Miranda Tate sits behind a heavy, wooden desk while the floor-to-ceiling windows at her back give a breathtaking view of the Gotham skyline. She's wrapping up a phone call, she has been since I entered her office, and she keeps shooting me apologetic looks while she continues to have a debate in Mandarin. Black Louboutins sit in a tangle on the floor beside her desk; Tate likes to run the world in comfort.
"So sorry," she says when she finally hangs up. "That was unavoidable, thank you for your patience."
Her graciousness is striking, for the CEO of a freshly-minted Fortune 500 company. A lot of things about Miranda Tate are striking. She insists that if we're going to talk we're going to do it outside her office, and she puts the Louboutins back on before leading the way out the door, fending off her assistant's list of phone messages as we head for the elevator.
There's an atrium on the top floor of the skyscraper that houses Tate Solutions, and Tate gravitates to a fountain near the middle of the space like she does it all the time. She reveals to me like she's sharing a secret: she comes up here to think and to decompress. Decompression is probably paramount for someone in her position: Tate's age is shrouded in mystery but she looks mid-twenties at best and Tate Solutions has seen tremendous growth since going public in 2005. Miranda Tate is already making a name for herself as a savvy entrepreneur and as one of the few women breathing the rarefied air of leadership of one of the top-grossing companies globally, it's no surprise that she's found herself on the 40 Under 40 list this year as well as creeping up the 500 rankings.
"We're globally minded," says Tate, visibly relaxing among the greenery of the atrium. "Clean energy is the way of the future and we intend to be the ones paving it." She goes on to describe a five-point plan the board of directors launched the previous week for advancing clean energy research--although of course Tate Solutions' several oil subsidiaries are still turning a healthy profit. Tate's plan of attack appears to have many prongs and she speaks with animation about the growth trends her company looks forward to.
She's earned every one of them, though; after emerging from relative obscurity and a childhood that's rumoured to have been coloured by hardship, Tate has been leading the charge that has put her company on the financial map. A recent coup is open discussion with Wayne Enterprises about an investor partnership: "Clean energy," she says again with some ruefulness. "It's an issue we're pushing but we're not the only ones. Sometimes when it comes to a matter of global good such as this, partnership is the way forward."
It's inevitable that our meandering discussion should work its way back around to Miranda Tate herself: young, attractive, single and in charge. She's the object of adoration for a score of young women angling for Harvard Business School and her charitable works often have a feminist bent; how does she feel about the spotlight on her as she assaults the glass ceiling?
"I got tired a long time ago of being told there were things I couldn't do or couldn't be, because I was a girl." Her expression looks briefly haunted before her sunny disposition returns. "But there are always people on my side to support me, and for their sake I do the difficult things anyway."
The issue of Time, when Bane sets it down on the coffee table, has Harvey Dent's face on the cover, a tasteful black and white image with the subtitle, 'The Man, The Legacy'. "It's a very nice piece," he says.
Talia stands looking out the window of her penthouse apartment. "It was a fluff piece. Hazards of the job."
"You live to be underestimated." Talia's short life has redefined what is difficult.
"Don't we all," she says, turning away from the view and joining him on the sofa, where her espresso waits. "Where do we stand?"
"Daggett's business in South Africa is nearly concluded. He has intimated that there is further work for me."
Talia chews her lip. "Keep working on that relationship. We'll need his resources. And Selina Kyle?"
Bane shrugs. "Purchasing her mafia debts was a trifle. That is all well and clear."
She glances down at Harvey Dent's face on the magazine cover. "And in the nick of time, with Marconi's cohort all being rounded up. She will prove useful."
"You have need of stolen jewels?" His eyes squint in the suggestion of a smile.
She smirks. "This woman will be his type. A good trap is always baited, my friend."
"You certainly think of everything."
Talia takes a sip of coffee that tastes of satisfaction itself. "Our revenge will be perfect and complete."
Bane is silent a moment. "I confess I had begun to wonder whether this Joker might do the work for us."
"No." She puts down her cup and gets up to pace the room again. "No, this anarchistic sociopath type never accomplishes anything without a master. All this talk of chaos is nonsense. Chaos for its own purpose is a crime of energy wasted. Focused turmoil, though--the single shot into a crowd--that is what will drive accomplishment." She pauses. "Still, the Joker might have been of some use, if he could have been persuadable."
"He has gone to rot in Arkham."
"He had gone to rot before that," she says dismissively. "No, our plans proceed as I wish them to."
Bane watches her pace for a while. "I feel that your father would regret many things if he could see you now," he says.
She stops and tilts her head at him.
"You embody the League of Shadows," he says fondly.
Her smile is slow and warm like the opening of a flower. "Perhaps he would find us worthy successors, after all," she says softly.
Bane has no doubt of that.