed their stupidity.
After all the precautions they'd taken to prevent Nyssa from learning anything genuinely useful or dangerous about their operations, their attempt to make it look as though they were including her in their efforts had resulted in Commissioner Gordon and a sizeable portion of their remaining forces being abducted while participating in an operation that had only ever been intended to be a bluff.
OK, so they'd eliminated that truck as the one carrying the bomb and managed to use some other scanners discreetly provided by Lucius Fox to find the real one, which should give Nyssa an interesting 'surprise' when the time came for them to take action, but that wasn't going to help them rescue Gordon.
That wasn't the only area where they had problems to overcome, of course. The special ops team members who'd come into Gotham remained undercover- their 'bluff' to get information out of Nyssa about the bomb had paid off, with Miranda being forced to agree to a more impulsive meeting to ensure that nobody could pass off information about it to anyone else-, but even their best efforts had so far failed to find any means of getting the cops out of the sewers that didn't involve a potential firefight. Blake was making arrangements to lead a small group of them in a raid on one of the remaining manhole covers that lead to that part of the sewers that night, but Kate didn't hold out much hope for that plan's success; their new allies were good, but Bane's forces weren't exactly stupid either…
"This is it, huh?" Castle said, looking uncertainly at her as he walked in to join her in the part of the basement that was probably the closest she'd ever have to an office here.
"It?" Kate repeated, looking back at him.
"The last days," Castle said, his expression uncharacteristically grim as he sat on the edge of her desk. "I mean, no matter how this all turns out… it's all over soon, huh?"
Kate could only nod in response to Castle's solemn assessment of the situation.
Even if she hoped for the best possible outcome, this wasn't going to be easy; they had a city of people in peril, a bomb that they only had a fragile plan to deal with at best, and a relative fraction of the forces they'd need if they were going to have any
chance of defeating the guy responsible for this mess.
"You know," Castle said, still looking grimly at her, even as the slight smile on his face suggested at his efforts to assume a positive approach, "when we try to get anyone out of Gotham…"
"All hell could break loose, huh?" Kate said, guessing where her partner was going with that statement.
Without any way to explain the truth about the bomb to the outside world- the special ops team had been limited in what they could bring, which meant they had no way to communicate directly with anyone in authority about the situation now that getting out wasn't an option-, any attempt to evacuate the city would just put them in another dangerous situation as the guards outside tried to stop them escaping in case it provoked Bane's anger. "Yeah, I'm aware of that, but what can we do?"
"Well, I did have one idea," Castle said, looking at her with a thoughtful smile. "I was just thinking… Ryan and Esposito?"
"Call them in for back-up?" Kate asked, guessing her partner's train of thought.
"More like to be our guys on the outside," Castle clarified. "You know, they make sure nobody on the bridges does anything stupid, maybe get the word out to a few other people that the bomb's going to go whatever, that kinda thing…"
He shrugged. "It's desperate, I know, but doesn't that sometimes work?"
Kate had to acknowledge Castle's point; it might be a desperate situation, but Ryan and Esposito were their best chances of getting outside aid, particularly if they went all-out and managed to get a plane to somewhere in the immediate area; there were a few cities within an hour's drive of Gotham, after all.
They might not have parted company with the other two members of their team under the best circumstances, but if they could provide an explanation of the essential facts, Kate knew that Ryan and Esposito would
come to help them.
"OK, that's a good idea, but how are we meant to make contact with them?" she asked, looking critically at him. "We can't exactly make phone calls without Bane's men tracking us, and I don't think a text is a suitable medium for something like this even if it would be more likely to slip under the radar…"
"I found an abandoned building with a working elevator a couple of blocks away on last month's stake-out," Castle replied. "Give me an hour, and I can get to the top, make the call, and get back here; Bane's good, but I don't think he's got missiles or anything particularly long-range in his arsenal, and there's no way he can get anyone there before I get away."
"Good call," Kate said, smiling in approval at Castle's plan, before she turned her attention back to the map she'd pulled out earlier.
Getting the bomb wouldn't be that difficult, particularly since Bane and his men still didn't know they'd identified the right one and would be assuming that they'd be going after the one that Nyssa had 'tagged', but that still left his various men to worry about; there was only so much their small force could do, and she just didn't see how they were going to get the trapped cops out safely no matter what plan Blake came up with…
The sound of an incoming text prompted Kate to glance down at her phone, her eyes widened at the words on her screen.He's back. Meet at the roost
With the sender being Lucius Fox, there was only one 'he' that the older man could be referring to, and only one location that could possibly be the aforementioned 'roost'.
"Hold the fort, Castle," she said, standing up and looking over at her partner with a smile.
"Huh?" Castle said, looking at her in confusion. "Why-?"
"Because I'm got something urgent that I need to do," Kate replied, turning to look at Castle so that he could see the resolve on her face. "And with Gordon and Blake gone, I need to know that there's someone I can trust in charge back here."
She didn't like being so vague with her partner, but she could almost predict with absolute certainty how he'd react if he knew that she was heading off to meet Batman, and, as much as she might love having him around, this was one conversation she'd definitely prefer to have in private.
Their greatest asset was back in the game…
Bruce almost hated to jinx it, but so far his plan to get into Gotham had been going rather well.
Not only had he managed to get into the city itself by stealing a boat and rowing to the coast- it looked like that was one method of access that nobody had bothered to keep a particularly close eye on, probably because they assumed that anyone attempting it would try a faster method that would be easier to spot-, but tracking down a means of gaining access to Fox had been comparatively simple once he found his way into the city; Selina Kyle's morality might be a bit questionable at times, but her skills were anything but, considering how quickly she'd managed to find Fox's current location and get them both out afterwards.
Fox had given the impression that there was something else he wanted to tell him, but so far he had been content to follow Bruce's lead as they collected equipment from the secondary Batcave under the penthouse before they'd come here; Fox's attitude suggested that he'd been fully aware of the Bat's location even without Bruce's guidance.
"She fly OK?" Fox asked, as he worked to remove the EMP guidance mount that they would need to disable the bomb.
"Yeah," Bruce said, leaning against the cockpit as he looked at his friend, "even without the autopilot. Thanks."
"Autopilot?" Fox said, smiling as he removed the small box that he'd come here to collect. "That's what you were there for."
"I don't suppose you could help me find Commissioner Gordon now that we're done?" Bruce asked, as he closed the cockpit and walked around to join Fox.
"He's been captured by Bane's men already," an unexpected yet familiar voice suddenly said from the stairs that they'd just ascended.
"What… Talia?" Bruce said, his eyes widening in surprise at the sight of Ra's's other child standing on the edge of the roof, Gotham City spread out behind her. "What are you doing here?"
"What else?" Talia replied, looking grimly at him. "I'm here to help you stop my sister."
"Oh- your sister
?" Bruce said, his theory about Bane's identity as the son of Ra's al Ghul suddenly brought to a crashing halt with this news. "But… but Bane
"You were kept in the Pit and heard the tale of the child's escape, correct?" Talia said, still looking solemnly at him, leaving him with nothing to do but nod at her question. "Bane was her guardian in the Pit; he helped to protect her until she was able to escape and reunite with our father. By the time they got back to the Pit to rescue Bane, he had already sustained such terrible injuries in the Pit that doctors were required to create the mask to help him cope with the pain from his injuries. Our father trained him in the League at my sister's request, but he eventually expelled Bane, even if they will each give you different reasons for it; my father claimed that Bane was nothing more than animal whose only skill lay in destroying what he was pointed at, but my sister claimed that he resented Bane for reminding him of his failure to protect his family."
"And… where is your sister?" Bruce asked, already guessing what response he'd receive even if he wanted to deny it.
"She's Miranda Tate," Talia replied grimly. "Who else would she be?"
"Nobody," Bruce replied, shaking his head solemnly.
Introduce the idea that Ra's had a daughter rather than a son, and Miranda was the perfect candidate; her position at Wayne Enterprises would provide her with access to all the resources she needed to help Bane's efforts, along with easy access to Bruce himself, allowing her to perfectly evaluate an appropriate time to attack the city and the man that had caused her father's death when it would actually hurt
He might have been vulnerable for the last few years, waiting in the manor out of a lack of anything else to do, but after what he'd done to her father, anyone willing to go to these lengths just to kill him would want to enjoy
his demise. It was like this one book he'd read during his isolation- he'd abandoned going out, but had turned to literature as a means of taking up his time-; a serial killer seeking revenge on the man he blamed for destroying his family, after learning that the man wanted to kill himself already, had created a scenario where his target would want to live so that he could actually lose something when he was killed, rather than the guy giving his victim what he wanted by killing him.
"She's telling the truth, Mr Wayne," Fox added, looking grimly over at Bruce. "We set up an operation to identify the truck carrying the bomb, and Miss Tate deliberately tagged the wrong one; there's been a few other operations that she's pretty much sabotaged, but nothing that couldn't have been explained as coincidence or a bunch of Bane's guys just being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"I… see," Bruce said, biting back the initial need for denial- Talia had known his true identity for years and never done anything to use that against him, where Miranda Tate's true identity at least explained the ease with which Bane had infiltrated Wayne Enterprises to get what he was after- as he looked at Ra's's other daughter. "And… you're helping us against her?"
"My sister is dedicated to completing our father's work without concern for his goals, Bruce; I believe in his mission, which I believe is best supported by allowing Gotham to continue as it has," Talia replied. "This city has made its mistakes, but the lie of Harvey Dent and your inspiration as the Batman have given it a chance to be better than it was… and even if this was the city it had been when my father attacked, there are still innocents here that must be protected."
"Thanks," Bruce said, smiling at her before his expression became more serious. "Now, if Gordon's in trouble, rescuing him should probably be my first priority; if he's been captured, what are they going to do to him?"
The news about Miranda was a bit of a shock, but at least he had time to process it; with Talia and Selina on his side, he might just have a chance after all…