The Dark Knight Rises: Part of the Night: The One Rule

Chapter Twenty-Six

"Are you sure of this plan?" Batman asked as he landed the Bat in silent mode near the Trillium Park outflow channel. This was Nightwing's plan, based on legwork Blake had done for three months, and Blake was more than a little annoyed that no one wanted to try it before now.

Nightwing huffed as he climbed out of the second seat. "Trust me, they are ready to get out of there and fight. And they know how to follow directions." He landed on the ground and sprinted toward the concrete channel.

Batman lifted the Bat back into the air. He knew he couldn't do anything for Miranda and sent Selina as the next best option. Miranda had supported his reactor project and protected his company from Daggett. She didn't deserve what Bane could do to her. Selina would put aside her animosity to see that, hopefully. Right now, he needed to concentrate on this part of the plan.

The puff of smoke reflected in the industrial lights. He swung the Bat to the mouth of the sloped, concrete basin. Nightwing ran up, dodging the powerful cannons on the urban pacification prototype vehicle. The rocks pulverized under the blast. He hovered, waiting to see if another blast was needed, but a trim man in a police uniform climbed out of the hole. He barely straightened his back when a gunshot threw him down.

"No!" Nightwing screamed as he vaulted on top of the retaining wall and ran to the mercenaries grouped at the top of the overflow. A couple turned their automatic rifles at him, but he ran despite the bullets.

Batman bit back his snarl and pulled the Bat back to the landing space. He fired the grapple gun as soon as the canopy opened. His boots slammed into one mercenary, and knocked the man over the edge. He balanced on the concrete wall and punched the next one to the ground.

Across the channel, Nightwing slammed a mercenary into a nearby concrete post. The rest of the group converged on Batman. He punched, kicked, blocked, and threw. Bane's men fell to the ground and didn't get up. Nightwing panted as he looked down. More officers crept out of the hole. "Get up here and arrest these bastards. Is he okay?"

The officer kneeling next to the shot man looked up and shook his head. "Straight through his heart."

Nightwing's chin dropped to his chest.

The victim must be Blake's former partner. Before Batman decided how to proceed, the earpiece built into his cowl chirped that a message was incoming. Speaking of upgrades, he thought as he stepped over the prone mercenaries. He leapt onto the Bat and picked up the radio microphone. "Batman here."

"There's a snag on my end," Selina's voice quivered. Before he could identify what emotion she was expressing, she continued. "I can't rescue Miranda Tate because she's one of them."

Blood pounded through his ears. But he didn't mistake what she said. She must have misinterpreted the evidence. "The League of Shadows doesn't recruit women."

"Then she broke that glass ceiling too. She wasn't locked up, she gave her guard orders, she and Bane were chatting in a foreign language, she had--"

"Miranda's allied with Bane, fine!" He interrupted her list of evidence. She wasn't wrong and that's what it meant.

"Fucked up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional; check. Are you two still at Trillium Park? I'll meet you there." Her voice had shifted to bracing, her way of soothing the blunt truth; her reiterating that they faced this together.

He couldn't bury himself in her now. He had to focus. If he was wrong about Miranda Tate, what else was he wrong about? "No, you need to tell Gordon and Fox. They can't trust Miranda Tate."

"Okay, but that won't--"

He talked over her. "Switch vehicles with Nightwing at the dump and lead a convoy of citizens out of Gotham via the Washington Tunnel. The Batpod has enough firepower to clear the debris."

The radio was silent for a heartbeat. "No, I don't agree with this plan. You send--"

"This isn't a debate! Get out of Gotham, take people with you, and don't put yourself in a position to be hurt by them again." He eased his fist around the radio mike open before he crushed it. "Batman out." He let go of the mike and turned toward the scuffle against the concrete. "You know how to be quieter than that."

Nightwing looked up at him. "I was being polite. What's going on?"

"You remember where the police chase ended, where I brought out the Bat?" Batman dropped to the ground.

"I remember. Why?"

"This will give you access to the Batpod." Batman passed him a key fob. "Trade vehicles with Catwoman at the dump and help Gordon find the bomb with the Tumbler."

Nightwing's forehead bunched against his mask. "You don't need me here?"

"You've given me an army. We have to get control of the bomb. Go." Batman took a deep breath as Nightwing left. He strode to the mouth of the overflow channel. A group of police officers hauled the unconscious mercenaries to the camp on top of the channel. He made a mental note to check these League of Shadows men were properly secured and the guards understood their tricks before they left this location. Another wave of officers climbed out of the hole and stopped as they realized they were out and Batman stood in front of them. "I need the captains and commanders. The job's not done yet." Those ranking police officers pushed their way to the front of the group and headed up the ramp. Batman faced them and pushed his worry aside.

Selina parked the Tumbler under the overpass above Crimin Avenue inside the parking lot for the dump hiding the reactor. Lucius and Gordon whirled to face the vehicle. She inhaled to bring her snarl under control. It was too late to wait in Miranda's new bedroom and beat the shit out of her. But when this was all over she would cross break into jail off her bucket list, and the bitch will need plastic surgery so Bane could recognize her again. She opened the canopy.

"What's changed?" Lucius walked toward her.

Before she answered, the hum of another, smaller engine echoed off the dump's office building. The insane motorcycle pulled up next to the Tumbler. Nightwing sat up. "I'm supposed to trade with you, but I don't know why."

Gordon frowned. "Where's Miranda Tate?"

To his credit, the Commissioner only blinked when she hissed like a cat. She needed to remember that; it did take the edge off her anger. "Tate is with Bane, his goddamn society mole." She strode to Lucius and held out the EMP generator. "I hit the detonator with this and it made a whine. Did I break it?" She saw Nightwing's mouth open out of the corner of her eye. "I couldn't take it and give away our surprise!"

He shut his mouth and jerked his head up and down before climbing off the Batpod.

Lucius rotated the EMP generator key fob. "It certainly wasn't good for it, but I'm not sure what the effects an EMP have on a microburst transmission. We still need to put that block on the core itself and bring it here."

"I'm supposed to help you with that," Nightwing said to Gordon. "And we're supposed to use the Tumbler."

"Do you even know how to drive it?" Selina sighed and held out the Tumbler key.

Gordon took it. "Don't worry, son, I've driven it before. Now if Tate is working with Bane--"

"She hugged him! My brain still can't deal with that ick!" Her whole body shuddered.

"Tate told us which truck has the bomb. We can't trust that tag. What did Batman ask you to do now?"

"He ordered me to open up the Washington Tunnel and get people out." She gritted her teeth. She was showing too much emotion to these men, since she was stuck with them instead of the one she wanted to be with. He needed her when he dealt with Bane. She was supposed to be his ace under his cape. Why was he sending her away?

If she continued asking herself that, she would start crying.

"Catwoman." Nightwing shuffled his feet before lifting his head. "Will you make sure St. Swithin's Boys Home and Mrs. Ross and her daughter get out?"

Her shoulders fell. If Blake was the only one to have people to get off the islands, she'd get them off. "St Swithin's I know; where do I find the Rosses?" He gave her the address in Randall and handed over the Batpod's key fob.

Gordon scrambled into the driver's seat of the Tumbler. "We'll start with the convoy on Montgomery Avenue."

"Good plan." Nightwing vaulted into the passenger seat. "So it was you that knocked the train tower over in the Narrows Riot?"

Lucius looked at Selina as the Tumbler's engine roar faded. "It's a good sign that he wants you safe."

Fox saw her entirely too well. She slid onto the motorcycle seat and tucked her arms into the steering controls. "I'll keep repeating that then." He heel pressed down the throttle and the engine roared. She steered with her shoulders and headed into the heart of Colgate Heights.

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