The thickness of the night softens as the clouds’ movement allows for the moon’s glow to pass through in short spurts. Flashes of lightning surging across the atmosphere highlight the lucidity of the moon. The slow rumble of thunder that follows the dance of lightning quiets the already muffled sounds from the street below. The impending storm’s approach is heaven’s way to introduce the combatants.
Perched motionless and silent atop Wayne Towers is the Dark Knight. Crouched on top of the letters spelling out ‘Wayne’ from the roof, Batman is prone and ready. His outfit tonight accented with strategically placed armor plates which will add the much needed protection against his foe tonight. His cape rides the currents of wind rushing across the rooftop and his cowl, reinforced by heavier armor, reveals only white pupil-less eyes and a grim profile.
On the street below, the citizens of Gotham move in and out of the city blocks, store fronts, and cars unaware of what has just passed by. The gust of wind knocks hats off of men in trench coats and pushes some a few steps forward is dismissed as the storm making its way in to the city. For the more attentive citizens, they will go home tonight to tell their loved it was like there was a streak of crimson and blue zipping between the high rises on Main Street. What they don’t know is the crimson and blue streak was the Man of Steel.
Superman has made his way from Metropolis to the unforgiving streets of Gotham City. To Bruce’s city. A city where Bruce knows where each alley and each street lead and every crack in the bricks of the buildings. Clark knows he won’t have to look hard for his “friend” tonight though. The letter he received at his office at the Daily Bugle, from his former League teammate, spelled out exactly where Batman would be.
Superman touches down to the gravel rooftop flawlessly. A rumble of thunder announces his landing. He doesn’t need X-Ray vision or his super-hearing to make out the silhouette of the Batman.
“It doesn’t have to be like this Bruce!” Superman shouts above the thunder.
The Caped Crusader rises from his perch in silent stoicism. He offers no response.
“Save your theatrics Bruce. The strong silent act doesn’t scare me.”
The Last Son of Krypton begins his determined gait toward Batman. Years of fighting next to the Caped Crusader, knowing his tendencies, his obsession with being prepared for anything, have the Man of Steel on alert. A flash of lightning crashes though the clouds and illuminates the area, making each man visible. As if he has timed it, Batman is on the move as soon as the sky goes dark and the clap of thunder rolls from the heavens. Superman has not broken from his stride and before the rumble of thunder ends, he is stopped in his tracks by a flash of light.
Superman’s extraordinary olfactory immediately recognizes magnesium. It’s a flare but this flare is brighter than anything the Kryptonian has seen before. Released from the belt and undoubtedly specially concocted by Batman for tonight’s skirmish.
Batman, with the help from his ever present utility belt, lands the first strike. It takes Superman mere seconds to erase the spots from his eyes and begin moving toward his target again. It is just as Superman takes his first step that his ankles are locked on to by two metal clamps. Before he does anything, a surge of electricity hits him. The lights on four city blocks of Gotham flicker. Street lights have shut off and traffic lights begin to blink. Superman is being electrocuted. The sound of the electricity crackling around his body is as potent as the smell of his skin and hair beginning to burn. His fingertips begin to blacken. The Batman has routed half of Gotham’s power in to this attack.
The surge ends and Superman is left on one knee and his palm on the ground to keep him from falling completely over. He is beginning to get angry. As his senses come back to him and the black on his fingertips heals, his hearing recognizes Batman’s movement. The Dark Knight is 30 feet away and running to the right of Superman.
With one smooth movement, honed with years of training, Batman releases a set of Batarangs from his hand and straight towards the still downed Superman. The Man of Steel hears the rush of air as the Batarangs close in on him. Normally, he would have moved out of the way but for some reason it is taking longer for his strength to return to him so he braces for their impact.
Instead of impact, the Batarangs, with timed precision, release a payload of gas. Five separate clouds of haze condense in to one large cloud around the Kryptonian’s head. Again, Superman’s olfactory recognizes the attack. This time it is mace but like the magnesium flare, this mace is more potent. Most likely something Bruce cooked up in his Cave. The mace enters Superman’s nose and infect his lungs. It is not the sort of attack that will take him out but it is one that will keep him disoriented for a few more seconds.
The Caped Crusader is using those seconds to the best of his ability. He has launched a grapple line from his magnetic gas-powered gun to a girder on the roof. He is swinging towards his enemy now. Another flash of lightning reveals Batman’s plan. At the bottom of his boots are titanium spikes. The kick won’t hurt Clark but the spikes might at least sting. The seconds Batman thought he had are gone because just as his boots come within hitting the ‘S’ on Superman’s chest, the Man of Steel waves his powerful arm and sends Batman flying into a support arm holding up the Wayne Tower’s ‘W’.
Batman tries to roll on impact but the speed of his trajectory doesn’t allow the time. His spine takes the brunt of the crash. He praises himself for adding the armor tonight but his self-congratulations are short lived because as soon as he hits the ground, Superman is standing in front of him. Batman’s strategy of constant barrages against his old friend are over. The Dark Knight thinks to himself, “Now I’m in trouble.”
Superman’s fist connects with Batman’s jaw and sends him flying in the other direction. He slides 15 feet across the gravel. His jaw feels shattered but his head is still on his body so he still has a chance. Batman struggles but he gets to his feet.
“I told you Bruce, it doesn’t have to be like this. Just stand down!” There is a tone of forced confidence in Superman’s voice. That punch was meant to dislodge Batman’s cowl from his head. To end this fight quickly. Something isn’t right but he is careful not to let Batman know about it.
Batman goes for his belt again.
Superman is on top of him in a blink. He knows about the belt too and before Batman can open up a pouch, Superman extends his foot out and catches three of Batman’s ribs, snapping each one, even through the impact armor that could take Solomon Grundy’s best punch. He lands on the ground again. It is hard to catch his breath and a small stream of blood has made its way out of his mouth.
Batman tells himself, get to the belt.
“Are we done yet Bruce?”
Superman’s last word is muted by the sound of more thunder across the skyline. Batman tries to catch his breath, summons his strength to his legs to stand, ignores the searing pain coming from both his side and his jaw, and hidden from Superman’s sight by his cape, reaches his hand in to a compartment on his utility belt.
Superman walks up to Batman and grabs the back of his head with his left hand. His right hand is now a fist and is ready to end this fight. With the same fluid motion he sent the Batarangs out, Batman cracks a small capsule across the Kryptonian’s forehead. The capsule explodes. Superman releases his grip on Batman as an opaque epoxy forms around his head. The trick will buy Batman mere moments but it will be enough to regain some measure of his strength.
Superman doesn’t struggle. He knows the epoxy is meant more for distraction than anything else. There is a hum of energy growing from behind the sealed eyes of the Last Son of Krypton. The epoxy begins to glow red. Heat vision.
Two beams rip through the substance and in to the air. Not able to get his fingers in to it, Superman rends the rest of the containment from his face.
There are two loud bangs in the distance and the sound of metal being bent. Almost as if it were toppling on to itself. It is the ‘T’ from the Wayne Towers sign. Batman’s explosives have sent the enormous ‘T’ falling directly at Superman. Still disoriented from the epoxy, Superman puts up his arms in front of his face as the ‘T’ lands on top of him. There is the sound of metal breaking, glow of sparks and fire from the neon lights bursting on impact. What is left of the ‘T’ is a pile of broken plastic, metal, and glass.
There is a eerie silence for a moment when Superman bursts from the remains.
Before he is able to turn toward Batman, his hearing picks up the sound of something coming towards him. Something small and something that is closer than he originally thought. Two golf ball sized spheres. The first explodes at Superman’s feet. The blue haze of Freon surrounds his legs to form a block of ice. The second sphere lands in front of him and unleashes shrill so piercing, windows from adjacent buildings shatter.
Again the Man of Steel curses himself for getting trapped. He is a step slow tonight and he doesn’t know why nor can he dwell on it because the sonic attack Batman has let loose on him hurts. His ears bleed as does his nose. He flexes his legs and sends shards of ice in all directions. He goes to the sky. He dispatches the sonic grenade 15’ below him with his heat vision and takes care of two more objects from the belt coming toward him. Each one explodes with a thunderous boom.
Batman is trying to keep on the offensive. Keep Superman busy fending off his attacks. Superman is sure there is a reason his former friend has chosen this strategy and until he figures it out, he realizes it is time he goes on the offensive.
He pinpoints Batman on the roof and uses his super breath to knock the Caped Crusader up in to the air. Superman meets his former friend in the air. His steel grip punctures the ceramics of the chest armor to suspend the Dark Knight in the air. Batman wraps his gloves around Superman’s forearms.
“Out of tricks yet?” Superman is almost taunting Batman now.
“Almost.” Batman’s left hand lets go of his combatant’s arm. He cocks his hand back to expose a nozzle connected to the bottom of his wrist. A concentrated stream of acid from the nozzle hits Superman directly in his face. The Man of Steel lets out a grunt of pain. His grip releases from Batman.
Batman uses his cape to safely land from the 100’ fall. He readies himself. Superman clears away the acid but the attack has left its mark. His face is red. Smoke smolders from his cheeks. His skin is left raw and blistered. The Kryptonian is now enraged. He is back on the roof in an instant. He reaches for an air conditioning unit and with one upward movement; he rips it completely off its base. Sparks fly.
He throws the metal cube directly at Batman with the speed of a fastball. Batman easily dodges the incoming projectile. He rolls to the left and is met by Superman. Superman’s grip punctures Batman’s armor deep enough that Bruce feels the pressure of the grip on his chest. This will be Batman’s last chance to end this battle.
“I’m done playing around with you Batman.”
The Dark Knight goes to the last compartment on his utility belt. It is the compartment at the base of his spine. It is the last one that has anything in it. Batman pulls from the belt his trump card.
From under the tatters of his cape, he reveals the Kyrptonite. The green glow of the extraterrestrial rock illuminates their immediate area. Superman’s grip loosens. He now understands why Batman was using the quick distracting attacks. To hurt Superman enough that he loses his temper and allows Batman to get in close. It is also why he has been a little slower tonight. Not as strong. Slower to heal. Bruce was carrying the one thing that can kill him the entire time. Though not enough to stop him totally, the radiation from the Kyrptonite through the utility belt compartment was just enough to slow him down a little. Now he was directly in its path.
“I’m done playing too Clark.”
Superman drops to his knees. He can feel his strength drain from his arms. He raises his arm in a futile attempt to block the rock’s radiating rays. Batman uses his boot and the titanium spikes on the ‘S’. The kick shreds Superman’s symbol and sends him toppling down on to the gravel of the roof. Blood begins to pour from his chest. His skin begins to crack. He will be dead in moments if Batman doesn’t stop.
The Caped Crusader does. He returns the rock to the back compartment of his utility belt. Regardless of what has come between these two titans it does not change the fact that Batman doesn’t kill. Not now and certainly not before, when Superman thinks he did.
A bolt of lightning followed by a clap of thunder reverberates in the sky as Batman leans in to Superman.
“Don’t come back to my city again Clark.”
With that, Bruce Wayne, the Batman, disappears. He is gone. Off to his Cave to tend to his wounds. He would not have lasted much longer against Clark without the rock and is in no condition to continue. He needs to heal because he needs to take a trip to Metropolis.
Superman rises slowly as the strength returns back to his body. The open wounds on his chest and face close and his skin regains its form. He would not have lasted much longer against Bruce and the Kyrptonite and right now, he is in no condition to continue.
Batman will have to wait for now. Superman is sure he will see him again only next time, it will be in Metropolis.
*Featured image courtesy of zacksfilmthoughts.blogspot.com