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

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Batman rose above the buildings to see multiple streets below. He flicked on the radio controls for a live microphone. "Nightwing, Catwoman, the bomb is traveling down Badger Boulevard. Intercept the convoy and force it east to Crimin Avenue."

Catwoman shouted against the wind. "I'm gaining on them, just past Trillium Park."

"We're cutting back over to Moses Boulevard," Nightwing answered. "Where do we don't want them to go with it?"

"Old Wayne Tower. She wants to die where her father died." Batman spotted the convoy and swooped down closer.

"Where her father died?" Gordon repeated. "That terrorist nut who gassed the Narrows?"

"Ra's al Ghul, yes."

"What is with this family!" the Commissioner said. No one had an answer for him.

The Hummer on the bomb truck's right slowed down to cover the rear. One mercenary climbed up into its gun turret and opened fire on the Batpod. Catwoman swerved out of the line of fire. He fired on the ruined cars lining the street next to block her path.

The Bat swooped into sight and the mercenary turned the fire on the flyer. Catwoman gunned the Batpod and fired her cannons. The blasts hit and the Hummer exploded. Batman lifted the Bat away from the convoy. He had to let them cross the Narrows Bridge to get the core to the reactor.

The Hummer on the truck's left fall back to the rear and it had a rocket launcher turret. The mercenary aimed it at the street first. He fired a rocket as soon as they rolled onto the Narrows Bridge. The concrete and asphalt rained down in the frozen Gotham River, but the metal struts remained intact.

Catwoman didn't slow the Batpod at all. She drove up onto the wall protecting pedestrians from falling into the river and shot over the hole. The tires rotated until she stopped and lined up with the convoy again.

The mercenary aimed the rockets up at the Bat, shooting the rest of them into the air. The computer alarm blared at Batman and he grimaced. Five heat seeker missiles honed on his exhaust. He banked to the right and flew between the Downtown skyscrapers that looked down on Arkham Asylum. Two missiles exploded into the building he rolled the Bat over. Three continued to chase him.

"They've turned left onto East Fifteenth Street," Catwoman yelled into her microphone. "Nightwing, where are you?"

"We just turned onto Fourteenth Street!"

The Bat climbed over another building. One missile slammed into the side of it. Down to two. Batman pushed the stick and guided the missiles above the Narrows before swooping at car level up Montgomery Avenue. One missile slammed into a parking garage as the avenue narrowed past Saint Mary's park. He flew over the Hummer in the lead of the convoy with Montgomery intersected with East Fifteenth. The missile hit the vehicle broadside and pushed it into a building across the street.

Batman looped in the air over the buildings. He saw the Batpod fire upon the last Hummer and swerve around the flaming wreckage. The Tumbler roared up Charlie Street. The bomb truck sped up and the Tumbler turned alongside rather than ram the trailer.

He swooped the Bat in front of the truck and fired bullets as he flew down East Fifteenth. The truck didn't turned left or right onto Fifth Avenue. He continued firing and bullets hit the truck's cab. Through the windshields, he saw the truck's driver jerk and fall to the side. Talia shoved across the seat and grabbed the wheel. He lifted the Bat over the truck so they didn't crash.

The truck turned north onto P Street. "That's the wrong way!" Nightwing shouted. "Get up along the trailer hitch."

"You think you can decouple it?" Gordon asked.

Batman rose up to look at the vehicles. The man in black and blue armor climbed out on top of the Tumbler. He leaped, grabbed the ladder on the front of the trailer, and slammed against it. Nightwing recovered only to kick a protective cover over the coupling. Batman barked out orders. "Gordon, fire the towing cable and pull the trailer onto Martin Street. Catwoman, blow it free."

They only had a block to pull this off. Catwoman swung the Batpod perpendicular with the truck. The tumbler fired the towing cable. The metal claw latched onto the trailer's front corner and the Tumbler turned west onto Martin Street.

Nightwing wrapped his arms around the top rung of the ladder and tucked up his legs. The Batpod fired on the coupling and jerked into reverse heading east down Martin Street.

Metal shrieked as the trailer turned sideways on P Street. It remained upright as Catwoman fired another cable onto its rear bumper and pulled against the Tumbler. "We got it. Brake now," Batman said.

The truck's cab continued straight into the repaired granite fašade of the Old Wayne Tower. Batman turned his eyes away from the rising flames to land the Bat.

The men ran for the trailer's doors, but Selina pressed the buttons on the Batpod's radio. "Fox, we have the core. Fox, answer please!" The radio produced static. She bit off her cussing and headed to the trailer.

Batman knelt next to the large black sphere that beeped worse than a dying smoke detector. "Is Fox ready?" He pressed buttons on the control panel. The beeping didn't stop.

"I can't raise him. Why is it--?"

"It's going critical." The buttons Batman pushed didn't do anything. "Get the cable from the Bat." Nightwing ran for it while Batman jumped out of the trailer.

"How do we stop it?" Gordon asked.

"I can get it out over the bay."

Selina breathed again as Nightwing and Batman hooked the cable to the core. "Set it to fly over the water, then eject--"

"No autopilot," Batman said to the core.

Everyone froze at that pronouncement, but Selina heard a whimpering gasp. No one else reacted to it and she managed to close her mouth. Batman turned from the trailer and strode toward the Bat. She matched his march. "You don't kill, your one rule."

He faced her. "My life has always been the exception."

She knew at the center of the growing hollow inside her that would be his answer. Just like Nightwing stepping closer to them was no surprise. "I'll fly it out--"

"You're not a pilot!"

She was the only on close enough to see the anguish in his eyes. He was the only one who could make this choice and none of them could change his mind. Tears welled up in her eyes, but he would not see them fall. "No regrets."

Bruce looked at her. "I didn't want--"

"No regrets! None at all." She seized his armored head and pulled his lips to hers. His hands tugged her hips closer as his lips and tongue bruised hers. She wrapped an arm around his neck. The nose of his cowl pressed into her cheek before he pulled back. She sprang her arm free and let him go.

Gordon moved between the Bat's gun turrets while Batman sat in the pilot's seat. "I never cared who you were."

"And you were right."

"Shouldn't the people know the hero who saved them?"

"A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders to let him know the world hadn't ended."

Selina didn't understand the reference, but Gordon nodded as the hatch closed around Batman. He backed away as the Bat began to whine. "I'll respect that, Bruce Wayne."

The Bat lifted off the ground and the three of them left behind backed away as the cable grew taut. The core slid out of the trailer and skidded along the street until the Bat lifted it up above the buildings and into the blue sky.

The End

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