A pair of gun barrels shoved against her back forced Selina to follow Bane as their group headed behind one of the waterfalls. They had stretched waterproof tarps from the wall to cover half of the walkway behind the cascading water. They protected television screens, a table full of electronic equipment, a military cot set up against storage crates, and a small campfire on the floor. Bane paused and looked at the screens while the rest of his men fanned out and blocked the path out of the command center.
He turned to one of his mercenaries--a swarthy man with a beaked nose. "Strip the traitor of that useless armor and give me an assessment of his condition." Before he nodded his response, Bane turned to another pair of soldiers. "You two move Dr. Pavel." Bane chuckled and Selina suppressed a shudder. "Take him to Daggett's penthouse. Let the good Doctor have a taste of fine American living while he can."
That pair scurried off to do his bidding and Bane turned to the screens again. Selina wanted to see what they were doing to Bruce now, but she didn't dare take her eyes off Bane. She heard the thuds of the armor hitting the floor and the men murmuring behind her.
"Barsad," he rumbled as he turned back to the people. Selina recognized the man who stepped forward as the same one who led the team to her apartment. "Did you not give this thieving whore my instructions?" His eyes glittered at they roved over her.
"I did, Bane."
"Yet, she sided with the traitor." Bane stepped closer to her and Barsad moved with him.
Selina hated not knowing why Bane kept calling Bruce a traitor as much as she hated how all the mercenaries circled her. She gritted her teeth.
"What did he promise you? Safety? Money? A scratch behind the ears for being a good kitty cat?" Bane tilted his head waiting for her reaction. Selina stared at him. "You told her what the consequences of defying us are?"
"I did, Bane," Barsad answered.
She waited for his hand to wrap around her throat as he stepped closer. His finger stroked her jaw instead. "You will make him tell us what he has done with his armory."
Big nose joined their smaller group. "The traitor has a concussion, but he is responding. I need to take an X-ray of his back before recommending any treatment so he can be questioned."
Selina winced. More torture on top of the beating Bane had already given Bruce?
Bane nodded. "Proceed with the X-ray, and then dress him as a prisoner and put him in Dr. Pavel's cage."
Big nose nodded and strode away. Selina risked looking. Bruce laid on a backboard carried by two soldiers. Big nose joined them and the procession left the command center through a tunnel leading away from the arena.
"You will see him again," Bane said. He gestured to the men behind her and they grabbed her arms. They pulled her back to the wider section of the walkway and sat her down in a chair untied, but the aim of their automatic rifles never wavered. Bane turned to a table and bulletin board covered in maps and diagrams, and spoke in a low voice to the men who joined him. At least all her and Fox's packing upset their plans; she wished it had upset them more.
Big nose finally returned and she focused her meandering attention on him. "The traitor's L3 vertebra is dislocated."
"Only dislocated?" Selina felt sick at the disappointment in Bane's rumble.
"His legs are paralyzed. I propose offering him a dose of bupivacaine. That should knock the pain low enough for you to get coherent answers from him."
"Very well. Give him the dose and I'll be there shortly." Bane crossed the command center in a few steps and pointed to Selina. "Strip to your underwear, provided you are wearing any." Selina opened her mouth to tell him to go to hell, but he chopped his hand through the air. "Resist and my men will strip you to the skin and you won't approve of where their hands go."
She bent over and unzipped her boots. The soldier who unhooked her belt upstairs in Applied Sciences stepped forward with it hung over his shoulder and seized her goggles as she took them off. "You break 'em, you buy 'em," she snapped at him. The concrete floor was ice cold through her socks as she shrugged out of her catsuit without looking at any of the silent onlookers. She dropped it on her chair and waited.
"Gag her and hang her where the traitor will see her." Bane turned back to his maps.
Barsad and another soldier grabbed her arms and pulled her down the same tunnel they took Bruce. Her feet scrambled to run with them, but the rough concrete tugged her socks. The tunnel ended in a cage made of chain-link fencing. The door was barred metal with the fencing fastened to it, but her escorts didn't give her time to examine it.
They slammed her against the chain-link wall next to a military cot. Big nose sat on the edge and leaned over Bruce. They had dressed him in a grey T-shirt and blue cotton drawstring pants that both looked like they had seen better days. Barsad and his friend forced her arms above her head and out so her shoulders stretched and then up some more so she stood on her tiptoes. He tied her wrists to the fencing with zip ties before forcing a knotted handkerchief between her teeth.
Her stomach dropped to her feet. Bane was giving Bruce a physical break by torturing her instead. She kicked. Barsad moved out of reach, but she nailed his pal in the gonads.
Big nose laughed and said something in a language she didn't understand. "The traitor is waking now, Bane." He helped the bent-over soldier out of the gate and past their large leader. Barsad moved to the far corner of the cage where he could still watch.
Selina glanced down at Bruce. The gash down his forehead above his right eye still bled, but his eyes focused on her. Recognition dawned into horror as Bane strode inside and squatted in Bruce's line of sight.
Bruce swallowed. "Why didn't you just kill me?"
"You don't fear death," Bane answered. "You welcome it. Your punishment must be more severe."
"Torture," Bruce nearly whispered.
"Yes, but not of your body." Bane leaned in closer to Bruce. "Of your soul. But first, you will tell me where you hid your armory."
Bruce's voice grew stronger. "You can't have it."
"Stubborn to the last." Bane placed his hand on Bruce's chest and pushed himself up. Bruce yelled and thrashed. Selina pulled at the zip ties but found no slack. Bane towered over her. "Which is why your whore is here. What is your favorite part of her body, Traitor?" Bane's finger slid down her arm. "We'll start with it."
"Torturing her won't get you what you want." Bruce heaved in more air. "You can't have what was stored in Applied Sciences."
One of Bane's meaty hands wrapped around her throat and he leaned aside so Bruce saw it. "There is nowhere in Gotham you can hide it where we cannot find it."
"You have a submarine?" The men stared at each other until Bane dropped his hand. Bruce took a deep breath. "The captain of the Takino Doukutsu Maru owed me a favor. I had him dump the containers holding all the prototypes overboard beyond the continental shelf."
Bane looked across the cage. Barsad met his gaze and they held a silent conversation. It ended when Bane strode to the gate and Barsad followed. The gate shut with the familiar buzz of a magnetic lock. The men continued out of the tunnel.
Selina flexed her fingers and pulled, but neither plastic nor metal gave way. Goddamn it, they had to get out of here! The chain-link fencing rattled. And if she couldn't get Bruce out, she had to bring back help--Blake! The baby-faced cop would be believed if he said Bane was under Wayne Enterprises. The zip tie bit down on the bones of her hand.
"Selina," Bruce called. He forced his eyes open. "They drugged me?" She nodded, rather than speak through the gag. "I can't move my legs." His eyelids slid shut. "Get out of here. Get out."
She twisted her arm, but the zip tie moved with it. Bane would kill him if she escaped, but Bruce left her behind knowing that was a possibility. Damn it, she came down here to save him. Bang up job so far, Selina Kyle.
Footsteps came down the tunnel. She saw Barsad returning alone and stopped struggling. He closed the gate once he was inside. "There is a story told once a man passes his final test into the League of Shadows." He glared down at Bruce. "The test the Traitor refused to comply with."
Selina settled for staring at him bewilderedly. Bruce flunked out of their murdering boys' club? Color her shocked, but why tell her? Barsad pulled a Ka-Bar survivalist's knife from its sheath on his minimalist flak vest. She tried to swallow but the gag soaked up her spit.
He smirked and stepped closer to her. "A mercenary fell in love with the daughter of his warlord. They married in secret." He plucked the right black bra strap into the air. "The warlord condemned the mercenary to a prison at the bottom of a pit, hell on Earth, when he discovered the truth. But at the last moment, he exiled the mercenary instead, dropping him at the side of a barren road." Barsad sliced through the elastic. "The mercenary knew his wife had secured his freedom, but he didn't know the true price. The warlord's daughter took his place in the pit." He plucked the left bra strap and sliced it.
"Leave her alone," Bruce rasped.
"Pay attention, Traitor." Barsad's hand slipped into her cleavage and squeezed her breast. She kicked, but he blocked it. "The warlord's daughter gave birth to the mercenary's child in that hell." He cut the seam between her bra cups and admired her breasts as they tumbled free. "She survived in that hell for a few years." He pushed her left leg up and out until her thigh was flat against the fencing. He tied it in place with her ruined bra.
"The criminals held in the pit turned on her. They raped and killed her. Her child survived by climbing out of the pit, the feat no other prisoner dared attempt." He seized her panties on her hip and pulled the material away from her body.
Selina screamed behind the gag and kicked at Barsad again. He leaned his shoulder against her chest, cut her panties, shoved her right leg against the fencing, and tied it there with the fabric. He stepped back so Bruce's furious face saw her suspended like a bondage masochist's wet dream.
Bruce rolled onto his side with a gasping yell. "Don't you dare touch her!"
"Your punishment for siding with the Traitor is to suffer what the warlord's daughter suffered." Barsad holstered his knife and unzipped his camo pants. "Only your death will not be quick." He shoved into her.
Bruce's face twisted with guilt and then rage. He lunged at Barsad's legs, but the mercenary was out of reach. He toppled off the cot and screamed with pain as he hit the floor.
Barsad chuckled as he zipped up. "Too bad we cannot find your blonde friend. She wouldn't be so quiet." Selina stared unblinkingly at him. He soon found insolence in it and backhanded her across the face. She turned back and glared again. He huffed up. "You will be the last thing taken from the Traitor before he is allowed to die." He cut the zip ties from the fencing, but she had to curl her fingers into the chain-links to not topple over.
"Take care of him while you are able," he ordered as he stepped over Bruce's prone body.
She waited until Barsad disappeared around the tunnel's curve before moving. She ignored the pins and needles sensation and forced her fingers to untie the knots around her thighs. She leaned against the cage wall as she untied the gag. "Bruce?" She knelt next to him.
He was out cold. She took a deep breath, wrapped her arms around his chest, and pulled up. She didn't so much lower his upper body back on the cot as toppled him onto it with her on top of him. She tugged her arms free and dragged the rest of him onto the cot. Then she sat on the edge and took stock while she got her breath back.
The cage was six-feet-by-six-feet, three walls made of the chain-link fencing welded to the upright poles at the corners and the horizontal poles about three inches from the tunnel's ceiling and the horizontal poles about four inches off the ground. With tools that would be enough space to do something, she made a mental note and moved to the back wall.
It was stone, bedrock probably, but where the chain-link fencing must be attached to a metal pole, it was embedded in concrete that had dried to the stone. The industrial spotlight mounted to the top of the cage above the gate lit the whole area. The magnetic lock was a brand she recognized and a fail-secure version. Not that she could see the electrical power supply lines. They must have run them inside the poles. Really, she preferred it when the jailers weren't so thorough.
There was a port-a-potty missing its walls next to a table across from the cot. The table was welded steel and too heavy for her to lift, but it had a folded blanket and an unopened bottle of water on it. She took both back to the cot.
She used the former gag to clean Bruce's head wound. It had finally stopped bleeding. She laid the wet rag on his forehead just in case he had swelling and drained the rest of the bottle. "You owe me a night at the Carlyle." Her sarcasm sounded pleading as she smoothed the blanket over him. She tucked herself against his right side, away from the chain-link wall, and avoided putting her weight on his injured body.
She dropped the rough blanket over and let her crashing adrenalin lull her into a doze.