KNIGHTFALL PART 3: PUPPETS Batman is aware that his strength and resolve are fading with every escaped Arkham Asylum inmate he encounters. He knows that Bane has orchestrated this situation to wear him down. Victor Zsasz has found his way to a boarding school where he plans to add some of the girls to his tally of kills. Many of the girls escape out the back, but there are still fifteen or so trapped inside with the serial killer. After failing to hear from the officer he sent inside, Stan Kitch sends another officer in. The officer encounters his predecessor, with his throat cut. Unfortunately, Zsasz sneaks up on him, and gives him the same fate. Meanwhile, the girls left unattended plot to bring down their hostage-taker. Bullock and Montoya arrive on the scene, asking the situation. Kitch checks the status of his officers on the inside, but Zsasz angrily responds on the police radio, and throws the two dead officers' bodies out the window onto a police car. He threatens that two girls will have to die in order to pay for the two transgressions the police have made. Batman arrives, telling the police to stand down. Bullock comments to Montoya that Batman isn't looking well, but she is nowhere to be found. Batman activates his night-vision, and when he hears a sound from a classroom, he opens the door, only to find a pair of hands around his neck. His assailant turns out to be Robin, who has come against his mentor's wishes. Robin reveals that he's met Bird, one of Bane's lackeys. Batman allows him to chase Bird, so long as he doesn't directly confront Bane. Zsasz returns to his hostages, preparing to select two new victims. The girls attack him, but most are so paralyzed with fear that he easily overpowers them, and puts a knife to a girl's neck. Suddenly, Renée Montoya appears in the doorway with her gun trained on the killer. Zsasz views her appearance as a challenge. Montoya offers herself in exchange for the girl's life. When Zsasz gets his knife to Montoya's throat, Batman bursts through the window. Zsasz claims that he and Batman are the same, as Montoya shouts that he should simply take Zsasz out rather than worry about her. Zsasz's words start to get to Batman, and he falters. However, Zsasz's confidence makes him careless, and Montoya headbutts him. The serial killer escapes into the dark hallway, and Batman is nearly stabbed. Batman retaliates in full force. Zsasz mocks Batman, calling on the Dark Knight to cross the line and kill him. Batman refuses, but fails to realize how brutally he is beating Zsasz, and how close to killing him he is. Montoya calls Batman off, and he escapes. Bird reports back to Bane that the Batman is looking especially haggard. CONTINUED IN DETECTIVE COMICS #660.
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