Six months later…
Shinobu launched herself at me, lunge-punching for my stomach. I easily block downward and avoid her follow-up leg sweep, before she springs back up with a jump kick aimed at my head.
I avoid that too and block her next three punches. She's already breathing hard, but her cornflower blue eyes are narrowed in determination.
"Good. Now faster," I say. Shinobu backs off and tries the movements again, this time starting with three punches before dropkicking. I block this and she uses the momentum of the deflection to spin herself into a Mawashi roundhouse. I fall back and let the blow fly scant inches over my stomach.
"Good. Faster," I repeat, and Shinobu, taking a few deep breaths, drops into a leg sweep again, forcing me to avoid it so she can spring up and sock me in the stomach.
I grab her wrist and send her spinning to the practice mat in a heap.
"Not good… But faster," I conclude. Shinobu tugs at the sleeves of her training gi with a sigh, but nods and takes my hand as I pull her back to her feet.
"I'm… Not… Sure I… Can do this," she murmurs quietly as I come back from the table nearby with two waterbottles and towels. Gratefully she takes a bottle and gulps the cool water down, while I sip at a more controlled pace.
"You're already surpassing my expectations considerably," I tell her with a small smile. Shinobu stares at me in mild disbelief, so I continue.
"Shinobu, I've been training my whole life. I do not praise progress unless I see it," I explain. Shinobu bit her lip nervously.
"It's… It's not that, but um…" She looks at her feet, and I mentally sigh. I need to do something about her confidence.
"You just seem so… Different, than when I didn't…" Shinobu trails off, but I nod, understanding it.
"It's because I have to be… Different," I respond calmly. "And, truth be told, my brain chemistry is slightly different when I'm using my chi energy."
"Explain… Explain that to me again?" Shinobu asked. I nod, and indicate for us both to sit down on the mat. She does as I signal, and I take a deep, cleansing breath.
"You know how Motoko uses chi energy to manipulate wind and use it for her attacks?" I ask. Shinobu nods.
"Well, that's just one way to use chi. Myself, I learned from a few masters in the art of manipulating and enhancing your spiritual energy. In particular, how to use it to enhance my bodily functions."
"So, you can turn off your anemia?" Shinobu asked with a thoughtful frown. I nod.
"In a manner of speaking. I have learned how to fill my circulatory system with charged chi energy, that attracts and binds with oxygen. This helps the oxygen bond better with my blood cells." I lecture. Shinobu nods.
"And, you use it to enhance the rest of your body as well?" She guessed. I smile.
"Exactly, though I can control how much chi I apply to any particular part of my body. I can even use it to manipulate the chi energy of people in physical contact with me, bending their spiritual energy and changing it's direction, just as I would take control of their momentum in a judo throw."
"But how does this help you in combat?" Shinobu asked, curious. I smile slightly.
"Would you like me to show you?"
Shinobu's eyes light up.
"You-You mean… You'll let me come with you on patrol?!"
"Yes… I trust you've prepared your suit?"
She nods happily, and I fill some pride in my own heart. As well as a bit of fear.
What if she dies tonight because she wasn't ready?
I squelch that thought. She won't be doing any fighting, and she'll stay in the car unless I say so. Besides, she needs actual experience if she's ever going to do what I do.
Why, I have no idea… But it's better to train her myself rather than have her go out on her own.
Nerima. One of the most insane communities in Tokyo, if not the entire country.
At night it's usually a little more peaceful… But that's entirely relative.
I crouch in the shadows of an air conditioning unit on the local high school, opaque eye-covers narrowed and glowing ever-so slightly in the half-moon light. My costume is entirely black otherwise, save for the red bat-insignia decorating my chest. This is on purpose, as the Kevlar armor plating is strongest here.
Otherwise I am like the mythic wraith, my long black, scalloped cape granting me gliding abilities and a powerful psychological affect on my adversaries. The horned cowl completes the effect.
So it pains me, ever so slightly, to compare my meticulously designed, sealed, military-rated combat suit against…
"Red, yellow, on black," I observe as she crouches nearby. She shrugs and smiles, tugging at the black gloves covering her forearms midway. Her cape is black on the outside, but a pale yellow on the inside, while her body is covered in a red, Kevlar-reinforced leotard. Black bikini bottoms are worn over the leotard, with matching black boots. Her utility belt is yellow as well, and the matching kanji for "bird" is worn like a brooch for her cape.
"What? Don't you like it?" She asked with a frown behind her domino mask, opaque lenses widening slightly. I sigh.
"They'll see you coming a mile away in that get up, Shinobu."
"I saw it in an American comic book, and I liked it. Besides, it's Robin," she emphasized with a smile. "Batwoman and Robin! The Dynamic D-Duo!" She stuttered slightly.
I feel an eye-roll coming on.
"… Fine. Just stay out of trouble for now," I tell her. Shino-Robin, nods dutifully and looks around.
"Why are we here anyway?"
"You wanted to know what good manipulating other's chi in close proximity is," I say. "And Nerima is home to more insane martial artists than most other places around here."
My eyes narrow as I engage night-vision, spotting our target.
"And here's our test subject," I say, standing up and firing a zipline. I swing off the roof after the target, Robin following me, her quick-dyed black hair waving in the breeze.
I land on a rooftop silently and run, following the target on the street. Shinobu is right behind me, her foot steps a bit rougher and louder than my own. I am truly impressed that she has come so far in such a short amount of time.
The target pauses, a frown on his face. I motion to Shinobu to hide in the shadows, as I stand proudly, cape billowing in the wind.
"Kodachi Kuno… What brings you out at this time of night?" I ask gruffly in my 'Bat' voice. The insane martial gymnast smiles haughtily, leaping up to the roof.
"Visiting my beloved of course! I will steal him away at last from the tomboy! And you cannot stop me, peasant!"
"How many times have you said this before?" I ask, settling into a comfortable fighting stance. Kodachi smirks.
"Before, I have never had assistance… Habiki!"
My chi senses had detected something or someone following us, but I wasn't sure of who or what it was until now. I turn slightly, turning my head to regard the bandanna-wearing, eternally Lost Boy.
"Habiki… This doesn't seem like you," I state. Ryoga just shrugged and grinned.
"If Ranma goes out with Kodachi, Akane is mine for the taking!" He said with a shrug. "I wish to end the chaos and punish Ranma, once and for all!"
"By forsaking your honor?" I pose. Ryoga ground his sharp teeth, looking pained. Kodachi merely laughed.
"Oh ho ho ho ho! Honor? Spoken of by a peasant in a bat suit? How dare you judge my honor!"
"I cannot judge nothing," I retort. Kodachi snarled.
"Habiki! I will tend to Ranma, you deal with the Bat!" She leapt away, leaving me with Habiki, who reluctantly assumed a fighting stance he'd probably learned from Cologne, the Amazon elder.
"What is she offering you, Habiki?" I ask. The Lost Boy growls.
"She said she can lift my family's curse… And my… Other curse," he confessed. He growled again. "Have you any idea what it's like to suffer? Either never knowing where you are or becoming a pig? The indignity?! To end that, I will side with Kodachi!"
"Very well," I say quietly. "Robin, please pay attention."
"Huh?" Ryoga asks, before noticing Robin poking her head out from behind another roof. "Who-?"
"My apprentice. Her name is Robin," I explain. "I brought her along for training purposes. Specifically, how to use chi energy in combat. Ryoga, would you help me demonstrate?"
Ryoga blinks in disbelief, but nods. His one weakness is saying no to a woman: He can't. It certainly makes it easier to stop him from going on rampages against Ranma Saotome than fighting him. Make no mistake, he's very powerful, and as we jump down to the street below I must admit a certain trepidation enters my heart.
"Chi comes in a variety of wavelengths or frequencies, many of which are difficult to define using standard physics," I begin in a professional tone, motioning Ryoga to attack me. Nodding he lunges forward, yelling a battle-cry as his fist races for my stomach. He's obviously not using his entire strength, but it'd be enough to knock me out instantly if I was the average civilian.
"It can, however, be defined by polarity," I go on, blocking Ryoga's powerful strike and slamming a foot into his gut.
"HAWCK!" He gasps, staring in disbelief at me. I continue my lecture.
"You cannot see it yet, Robin, but well trained martial artists can tell the polarity of chi energy, whether it is negative or positive," I go on. "Ryoga's chi energy, for instance, has a negative charge." Ryoga looked somewhat depressed as he regained his breath.
"IT'S ALL RANMA'S FAULT! I WOULDN'T BE SO NEGATIVE IF HE DIDN'T-!"
"Actually, it's good to have a negative chi charge when facing enemies with a positive charge," I interrupt smoothly. I've had considerable practice in stopping Ryoga's "RANMA MUST DIE!" rants.
"Huh?" Ryoga asked, a bit bewildered.
"It's like a magnet," I go on to Robin, who is watching in fascination. "Or anti-matter. Normal matter has a positive charge, anti-matter a negative charge. When they meet, they annihilate each other."
"But things of the same polarity repel each other, correct?" Robin surmised. I nod.
"Very good, Robin. Ranma's chi energy is primarily positive, as is that of most of his opponents. It doesn't mean they bounce off each other, but any chi released at chi of the same polarity will repel. This minimizes damage from a hit itself, resulting in more chi energy being imparted to the struck person as a whole."
"So… Ranma is winning because his enemy's attack bounce off him?" Ryoga asked with a frown, giving the matter thought. I shake my head.
"This is only part of the equation. Ranma is a chi powerhouse, after all, and has been training under much harsher conditions than most of the martial artists around here-Save you, of course," I add, just to keep Ryoga from ranting again. He nods, still thinking this through.
"If, however, a martial artist were able to adjust their chi polarity at will, it would give them a massive advantage in combat provided they had enough to use," I state. I punch Ryoga in the chest and barely drive him back. "That was a punch with my chi energy adjusted to a random polarity." I focus, and punch him again in the solar-plexus.
"AUGHHH!" He cries out, falling down and grasping at his fractured collar bone. He grits his teeth, mastering his pain, and gets back up. I nod.
"That was with my chi polarity at the inverse of Ryoga's. I canceled out the chi energy flowing through that point of his body, and rendered him for all intents and purposes a normal, vulnerable human." I refocus and punch once more, sending Ryoga falling back about a meter.
"And that was with my chi energy at the same polarity," I conclude. Ryoga, breathing hard, gets back up. He takes a deep breath.
"Can… Can you train me to do that?"
"Only if you don't work with Kodachi," I state plainly. "And promise not to try and kill Ranma. He does consider you a friend, after all. To sweeten the deal, I'll try to cure you. I have considerable resources at my disposal to do so."
Ryoga snarled, but managed a nod, still holding his collar bone.
"I… I swear it… On my honor…"
Again, I am glad he cannot say no to a woman. I just have to make sure he doesn't get asked by the wrong ones.
"Good. Now, Robin here will lead you to someplace you can stay for the night. Don't let go of her hand, understand?" I order. He blushes (as does Robin), but both comply, and soon Robin is leading the Lost Boy away, an address in her hand.
I resume my journey for the Tendo home, and see just what I expected to see-The Kuno siblings fighting.
"YOU DARE TRY TO TAKE MY LOVE FROM ME?!" Kodachi demanded, whipping a chain at her brother. Tatewaki Kuno-Just as insane as the rest of his family, wielding a bokken to block his sister's strike.
"You would deny me the pleasure of defeating the cur myself? Sister, I cannot allow that!" He bellows back, leaping forward and producing a second bokken to strike her with. I sigh, and let fly two batarangs which strike both in the head.
Taser batarangs, that is. I nod in satisfaction as both Kunos fall to the ground in twitching heaps. I leap down, tie them up and hang them upside-down from a streetlight. As I glide back to the ground, task done, I smile a bit.
"Thought you would appreciate the rest," I say. Above me, Ranma Saotome scowls at my finding him out.
"I do, but… Why here? Why help me?" He asks. I shrug.
"Good training… And it doesn't take a lot of time out of my patrol," I answer. I smile at him behind my mask and try to adjust my chi signature to convey encouragement.
"Also… Of everyone here, you are among the few who don't intentionally make trouble. Though I think you'd be better off going to the police about your father, Kuno, everyone else…"
"Would they believe me?" He asked resignedly. I shrug.
"If not… I have means of making them," I reply, before heading off into the night.
Ranma Saotome reminds me of myself as a child. Alone, socially isolated, with life dealing you a rough hand. And yet, despite his incredible power and strength, despite everything he's been through… He hasn't cracked and killed everyone who makes his life hell.
He's already a hero from what I've seen and researched. I just want to make sure he stays that way.
A few hours later…
Back at my base (which Shinobu has suggested I call the "Bat-Cave", another something she got from American comics, hmph), I pull off my cowl and let my hair down, sighing in relief.
"Six muggings, two robberies, one rape prevented," I state, as I begin typing up the log into the computer terminal. Shinobu walks up behind me, domino mask off and applying the chemical spray to turn her hair from black to blue once more. She smiles happily.
"That was really exciting!" She enthused. I nod.
"Yes. It can be…" I trail off. Shinobu glares at the back of my head.
"You're not thinking of letting me go again, are you?" She asks suspiciously. I frown, and turn in the chair to face her.
"I will admit, it has occurred to me," I confess. "This isn't a pretty or glamorous life, Shinobu. And you don't seem to be taking it as seriously as you should be."
A hint of steel appears in Shinobu's eyes, a determination I've only seen a few times when her heart and mind were truly set on something.
"Mutsumi… All my life I've wanted to… To be something more. To do great good, to discover my true potential. I love cooking, and cleaning, and children, and I hope to be able to have a family someday… But I also like this. This calls to me. Not out of vengeance, but because… Because I want to do good for the world. To be more than I am." She took a deep breath, and looked me in the eyes.
"Also… If you don't let someone in, you might fall alone in this war of yours, this crusade. Or, you might become as bad as the people you fight. I… I don't want to lose you. To… To either of those things."
It is silent in the base for a while, only the sound of a few bats roosting above heard. I close my eyes, breathing out… And open them again. A small, honest smile forms on my lips.
"Then you stay…" I state. The smile she gives me is dazzling, and the hug, while unexpected, is pleasant. I hug her back, my smile growing, recalling how affection I do honestly have for this small girl with such a big heart…
"What the…? This isn't Kyoto!"
We start, and see one Ryoga Habiki, map covering his face, as he stalks through the base, angrily grumbling to himself. He vanishes. Shinobu and I exchange a look.
"There are state of the art defenses…" I begin, but suddenly stop. I shake my head and sigh. Shinobu just blinked again.
"Well, he isn't called the 'Lost Boy' for nothing," I offer wryly.
More Batwoman adventures coming as they occur to me. Feel free to make suggestions on the Rogues Gallery for Mutsumi, Shinobu and Keitaro (who, as you know, is Superman in this universe) to face!
Thank you and please review!