DC Infinity Presents

Batgirl # 42

Irresistible Forces

Part 2

Bludhaven

Cassandra Cain, Batgirl, pressed her back against the wall of a dilapidated, ruined gas station.

In her career as Batgirl, she knew that she had made impulsive decisions before, and had likely made worse, but leaping into a portal after the self styled Killer Elite still had to be in the top five of 'bad moves'.

However, luck was with her, for the moment. The smoke bomb that she'd lobbed at them had traveled with them through the portal, and she had escaped unseen in the confusion. The second after she found cover, Batgirl recognized instantly that she was back in her former city, Bludhaven

The Society had dropped Chemo on Bludhaven over a year ago, and though the dangerous chemicals that composed the creature had finally been neutralized, the damage done by the toxic fumes and acid smoke remained. Even after Chemo's poison had been scrubbed and removed, entropy had stepped to help further the city's rot to the point that it was still uninhabitable.

The fact that the city was still in the middle of an unprecedented cleanup apparently made it an ideal fallback point. Inwardly, Batgirl seethed at the same criminals who nearly wiped this city off the map were now exploiting the fact that it was now barren.

But the same tragedy enabled Batgirl to follow the Killer Elite, with their captive, Ken Brigs, almost effortlessly. She needed no shadows to conceal herself in with all the wrecked and ruined cars littering the street, and there were no crowds the criminals might have lost her in. A few bothered to look over their shoulder, but it did them no good.

The Killer Elite had clearly planned this operation well in advance, as she watched them march down the street with intent. Once they reached their command center, Batgirl positioned herself close, as she debated what to do next.

Did she even need to save Ken?

Did she truly want to?

Did she really need to?

oooOOoo

"Alright," Deadline pointed to a lawn chair that had somehow survived all this time, "Ken, you sit there. Copperhead, go get that poison you were bragging about, and we'll see if it's as effective as you claim."

Ken politely obeyed Deadline's command.

"God, he ain't even fighting it," Chiller said, "man lives the dream, and he acts all depressed."

"Excuse me?" Ken stopped, and turned, "What did you say?"

"Chiller," Deadline said with intent, under his breath.

"I'm just saying," Chiller had a smug grin on his face, "he shot his boss in the face. He could at least celebrate, ya know?"

Whether it was super speed, or teleportation, the Killer Elite couldn't tell. But in the span of a single breath, Ken was in front of Chiller, and had wrapped his hands around the man's throat.

"Celebrate? Celebrate what, exactly?" Ken trembled with pure rage, "Karen suffered my substandard work for years. Every screwed up report, every late time sheet, every missed up client projection I did, she had to answer for."

"Let him go!" Bolt unleashed the electrical power of three city blocks upon Ken. He never so much as flinched.

"Years, and in that time, do you know the worse thing she did to me?" Ken's nostrils flared, as his grip on Chiller's neck grew stronger. The shape-shifter tried to use his powers to escape, but it was as if something had turned them off, "she asked me to rinse the coffee pot out, and I never drank coffee."

Pathfinder activated his powers, and tried to phase through Ken's heart. He felt himself go immaterial, but when he pressed his hand against Ken, his hand passing through the man's skin and over his heart, nothing happened.

"So after I got fired from a job I never deserved, you know what I did?" Ken was breathing heavy, and his eyes watering, "after two years of weighing Karen down, I then ambushed her after she had just finished volunteering with the homeless, chased her down and murdered her."

"Tell me," Ken's face was flush with rage, "what about that is worth celebrating?"

"Hey," Deadline pressed his sidearm against Ken's temple, "let my guy go, or we take you back. We let the cops have you and just call it a day."

Chiller felt the pressure on his neck disappear, as Ken took a step back.

"Fine," Batgirl watched as Ken's rage simply drained away, replaced by his usual demeanor. That was when she made her decision.

oooOOoo

"Okay," Copperhead placed two suitcases on the ground, a few yards from Ken, "I need a minute to get setup. If you do any last rites, want to say you're sorry, anything like that, now's the time."

"I'm not sorry," Ken mumbled, "I got what I wanted."

"If you say so," Copperhead opened the first suitcase. It contained an experimental force field, reverse engineered from Booster Gold's by Dr. Sivana. He boasted that it was stronger than the original (Copperhead had her doubts), but it took a few minutes to warm up, "if you have any last words, now's the time to say 'em. Say how perfect your boss was, or whatever."

"I never said she was perfect," Ken said, "you know I worked an entire weekend once, reviewing a contract? A hundred pages, I went through, line by line because I thought it looked odd. And when I pointed it out to her, she told me about the email she sent on before we got the contract, about the mistakes I found."

"She stole your work?" Copperhead saw that the force field's power charge had just exceeded eighty percent, but she wanted at least ninety five before she handled the poison, "that sucks."

"Karen didn't do that," Ken said, making a face, "no, she gave me co-credit when she met with the CEO later that day. Said I found something extra, yeah right."

"Maybe you actually did?" Copperhead suggested.

"I've never done anything someone else couldn't do better," said Ken, "I used to think, if nothing else, I knew how stupid I was. I thought that, if I knew that, I could squeeze out a little respect, ya know? Fool the world so that I was the only one who knew that. When I got that job, I swear it was a miracle."

"Take it from me," Copperhead said, "you shouldn't define yourself just by your job."

"It wasn't just a job," Ken said, "it was camouflage. It let me pretend that I'm not as dumb as I am. I actually thought I could get some self respect out of it, ya know? But when I got fired, it felt like it was all a joke at my expense, and I was the punch-line."

Ken rubbed the bridge of his nose, and tried to focus.

"So did I do? I pointed a gun at the one person who was always nice to me, always gave me more respect than I ever deserved," Ken said, "and I pulled the trigger, because she wouldn't call me stupid. That's the only thing I'm sorry about."

"I'm sorry?"

"Karen should have called me stupid," Ken said, "I would have pulled the trigger anyways, because I am stupid. It only occurred to me after I murdered someone, that I never deserved any respect in the first place. Karen was smart, she shouldn't have died over something so stupid."

Despite herself, Copperhead cringed, and was grateful that the force field had fully charged.

"Well, we'll balance the ledger in a moment," Copperhead opened the second briefcase. Inside was a miniaturized boom tube the size of a soda can. With no set destination, it simply hovered outside of space and time. Copperhead dawned a special, stylized glove, and reached into the Boom Tube, and removed a small blue green vial.

Copperhead reflectively checked the battery on the force field, and observed that it had already dropped ten percent.

Not surprising, all things considered. The poison in her hand was the sum total of several Society geniuses after a pub crawl. Apparently, it contained bacteria from Parademons, kryptonite, fear and Laughing Gas (Copperhead thought both was overkill) and a few bits of extra-dimensional matter that made the toxin degrade reality itself.

It was so powerful, in fact, that the Society high council ordered no one to name and to destroy all records of how it had come to be. The only saving grace was the fact that, as it was so powerful, this one of a kind toxin only had a range of a few feet outside of its specially designed container.

"Is this going to hurt?" Ken asked, observing how light around the vial was beginning to warp.

"A little bit," Copperhead remembered what happened to the Daxamite smugglers who'd received a dose. The convulsions they suffered had caused bone to tear through flesh, and their screams had shattered glass.

"Thank you," Ken snatched the vial from Copperhead's hand, and swallowed every last drop.

Copperhead, still wearing the containment force field, stepped back and flinched. She had no idea how the toxins would interact with Ken's meta-human powers and only now did she realize how short sighted this plan had been, and how things might go sideways.

Ken just burped, and looked at the vial, disappointed.

"Anything happen?" Ken asked.

Copperhead looked at Ken astonished.

"Afraid not," Copperhead replied.

"Figures," Ken sighed, "I can't even die right."

oooOOoo

"So if this guy is basically unkillable, what the hell are we even doing here?" said Bolt, "I mean, we all know the contract is suspect, on top of all this."

"Calculator says that if we kill the unkillable man, we'll be in the headlines for a few weeks," Deadline replied, "free PR for both the Society and Killer Elite. So even if the bounty is fake, there's still a reward."

"And if it is fake?" Chiller said.

"Calculator will make sure no one knows," Deadline replied, "and we'll bury whoever was responsible so deep people will forget that he ever existed. But first, we have to kill the sad sack out there."

"So how do we go about that?" Copperhead said as she entered, "the poison Society gave me, the one that would have put down Superman himself, did all of jack."

"I wish I knew," Deadline replied, "but we're some of the best killers on the planet, and the Council said that they'd open the vaults for us. So lets get brainstorming, and find a way to end this guy."

oooOOoo

Outside

Batgirl waited until Copperhead was inside before she approached Ken. He was simply sitting there waiting patiently, literally twiddling his thumbs as he waited for the Killer Elite, his would be murderers, to return.

When Batgirl tapped him on the shoulder, Ken didn't jump, but when he saw her, a fresh wave of guilt overtook him.

"Hello, Batgirl," Ken could only meet her eyes for a few seconds, before casting them at the ground, "you probably should leave. Those guys don't seem very nice, and they outnumber you. The math is bad."

"Been outnumbered before," Batgirl observed, "and we need to leave, together."

"What, why?" Ken said.

"They intend to kill you," said Batgirl, "and they don't care how messy it may get."

"So?" Ken said, genuinely curious, "I gave Karen a pointless death. Then I die a worse one would balance it out. The math is fair."

"This isn't about math," Batgirl grabbed Ken by the arm, and pulled at him, "its about decency. You don't deserve this."

Ken yanked his arm back.

"Don't tell me what I deserve," Ken growled. The temperature around him began to climb, "you were there, you saw what I did. I murdered the only person who treated me with any respect, because she wouldn't stop. I'm not getting murdered, I'm getting what I earned."

oooOOooo

High Above

Batgirl and Ken, unbeknownst to them, were observed a man and a woman, both boring a hole into Ken with their eyes.

"He is the one?" asked the woman. Her voice was like crushed glass.

"He is," the man replied.

The woman had pistols in each hand. They shook in her grip.

"I don't know if I can," said the woman, "why…why am I here? The guns, they didn't call me here?"

"You are here as insurance," the man said. On his left hand rested a ring, that he channeled his will through. He felt a sharp stab in his mind, and blood trickled down his nose, "in case Batgirl's intervention becomes too much, and our hired killers come up short."

oooOOoo

"I got an idea," said Bolt, "his defensive powers only react to a threat against him, and only if they can see it coming, right?"

"That's a working theory," Deadline said.

"So we hit up Chronos. We get one of his toys, and then unleash them on this chump from one second in the future," Bolt said, "we've all seen how hard Zoom hits. This would be like that, only times us."

"It could work," Patherfinder said, "the attack would hit him too fast to react, and different vectors should enable one of us to get through."

Deadline rubbed his chin, mulling it over, "Best idea we've got."

"Because it's the only idea we've got," Chiller replied.

"Also that," Deadline felt his Society cell buzzing, "let me answer this, and we'll get to work."

Deadline checked the number, before flipping it open.

"Hey Saber," Deadline said, "sorry, but you're out of the band. I was serious when I discussed mission priority."

"What the hell?" Saber said, "we made a clean extraction. Send Pathfinder, and get us out of here. We don't have any civvies!"

"You went against orders," Deadline said, "I warned ya, fair and square. But thanks all the same, 'cause I'll get to say 'I told you so' to Slade. That's a rare honor."

"You don't have the balls," Saber said, "and besides, we both got away clean. What's the damn issue?"

"Clean? Bullshit," Deadline said, "hey pigs, you won't be getting a trace on this phone, nice try though."

"That Russian Mafia princess hit in Hollywood, that was me," Saber said, "for a thousand bucks, I blew out that bitch's liver and kept the paramedics away because she asked for two dead homosexuals as a wedding present from daddy."

Deadline's jaw dropped.

"Would I admit to that on a line with cops listening in? Gotham cops?"

"…no," Deadline snapped his phone shut, and pulled out his sidearm, "she's here! We were followed!"

The Killer Elite rose to their feet and grabbed their weapons as one.

"Batgirl is here!"

ooOOoo

"Give me one good reason I should leave," Ken snarled.

The air around him crackled with power. Batgirl found herself sliding backwards, just from the sheer power radiating off of Ken, and feared that she wouldn't stay concealed for long.

But it was becoming apparent that she lacked the ability to force Ken to do anything he didn't want to. So she shifted her tactics, to something Ken might better understand.

"The person who took out the contract on you," Batgirl said, "they can't afford it."

The power saturating the air disappeared instantly, and fear swept over Ken's face as she realized what that meant.

"Oh, oh no," Ken said shaking, "the person trying to have me killed, they might hurt him!"

-Blam!-

A warning shot buzzed past Batgirl's face, and she saw Deadline on his hover disks, and Bolt, flying towards them, the Killer Elite no doubt close behind.

"Get behind me," Batgirl said, as she instinctively stepped in front of Ken. She had just begun to reach for her weapons, when Ken grabbed her shoulder, and they both simply disappeared.

"Damn it!" Deadline stopped in midair, and simmered, "Bats, are there any sneakier bastards?"

"What now, boss man?" Bolt said, "do we give chase? Because we all know this thing smells."

"Bolt. We call ourselves the Killer Elite," Deadline said, "what about that name implies we should just give up?"

oooOOoo

Bludhaven, Elsewhere

Though Batgirl understood the value of teleportation, she hated it in practice. Suddenly thrust into a new environment, new dangers left Batgirl with a brief sense of confusion that she rarely encountered.

"We have to warn Bruce Wayne!" Ken grabbed Batgirl and the shoulders, panicked.

"You think, Bruce Wayne is trying to kill you?" said Batgirl, baffled.

"Yes! My firm did a presentation at Wayne Enterprises once," Ken said, "and I offended Mr. Wayne. I gave him Mr. Fox's packet, I asked him where the bathroom was then I said I was sorry for what happened to his parents."

Batgirl gave Ken an odd look.

"And for that, you think he wants you dead?"

"He's Bruce Wayne," Ken said, as if he were referring to royalty, "he even said to me 'Excellent presentation', which meant I must have screwed it up somehow."

"Or you gave an excellent presentation," Batgirl countered.

"Bruce Wayne would only talk to something like me if I really messed up," Ken said, "there would be no other reason to."

"Someone," Batgirl corrected. Bruce Wayne, being who he was actually was, had in fact made a note of his encounter with Ken's firm, in the case file. All he noted was that the firm had submitted an estimate that was ten thousand dollars too high for the work Wayne Enterprises had budgeted. They might run countless charities, but they still were still a business. Unable to explain that, Batgirl just said "And Bruce Wayne can afford to kill you."

"Oh," Ken said, his body quickly overtaken by confusion, "then I don't know who it could be. Do you?"

"We should get moving," Batgirl said, "Killer Elite are likely to try and find us."

"Yeah, okay," Ken said, chest-fallen.

Batgirl glanced around, trying to place where in Bludhaven they were. She was familiar with the city visually, but things had obviously changed since Chemo had been dropped on the city over a year ago now. Several buildings on this street alone were missing their fronts entirely, there wasn't a single unbroken pane of glass unbroken and grass had forced itself through every crack.

"This way," Batgirl said. She began walking in the direction of Gotham. There wasn't a concrete plan just yet, but in her experience, moving beat standing still. Batgirl was tempted to activate her comm., but was still concerned that Bolt might detect it. In a city as empty as this, it would be like sending up a signal flare.

It wasn't as if there was a wealth of electronic signals coming from the city, not anymore.

For twenty minutes they walked, until suddenly, Batgirl recognized where she was.

"Something wrong?" Ken said.

Batgirl stood in front of her former home. The windows were shattered, and the front door was hanging off its hinge. Batgirl was tempted to see if any equipment remained, to see if she could summon the League or her Titan teammates. But she knew that Batman was nothing if not thorough, and he would have had no reason to leave anything behind in what looked to be a toxic waste dump.

Without truly wanting to, Batgirl glanced towards Brenda's coffee shop, one of her first civilian friends. The once vibrant, homely store was now filled with leaves, dirt and debris. Tables and chairs spilled everywhere, the front off lay shattered on the ground and a yellow grime had settled into everything.

Intellectually, Batgirl had known it would be like this. The Justice League decontaminated three blocks in every direction around her former home, no doubt at Batman's insistence before the effort became too much. Her friends and neighbors had been granted a proper burial, but their homes and businesses had been left to wither and rot.

But finally seeing it in person made her heart ache, even after all this time. Her time in Bludhaven had been one of the best times of her life and it pained Batgirl to see one of the best parts, in this rotted condition.

"Nothing that can be fixed," Batgirl said, finally. The pain was greater than she expected, truth be told, but she knew that they had to move forward. The past was the past, no matter how much she mourned for it still, "we need to keep moving."

Now that she knew where they were, Batgirl at least knew where they should go.

"This way."

"I'm sorry, by the way," Ken said, as they began walking again, "sorry that I made you witness my crime, I mean."

Batgirl looked towards Ken.

"Are you sorry about what you did?"

"I'm not sorry because I got what I wanted," Ken said quickly, his line almost sounding rehearsed. Batgirl observed his body language, "it was all my fault, just so you know. All I had to do was go home a loser. I'd done it every day for as long as I could remember, but Karen…"

Ken took a moment to rub his eyes and collect himself.

"She was always nice and fair to me. People say I'm good with numbers, but Karen was almost as good as me, and better at everything else," Ken said, "it's not an excuse, but you have no idea what it's like to be good at one thing, and surrounded by people who are almost as good as that one thing, and better at everything else."

Batgirl remained silent.

"Sometimes, I feel like I don't even speak English," Ken said, "everyone's talking, I know every word they say, but I don't know what they're saying. What they mean, ya know?"

"People can be confusing," Batgirl agreed.

"But I've always been too afraid to ask for help, thought that meant I was telling everyone how stupid I was," Ken said, "I've only been brave enough to turn enough away the people who want to help me. Or murder, apparently."

"One mistake doesn't have to define you," Batgirl began walking. Ken followed behind.

"It wasn't a mistake," Ken said, his voice unsteady, "I made an active decision to target Karen, because I couldn't accept that I failed someone who was only fair to me."

"So you would do it again?" Batgirl said.

"I'd shoot myself first," Ken replied, "might have worked then."

Batgirl decided against pointing out that Ken had answered her question.

oooOOoo

Gotham

Oracle drummed her fingers on her chair, trying to avoid thinking about Cassandra and the danger she might be facing. Though she knew in her bones that Cassandra was one of the most capable crime-fighters she had ever met, that still wasn't enough to keep her from worrying.

To distract herself, Barbara began reviewing the files she had intercepted from Kobra. Decrypting an alien language from binary beat pointless worry about a situation she had no control over.

Oracle was well into reviewing the files, when an alert showed up on her screen. The program was so old, it took her a second to realize what it signified.

It was an old program designed to notify her when one of the Batclan's old aliases had been reactivated. But since Batman had assumed control over Checkmate, it had fallen into disuse, to the point that Oracle now barely remembered it.

With both Nightwing and Batgirl in the field, Oracle realized that there was only one person who could have activated the program. A quick glance at the alert confirmed her suspicions

"Hmm," Oracle said, "welcome home, Alvin Draper."

oooOOoo

Bludhaven

When Batgirl heard the voices, the running engines, she froze.

For a moment, she thought that the Killer Elite might have summoned a mercenary army. But then she realized that it was something else entirely.

Batgirl peered around the corner, and saw a small detachment of Hazmat teams, National Guard members together with men and women wearing STAR lab badges.

Yes, the poison that Chemo had sunk into Bludhaven had been eliminated, swept clean by Ken's powers.

But countless victims remained. Men, women and children who hadn't gotten to safety, pets and animals who had been killed or simple produce and groceries that had spoiled on an unprecedented scale. Bludhaven was a one of a kind disaster, and required a response unlike any before it.

Batgirl felt a sense of relief. As a rule, hired killers avoided law enforcement, the army especially and they avoided escalating things.

"No no no no."

Batgirl looked over her shoulder, and saw nothing.

It took her a moment to see the dust that was being scuffled back and forth, where Ken had been only a moment before. Batgirl tapped her goggles to infrared and saw Ken pacing frantically

"I can't go out there," Ken said, "please don't make me go out there, please please."

"You'll be safe," Batgirl said, "the Killer Elite won't attack the National Guard for a target they can't kill for no money. This will all be over."

"No, I can't go there," Ken pleaded, "I can't be with those people. They don't…they can't…"

Batgirl, despite her better judgment, waited as Ken struggled to find the words.

"They don't hate me," Ken said softly, "they look at me like I'm nice, like I'm not a killer and the worst thing about my life isn't about my life, and please don't make me go out there, please!"

Batgirl understood, intimately. Ken's guilt had sunk so deep into his heart, become such a part of him, that empathy, kindness, all brought forth feelings of pain and disgust. As Ken saw it, a anyone that didn't hate him, regard the foulest of criminals, was a betrayal of all that was good and right in the world with him at the center.

Being hated, being treated as scum was simply the natural order. Guilt and self loathing had become so constant that anything that lessened them, was more painful than they could ever now hope to be.

Despite herself, Batgirl could remember times like that. Standing in the presence of her family, righteous heroes, and feeling like an utter fraud.

"We won't," Batgirl said. She observed a garage down the block, "I have another idea."

oooOOooo

It had been nothing short of a miracle that Batgirl had found a working vehicle. A sturdy Harley that had been parked in the perfect position, protected from both Chemo and the ravages of nature and time.

Once Batgirl killed the engine, it would probably never restart, but it was sufficient for what they needed. The two sped down the streets of Bludhaven, with Ken holding onto her shoulders as she drove.

Bludhaven had suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks in history, but commerce was a demanding creature. The Justice League had managed to cleanse one area, while wealthy donors, led by Bruce Wayne, had focused on Bludhaven's train yards.

Bludhaven was a vital link in shipping up and down the east coast, and so no expense was spared in repairing that vital connection. The trains were modified, the yards were updated, specialized metahumans were offered obscene amounts of money and a month later, it was almost as if the trains had never been touched by the attack.

But no one wanted to work at a station right next to a literal toxic dump. So cameras were installed, fences raised and fingers were crossed. So when Batgirl pulled up to the train yard, and pulled the bike to a stop, no one gave her a second glance, because no one was around.

"So train hopping?" Ken said, "isn't that dangerous?"

"Is anything dangerous to you?" replied Batgirl.

"Oh, right."

Batgirl motioned for Ken to be silent, and began listening and calculating.

Trains traveling through Bludhaven were not designed to stop. But the geography and common sense demanded that the trains slow as they traveled through the city.

Batgirl began factoring in other variables, when she heard the roar of the train in the distance.

"This is a bad idea," Batgirl muttered to herself, as she motioned for Ken to follow her inside.

They made it halfway to the tracks, surrounded by train cars, when a bullet struck the ground, barely an inch from Batgirl's boot.

"The first thing a Texan learns about hunting, is the gun," Deadline had his leveled at Batgirl's heart, "the second, is where the prey is going to be, and what it might be doing,"

Bolt emerged from hiding, and took up a position behind Batgirl, his hands cackling with power. Batgirl refused to look over her shoulder, though she could sense the rest of the Killer Elite, lurking about.

"Now, what you're thinking?" said Deadline, "I imagine its somethin' like 'How far does he want to escalate this? Is he ready to go to war, to kill a guy who can't be killed?"

Batgirl met Deadline's gaze, but said nothing.

"See, the thing is? I don't have to kill ya, to get past ya," Deadline said, "but maybe I get lucky, blow out your kneecap, or leave ya gutshot. How much do you want to risk, for a guilty man who wants to die?"

"Care to find out?" Batgirl said without hesitation.

"Okay, screw this," Bolt said. He dove at Ken like a guided missile, grabbed him under the arms, and carried him into the air, "time for a good old fashioned extraction!"

"Bolt, you idiot!" Deadline shouted.

"Calm down!" Bolt shouted back, satisfied at how he'd solved this Gordian knot. He was high over the train yard, his momentum carrying him and his cargo higher into the air than he had intended, "I'll teleport in a second."

"Look! Down!"

Bolt did, and saw that he actually had two passengers.

Ken, in his arms, and Batgirl, holding onto him by his ankle.

"Oh, this will-,"

The batarange was perfectly thrown, and the blunt, forward front caught Bolt right on the nose, breaking it.

Overwhelmed with pain, Bolt dropped Ken, and clutched his face, cursing the entire time.

Batgirl acted quickly, wrapping her legs around Ken's waist. She activated her cape glider, slowing their fall. She saw a train leaving the yard, and angled for it as they fell.

"Did you really have to save me?" Ken said, deflated.

"Not saved yet!" Batgirl said, as the air rushed past, "and sorry!"

"For what?"

Batgirl released Ken, and he fell like a rock, smashing through the moving train's roof.

She landed silently, and flipped down inside. Ken was sprawled on the floor, more confused than harmed.

"Get up!" Batgirl grabbed him by the wrist, "we have to move, before…!"

A tear in space opened up barely six yards away. Chiller, Deadline, Pathway and Copperhead emerged, strolling through with casual menace.

"Excuse me, ma'am," Deadline said, "we have business with that gentleman right there."

Batgirl placed her hands in her utility belt and emerged with a throwing star between each finger.

"Come and get him."

"Murderers."

Deadline felt a cold down his spine, that seemed to spill down every memory, of every crime he'd committed.

"Thieves."

A thick, choking red smoke fell from the ceiling, and filled the train car in the blink of an eye.

"You stand in the way, of justice."

From the far end of the train car, two figures emerged as the smoke parted for them.

The first was an older man, in his fifties, wearing black pants and an old, blue collared shirt. Batgirl recognized him immediately from Ken's files, and made note of the ring on his finger.

The second was a young woman. She wore jeans, a brown trench coat, white T-shirt and red gloves. Her eyes were wrapped in a red blindfold, and there was a bullet hole in the center of her chest, with a slight trickle of blood emerging, with a trigger-less gun in each hand.

Batgirl recognized her immediately too, and when she did, a wave of terror washed over her.

"You stand in the way of the Crimson Avenger."

Next issue: The Crimson Avenger strikes! And she won't be leaving without blood!