by Chris Dee and FFnet author "Bruce Wayne"
When he sent Roland Desmond to the Devin Building, Torque thought Blockbuster would encounter Batman there. That, he had been led to believe, was the trap.
Blockbuster entered the Devin Building expecting to find a captive Catwoman. Instead, he faced – not cat, not bat, but instead - Nightwing – a riled Nightwing that was ready for him.
The vigilante stood alone, at the center of the room, lifting a pair of escrima sticks with gentle fingers, like a conductor raises his baton before a concert.
"You're having a bit of a day, aren't you, Roland."
Across from the Devin Building, on the rooftop of the Melville Arms, Batman paced back and forth like the tiger, Shimbala, which Selina had refused to bring along as a bodyguard.
"Now I'm supposed to stand here, just stand here, while my boy takes on that monstrosity by himself?"
"You don't have to stand," Catwoman soothed while she inspected a ventilation duct with professional interest, "You can sit. You can pace. You can-"
"Damnit, woman, this plan isn't sound."
"You can pace, you can swear and, if you want, you can even complain about the arrogant crimefighter than runs this town insisting everybody play it his way. But the one thing you will not do is go inside that building."
"That's why you're here."
"That's why I'm here. My job is to make sure you don't make a move from this roof – You don't make a move against Blockbuster unless he walks out of that building on his own power."
"Selina," Batman said softly, "if Blockbuster walks out of there on his own, it means that Dick is dead."
Blockbuster had incredible power. The menace had slain and broken hundreds of men. He was a huge brute that could do as much damage with a casual swat as with a deliberate bear hug.
The goliath lumbered forward.
Nightwing started to move as well, springing and pivoting around the giant, using the escrima sticks to drive quick shots to the rear of Blockbuster's knees. The rods struck flesh in a rhythm of sickly wet squelches, but Blockbuster kept coming.
Nightwing stopped short and Blockbuster lunged. Nightwing dodged and Blockbuster clutched. Nightwing wheeled out of the way and Blockbuster increased his forward momentum.
Nightwing whipped around and swung the sticks hard into the small of Blockbuster's back – his opponent arched back with a roar – that had hurt. But the arch countered the momentum Nightwing had hoped would carry the brute into the wall.
Both men kept moving. The terrible, massive arms kept clutching, crablike, for his much smaller foe.
"This is torture…
"You're all torturing me, you know that…
"You're killing me… You and Dick…
"Don't you even care?…
"Won't you at least answer me?"
He moved with the speed of a much smaller man. Every time Nightwing whirled to escape Blockbuster's clutch, the giant reacted faster than expected. Quick, weaving spurts on Nightwing's part brought him loss, not gain.
Nightwing was whirling to get behind the villain - taking another swipe at his legs with each turn. If he could get Blockbuster's hulking mass down on the ground, much of his advantage would be negated.
Against a wall, Nightwing stood a scant yard from the sweeping arms. Diving to the side, he barely missed a bear hug.
A massive hand caught his shoulder, and 'Wing felt as though his arm might be ripped from its socket.
Spinning as he reached the wall at the right, Wing found himself facing a human grizzly pounding forward for the kill. Nightwing sped along the wall, then made for the open center of the room.
"Won't you at least answer me?" Batman grabbed Catwoman by the shoulders. As she looked up at him with moist eyes, he realized why she was silent. It wasn't the silence of indifference or anger, but of choking back tears.
"Of course I care," she said finally. "Do you think I enjoy seeing you like this? I know where the control freak comes from, Bruce. It's helplessness. It comes from a little boy who was afraid and alone and made it so that would never happen again. Am I right?"
He looked at her for a long moment, heart pounding.
"It did happen again. It does happen. Dick was shot, I said 'No more,' he wouldn't listen. He came here, I couldn't stop it."
"I know you want to control things."
"I couldn't stop him. Jason got careless, I said 'Stop,' he wouldn't listen. He ran away, he got killed. I couldn't-"
"I understand that. You couldn't stop it. You felt helpless."
Batman turned and looked out over the city. The wrong city. He walked to another ledge of the building and looked towards Gotham.
"It would have killed you to bring the tiger?"
Once again, Nightwing was able to flatten the Escrima sticks into the rear joints of his opponent. The chase continued. 'Wing could see that Blockbuster was tiring. Nightwing - backing, springing, whirling - was engaged in trapped flight from a foe that now seemed, at last, to be tiring.
A ham-sized fist shot straight toward Nightwing's face. He blocked instinctively, swinging with his left hand. Only once his forearm hit Blockbuster's did he realize the mistake – he couldn't pit his strength against this monstrosity's right cross… except… at that moment… the impossible happened… the arm opposing his wavered. Blockbuster was weakening.
Nightwing kicked himself free. Then, with all his might, Nightwing delivered a terrific blow to the rear of his opponent's knees.
This time, Blockbuster went down like a felled tree. 'Wing delivered another smashing blow, this time into the back of the giant's neck. The stroke stunned Blockbuster for an instant, then he was down. If only Nightwing could keep him on the ground…
"Hey," Selina's voice was very soft, as was the ungloved finger that touched his lip, then his chin. "I'm not a Robin. I'm not a sidekick. I'm not going to grow up and leave you or go off on some adolescent rampage."
"There are still risks," he whispered.
"Of course. Those go with The Life. For you, too. I mean, let's face it, I'm hands down the only woman you've dated who wouldn't have a problem with how you spend your nights."
He answered with a half-twitch. "That's true."
"So we're okay?"
"Almost. We'll be fine… as soon as Dick comes out of there in one piece."
Nightwing delivered two quick, powerful punches into the villain's arms, blows meant to stun the upper portion of the body. The lower arms, however, shot out to clutch their prey. Another smash, with all of Nightwing's fury… Blockbuster turned slightly from the blow and 'Wing, diving sidewise, managed to elude another clutch of gigantic hands.
With one mighty heave, Blockbuster got back on his feet. But he looked unsteady. Another punch from Nightwing turned the giant toward him. The murderous opponent lunged, gaining momentum, and Nightwing leapt back to the center of the room.
An obviously tired Blockbuster started towards him. He was sweating profusely and his face was a deep shade of red. His breath came in gasps. Nightwing leaped and delivered a stunning dropkick to the face.
Whirling on his landing, Nightwing saw the final fall.
Blockbuster staggered… eyes wide… staggered… then the top-heavy body skidded to the floor.
The fight between Nightwing and Blockbuster had lasted six minutes. The fight between Detective Porpora and Chief Redhorn lasted forty.
Porpora, representing The Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force against Organized Crime, was to lead the press conference at Bludhaven City Hall announcing Roland Desmond's capture and the extraordinary catalog of charges for which he was being arraigned.
Porpora's aim was to place the Task Force seal over that of the Bludhaven Police Department on the podium. Redhorn was insulted. What did this say about the BPD?
Porpora's response was brutally frank: it said they were dirty. It said the Task Force was involved because it was the only way Desmond would see the inside of a courtroom. It said this is why we have federal racketeering laws in the first place, so corrupt locals couldn't shield a thug like Blockbuster, no matter how many he'd paid off.
The threats with which Chief Redhorn answered these charges were vivid and imaginative – both against Porpora and whoever was behind this slur on his department, and he would find out who it was, make no mistake.
But the only follow-through would be when four of Redhorn's dirtiest cops decided it might have been Grayson, and formed a posse to go into Gotham and teach the snitch a lesson. They would get as far as Englehart Square - when they got mugged.
Selina took her phone call out on the terrace, then returned to the dining room. Dick and Barbara had agreed to stay the night at the manor. After such a successful mission, a celebratory dinner seemed in order.
"Any news?" Barbara asked brightly when Selina returned, sparing Dick and Bruce the indignity of showing interest in rogue gossip.
"It's official," Selina announced. "Ivy has a new flytrap. She was at the pottery place last night painting the pot for Ivan-II…"
Bruce and Dick groaned, and Barbara chortled.
"…Doris got a tingle sabotaging the book signing. Keeps asking Eddie if it's always this much fun to be bad."
"Oh. My. God." Dick gasped, joining Barbara in discreet chuckling.
Even Bruce gave a mild twitch when he pondered, "Whatever did 'Eddie' say to that?"
"Jervis has hatted himself a White Rabbit - the whole Iceberg is talking about it," Selina went on.
"You mean an Alice," Bruce corrected.
"I mean a White Rabbit. She's too tall to be an Alice. 5'11'' in her stocking feet."
"WHOA," Dick exclaimed.
"He measured her?" Barbara asked.
"It's good to be home," Bruce said with a contented sigh.
©2002, Chris Dee
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The Mythology and Folklore Museum
opens a special exhibit
on the genre of the Mystery-Whodunit
Made possible by a generous grant
from the Wayne Foundation
Trick or Treat
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