The Dark Knight Rises: Part of the Night: The Wayne Legacy

Chapter Thirty-Six

"Unable to connect. Firewall engaged," the computer repeated for the third time. Nightwing didn't tell it to dial Bruce's number again. Something was wrong with the phone if the computer's firewall kept responding.

"Incoming email," the computer said.

Nightwing pulled onto a side street. "Display."

Riddler has Jen. Follow pearls. The email was from Selina's account with the Foundation. But what did 'follow the pearls' mean?

"Computer, display GPS locators on objects." He had guessed right. The computer displayed a list of vehicles, jewelry, and other things he didn't recognize. A strand of pearls was on the list. He highlighted the frequency. "Computer, trace this frequency."

A dot appeared on the screen and the lines of Gotham City drew around it. The pearls were already on O'Brien Street. He turned the Tumbler and headed to Graham Bridge.

Selina was glad Bane had his tunnels built tall enough to walk upright through and designed the portion from the subway station to this arena cistern to be dry. However, she had a huge rant to give both Bruce and Lucius Fox about the lack of security down here. It probably wouldn't have kept the Riddler out, but being this wide open just invited trespassers.

She lifted her night-vision goggles as she looked over the arena where Bane broke the Bat nine months before. Water still churned down the waterfall into the concrete channel in the floor and gushed out of sight. The hole Bane had blown in the ceiling was repaired with an elevator cage large enough for a Tumbler to fit in. The metal walkways and stairs were still in place.

Movement behind the waterfall caught her eye. A green suit paced up on the balcony where Bane had had his command center. There was no way to sneak past him to the side tunnel where the cage was, so she gripped the whip tighter and avoided the puddles as she went up.

A smaller cage was assembled in front of the side tunnel opening. The pile of concrete and metal debris between Selina and the new cage told her someone had finished dismantling it. Jen was sprawled on the cot she and Bruce had shared, but the elaborate gate hadn't been reinstalled on this new version. She doubted the temporary fencing would hold it up.

The Riddler stopped between her and the open cage door. "I'm so glad you dropped the pretenses, Catwoman. Love the ears."

She didn't recognize him. His face seemed familiar under the green hat and purple mask, but she wasn't sure if it was from meeting this asshole before or from staring at the police sketch countless times. Right now, it didn't matter and she didn't care. "I'm here for my sister. Get out of my way." She dropped the coils of the whip before cracking it.

"I'm afraid I can't." The Riddler lifted a thick remote control with his left hand. "I rigged up a pressure detonator and attached it to enough explosives to level the building above if she moves off that cot. So consider it time to chat."

Selina twitched the whip, but didn't crack it. "Fine. You know how the ancient Egyptians removed brains when making mummies? I've always wanted to pull someone's brain out their nose. Thanks for volunteering."

"Now that's just hostile. One little name and I'll leave your family alone. You and Wayne can go back to whatever game you're pulling on the whole city."

"I told you before we weren't playing any games, Nigma." Bruce stepped out of the shadows of the side tunnel and moved around the cage toward Selina.

"This love nest is quite the maze. How many more holes does it have?" The Riddler sneered at Bruce. "Who else will show up for this tête-à-tête?"

"Bruce." She bit back her question of why he was here when she sent the call for help to Nightwing to keep him from doing something stupid like show up here. The Riddler wouldn't let him leave now. "Wait, Nigma? The FBI idiot who tried to arrest me?"

Nigma doffed his hat. "Someone's not as stupid as the tabloids make him out to be. So level with me, what are you getting out of this? Knowing Catwoman's secrets, you know what happened here. The bun in her oven isn't yours. Loyalty to Batman's memory didn't stop you from marrying his widow."

Bruce smirked. "There's a riddle for you; what do I owe Batman?"

"I'll stick to my original one, thank you very much. Who was the Batman?" Selina glared. "You are betting that Jennifer won't move upon waking up, that's gutsy. This handy device will turn off the pressure detonator as soon as my riddle is answered. Who was Batman?"

Neither Bruce nor Selina uttered a word. The falling water didn't mask the sound of the grapple gun firing. Nightwing vaulted over the waist-high railing and landed behind the Riddler, not that there was an exit that way.

Nigma turned so his back was to the fence. "Let's give the understudy a turn. The question is who was Batman?" Nightwing stood in a guarded stance. "Nothing?" Nigma asked. "Catwoman, give the Boy Wonder back his tongue."

"Give up, Riddler," Nightwing growled out.

"On second thought, take it back again. He doesn't think beyond clichés." Nigma shook his head. "But I am impressed. It took over a month to develop that virus to disable your phones and not the whole city and you still found a way to communicate around it. But you won't give me a straight answer." He frowned as he turned his back on Nightwing. "I guess that makes it Jennifer's turn. Wakey-wakey, Miss Kyle." He grabbed the fence and rattled it.

Jen flinched on the cot and flailed her arm. "What?" she slurred.

"Don't move, Jen!" Selina yelled.

Jen froze with her hand in the air. "Not moving. Why am I not moving?"

"Just stay calm, Miss Kyle. And don't lift up," Nightwing said.

Jen turned her head to see the front of the cage past her feet. "Selina? Where are we? What's going on?"

"Your sister doesn't want you to set off the detonator you're lying on." Nigma waved at Jen when she turned her head to look at him.

"The Lucky Charms guy put me on a bomb?" Jen turned back to Selina.

"Yes, stop moving so much," Selina answered.

"Feel caught up now?" Nigma interrupted. "Good, time for you to join our little game of Truth or Dare. They've all dared, maybe you'll pick truth. What will it be?"

"You want to blow me up? What did I ever do to you?"

Nigma hit the fence with his fist. "I'm the one who asks the questions down here. And the question of the hour is who was Batman? Tick tock, Jennifer. What's your final answer?"

Panic crossed Nightwing's face before he hid it, but Nigma's attention was split between Jen and Selina, so he missed it. Selina didn't reveal she had seen it. Why was Nightwing panicking? All Jen had to say was the truth that she didn't know.

"God, Selina, why won't you tell him so he'll leave us alone!"

Jen shouldn't have said that. Selina stared at Nigma, not letting her surprise slip out.

"Yes, Selina, why won't you tell me?" Nigma asked. "You shared it with your darling sister, probably shared it with the man you married, why not me?"

"I never give bullies what they want," Selina answered.

"I resent that; I'm not a bully."

"Never giving the bullies what they want worked so well against Bane," Jen grumbled. "We were supposed to bug out together. That was always the plan."

Selina broke her gaze with Nigma and looked at Jen. Jen knew, that's why Nightwing looked panicked, but did she know she couldn't say? "It did work against Bane. And we can't trust this riddling fool."

"And I resent that. I gave you fair warning for everything I've done and ample opportunity for you to avoid it," Nigma said.

"You murdered a woman, kidnapped her, and now kidnapped and threatened her sister," Nightwing said. "Mrs. Wayne is right not to trust you."

"Shut it, kid, the grown-ups are talking."

"He's right," Bruce said.

Jen craned her neck to see Bruce at the other corner of the cage.

"You had your chance to answer, Wayne. And that attitude will blow us all up."

"Can we please have this discussion without me on the bomb?" Jen wailed.

Nigma tsked. "Why put her through this? You're her sister. And all you have to do is answer my question."

Selina planned to tell him to go to hell, but the pain in her pelvis stole her words away and it was all she could do to keep it from her face. And then Jen screamed. "Batman was Jean Paul Valley! Get me off this bomb please!"

Nigma's gaze whipped to Selina's face and the pain ebbed so she could widen her eyes. Her breathing was already erratic and she narrowed her glare. "Damn it, Jen! I never should have told you."

"I'm sorry, Selina," Jen whined, "but I don't want to blow up. Please."

Nigma flourished the remote and pressed a button on it. "I am a man of my word, bomb deactivated. Scamper away now if you please."

Jen gingerly rolled off the cot before bolting through the opening in the fencing behind Selina. Bruce spun her behind him as he moved closer. Selina popped the whip. It hit Nigma's hand sending the remote over Nigma's shoulder. Nightwing lunged forward and caught it.

"Ow!" Nigma rubbed the injured hand. "I let her go. That was completely uncalled for."

Selina shifted her stance, ignoring the renewed pain in her pelvis. "If you're so smart, riddle me this. How are you getting out of here?" She swung the whip.

Nigma caught it as his hand went under his green jacket. He reeled himself in and pressed a semi-automatic pistol against her baby bump. "With you, Catwoman."

Bruce inched forward. "Don't hurt her. I'll be your hostage."

The pain in her pelvis intensified before it ebbed away again, but as it ebbed Selina felt a gushing and her black knit pants grew wet between her legs.

"You're not nearly as appealing travel partner, Wayne. Now step back unless you want something to happen to Jean Paul's cuckoo."

"My water just broke!" Selina shouted, which happened to land right in Nigma's ear as he looked over shoulder at Bruce.

He stepped back, jerking the handgun away from her as he stared down. "What!"

Her fist holding the whip handle smashed into his jaw. He spun from the punch and landed against the cage's fencing. She backed up as Bruce pounced.

Nightwing caught the handgun Bruce tossed his way.

The second punch dropped the green-suited man to the floor. Bruce hauled Nigma up by his white, button-up shirt and punched him again. Nigma's eyes rolled back in his head. Bruce let him go and stepped back. "Good distraction," he said at Selina, even though his eyes stayed focused on the unconscious man. Nightwing crouched next to Nigma with a pair of handcuffs.

"I wish!" She pressed her hands and the whip against her stomach and breathed with the contraction.

Bruce's rage bled out of his eyes as he turned his controlled expression to her. Jen moved to Selina's side. "You're having the baby?"

"I'm not having her down here." She looked at Bruce and the cage behind him. "Bruce, please, not down here."

"I parked in the garage." Bruce's face cracked as it paled and she grabbed his offered arm. "Can you walk?"

"I can walk, but I can't fit into the Lambo anymore."

Nightwing hefted the cuffed Nigma over his shoulders. "I'll send Alfred to the Wayne Enterprises' building."

Jen moved to Selina's other side as they headed down the stairs. "Do the funny breathing."

"You're not my Lamaze coach." Selina breathed deeply. "In case I don't remember later, thank you."

Jen looked back up the stairs where Nightwing waited to bring Nigma down. "Bruce is family now. We don't abandon family," she said quietly. Bruce's head jerked to look at Jen around Selina. She continued, "But we need to have a serious talk about your taste in men."

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