He observed them as one might a group of termites. In the dim lights of broken and faint lamps, amidst their parked cars and trucks, they scuttled about, thinking themselves safe, protected from harm, and why not? All twenty of them were armed, their vehicles hiding military grade weaponry invisible to anyone lacking special sonar, night vision. Crates piled all around provided more than enough cover to protect them from anywhere but the sky.
It was nothing he or the Batmobile couldn't cut a bloody swath through, and the temptation was strong. It would take no effort for the car to crash through their defenses, keep them occupied while he picked them off and escaped with the rock. A tactical sort of chaos that held a certain appeal, not nearly enough as the alternative did.
The one where he let them get away, make them believe they stood a chance of getting out of this place, his city then crushing them got a rare smile out of him. It'd been too long since he'd taken the car out for a proper spin, and he had a few new toys worth testing out.
So he let them tell their crude jokes, talk about what they'd do with the money from this job, and all the other things their kind did while they all waited together. The White Portuguese laid docked nearby with a crew of Chinese smuggles speaking to Knyazev. From the derelict operating crane situated above the meeting place, Batman's eyes locked onto the contents gingerly lifted off the boat to the docks via forklift.
With deliberate ease, the forklift drove past the guards to a white, sixteen-wheeler truck. When they lifted the container inside, Batman stood up and took aim.
A sudden foul taste filled his mouth at using something so close to an actual rifle. He ignored it and trained its sight on the truck's side indentations. When he pulled the trigger, no bullet came out, instead, a miniature tracking device. Just in-case they somehow managed to get away.
When Knyazev and the more men sealed the truck shut, the relaxed atmosphere changed into a mad rush for their cars. Two to three men per car, another five for a decoy truck sprang to life, the sounds of their shouts, scrapping boots and revving engines replacing banter and jokes.
Collapsing the rifle and hooking it to his hip, Batman glided across the night sky, far from where any prying eyes or lights could spot him. He ran quickly but quietly over the rooftop of an adjacent warehouse once belonging to the Nicholson Terminal & Dock Company, carefully listening to the engines blaring behind him, they were starting to leave.
Jumping down through a hole in the roof, he glided himself down to the Batmobile parked inside where it's black steel frame perfectly blended into the shadows. He climbed inside just as the truck drove past the shutters where once honest men of international commerce once brought their wares inside. Now where humanities fate would get decided.
He let the truck go, then the first three cars escorting it. When the fourth came, the Batmobile roared to meet it. It's bright headlights cut through the darkness and from the shouts of the crooks just two dozen feet away achieved the desired effect. Before it even passed the curtains, Batman heard them curse, bark orders and fire on it. He responded by turning left and letting the Batmobile's side ram into theirs.
Car number four spun wildly in place, the crooks inside satisfying shouting in fear and pain as they could do nothing to stop their ride from flailing in circles. The third car, now the last in the line, took notice of him and the back drivers opened fire too.
Stomping the peddle, Batman went after them but not before grabbing a little something. With a simple side panel button press, he fired a grappling hook situated at the back of the car into a dumpster.
Just as they entered a derelict old construction site, Batman let the dumpster go and let it fly in the air, landing right on top of the third escort car. The front of it where the engine laid instantly collapsed under the weight.
The second to last of the guard cars suddenly collapsed the back portion, revealing one of Luthor's toys inside, a minigun. Its gunner didn't waste any time in opening fire on the Batmobile, despite the fact the rounds couldn't even dent it. Smirking at the man firing on him, he prepared to speed up and force them off the road when suddenly the minigunner fired a missile.
Grinding his teeth, Batman took a sharp turn left and only narrowly succeeded in dodging the projectile. Unfortunately, the minigun had plenty more and began rapid firing them his way, forcing him to slow down or be blown straight to hell. The worst part was the fact the truck managed to turn and leave his line of sight.
With a scowl capable of breaking men's resolve, Batman grabbed a newly installed aiming stick inside the cockpit and trained it at the car right in front of him. It gave him control over a pair of twin .50 caliber machine guns built at the forefront of the Batmobile, each one capable of slicing through lightly armored hulls. Something to pressure Superman when they ran into one another.
When his onboard computer confirmed a 100% lock, Batman prepared to press down and open fire, what did it matter if they died? There were more like them every day, it wouldn't matter, not with the fate of the world on the line.
So why then did his stomach turn and his thumb refuse the damned button?
Another glance at the monitor mid rocket dodge revealed the growing distance between himself and the truck. One he had to close fast. With a snarl, he aimed away from the gunner and instead fired on tires. Just as the first car, it flailed wildly in place, spinning around and round and out of his way.
Unfortunately, the distance between the Batmobile and truck was only getting worse, meaning he needed to rectify that fast. His thumb didn't object to opening fire on a nearby wall to ram through, leading him into another warehouse. By the time he blasted out the other side, the truck and the final escort were back in his crosshairs.
Knyazev, who stood on the trucks interior edge, javelin launcher ready to fire, the final escort was already unloading its payload of minigun missiles. Once again forced to back off, this time Batman had enough time to activate his anti-ballistic defense system, a series of flares fired into the sky.
The fired javelin went right at them, momentarily transforming the whole world into a fiery inferno before Batman's very eyes. Taking hold of the aiming stick, he shot out the last escorts tires as well and promptly smacked it to the side, leaving it to spin helplessly in place.
Unfortunately, this gunner was far more persistent and kept on firing like a psychopath in all directions. One missile hit just as Batman tried to shoot out the sixteen wheelers tires.
Fighting for control, Batman snarled as his car crashed into a nearby parked boat, collapsing it all around him. Warning lights showed decent structural damage to the Batmobile, most alarming of which was a faulty frontal tire hurt in the blast. For what felt like an eternity as the truck went further and further away, he stomped on the peddle but the damn car refused to budge.
Each collision of his booth with the metal was strong enough to ruin a man's ribs, each one accompanied by a snarl. Cursing himself, Luthor, Superman, Alfred and everyone he could think of, he forced the damned car to do as he wanted.
Jerking awkwardly, it forced through the collapsed boat and was back on the road.
The truck put a sizable distance between them and the jerky motions of the damaged Batmobile weren't helping. Batman persevered, gaining back much of his lost speed in spite of the handicap. He almost fooled himself into believing the distractions were through. That's when he noticed a wounded goon lying on the floor 500 meters away.
He instantly recognized him as one of Knyazev's guards inside the truck, probably wounded by a stray round he fired when the rocket hit. For some reason, the thought of killing him brought back that sick feeling in the pit of Batman's stomach.
That's when the rage from earlier came back, not just at how he kept going easy on them but how this was just another roadblock. With the way the Batmobile was handling, he didn't trust it stay the course if he suddenly jerked it to the side, he barely made it start the last time.
No, no he couldn't slow down, the rock was getting away and humanities best chance along with it.
As he drove on, fully intent on running the man over, his stomach turned again, fueling his rage but not enough to overcome the nauseating feeling. Something close to a voice started echoing in the back of his mind, at once sounding like Dick, Alfred, Harvey Dent, then finally his father and his mother. All of them telling him to stop.
His snarling voice joined with theirs into a chorus of discord, a cacophony of disgusting, pleading, rage and so much more spilling over from 30 years of build up.
In this haze, his body moved without his thinking, forcing the car to turn away from the screaming man. Then there was a sudden, chilling clarity born from a simple fact: the man would die. There was too little distance and too much built up speed to possibly avoid him in time.
Just as he readied himself to feel the Batmobile bump and crunch against someone, a sound like the sky itself cracking in-half went off somewhere overhead. A wind followed it, followed by a red and blue blur of motion right in front of Batman's very eyes. Instead of crushing the man, there was nothing.
Breathing as though someone broke his ribs, Batman frantically glanced around until his eyes settled on the cause of it. There he was, hovering in the air, carrying the wounded crook over his shoulder. The man was sobbing into the alien's chest as the two landed just a few feet away from the Batmobile.
Batman didn't know what he hated more the fact his only weapon against the alien had just gotten away or how he felt gratitude for his interference.
"T-thank you, thank you!" The man frantically cried as Clark set him down gently, focusing on bleeding seeping out of a faint shoulder wound. From a quick look, it thankfully wasn't life-threatening. Then again, that heart attack ready to happen might be.
"Take a deep breath, you're safe now, relax."
"Sure, sure," The crook nodded his head up and down almost comically, several deep breaths later his heart rate dropped to normal levels. What Clark also heard was the shifting gears of a thousand metal parts nearby, clicks and clacks numbering in the hundreds crescendoing in a blast of air.
Batman's car split open, giving Clark a glimpse of the man himself before he got launched into the air. His cape unfurled with an almost sickening whipping noise as he glided overhead. Clark knew it was now or never, to confront the Batman and make him see reason.
"Stay here, don't move until the authorities show up and keep the pressure on that wound."
"Whatever you want Supes,..." Flying about three stories into the sky, he watched Batman's glide and only continued pursuing when he landed on top of another, lead-lined building which infested Gotham.
Clark landed in his path and was about to speak when Batman simply ran past him. He tried to stop him by putting a hand on his shoulder only for him to smack it aside. He was lucky Clark went with it, the strike as is already broke the metal plates inside the gloves knuckles.
Guess I'll try another approach. "Bruce!"
That seemed to stop him if only for an instant, but if he was surprised by the exposure of his identity, nothing from his breathing to his heart rate showed it.
"I've got nothing to say to you."
He tried to walk away again. "But I do, and so does Commissioner Gordon."
This time, Clark heard an almost imperceptible shift in his heart rate how it slumped then spiked and finally evened itself out, all within the span of five seconds. With deliberate slowness, he turned around, sending the most hateful scowl he'd ever seen Clark's way, even more so than Zod's.
"What does Gordon have to do with this?" His filtered voice, laced with suspicion, sounded like granite scrapping against steel.
"I spoke with the Commissioner about what you've been doing, branding people, attacking them in their homes in front of their families. We agreed that you've got to stop before someone besides Carlos Santos dies. "
"Santos was worthless, human trafficking gutter slime. If he wanted to live, he should've stopped. Now the rest of them will think twice before breaking the law in my city."
"I don't believe the man who pulled Gordon from the brink would condone murder, or that Gordon would respect a cruel man enough to speak up for him."
"Keep Gordon out of this," He took a step forward, his scowl somehow deepening. "You want to come after me? Do it, leave my allies out of it."
"I'm not trying to come after you," Clark raised his hands in a placating gesture. "What I'm trying to do is stop people from being pointlessly killed. Given what you've done for this city before, how you fought for it when nobody else would, I'd think you would want the same."
"Pain is the only thing that keeps this place in-line, if I have to escalate it to keep these animals down, that's my business. Not of some alien freak pretending he cares."
Clark could detect from the same imperceptible heart beatings that somewhere in there, Batman was lying about thinking he was right. It would give him some hope of reaching an understanding if the absolute certainty behind his apparent dislike of him didn't disturb the Kansas farmboy. There was no masked doubt when he threw that last accusation.
"You stand there," He practically spat, circling Clark like a vulture. "Going around the planet, fooling people with your act, acting like you give a damn about us humans and they buy it, not all but enough of them."
He stopped back to stare Clark down. "But I know what you are, an alien menace who'll burn this whole world of ours down. Another costumed freak dressed like a clown, except the old ones, had enough decency, to be honest about what they wanted. You? Your hero act makes me sick, almost as much as all the idiots who believe it."
Clark would've laughed if he wasn't certain how disturbingly honest Batman was. But he understood why, knowing where Wayne was when Zod attacked and what he lost in it. Being helpless amidst that mess must've been horrible. It must've felt like reliving the Crime Alley shooting all over again.
"I know why you must feel that way," Clark's tone softened. "You were there, watching me fight Zod, and I... understand why you're angry at me. Not a day goes by that I don't wish I could've stopped it sooner, that I could've somehow known he was coming.
"But I'm trying to make up for all that, for the mistakes I made. Gordon told me a man's mistakes shouldn't have to define him, that we can all get another chance to do better. The kind he got from you during the Black Mask incident, and the kind he and I both want to give you. So please," Clark extended a hand out to Batman who simply stared at him with an indecipherable expression. "Work with us, let's stop all of this before it goes unnecessarily further."
Batman... Bruce didn't say anything, his eyes boring into Clark as if he couldn't believe what was happening in front of him but didn't want to show it. Then he smirked which turned into a loud, uncomfortable laugh. It was deep, humorless the kind only a deep baritone could produce and against all logic, had an echo-like effect. The voice mangling device he used only made it worse.
It didn't help Clark could see the man beneath the mask, and the almost deranged way his features contorted during it. Then, the laugh stopped faster than it came, leaving the same scowling, angry man standing there.
"You're good, possibly an even finer actor than myself. It's no wonder so many gullible idiots believe you."
Clark pulled his hand back, his super hearing picking up the sounds of police sirens getting closer and closer. Loathe as he was to accept it, Batman's body didn't lie, he meant every word of it.
"But you got me to laugh so I'll give you a warning: get off my planet. Find all the rest of the freaks and leave, don't ever come back. Because if you stay, I'm going to make you regret it."
"And if you keep going like this," Clark's voice took a harder edge this time, his sympathy for Batman him slipping to the wayside. "I'm going to bring you in, and Gordon won't hesitate to lock you away. You can count on that."
Instead of being intimidated, he smirked ferally as if relishing the challenge. "Then may the best 'man' win."
Suddenly, a loud whizzing noise came from overhead, one belonging to a jet approaching from the grey clouds overhead and barreling right towards the building. Clark half expected it to open fire, instead, Batman fired a grappling line of some sort and propelled himself towards the plane. The second he reached it, he along with his jet vanished back into the sky, his damaged car long since gone during their conversation.
Letting out a deep suffering breath, Clark readied himself to question the men Batman had gone after. Hopefully, it wasn't as fruitless of a conversation as the one he'd already failed at.
"Now do you believe the severity of the situation?"
"I knew Bruce was in a rough place these past few years after what happened to Jason, but I figured leaving Gotham for a while would help. Instead,..."
"A belief I shared as well, but as we've both heard, Master Bruce is in a dark place, darker than perhaps any thus far. We cannot allow this to continue, for his sake and so many others."
"You're right Alfred," She sighed. "I'll tell Dick as soon as he gets home, without him, we don't have a prayer of pulling this off."
"Please do, Miss Gordon, and quickly, I fear we are all of us running out of time."
Thus we hit another big divergence point from the film: the Bat-Family getting involved. Since we don't have any indication of what Dick and Babs are like in the DCEU yet, expect some heavy reliance on comic and other media material for their characterization when the time comes for it.