Como sucede a menudo cuando una película obtiene un éxito tan grande, The Dark Knight Rises contará con su propia novelización, que no sólo contará toda la historia que podemos ver en la película, sino que ofrecerá nuevas perspectivas sobre los acontecimientos acaecidos en la misma a través de algunos personajes secundarios que no siempre tienen el tiempo suficiente en pantalla debido a cuestiones obvias de duración de metraje.
La adaptación novelada de The Dark Knight Rises ya está a la venta de la mano de Titan Books, y para celebrarlo, han publicado de manera gratuíta el primer capítulo de la misma, que trata de, ni más ni menos que la introducción de Bane.
Os advierto que he decidido dejar el original inglés por una razón muy sencilla: entiendo y hablo el idioma de Shakespeare, pero ni por asomo me veo capaz de ofreceros una versión tan siquiera digna del original, que para eso existe la profesión de traductor, y la opción de “copypastear” una versión sacada de algún traductor online me parece poco menos que aberrante.
Si no habéis visto la película entonces, obviamente, además del mencionado capítulo tenéis spoilers a partir del salto.
CHAPTER ONE – SOMEWHERE IN EASTERN EUROPE
A land cruiser sped over a rugged mountain road, past rocky slopes devoid of human habitation. Scraggly patches of scrub and greenery dotted the barren gray hills. The cruiser had the road all to itself as it raced to make its rendezvous before the sun went down. It bounced over the rough terrain beneath a gloomy, overcast sky that was almost the same gray color as the hills. A keening wind whipped through the desolate peaks and canyons.
A bad omen, Dr. Leonid Pavel thought. The middle- aged scientist sat tensely in the middle of the vehicle, flanked by grim-faced men armed with automatic weapons. More soldiers guarded the prisoners in the rear of the cruiser: three silent figures with hoods over their heads. They sat rigidly, their hands cuffed, under the watchful gaze of the guards.
Pavel squirmed uncomfortably, feeling more like a prisoner than a passenger. He ran an anxious hand through a mop of unruly white hair. Sweat glued his shirt to his back. Am I doing the right thing? he fretted. What if I’m making a terrible mistake?
Other sounds began to be heard. Just when he had convinced himself that he should never have accepted the Americans’ offer, the cruiser arrived at its destination—a remote airstrip overlooking a war- torn city. Artillery fire boomed in the distance, the reverberations echoing off the desolate hillsides. Sirens blared. The sounds of the conflict, which had been going on for months now, reminded Pavel why he had been so eager to flee the country for a safer, more civilized location. This was no place for a man of his intellect—not anymore.
The cruiser squealed to a stop, and the guards hustled him out of the vehicle. An unmarked turbojet airplane waited on the runway, along with a small reception committee consisting of a bland-looking man in a suit and a small escort of armed guards. Although the soldiers bore no identifying uniforms or insignia, Pavel assumed they were US Special Forces, probably from the CIA’s own secretive Special Activities Division. The elite paramilitary teams specialized in sabotage, assassination, counter-terrorism, reconnaissance…and extractions. Pavel hoped he could trust them to keep him safe, especially after his recent narrow escape.
His driver shoved him toward the man in the suit.
“Dr. Pavel?” The man smiled and held out his hand. “I’m CIA.” He did not volunteer his name, not that Pavel would have believed him if he had. The anonymous American agent handed a leather briefcase over to the driver of the land cruiser, who accepted it eagerly. The briefcase contained more than enough funds to make this risky delivery worth the driver’s while. He gestured behind him.
“He was not alone,” the driver announced.
The CIA man spotted the hooded men in the back of the cruiser. He frowned at Pavel.
“You don’t get to bring friends.”
“They are not my friends!” the scientist protested. Indeed, he wanted to get as far away from the hooded men as possible. You don’t know what they’re capable of doing!
“Don’t worry,” the driver told the CIA agent. “No charge for them.”
The American contemplated the prisoners dubiously.
“Why would I want them?”
“They were trying to grab your prize,” the driver explained, smirking. “They work for the mercenary. For the masked man.”
A look of excitement came over the CIA agent’s nondescript, unmemorable features. He gave the prisoners a closer look.
The driver nodded.
“Get ’em on board,” the CIA agent ordered his men, swiftly revising his plans. Clearly this was an opportunity he wasn’t about to pass up. He extracted a cell phone from his jacket. “I’ll call them in.”
Pavel swallowed hard. He didn’t like the way this was going. He shuddered at the memory of the attempted kidnapping, and at the very mention of his attackers’ infamous commander. Bane had become synonymous with atrocities, at least in this part of the world. Had it not been for the militia’s timely intervention, he would now be in the killer’s clutches.
Given a choice, he would have left Bane’s men far behind them.
Within minutes, they were in the air, flying low over the remote mountains in an attempt to avoid detection. Special Agent Bill Wilson checked on Dr. Pavel, who was safely tucked into a passenger seat, before turning his attention to their prisoners. Beneath his cool, professional exterior, Wilson was thrilled at the prospect of finally getting some reliable intel on Bane. To date, the notorious mercenary had defied the Agency’s best efforts to neutralize or even co-opt him. They didn’t even know what he looked like beneath that grotesque mask of his. The man was a mystery— with a body count.
Forget Pavel, Wilson thought. If I can get the 411 on Bane, that would be quite the feather in my cap. There might even be a promotion in it for me. Maybe a post in Washington or New York.
The hooded men knelt by the cargo door, their wrists cuffed behind them. Special Forces commandoes stood guard over the prisoners. Wilson grabbed the first captive at random.
“What are you doing in the middle of my operation?” he demanded.
The prisoner kept his mouth shut.
Fine, Wilson thought. We’ll do it your way. He hadn’t expected the man to crack without a little persuasion. He pulled a semiautomatic pistol from beneath his jacket and placed the muzzle against the man’s head. The prisoner flinched, but remained silent. Wilson decided to up the ante. He raised his voice so that all three prisoners could hear him even through their hoods.
“The flight plan I just filed with the Agency lists me, my men, and Dr. Pavel here. But onlyone of you.”
He threw open the cargo door. Cold air invaded the cabin as the wind outside howled like a soul in torment. Wilson grabbed onto a strap to anchor himself. He nodded at the Special Forces guys, who seized the first prisoner and hung him out the cargo door. The wind tore at his hair and clothing, threatening to yank him out of the paramilitaries’ grip. Wooded peaks waited thousands of feet below.
“First to talk gets to stay on my aircraft!” Wilson shouted over the wind. He cocked his weapon. “So… who paid you to grab Dr. Pavel?”
The men remained silent. Bane’s goons were loyal, Wilson would give him that. He would have to push harder.
Time for a little sleight of hand…
He fired his weapon out the door, the sharp report of the gun blasting through the wailing wind. The SAD guys yanked the stubborn prisoner back into the plane, and then clubbed him with a baton before he could make a sound. In theory, the other two prisoners would think that their comrade was dead and thrown overboard.
Maybe that would loosen their tongues.
“He didn’t fly so good,” Wilson lied. “Who wants to try next?”
The Special Forces men shifted to the second hooded prisoner. Moving with practiced efficiency, they hung the would-be kidnapper out the door, high above the mountains. The drop was enough to put the fear of God into just about anyone.
“Tell me about Bane!” Wilson demanded. “Why does he wear the mask?”
Only the wind answered him.
Frustrated, Wilson placed his gun against the second man’s head. He was getting fed up with the prisoners’ stubborn refusal to cooperate. Did they think he was just joking around here? He cocked his gun again, but still . . . nothing.
“Lot of loyalty for a hired gun!”
“Or,” a new voice interrupted, “maybe he’s wondering why someone would shoot a man before throwing him out of an airplane.”
The muffled voice came from the third prisoner, who appeared larger and better built than the other two. Muscles bulged beneath his black leather jacket and weathered fatigues. He had the build of a bouncer or professional wrestler, and held his head high despite the hood.
Giving up on the second man, Wilson had the soldiers haul the useless waste of flesh back into the plane, and then slammed the cargo door shut to keep out the howling wind, making it easier to conduct an interrogation. It was time for some answers.
“Wise guy, huh?” He examined the third captive. “At least you can talk. Who are you?”
“We are nothing,” the man replied. “We are the dirt beneath your feet. And no one cared who I was, before I put on the mask.”
Whoa, Wilson thought, caught off guard. A peculiar mixture of excitement and apprehension got his heart racing. Did he just say what I think he said?
He approached the prisoner warily, holding his breath, and yanked off the man’s hood, exposing a disturbing visage that Wilson immediately recognized from captured spy photos and combat footage. It was a face—and mask—that inspired nightmares in the bloodier corners of the globe.
Dark eyes gleamed above an intimidating dark blue mask that concealed the bottom half of the man’s face, covering his nose, mouth, and chin. The mask, made of rubber with riveted metal components, was held there in part by a thick vertical strap that bisected the mercenary’s brow and hairless cranium. Two rows of coiled steel breathing tubes ran above and below some sort of built-in inhaler that covered the man’s mouth. It gave his face a vaguely skull-like appearance. Pipes ran along the edges of the mask to a pair of miniature canisters at the back of his skull. Air hissed as he breathed. No sign of fear showed in the man’s piercing eyes. He spoke calmly, and with complete assurance.
“Who we are does not matter,” Bane said. “What matters is our plan.”
Wilson was fascinated by the man’s elaborate headwear, which resembled a specialized gas mask. Was it there purely for effect, or did the breathing apparatus serve some vital function? He gestured at it.
“If I pull this off, will you die?”
“It would be extremely painful,” Bane answered.
Good to know, Wilson thought. He had no sympathy for the ruthless mercenary. Bane was a bad guy who deserved to suffer. “You’re a big guy.”
“For you,” Bane clarified.
A chill ran down Wilson’s spine, but he tried not to show it. It was important to remain in control of the interrogation.
“Was being caught part of your plan?”
“Of course,” Bane said. “Dr. Pavel refused our offer, in favor of yours. We had to know what he told you about us.”
“Nothing!” the scientist shouted from his seat. He sounded absolutely terrified by Bane’s presence, even though the mercenary was safely in custody. Pavel’s eyes were wide with fright. He called out frantically, as though he was pleading for his life. “I said nothing!”
Wilson ignored Pavel’s hysterics.
“Why not just ask him?” he said, nodding his head in the scientist’s direction.
“He would not have told us.”
“You have methods,” Wilson said.
“Him, I need healthy,” Bane explained. “You present no such problems.”
The man’s utter confidence was unnerving. Wilson laughed, mostly for his men’s benefit, then glanced up as a deep bass tone rumbled somewhere above them. The unexpected sound penetrated the plane’s fuselage, competing with the sound of the engines.
Thunder? The weather report hadn’t predicted any storms.
A massive transport plane, many times larger than the small turbojet aircraft, descended from above. Its dull gray hull gave no indication of its loyalties as it drew dangerously close to the smaller plane. A ramp opened beneath the transport and four men dropped down, hanging from cables—two on either side of their target. They were armed and ready.
The rumbling grew louder by the moment. Turbulence rattled the plane, causing it to lurch to one side. Wilson struggled to hang on to his balance. He exchanged a puzzled look with the leader of the Special Forces Group, a sergeant named Rodriguez, who peered out of one of the plane’s small windows. The soldier squinted into the fading sunlight.
Wilson didn’t know what was happening, but he wasn’t about to show it. He still had an interrogation to conduct.
“Well, congratulations,” he taunted Bane. “What’s the next step of the master plan?”
“Crashing this plane.” Bane rose slowly to his feet. “With no survivors.”
An armed man suddenly appeared outside a window, thousands of feet above the ground. Startled, one of the guards spun toward the window, but not quickly enough. Shots rang out from opposite directions as a pair of snipers fired through windows. Glass shattered and Wilson’s men dropped to the floor. Blood and chaos spilled throughout the cabin. Death amended the flight plan.
No! Wilson thought. This can’t be happening! I’m in charge here!
Outside the plane, the other two men attached sturdy steel grapples to the fuselage. Thick, industrial-strength cables connected the two aircraft as one of the men signaled the crew aboard the big transport. Powerful hoists activated, tugging on the tail of the smaller plane that flew below. Groaning winches exerted tremendous pressure on the captured turbojet. Its tail was yanked upward.
The entire cabin tilted forward at an almost ninety- degree angle, throwing the CIA agent and his men off balance. Loose baggage and debris tumbled toward the front of the plane.
The CIA man clutched onto a seat to keep from falling, but dead and wounded soldiers plunged through the upended cabin, plummeting past Dr. Pavel, who remained strapped to his seat. The frantic scientist tried to process these unexpected disasters, but things were happening too fast.
I knew it, he despaired. I shouldn’t have tried to flee. There was no escape for me. Not from Bane.
Only the masked man seemed prepared for the sudden change in orientation. Falling forward, he wrapped his thick legs around the back of a nearby seat and seized the CIA agent’s head with both hands. His wrists were still cuffed together, but that didn’t stop him from cracking the American’s neck as easily as someone else might tear open a candy wrapper.
The nameless operative died instantly, far from home.
Bane turned the corpse into a weapon, dropping it onto a young sergeant, who was slammed into the cockpit door with a heavy thud. The sergeant’s own body went limp. Pavel couldn’t tell if he was dead or simply unconscious. Not that it truly mattered—the panicked scientist was too frightened for his own life to worry about some unlucky American soldier.
Bane will kill us all to get what he wants.
He stared down at the front of the cabin, which was now the bottom of what felt like an endless roller coaster. Gravity pulled on Pavel, and he propped his feet against the back of the seat in front of him, pushing away from it.
The plane shook violently—it was tearing itself apart. He could feel the destructive vibrations through the floor, the seat, and his spine. He was a physicist, not an aeronautics engineer, but even he knew the plane couldn’t take much more of this.
The wind howled through the shattered windows. Staring through the broken glass, he saw the right wing shear off before his eyes. The plane lurched to one side.
This is it, he realized. We’re all going to die.
Outside, the four men climbed the tail of the dangling aircraft. They moved briskly and efficiently, carrying out their mission. The second wing sheared off, plummeting toward the unforgiving peaks below. A cloud of smoke and debris erupted where the severed wing hit the mountains.
The men quickened their pace. They attached explosives to the tail of the plane. Leaving little margin for error, they jumped away from the aircraft, swinging out on their tethers…
Bane snapped the handcuffs as though they were cheap plastic toys. Opening his legs, he released his grip on the chair and dropped with remarkable agility down the cabin, somersaulting through the air until he reached Pavel, at which point he thrust out his arms to halt his controlled descent. He clearly knew just what he was doing—and what he wanted.
Pavel’s eyes widened in fear.
A deafening explosion tore off the rear door of the cabin, nearly giving him a heart attack. Acrid white smoke instantly filled the cabin. Bane’s men dropped into the plane through the smoke, suspended on cables. Pavel watched anxiously, uncertain what was happening.
Was Bane here to kill him—or save him?
A heavy object was lowered into the cabin. A body bag, Pavel realized. Bane laid it out atop the backs of the seats next to Pavel. Is that for me? the scientist wondered.
Then he realized that the ominous black plastic bag was already occupied. Bane unzipped the bag to reveal the body of a stranger, who nonetheless looked vaguely familiar. It took Pavel a moment to realize that the dead man was roughly the same size and age as himself, with the same swarthy complexion and unruly white hair. There was even a distinct resemblance to their faces.
I don’t understand, he thought. What does this mean?
Bane didn’t waste time explaining. He tore open Pavel’s sleeve, then reached into a hidden pocket in his own jacket’s lining, removing a length of surgical tubing. Hollow needles sprouted from both ends of the tubing. Bane kept a firm grip on Pavel’s arm. He palpated a thick vein at its crook.
Wait, Pavel thought. Don’t…
But it was no use. Bane jabbed the needle into his arm, expertly threading the vein on the first try. Pavel winced in pain. He had never liked needles.
What are you doing?
Swiftly taping the first needle in place, Bane inserted the other end of the tube into the arm of the corpse. Dark venous blood began to flow through it toward the dead man. Confused and horrified, Pavel watched aghast as Bane performed compressions upon the dead man’s chest, drawing the blood into the lifeless body.
The scientist felt sick to his stomach.
Less than a pint later, the obscene transfusion was over. Bane withdrew the needle from Pavel’s arm and gestured for him to apply pressure to the wound to keep it from bleeding out.
Meanwhile, an armed mercenary plucked the hoods from his comrades’ heads, then took hold of the first captive and hooked him to a cable. He hung on tightly as it pulled them both up through the cabin toward freedom. Within moments, they had disappeared from sight.
So there is a way out, Pavel realized. Maybe there was still hope for him—if Bane didn’t kill him first. I need to get off this plane before it crashes!
The second prisoner, no longer bound, started to clip himself to a cable.
Bane shook his head.
“Friend,” he said gently. “They expect one of us in the wreckage.”
The other man nodded in understanding. Without a word of protest, he unhooked himself from the life- saving cable. He clambered down toward Bane and clasped his leader’s arm. His eyes glowed with the fervor of a true believer.
“Have we started the fire?” the man asked.
Bane squeezed his arm in return.
“The fire rises.”
Evidently that was good enough, for the man handed Bane the line. He clipped it around Pavel, checking to make sure it was secure, and then produced a knife that he must have taken from one of his men— or perhaps one of the murdered American soldiers. Pavel gulped at the sight of the gleaming steel blade, imagining it slicing across his throat, but Bane merely slashed through Pavel’s seat belt, cutting him loose.
Gravity seized Pavel as he began to fall forward at last. He flailed in panic, searching for something to grab onto before he plunged to the bottom of the cabin.
Help me! he thought. I’m falling…!
They slipped free of the seats, hanging in the chaos, several feet above the cockpit doors and the bodies heaped there. Smoke and blood filled the cabin. Pavel wondered if the pilot was still vainly trying to regain control of the wingless aircraft. Loose bits of ash and debris blew against his face. His ears still rang from the explosion. His legs dangled in the air.
Bane took out a small hand-held detonator, and looked him in the eyes.
“Calm, doctor. Now is not the time for fear. That comes later.”
He pressed the firing button. Pavel couldn’t hear the click over the roar of the wind, but he definitely heard the explosions that released the CIA plane from the grapples. All at once, the entire cabin dropped away, leaving them hanging thousands of feet above the mountains. The man who had sacrificed his life fell with what was left of the plane, along with the pilots and the dead bodies.
Pavel stared down at the heart-stopping drop beneath them. The wingless cockpit and cabin crashed into the rugged wilderness, throwing up a huge geyser of dust and rubble. Fuel tanks ignited, triggering a fiery explosion. Smoke and flames rose from the wreckage.
Leonid Pavel, distinguished scientist and engineer, screamed in utter terror as he was hoisted into the sky.
Vía información | IGN