DC Revolutions Presents
Batgirl # 1
Spitting into the Wind
The outskirts of St. Roch, New Orleans
The cabin looked just like any other, utterly unassuming in every way and illuminated by a single, aging light-bulb that flickered on and off, hovering near death for hours now. The cabin was generally rented out to tourists passing through or families who wanted to escape the hectic city life for a weekend. Accountants, teachers, doctors, rarely were the guests anything out of the ordinary, just average people who needed a weekend away. This night however, the occupants were of a far different, and far more dangerous variety.
Standing at one of the windows, the blinds closed, was a large, African man who stood seven feet tall, broad shoulders and held a heavy stone hammer in one hand as effortlessly as a baby might carry a rattle. He was known and feared in a dozen countries as Bloodhammer, his birth name long forgotten, even to him, "Do you think there is still time to save face with the League?"
His comrade was a lithe Hispanic man, who wore two belts covered with throwing stars across his well formed chest to form an X. According to his warrants from Interpol, he was named Silver, "The contract was time specific, you know that as well as I do. The man will have testified by now."
"Our contract said nothing about Hawkman being there," said the final, third man spat venomously. He was a tall, Asian man with twin Katana blades, self anointed Splice. Unlike his companions, his fear was dwarfed by his anger, largely at himself. He was a man of breeding, prestige…and now he was nothing more than a disgrace to the family line, beaten back by a barbarian with wings!
"Our contracts rarely address who opposes us. Just who we are to eliminate. And my fellow assassins, we must face the cold truth," Bloodhammer stated, "we have failed."
On that, there could be no argument. The three men were high ranking members of the League of Assassins. The League was feared the world over, and had killed scores of men and women of all walks of life. Kings, queens, diplomats, even priests and nuns did not escape their blade for the right price. To be a member of the League for an assassin was akin to being on an Olympic sports team. If the League of Assassins were a legitimate company, they would be in the top twenty of the Fortune 500 companies. They were acknowledged, treated and very much feared as the best of the best.
But being in the League also had it's drawbacks as well. The League was rewarded handsomely for their services. Indeed, they had every intention of pleasing their patrons even if their agents were unable to fulfill their contractual obligations. Failure meant death for members of the League, save rare exceptions. The more courageous members would joke that it was one hell of an insurance policy, marketing tool and motivation all in one.
No one was laughing now.
No sooner had the men finish contemplating their fate than their bodies tightened. The senses of the highly trained killers were blaring that something was dangerously amiss, even if they couldn't consciously pinpoint it. As men who lived and died by their instincts, they stood ready for anything.
They didn't wait long, as the front door of the cabin slammed inwards. Standing where had once been stood a bear of a man, six feet tall, broad shoulders and rippling muscles that would be the envy of any bodybuilder. With his long hair, full beard, torn jeans, ray-ban sunglasses and KISS T-shirt, most people would not have pegged the man as a deadly ninja warrior.
That was often their first and last mistake.
"Jim," Bloodhammer hissed with enough venom to kill an elephant.
The man who was simply called Jim began his criminal career as a simple drug dealer. Fittingly enough, he discovered what he felt was his true calling while high on marijuana, of all things. Jim was at his dealer's house, completing an exchange when law enforcement agents burst in on him while he was fully entrenched in a drug filled haze. Jim killed a half dozen of police officers with a combination of skill and ferocity before somehow escaping. Jim realized that not only did he feel no remorse for the lives he took, but loved the thrill and lethal test of his manhood. From that moment on, he trained himself in the death arts with such skill and passion he drew the attention of the League itself. For a time, his employment was enough to sate his blood lust. But as time went on, even that was not enough. He petitioned the inner council to be the League's 'cleaner'. The position meant that he faced ruthless and deadly assassins who knew they were fighting for their lives and the enmity of those who hadn't yet failed. But Jim didn't care. It was just another hurdle, another pulse pounding challenge for the deadly thrill seeker.
"That's right, 'Hammer. Now we can do easy or hard," Jim offered sincerely. Even though he was a deadly thrill seeker, Jim saw little need to cause pain in his victims just for kicks. Given a chance, he always opted for the quick and clean kill. It was more polite, after all.
Splice whipped out his katanas, Silver armed himself with his throwing stars while Bloodhammer began spinning his hammer as if it were a simple baton.
"Guess that answers that question, don't it?"
Silver moved the quickest, for all the good it did him. Five different throwing stars flew through the air towards Jim's essential organs. However, like many throwing stars, these were ringed and hollow inside, for better accuracy. Jim was a blur, sticking his beefy fingers through the holes in the lethal, poison coated weapons like they were wedding rings, plucking each and every one from the air like they were casually tossed hula hoops.
That alone was enough to startle these expert warriors into inaction for only a split second, and to a man of Jim's skill, that was equal to an eternity. He leaped at Silver, feet first and lashed out at Bloodhammer and Splice, who stood at the man's side. The warriors were sent flying apart as Jim's 310 pounds crashed into Silver, who with his neck between Jim's legs could only fall backwards. Silver's chest collapsed underneath Jim's weight, and just to be sure Jim tightened his legs around the Hispanic man's neck and squeezed. The snap was swift and quiet.
"Well, that's about the gayest way to kill a man," Jim commented as he sprung up.
His foes said nothing, acutely aware of the shift of odds. Bloodhammer and Splice held back for a moment, sizing up their foes. They had the advantage in numbers certainly, but how many times had they been outnumbered and prevailed?
Jim moved first to end the standoff, rushing Bloodhammer. The wall of a man swung his weapon with enough force to kill ten men, but Jim fluidly ducked underneath and slammed his flattened palm into Bloodhammer's kidneys. Pain burned through the man, and as Bloodhammer's vision spiraled Jim slipped his chosen weapon out of his foe's hands and held it in the air, parallel to the flood where the handle was stuck with twin blades.
"Ain't nice to sneak up on people, Splice."
Jim quickly swung the hammer downwards where it collided with Splice's right
The bone shattered like cheap glass. Splice tumbled backwards as Jim swung the hammer up, decorating the nearby wall with blood and grey matter.
Splice didn't last much longer with his crippling injury. Unable to see a man suffer (needlessly), Jim grabbed one of Splice's swords and drove it through the man's heart and into the floorboards. A pool of blood trickled out of the man silently.
"Damn, I'm getting slow in my old age," Jim muttered. It was something that he'd been thinking about for weeks now. Jim had been a killer for close to two decades, but lately he felt…off. His timing wasn't as perfect as it used to be, his opponents became increasing faster and something inside just didn't feel right. And not so deep down, Jim knew what that was. He was getting older. As an assassin and warrior, he'd officially peaked and now there was no where to go but down.
To Jim, that thought downright scared him. All his adult life he'd worked for the League, getting his hands dirty. It was his life and passion, his identity! Death didn't scare him half as much as life without the League.
Reaching into his pocket, he took out his cell-phone and pressed the speed dial, calling a relatively new acquaintance.
"Jim," the voice on the other end answered, "what can I do for the League's finest 'cleaner'?"
"'ey Calculator," Jim answered, "I need you to place a call to some friends and work me up some tickets to Gotham. It's time for the last hurrah."
"Oh, going after the Bat, I see." Noah commented, thankful that Jim couldn't see him roll his eyes. The Batman was a legend to heroes and villains both, and one of the few things known about him was his utter unwillingness to take a life. The man battled the likes of the Joker, Two-Face, Scarecrow and countless others. Men and women so deadly, dangerous and unpredictable that they actually scared the underworld itself. No one would begrudge Batman for killing these criminals, yet he never did.
"No, not Batman," Jim answered, "close, but ain't him I'm after."
The hotel room was one of Gotham's finer establishments, rating a full five stars according to most tour guides, not that anyone ever used Gotham as a tourist destination. The three villains that occupied the opulent room on the top floor were an exception to the rule.
At the moment, they were discussing their objective, and the mercenary known as Shrike gaped at his former mentor in confusion as he tried to wrap his mind around the concept Jim's final battle. Jim had personally inducted the young killer into the League and taught him almost everything he knew. Even when Shrike resigned from the League, he left on good terms with everyone, Jim included. When he received word that his old friend was ready for 'that final run', he naturally assumed he was going after Shiva, Batman or even Richard Dragon. Not some relatively unknown soldier and hanger on of a finer, legendary warrior.
"Batgirl," Jim confirmed.
"Why not Shiva? Or Batman? Why Batgirl?" Shrike asked.
"Batman ain't never beaten Shiva," Jim stated, "an' Batgirl's beaten Shiva. I don't like sloppy seconds."
"And if this is to be your final battle, why are we here?" the third warrior asked. Dressed in the darkest black and armed with bow and quiver, the man known as Merlyn was considered one of the world's finest archers, on par with the likes of Green Arrow and Arsenal.
He was also one of the few failed killers to ever walk away from the League. A dozen men were sent to hunt him down, and those Merlyn couldn't kill he evaded with practiced ease. He was only here because of Jim's offer of amnesty. Even the cockiest man felt a tinge of fear when the League of Assassins had an open contract on his life.
"Y'all are gonna be gatherin' Intel for me," Jim answered, "I don't trust Calculator's second hand, computer readout shit. And you might run a little interference for me too."
Nights in Black Gate Prison were by their nature, cold and hard. The officials running the prison had long ago decided that their prisoners had forfeited the right to anything but the most draconian daily existence. The food bordered on inedible, the nights were always too cold and time in the courtyard never once exceeded an hour.
Despite all this, David Cain never once found the prison uncomfortable. He was imprisoned on a host of charges, from first degree murder to kidnapping to fire arms violation, but only one thing kept this master hitman in jail and one thing only. A simple promise to his baby girl. David Cain loved his daughter Cassandra, the current Batgirl, more than anything else in the world, including his own freedom. As the loving father he saw himself as, Cain could deny her nothing, even when she turned her back on everything he stood for.
And somewhere in the back of his mind, Cain knew that his daughter saw his time in jail as karma (even if she didn't know exactly what the word meant) for how he 'mistreated' her. He'd raised her from birth to be the perfect fighter, the ultimate human weapon. Devoid of the spoken word, Cain raised his little girl on the language of violence. Fists and blows instead of words and expressions. Within eight years, his little girl was the ultimate human weapon, capable of defeating foes three times her size, and even after all this time, Cain was hard pressed to see any 'mistreatment'.
But all it took to tear down his years of work was a single kill. Cain had taught her to read body language perfectly. And Cassandra didn't like the statement made by the dying Drug Lord who's throat she ripped out with her bare, blood soaked hands. His baby doll fled from Cain that day, and though he searched half the world, he never saw her again until he accepted a contract in Gotham. His daughter opposed him then, almost dying herself to stop him. She rejected him outright, and her opposition of his mission directly led to her current costumed persona of Batgirl in her crusade for absolution.
Cain paused in his reflections when he heard felt something amiss just outside his solid titanium steel door. As an internationally feared killer, Cain always rated special treatment regardless of how docile he acted or how many good behavior points he racked up. The door swung open, and Cain found himself surprised to find that it wasn't The Bat or Cassandra this time.
Cain sat up on his bed and studied the mercenary for a moment, "Care to explain, boy? I don't recall asking for someone to break me out."
"Then it's a good thing that's not why I'm here, isn't it?" Shrike answered, "I need some information. That's all."
Cain didn't get to be a professional killer by being stupid. He already knew where this was going as he asked, "About what?"
Cain didn't have to ask how Shrike knew about their connection. Their fighting styles were unique in all the world. Perhaps even in the history of mankind. Sooner or later, someone was going to figure it out. That, and Cassandra had visited him in some form or another and beat viciously beat the crap out of her father.
"What's to know? I trained her for a bit, like Deadshot. She left me to go her own way. The end." He lied. The less that was actually known, the better.
"She's a Bat, I could have figured that out on my own," Shrike hissed, "I need to know what she can do. How skilled is she, anything you can tell me."
Cain felt a warm fuzzy feeling flow through his body that he always sought to find in liquor. He'd waited year for someone to finally, finally ask this question of him. Beaming with fatherly pride and smiling like he had just won 'Father of the Year', he answered truthfully.
"She's broken oak doors with her bare hands, kicked in bullet proof glass, infiltrated government instillations by herself, caught arrows with her bare hands," Cain leaned back and sighed happily, "beat Shiva without any toys, and fought The Bat to a standstill twice."
"Batman?" Shrike raised an eyebrow, "I thought she was one of his soldiers."
Cain smirked, "They're partners, and she's complicated."
Shrike took a moment to process this information. Finally, he asked the obvious question, "You know what she looks like under the mask, don't you?"
Shrike blinked, and he found himself thrown back against the steel door to the cell, with Cain's left arm pinning him against the wall and his right index and ring finger firmly gripped around a rather vital part of Shrike's neck. One wrong move, and the young mercenary knew he wouldn't make it through the night.
Cain's eyes bored a hole into Shrike's skull, and for a moment he said nothing at all, he simply held Shrike in a deadly position. Finally, speaking in a growl that would do a lion proud, he warned, "That, boy, is none of your damn business. You asked, I answered. I'm old and tired, and if you don't get out of my sight, I'll cripple you in such a way that the only thing you'll ever feel again is pain."
Cain released Shrike, who wisely chose the better part of valor. Cain closed the door to his cell and laid back down on his cot. Tomorrow was going to be annoying, considering the dead guards outside his cell (stupid kid. Should have killed him just for that), but at least the two 'secret' security cameras, one installed by The Bat and the other by the prison officials, would prove Cain himself hadn't killed the men outside.
Cain considered warning Cassandra for a moment, but then thought the better of it. She'd only resent the intrusion in her life by what she saw as an overbearing father. Besides, Cain knew of Shrike's career. He always kept tabs on the competition, after all. Content in the knowledge his daughter would be fine, Cain went to sleep, knowing he'd need the energy for tomorrow. Damn Black Gate security…
The coffee was thicker than oil, the diner a rat hole if there ever was one and sitting across from him at his table was a prostitute of some seven years who went by the name Goldie. If you asked the mighty warrior known as Jim ten years ago if this was how he expected to spend his final days on earth, he would have laughed. But necessity was a strange creature indeed.
She was easy enough on the eyes, but there were weary, telling lines upon her face and Jim didn't think much of her profession. Not that he was one to judge, being a killer and killer of failed killers. Still, Goldie worked the Gotham streets some seven years and there wasn't a criminal in the city who hadn't had an encounter with one night vigilante or another.
"So, you wanna know about the time I saw Batgirl in action, right?"
Jim nodded in affirmation, "Yeah, anything you can remember would be helpful."
"Oh, I don't think I'll ever forget that night…."
Goldie sometimes thought of the brutality she suffered at the hands of men as just a part of the job and part of life. That's what her father had taught her those dark nights he visited her room. But tonight was different. Her pimp wasn't here, and even if he was he wouldn't try to defend her. Seven punks doped up on PCP and looking for a pound of female flesh would have killed him without blinking.
She knew that they were going to kill her too, after they had their fun. They forced her into a dead end alley, and with her back to the wall she could see no avenue of escape. Two men to the left and right, and three slobbering in front of her. Their eyes made obscene gestures at her body while they laughed and leered at her.
"I'ma mark that fine ass up!"
"Gonna cut me off a piece o' dat, bitch!"
"Show you a fine time!"
There was a slight breeze followed by what sounded the rustling of a cape, and as one the hearts of the brutal thugs stopped, fear slicing through even their drug induced mettle.
"The Bat…"one man had the courage to whisper.
"Ain't The Bat…"Another man declared, pointing towards the roof. The drug addled punks saw a slight, lithe feminine figure, draped in an ebony cape with pointy ears atop her head who regarded them curiously, "…jus' more fun!"
Goldie was positive she saw the figure smile. To the surprise of everyone, the lithe form fell forward off the edge of the building like a statue and into the shadows that engulfed the end of the alley. Goldie and the punks squinted, and gaped in amazement at what appeared to be a shadow ricocheting off the walls at blinding speed.
Billy MacDougal, standing to the right of his would-be victim, lost all his courage at that exact moment, "Okay, I…"
A shadow flew forward, and the heads of three of the thugs snapped to the side almost simultaneously as they spiraled into unconsciousness.
The ebony girl landed in front of MacDougal, her eyes spitting daggers. Reaching into the folds of her cape and then threw her hand backwards over her shoulder, two batarangs dispatching another two criminals, leaving only one remaining to be dealt with.
"…don't hurt me…"
For a moment, Goldie thought her rescuer was outmatched. Her foe was six foot six with the body of a linebacker. Her defender only five foot ten, lithe and much, much smaller.
But Batgirl didn't miss a beat. She drove her flattened palm into the man's lower stomach. Even braced, the attack was exceptionally painful and there would be blood in his urine for days. As the man doubled over in pain, Batgirl slapped her hands on the man's shoulders and pulled herself upwards, both her knees colliding with the man's face. Dropping down, all it took was a chop to the side of the man's neck, dropping him like a sack of potatoes.
"I give up!"
Batgirl looked at the man's would be victim, and then back at the man himself.
He never saw the fist that doctors would later tell him came within an inch of giving him a concussion.
She then looked towards Goldie, and somehow the aged street walker didn't feel threatened by the savage warrior, though she was far from feeling completely safe, not after how she'd just been threatened. For a few moments, the young woman who'd just defeated a gang of men in seconds stood there awkwardly, as if she unsure of what to do. Sirens began blaring in the background (likely called in advance) and Batgirl smiled at Goldie like a child trying to convince an adult of a fact they themselves were not too clear on.
"It's…okay now. Safe."
Batgirl fired her grappling hook into the air, and swung towards the sky, disappearing into the night sky by the time the red and blue lights of Gotham P.D. filled the street.
"Anythin' thing else you can tell me 'bout that night that comes to mind, ma'am?"
Goldie took a sip of my coffee, "Yeah, it was the weirdest thing. Somehow, I don't think she…I dunno…got what those bastards were going to do to me. She acted like they just wanted my purse," Goldie explained, "I mean I assume biologically she's a woman, right? Was she raised in a cave or somethin'?"
"Never know with her father," Jim commented. Mentally, he noted that Goldie's information was almost exactly like every other person he'd interviewed thus far. Of the dozen people rescued by Batgirl that he'd interviewed in one fashion or another. A force of nature in combat, but awkward and uncomfortable outside of battle.
Jim thanked the woman for her time, gave her an envelope that contained more money than she earned in six months and left. Once Merlyn finished his mission, it would be time for that final ride in a blaze of glory.
Merlyn brought his binoculars up to his eyes and spied his target, Gotham's First National Bank. Even as he stood there, a team of five disgruntled special forces were working on the roof of the bank, attempting to disable the security system that protected the Skylight. Merlyn was positioned in a Skyscaper some eleven blocks away, giving him a birds eye view of the men.
Unknown to the men he was watching, they were hired to break into this particular bank because it fell within what was believed to be Batgirl's patrol pattern. All they knew was someone with a lot of money and some good intel about the bank was paying for this job, even being so generous as to let them keep the loot. Merlyn enjoyed a silent chuckle. For every idiot dressed up in spandex, there were a dozen or more who considered themselves 'professionals' who never wore a costume.
Merlyn kept a tight watch, but still he didn't notice Batgirl's arrival until the first man hit the ground. Another two were on the ground thanks to a single round house kick and by the time the remaining men realized they were under attack, it was too late. Merlyn winced in sympathy and though he didn't think much of Batman and his ilk, he had to give the girl her due. She was good, damn good in fact. Not many people actually believed this crime-fighter had actually defeated the legendary Shiva, but Merlyn believed it now.
He watched as Batgirl secured the men for the police, dragging men who had at least a hundred pounds on her into a neat circle for the officers. What she did next almost no one could have predicted.
Batgirl looked up from the defeated criminals, and looked directly into Merlyn's binoculars, the black slits that covered her eyes narrowing. There was no way she could possibly see him, yet she did. Merlyn dropped his binoculars in shock, and quickly decided to retreat. Like every good assassin, he had the perfect escape plan already mapped out following mission completion. No one short of the Flash would be able to catch him.
Eight minutes later, black gloved hands picked up the hastily abandoned binoculars and wondered just what was going on.
"I think I'll just say what we're all thinking. She's metahuman," Shrike stated, "I mean, breaking oak doors with her hands, whupping the hell out guys twice her size…no way is she human."
"When was the last time there was a meta-human hero in Gotham?" Jim asked, "hell, everyone knows how The Bat feels about all the other spandex losers, even us."
"Then just how the hell can she do what she does?" Merlyn asked, "I mean, she can't be that good, can she? She's at least Batman's equal, and there is no way she's been at it nearly as long!"
"Dunno," Jim replied honestly, "Not completely impossible, though. When us martial artists break bricks with our fists, it tears down the bone in our fists. When that bone rebuilds, it's a hella lot stronger. With enough conditioning, who knows what's possible?"
"Enough conditioning?" Shrike asked incredulously, "to move like she does, she'd have to have been trained from birth and trained hard. What kind of bastard would do that to a kid? Definitely not The Bat or his toy soldiers."
Both Merlyn and Jim felt the disgust curl in their stomachs, mixed with a little sympathy. These were hardened men, ruthless professionals who dealt out death more casually than most terrorists, but even they had their limits. To them, hard training a kid was child abuse times ten. Even if the kid survived, they would probably never be 'right'.
Jim pushed those thoughts from his mind. All that mattered now was his final battle against the greatest warrior in the world. Jim would try to win, of course, but he knew the outcome. The best he could do was manipulate the situation so that Batgirl killed him. Dying at the hands of a great warrior was an honor, at least in Jim's eyes.
Cassandra Cain swung through the Gotham night, she found herself looking even harder for crimes than usual. A car jacking, attempted murder and gang fight were barely enough to keep her attention away from her thoughts, something she needed now more than ever.
Her only friend in the world, Stephanie Brown, otherwise known as Spoiler was dead. She was killed in the crossfire of a massive gang war she herself foolishly started to impress their respective mentor, Batman. It didn't matter much to Cassandra that Spoiler was using emergency plans created by her mentor. Batman wouldn't have created a gang war, he would have made it work perfectly. Cassandra believed that as much as she believed the sun would rise in the morning. Though it pained her to admit, Spoiler was one hundred percent responsible for the destruction and loss wrought during the gang war, as were those who didn't follow his plans. Not Batman, never Batman.
That wasn't the worst of it, though. The father of Tim Drake, the third Robin, was killed by some loser called Captain Boomerang and the Clock Tower of Oracle was destroyed, necessitating Barbara moving her Birds of Prey organization out of Gotham, where Cass couldn't readily visit. So right now, it definitely stunk to be Batgirl. Stunk? Cass thought, was that right? Or is it suck? Crappy?
It was of course then something caught her eye. Atop the top level of a parking garage was a circle of cars some thirty feet around. Inside this odd circle were two mercenaries Batgirl recognized as Shrike and Merlyn, alongside a large man wearing an Easy Rider T-shirt and torn blue jeans.
Even if she weren't dedicated to protecting to safety of everyone on Gotham, Cassandra would have investigated this anyway. It was just too weird, even for Gotham.
Swinging down and dropping in the middle, Batgirl looked at the three men curiously. For a moment, she wondered if she should talk tough like her mentor, but then realized she had no idea what these men were doing here.
"Shrike, you're up," Jim ordered as he lit a cigarette.
Shrike nodded, and mentally psyched himself up. He could take this girl. Even if she beat Shiva, Shiva was unarmed, something that didn't hold Shrike back one bit. Shrike would be damned if he let Jim go down fighting this two-bit wanna be Batman. He could do this, no problem.
Batgirl saw the confidence in Shrike's body, and smiled. This jerk gave Nightwing trouble since he was Robin. That didn't sit well with Cassandra, considering Nightwing was always nice to her, from sneaking her candy in her early days as Batgirl to renting her cool movies like 'The Princess Bride' and 'Lion King' to always patiently explaining something that confused her (which happened more than Cass liked). Oh yeah, this jerk-face was going to suffer.
Shrike ran forward and leapt into the air with a powerful war-cry, his spiked night sticks unsheathed and ready for blood. Generally, this method of attack was perfect against lesser foes, complimenting Shrike's speed and ferocious nature.
Batgirl had to stifle a yawn as she leapt up to meet Shrike in midair. She only jumped so far as to reach his shins, but that was far enough. A solid punch just underneath Shrike's kneecap was all she needed to send the man spiraling head over heels as he returned to the blacktop. Shrike landed painfully on his back as Batgirl landed gracefully on her feet.
"Lucky shot," Shrike muttered as he picked himself back up and charged again.
Batgirl sighed. Sometimes, not even trained fighters learned all that fast. She threw herself backwards at Shrike and spun around downwards faster than Shrike could react, her foot catching his, tripping him and sending him crashing to the ground chest first.
"Had enough?" Cass smiled.
Shrike got back up, but didn't charge her again (finally learned, dummy). He stood tensed for a moment, weapons out as he reevaluated his tactics. Finally he rushed forward (more carefully this time) and slashed outwards with his blades. Batgirl easily sidestepped the attack and struck Shrike's kidney with a left hook. The pain was enough to make Shrike pause, making him vulnerable. And there was virtually no one better trained to exploit that than Cassandra Cain.
Her right hand grabbed Shrike's wrist and slammed it into her upraised knee, cracking the bone with ease. Shrike's yelp of pain was interrupted with a solid left hook that snapped his head to the side, followed quickly by Cassandra firmly grabbing his broken arm and with skill most surgeons would envy, popped the bone out of the socket. Shrike crumbled to the ground in a heap, his brow furrowed and drenched in sweat as he sought to fight through the pain.
"Right arm's useless. Bones in your… back chipped," Batgirl employed 'The Voice', low, coldly observational and just a touch mocking, "and I have… barely even start. Surrender?"
They both already knew the answer, although Cassandra was more prepared than Shrike would have expected. With a mighty roar, Shrike leaped up and threw all of his weight into a roundhouse kick that would have shattered the ribcage of a normal sized man. Batgirl easily saw it coming with her ability to read body language and started moving a split second before Shrike himself started. She was already shifting her weight as the attack came. Shrike's foot hit her left speed, and Cassandra clamped her arm down over the foot as she spun backwards, redirecting Shrike's momentum effortlessly. Spinning 180 degrees with Shrike's leg clamped underneath her armpit, Cassandra lifted the man off his feet and threw him into the air. Shrike flew through the air for a few brief seconds before he slammed bodily into one of the parked cars that surrounded them, shattering the glass as he sank to the ground.
Batgirl didn't have a second to congratulate herself. She moved to the right, an arrow slicing through where she has just been standing. Apparently, it was Merlyn's turn now.
The deadly archer known as Merlyn scowled inwardly as he saw his foe catch the second arrow. Unlike Shrike, Merlyn wasn't lulled into believing that the two of them were just to test Batgirl's worthiness to battle Jim. No, he knew he was here for cannon fodder pure and simple, and that pissed Merlyn off. He swore he'd kill this girl just to spite Jim.
However, things weren't going as planned. Poison tipped arrows dropped to the ground like rice at a wedding as Batgirl caught arrow after arrow. She strolled towards Merlyn almost inattentively. Merlyn switched tactics and let fly an explosive arrow, but his foe didn't even blink, dodging the arrow and slapping the tail end of it downwards, sending the arrow flying wildly over the ring of cars where it exploded harmlessly.
Merlyn wracked his brain for a different, more effective tactic, but he realized it was too late. Batgirl was now less than a foot away from him, and his fear allowed her to pluck his bow out of his hands like a parent taking matches from a child. Batgirl swung the fiberglass bow and smashed it across the archer's head. Before he could recover, she grabbed him by his collar and rolled backwards, both of her legs braced against his stomach. Once she was right angle, she kicked outwards with all her strength, sending Merlyn flying through the air where he proceeded to smash into the just recovering Shrike.
Cassandra flipped up into a standing position, "Stay."
Jim stubbed his smoke out on the pavement, a cocky smirk on his face. His chosen executioner was warmed up, and it was time for the main event. The vigilante glared at him, and what she said next surprised him.
"Want to die. Why?"
Jim never thought for a moment she knew what he intended to do. It was almost as if she read his mind! Jim recovered quickly enough and removed a two buttoned remote from his pocket.
"Ain't nothin' left for me, sweat pea."
Depressing one button, there was a muffled explosion and a ring of fire encircled the ring of cars the villains had assembled. For a second or two, Cassandra was amazed. The circle of cars, now the flames…these guys were real drama kings, she thought.
"This here second button is tied to an explosive that I placed in the broiler room of a nearby hospital," Jim explained, "an' unless you kill me, I'll detonate it."
"Lie," Batgirl said matter of factly, "no bomb. Bluff."
While that was true enough (Jim had his limits), he never expected his foe to call his bluff so quickly. She spoke with such certainty Jim almost felt as though she'd must have examined all the hospitals before coming here. It almost made Jim wish he wasn't bluffing. Still, a shift of tactics was easy enough.
"Either you kill me, or I kill those two," Jim threatened, pointing at Shrike and Merlyn.
This time, Cassandra Cain knew he was telling the truth. Jim let that fact sink in for a second before he launched his attack.
Batgirl would later note that Jim's fighting style mimicked a more skilled and powerful version of Shrike, attacking with strength, skill and unlike Shrike, thought. Batgirl blocked a punch which was meant to move her into position of a snap kick which like the first attack was meant to place her in a position for another attack. A chop aimed for her fifth and sixth rib was deflected, a flattered palm aimed at her lower jaw was blocked by the back of her wrist and on it went. Normally, Cassandra had little trouble dodging the average foe, but Jim was a little different. She could still run circles around him, but she wanted to get a feel for his style first. Once she locked that down, she could have some fun.
Shrike and Merlyn watched in amazement as the two master warriors sparred. Every blow, kick or chop was either dodged or blocked by Batgirl almost at the exact second Jim let it fly.
"Man, look at them go!" Shrike gawked, "I've never seen anyone that fast!"
"So? Once she's done with Jim, she'll arrest us!" Merlyn snapped. He wanted to shoot the Bat witch in the back, but she'd cut the string on his bow, "if we're going to make a break for it, now's the time."
Batgirl removed four batarangs from her belt, two in each hand. Flipping over Jim's head, she released them towards her two earlier foes. The first two landed on each side of the criminals. The other two embedded themselves in the metal of the cars underneath the respective criminal's crotches.
"Staying is also good," Shrike noted, staring at the razor sharp weapon that came within inches of his manhood.
Batgirl landed with her back towards Jim, but it didn't matter. She had his style now.
Jim swiftly followed after her, but was blindsided when she spun around to unleash a powerful kick to his solar plexus. A right hook followed that broke his jaw, tailed by a snap kick to his knee that tore important muscles. Jim barely crossed his arms across one another to block another devastating kick that might have taken his head off. Surprisingly, there was no follow through. Batgirl simply stood there, looking at him like the cat who'd eaten the canary.
Jim focused through the pain of his knee and stood upright, and impossible feat for men of lesser wills.
Jim kicked out with his good leg, hoping to catch Batgirl unawares. With any other fighter, it might have worked. After all, few thought it wise to brace an attack on a bad leg, but Cassandra read his body language like it was a child's picture book. She caught the attack easy, hooking her left arm underneath the attacking limb and with her right hand she chopped down on a key pressure point. Almost instantly Jim's leg went numb.
It was at that exact moment he knew he lost the fight. Barely able to stand, he quickly shifted his tactics to defense, a good if not predictable strategy. His mistake however, was thinking that Batgirl would attack his weakened lower body now that he could barely move his legs. Batgirl knew he would think that.
The first fist was all it took. Jim saw stars on the edge of his vision, and he felt as though his head exploded as another blow connected. The next thing Jim remembered was his ass hitting the ground and then darkness.
"…hear me, sir? Sir, can you hear me?"
Jim tried to open his eyes, both heavily swollen. He wasn't surprised to find himself strapped to a gurney, unable to move at all. Hell, considering his rep plus Merlyn and Shrike, he'd have been more surprised to find himself unrestrained. Not that he had any fight in him at the moment, Batgirl had seen to that.
"Yea," Jim croaked.
"Can you tell me what happened?" The EMT asked as he looked over Jim's battered body.
"Not 'what'" Jim corrected weakly, "who."
"Who then. Who did this to you?"
Jim forced his swollen eyes open and glanced towards a nearby building that overlooked the parking garage that was supposed to be the place where he fought his final battle. He could make out a slight, feminine shadow looking down at the whole scene.
And that's the end of chapter 1. Not a lot of Cassandra Cain considering it's her book I know, but I thought I needed an intro issue more than a full issue of Cassandra Cain. Believe me when I say this series will more than make up for the lack of Cass. And trust me when I say that Batgirl will get her due as a fighter. She's a hurricane of action and that won't be forgotten.