Friday, August 29, 2008

The Dark Knight, Part 4 of 5

"It incorporates a great deal of stealth technology."

"How does that work?" Sasha asked, looking at the Batmobile.

"The basic theory is that to be seen, whether with a radar or with the naked eye or with some other instrument, some kind of light or radio wave or something has to travel from the Batmobile to the observer or the observer's equipment. The stealth technology minimizes how much of that energy travels to the observer, thus minimizing the chance that the observer will see it."

"I'm not sure I'm following you," Sasha commented, perplexed.

"Light that is incident on an object is either absorbed into the object, transmitted through the object, or reflected off the object. Of course, light can be emitted from the object, as well. We can turn the Batmobile's lights off, so it is not emitting light; and, realistically, the Batmobile is not going to transmit light through itself. So, the question becomes one of maximizing how much light is absorbed, and minimizing how much is reflected in a manner useful to someone trying to see it."

"I suppose the dark color helps with that."

"Yes, and so does the finish on the Batmobile. Also, the material on the surface helps a great deal, as well – different materials have different coefficients of absorptivity, transmissivity and reflectivity. These properties also depend on whether it is visible light, infrared light, radio waves, and so on...."

Bruce Wayne stepped over to a vault containing several Batsuits. "Just like the various vehicles down here, so do the Batsuits have some of this technology incorporated into them. And, just like the vehicles, the different suits are optimized for different environments – hot and cold environments, environments with UV or IR radiation, and so on."

Listening intently, Sasha was taking it all in.

Stepping over to a counter with various kinds of gear on it, Wayne continued.

"In addition to all that, different things can be used to trick an observer. There are things that obstruct an observer's line-of-sight to a target, such as a building or some trees. Smoke and clouds work well, and where there isn't anything like that, we can make smoke. There are decoys to cause the observer to lose track of what he is trying to follow, and pyrotechnic devices to distract him. You can also impede an observer's ability to watch you; tear gas, for example, can cause someone great difficulties in trying to see where you are."

Wayne paused, then smiled. "Lights and mirrors... give me the right combination of lights and mirrors, and I can make you think that the Batmobile is a bush, and a bush is the Batmobile. Add in these other tricks, and it gets very complicated for the other guy."

Nick Kyle looked at his partner.

They had had an encounter with the Batman the previous summer, and the Batman disappeared right before Nick's eyes. His partner, Ron DiViglio, hadn't believed him. That battle had been pretty chaotic; the Batman had popped tear gas, a smoke screen, and even napalm. This all had the desired effect on Ron, who was out of the fight, unable to see at a critical moment. It was at that moment that Nick took aim at the Batman, and was about to fire, when the Batman looked at him, said "See ya 'round," and disappeared. Then the smoke got in the way, blocking the line of sight from where Nick was to where the Batman had been.

Of course, Ron didn't see this part of the fight, and didn't believe Nick's version of the events. Ron was sure that Nick lost sight of the Batman because of the smoke and teargas, and the general dark conditions in the alley that night; however, Ron didn't press the issue.

This time, however, it was different. Ron saw it. Ron saw how the Batman just disappeared right before his eyes.

Once again, Ron wasn't saying anything, but Nick could tell – this time Ron saw it.

"Speaking of tricks and complications, Master Bruce, that was not a very smart trick of yours bringing Talia al Ghul back to the Batcave last night." Alfred had come up behind them while Bruce Wayne was showing Sasha features on the Batsuits, and, hearing Alfred's words, Wayne looked at him. "It is sure to bring complications."

"I didn't see that I had a lot of choices, Alfred. She just kind of wandered into the fray, and I had to do something to save her."

"And that something was to bring her back to the Batcave?"

Wayne shot Alfred a glance. This was not something Wayne wanted to talk about, and it certainly was not the best topic to address in front of Sasha.

"Where Talia al Ghul has been, her father is certain to follow – with company," Sasha commented.

"Guess who's coming to dinner," added Alfred as he turned to go back upstairs.

"You're interested in the reward money, aren't you, Ron?"

"Aren't you?"

"Yeah, I suppose. But, more importantly, I'm interested in not having this Batman around any more."

Ron DiViglio looked closely at Nicholas Kyle, then smiled.

"Don't worry, Nick. Mr. Falcone said some friends of his are going to take care of him." Ron's smile disappeared with his next thought, which he left unspoken: So much for our reward.

Sasha looked closely at Wayne.

"Bruce, you knew that bringing her back here would mean her father would come here with his henchmen."

"Ra's al Ghul has suspected for a long time the connection between Batman and Bruce Wayne. In fact, I think 'suspected' is far too weak of a word."

Looking at the statue of a bat and the drawing of a bat that hung on the wall of the Batcave, Wayne recalled the first time he heard of Ra's al Ghul.

He also thought about the words of The Ancient, as translated by the master, the day the statue was given to him: "The Knights of the Round Table wore shining armor, but you shall be a dark knight and your armor shall be dark; you shall be a creature of the shadows and of the night. Your heart will be pure, and your works will be good, yet your existence and your reputation will strike terror in the hearts of those who do evil, and it is through this terror that you shall be victorious."

The master had gone on to explain about the statue, saying "That statue was made for you, centuries ago!"

Wayne had asked about the meaning of the inscription on the statue, and was told that it was a prophecy. "In a world darkened by the overcast of evil, one man will emerge, a warrior, and in defense of justice, he will work magic."

"Lights and mirrors..." Sasha said slowly, thoughtfully, as she looked around the Batcave. "You're setting a trap for him, aren't you?"


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