The Worst of Times
It was a beautiful day in the most wonderful city on earth, and Police Commissioner Frank Reagan was in his office, going through the latest figures from the police academy. The next crop of recruits looked highly promising: capable, honest men who would give their all to the job. It was just a pity that the budget wouldn't allow for him to hire more than a third of them. Still, most could go on to successful careers in other cities…
The door to his office swung open in a way it really wasn't supposed to, and Frank looked up to see a rather breathless Garret Moore.
"We need you in the situation room." He said.
It was a lazy day in the most comfortable armchair in the world, and Henry Reagan didn't plan to get out of it for anything. He'd spent all yesterday weeding out the front garden and mowing the lawn, so he felt justified in taking the day off. He'd lain in bed for nearly an hour after waking up, just reveling in the warmth of the sun. Then he'd come downstairs and fixed himself an exceedingly late breakfast, and now he was sitting in his favorite armchair in front of the television, laughing at soap operas.
Honestly, some people watched these things all the time? And took them SERIOUSLY?
John was just about to tell Mary that he was not only her husband, but also the 'other man' when the television flickered, and the intense domestic scene was replaced with a rather nervous-looking newsman. Henry sat up a little straighter.
"We interrupt this broadcast to bring you some breaking news."
It was the hottest day in the hottest month in the year, and Officer Renzulli was out in the middle of Times Square, under the full weight of the sun. His dark blue uniform wasn't exactly helping matters, and neither was the screaming lady he was trying to pacify.
"Miss, I don't make the parking laws, I just enforce them." He finished scribbling off the ticket and handed it to her. "You have a problem with it, take it to City Hall."
"But I was walking back to my car already!" She insisted. "A couple more minutes and you'd never have noticed!"
Renzulli briefly wondered how that was supposed to make it better. "Miss, if there were a fire in this building, I definitely would notice." He gestured at the lines on the ground. "This is a fire lane. You can't park here. Now you take this ticket to…"
He noticed the woman wasn't listening. She was staring past him, at the giant television screen that dominated the square. And now he saw that a man on the sidewalk was looking there too, and another man, and a mother and her child. They were all staring at the television screen.
Renzulli turned to see what all the fuss was about.
It was a busy day in the most overworked DA's office on the planet, and Assistant District Attorney Erin Reagan-Boyle was looking over a few case studies. She felt reasonably confident about winning the Micawber case, and the Kloosterman suit was developing nicely, but that Corleone bust worried her. Perhaps she should make the deal. Dad wouldn't like it, and neither did she, but in the end you did what you had to to put the crooks away.
She put the files away, turned, and sighed. The whole left side of her desk was piled high with cases, reviews, and warrants. Looks like any kind of lunch is out of the question.
A sharp rapping at the door made her look up. The DA was standing in the door, an odd look on his face. "Erin, come to the break room."
She arched an eyebrow, gesturing at the pile. "Sir, I've got a lot to catch up on…"
"Just come to the break room, Erin." He said again. "There's something on the television you really have to see."
It was the slowest of slow days in the slowest class in the slowest SCHOOL on the face of the planet, and sophomore Nikki Reagan-Boyle felt like her brain was about ready to leak out of her eardrums. Math had never been her strong point, but today they were doing matrices. MATRICES. AUGMENTED matrices. Nikki couldn't quite remember how many circles of hell there were, but she felt reasonably sure that augmented matrices had a ring all to themselves.
Mr. Dripwilger wasn't helping matters in the slightest. "Now, the procedure to solve a FOUR by four matrix is very similar, with slight variations. The important aspect to remember, as we said before, is…" He squinted at the open Math book on his desk. "…that operations performed on any element of the matrix effect the whole. If you will turn to page 47…"
"May I please have your attention."
Nikki perked up at the squawk of the intercom. Sure, it was probably just a reminder that today was National Balloon Awareness Day, but at this point she'd take anything.
"I have… have just… received word that…"
Frowning, Nikki exchanged glances with the rest of the class. Principal Schraeder sounded… strange.
"I have just heard on the television," said the intercom, apparently regaining control of itself, "that one of America's greatest cities has come under terrorist attack."
It was a ratherly blissfully stupid day in the precinct, and Detective Danny Reagan was poring through pages of financial reports in search of a discrepancy. There might be something there and there might not be, but the difference could change the whole shape of the case.
Lance Tyrion, age 48, had died in his home last night, of a rather standard gunshot wound. They were still waiting to hear back from ballistics, but Danny felt in his gut that the blood flow was all wrong and had a sneaking suspicion that autotopsy would reveal that the victim died of poisoning, with the gunshot coming after. Which placed suspicion on his wife, who'd fed the man his last meal.
But what motive could she have? It might be personal, it might be spiritual, it might be mental, what Danny was working on right now was the financial possibility, which might not turn out to be anything. Thirty pages down, about sixty more to go…
"What… WHAT!" A detective on the other side of the room stood up, cellphone clapped to his ear. "Your mother… it's on now?" He covered the phone's mouthpiece. "Get that television on!" He whispered urgently.
Frowning, Danny turned with the others as the precinct's television flickered into life. "…those of you just joining us now, Gotham City has come under attack by an as-yet unnamed terrorist organization, we have here again the tape of the leader's speech…"
"…and the triggerman is one among you! An ordinary citizen, like you, who will at the first sign of interference or…"
It was a terrible day in the most horrifying world of all possible worlds, and Linda Reagan was standing in the living room of her home, dishwater dripping from her hands as she watched the bridges explode and collapse for what seemed like the hundredth time.
Henry had called her. She'd barely been able to understand him at first, he was talking so fast. And he was swearing. She'd never heard Henry swear before.
All she had been able to decipher was: "Turn the damn TV on!" So she'd ducked into the living room, picked up the remote, and flicked it on.
It was all there. Plastered over all the networks. The football player running across the field, the strange rippling of the ground that you thought was a tv glitch until it ripped completely open. The 'Gotham skycam' feed that showed plumes of dust exploding into the sky, buildings crumbling, all before the feed itself cut out. Other skycam shots, showing the bridges collapsing. More of the football stadium, now with a masked man in the center, accompanied by armed guards. The bomb, the scientist, the sickening crack. The triggerman is one among you…
Linda nearly jumped at the ringing of the telephone. Quickly she backtracked into the kitchen, snatching up the cordless. "Hello?"
Nearly immediately, she relaxed. "Oh, Danny." She closed her eyes. "Are… are you seeing this? Is it…?" She listened for a few seconds. "No. Your grandfather is the only one who's called, do you think your dad…? Oh, he's alright. Oh, that's great." She walked back to the television as if drawn to the images. "No I understand, baby. Stay as long as they need you. No, we'll be fine."
She listened for a few moments more, than nodded. "Yes. Yes, I was planning to go by and pick the kids up anyway." Stealing another glance at the television, she added, "Perhaps we'll stop in at your Granddad's for supper, just to make sure he's doing okay."
"…return to your homes, and hold your loved ones close."
"Love you too, babe." Linda whispered back into the phone.
The whole class sat in riveted silence, staring at the glowing screen in the corner of the class. Satellite images were coming up, showing the newly ripped cityscape of Gotham. The newsman appeared again in the corner. "Still no word from official channels, but we have here a bulletin saying that military forces have been put in motion and are already now on their way to secure the situation."
A jab to her side shook Nikki from her reverie. "Hey." Her friend whispered, looking at her with evident concern. "You okay?"
"I'm fine." Nikki managed.
"You sure? You're as pale as a ghost. And you're shaking."
Nikki looked down, stuck her hands in her pockets, and swallowed. "I'm fine." She repeated. "Really."
The living room was starting to look like some kind of nerve center. Henry'd grabbed Frank's old laptop and pulled up half-a-dozen searches on this "Bane" fellow, along with maps of the Gotham City area and some Google Earth images. He'd muted the TV—at some point they'd just started repeating their old segments, and that was no help to him.
He'd gone digging through some old newspapers and found a reference to the dead scientist. He'd printed out the man's dissertation on the fusion bomb, even though he couldn't begin to understand half the terms the man threw around in it. None of what he did actually made any difference to the mayhem onscreen, but Henry felt he had to do SOMETHING.
The phone wouldn't stop ringing. All his old friends, calling up: Are you okay, Henry, you seeing this, did you ever hear the like, world's all gone to hell… Family too, checking to see if he was all right.
Really, Henry felt like he should be the LAST person they should worry about.
The break room had passed the 'horrified silence' stage and was moving quickly into the 'horrified debate' stage.
"They can't possibly be serious…"
"…never get away with it, they can't guard all the exits…"
"…public opinion is going to go haywire…"
Erin wasn't joining in, she was just staring at the television, waiting, WAITING to hear one particular news item.
What happened to the police officers?
"Gordon was in the hospital, last I heard, has there been any word from Foley?" Frank Reagan glanced up the table of grim-faced men.
His chief of intelligence shook his head. "No sir. In fact we're having difficulty contacting anyone in the city, it seems most of the major lines of communication were cut in the initial explosion."
"So we have no idea what kind of shape their police force is in?"
"No sir. Given the sheer brazenness of the act, though…" The intel officer gestured at the mute screen. "…it's safe to say that they were somehow incapacitated before the event."
Frank Reagan drew in a deep breath and let it out. "Well, there's nothing we can do about that. Our first concern has to be our own city."
"You think they might attack here too, Frank?" Mayor Poole's face was tense and alert. "You think this isn't an isolated incident?"
"Mr. Mayor, I honestly don't know. Given the entrenched nature of what they've done, I'm inclined to think they're not going anywhere, but I'd rather not take the chance that I'm wrong about that." Flipping open the file before him, he continued, "Call in all the men we have. All leaves, vacations, sick days are as of this moment canceled. I want a strong police presence around all the major political and economic centers. Triple random searches on the subways, and get Harbor Patrol out in the bay." He hesitated for a moment, then added, "And I want riot police available at Zucotti Park. Three squads, at least."
Garret eyed him. "Commissioner, the Occupy movement has already gone on the air stating unequivocably that they in no way sponsor or approve of the actions of this 'Bane.' They're unaffiliated with him, and are as 'shocked and horrified' by the events as we are."
"Understood." Frank nodded. "And if I thought for a second they DID have anything to do with him, I'd have you charge in there and arrest them all. But make no mistake, this situation IS going to stir up trouble, if not from the Occupiers, than from people who blame them."
A few grey heads wagged around the table. "Be easy for some nutjob who lost family in the explosion to go running into that camp waving a knife around." One of them muttered.
"Mr. Mayor, I'm going to provide you with a police escort." Frank looked over at the man. "There is a network of safe locations we have reserved for these situations, I have to ask that you remain in hiding until the situation stabilizes."
The mayor shook his head. "I'll go with your men, Frank, but the people need to hear from their officials at a time like this. I need to get in front of a TV camera."
"Safe House 'E' has a fully equipped media room." Garret glanced from the mayor to his boss. "We'll put together an approved news team and have them meet you there for a conference."
Frank frowned but let it pass. "As you wish, Mr. Mayor." Glancing around the circle, he stood to his feet. "Very well then, gentlemen." He said, as the others rose. "You all know your jobs. Let's get out there and keep this city safe."
The officers filed out, pausing only to give the commissioner's hand a firm shake. Garret was the last to leave. As he went out the door, he paused and turned to look at his boss. "Frank, I…" He hesitated for a moment. "I mean, have you heard anything?"
Frank stared across the table at the empty wall. "No, Garret." He turned his head to look at him. "No word."
"Guess this killer's getting away." Danny muttered, dropping the homicide file into his desk drawer.
"Come off it, Reagan." Curatola was shrugging into her coat. "A city just got blown to hell and you're worried about a little two-bit homicide? Come on, we're due at City Hall to escort the Secretary of Cultural Affairs home."
"Yippee-ki-yay." Danny muttered, grabbing his own coat off the back of his chair. "Well, I can definitely see that if this city came under attack, cultural affairs would be the first thing on their mind."
"Hey, just cause they're terrorists don't mean they can't appreciate art."
"Yeah? Well if…"
"My fellow Americans."
For the second time, everyone froze and turned to the screen, fixed on the words of the elderly head that filled it.
"Our nation has been faced with an unprecedented crisis. Today, an unnamed terrorist organization has struck with inhuman brutality and unmatched ferocity at the heart of one our proudest urban centers. With the threat of a nuclear device, they have held 20 million lives hostage, promising to wipe out the whole city should a single soul escape." The president took a breath. "In this difficult time, we ask the people of Gotham to be strong, as they have been so often before…"
Curatola leaned in as the president continued on about not negotiating but facing reality. "Danny." She whispered. "Isn't your brother Jamie in Gotham?"
Danny, eyes fixed on the screen, could barely nod. "Yeah." He managed. "Yeah he is."
It was the most horrifying day of his life, and the world was crashing down around Jamie Reagan's ears. The street was erupting against his feet, shards of glass and concrete was raining from the sky. There was a little girl, shrieking in the middle of the deadly downpour. He grabbed her and pulled her out of the way, shielding her with his body.
"Pull back!" He could hear Assistant Commissioner Foley's voice screaming over the radio. "Can you hear me? Get out of the tunnels, now!"
Jamie hadn't gone into the tunnels with the others. He, his partner, and maybe a handful of others had been out patrolling the city, keeping up a semblance of order while the 'real fight' went down underground.
He didn't know where they were. Heck, he didn't where HE was. He'd only been in Gotham for two months, and since that explosion flipped their car and smashed his partner under a load of concrete, he'd been more or less running blind. Hadn't exactly been paying attention to where he'd been running, either… it was kinda hard, what with the ground ripping up every five or ten feet.
The little girl was still shrieking. Jamie just held onto her. "You're all right!" He shouted to be heard over the roar of the explosions. "You're going to be fine!" One jagged bit of concrete thudded against his back and he staggered. "You're all right." He repeated, his voice a touch more ragged.
Things were growing quieter, he noticed distantly. The explosions had stopped, the rumble of collapsing buildings was slowly growing fainter. A few more notable rocks rebounded off him, then a shower of pebbles, and then it seemed to be over.
Slowly, he stood up. He let go of the little girl but she clung to him, still crying. All before and behind him, the street was rippled like a great blocky river of upended stones, great cracked flags of cement thrown up at odd angles. Bits of buildings littered the street, and in some sections utterly choked the road with the toppled remains of their once-proud structures. Sparking wires hung overhead beside the looming skeletons of skyscrapers just waiting to fall.
It looked like the end. It was only the beginning.
A/N:.So. Rises was an incredibly satisfying tale that deserves fanfiction, and will doubtless get plenty. I was thinking of waiting until I had more of this written out before I submitted (because I have too many projects already to start another one) but then I realized that I'd better get into the Dark Knight fandom while it was hot.
Blue Bloods is an underappreciated show about a New York Irish cop family, where all the members of the family are involved at some level with the police force. Now Will Estes, the actor for Jamie, has a cameo in Rises, and I decided to run with that. Batman, sadly, probably won't show up an awful lot in this fic, it's going to be mostly about the men and women of the GCPD and how they deal with the events of Rises. Obviously, there will be spoilers (kinda already were).