Elseworlds: The Legend of the Batwoman (Part 5)
By C.W. Blaine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DISCLAIMER: Most of the characters portrayed in this story are © 2001 by DC Comics, a Time-Warner company. They are used without permission for entertainment without profit by the author. Use of these characters without the express permission of DC Comics Inc. is a violation of the copyright. However, copyright holders may choose not to exercise their rights under the law, but this should never be construed as an endorsement.
This original work of fiction, as well as any original characters, are © 2001 by C.W. Blaine. All comments, concerns and questions may be directed to the e-mail address above. Please, if you wish to archive this work, contact the author. As of the writing of this story, no requests have ever been denied.
Elseworlds – stories, situations or events involving familiar characters in unfamiliar settings [a paraphrasing of the official DC definition)…
The horror that was the child of Red Star and Power Girl, dubbed Doomsday by the Soviet military, howled and shook with fury as it pounded away at the last operational T-62 tank within a ten-mile radius. Around it lay the scattered remains of the Kremlin Guards, an elite military unit assigned to protect the Soviet capitol from all threats, foreign and domestic.
A Spetsnaz unit, the Soviet Special Forces, lay in crumbled bloody piles on the blackened snow. Fires raged, sending dark smoke towards the heavens, blocking out the scant sunlight of the winter morning. The creature, a creation of science, turned towards the spires of the Soviet capital and began to move. Its mind had no coherent thoughts, only flashes of pain as it continued to grow both in size and mass.
Its gray hide was covered with bony protrusions that required constant attention to keep from growing out of control, like the antlers of a deer. Only that this creature, whose cells were Kryptonian in design, could not simply rub the spikes against a tree. The sun, which was being temporarily blocked, nurtured the creature, giving it strength and sustenance.
Four young soldiers, armed with AK-47's, took up a position some twenty meters away from the creature. They were the last line of defense for the besieged city. The squad leader, the equivalent of a corporal in the U.S. Army, gave shaky orders to his three fellow soldier to open fire. The lead bullets of their rifles would have no effect.
The creature could not ignore the slights pings against its hide; the stimulus causing the primal rage to surge within its brain. The creature immediately turned and began to stomp after the men. Just as it was about to bring a ham-sized fist down on the corporal, a white and red blur swept by and pulled the helpless soldier away.
The soldier looked to see the familiar face of Red Star, hero of the Soviet Union. "Comrade! Thank you!"
Red Star said nothing, but deposited the soldier on a street a few blocks away, and then leapt back into the air. Passing by Captain Marvel, who was carrying two of the other soldiers, he nodded to her. She smiled back, a pleasant smile despite the circumstances. He used his enhanced vision to try and find his other new allies in the battle against his newest child.
A crimson blur racing through the wreckage-strewn streets told him that the Flash, the newer one, was already initiating the first part of Batwoman's plan of attack to lead the monster away. The Flash was moving at near light-speed, but Red Star's eyes were able to keep track of him.
"Look at what you've caused, Kal-El," Supergirl said, floating down next to him. "Is this what you see as the new Krypton? Is this what our ancestors deemed as the Great Culture?"
Red Star was quiet. "What do you care, Kara? You abandoned our ways to mingle with the inferiors. We had a responsibility to ensure that Krypton did not die."
Supergirl shook her head and looked down to where Green Arrow was taking up position behind a burned out armored personnel carrier. "Krypton does not die simply because we don't rule the world, Kal-El; it dies when we dishonor our ancestors like you have. You have abandoned all of the things that made Krypton great: compassion, understanding and humility. Did not your father's lessons teach us such things on our trip here?"
Red Star did not know how to respond, so he changed the subject. "I see you have recruited your human ally…so the World's Finest Team rides again, eh?"
Supergirl threw only a casual glance at the form of Batwoman, who seemed to be matching the creature destroying Moscow in fury. It had taken so much out of her to convince her old friend to join her on this last mission. She knew that Matty Wayne was wanting to give up her other identity totally, the cost too great.
The story of Harley Quinn and her relationship with Matty's dead husband had made Kara's heart bleed with sympathy. Only the intensity of the situation here in Moscow forced Kara to call in all of the favors Matty owed her.
"She is here, she is the tactical leader and we will follow her orders. She has a sound plan, but it will require our mutual cooperation, Kal-El."
He smirked. "A new age of cooperation between our two nations, is that it? I'm sure your president will capitalize on this tragedy…"
Supergirl threw him a dark glance. "As if you ever cared about the people of the Soviet Union! No, Kal-El, the world must never know about this, never know what kind of horror you have helped unleash upon this world."
Red Star did not reply and simply rose into the air. Supergirl waited a few minutes and then did the same.
Batwoman could not believe her luck. The events of the past few days were taking their toll on her, for she felt so very tired. Harley Quinn was finally in custody, the killer of her husband and son locked away where she could hurt nobody else. It hurt not to be able to hate her as much as she wanted to. The loss of Thomas had at least been partially responsible for Matty taking up the mantle of Batwoman. The loss of Thomas had driven Harleen Quinzel to drugs, murder and insanity.
She had thought, at first, that she was donning the costume to serve a purpose, to take the place of those heroes of yesterday that had simply given up on society. She remembered the warnings of Ted Grant and Alan Scott, both professional adventurers that had told her that the life of a super-hero was not a pleasant one. She hadn't listened.
She had allowed herself to get caught up in the fantasy of being a character out of an old serial film. She had taken up a partner, than another and even joined a super-hero team, all out of some misguided belief in a mission of justice.
Now, it was up to her to save the world and all she wanted to do was go back home to Gotham City and help raise her grand-daughter. She sighed and turned to her companion. "You know exactly what to do, right?"
Guy Gardner, the current Green Lantern assigned to Earth, nodded. "Loud and clear. Just make sure the big guns can lead that thing out into the open. I don't know how strong it actually is, so I don't want to try this right here."
She nodded and sighed internally. With the appointment of Gardner as Green Lantern of this space sector, she knew that Alan Scott was never going to be coming back. Had she not been so obsessed with revenge…with retribution…would she have gone with him? Was she the problem and not he? Was he not pursuing a noble cause, trying to bring order to a whole universe? Had she only fooled herself into thinking she wanted to do the right thing?
Wasn't the truth that she wanted to kill Quinn since that fateful night when Thomas and Bruce had been killed? Wasn't the Batwoman just a disguise so she could say that Matty Wayne had not wanted revenge?
She pushed the thoughts back as she noted that Green Arrow had begun shooting high-explosive arrows at the creature, drawing it towards him. The new Flash, a young man named West, had cleared a path through the city to the outskirts, where, hopefully, Guy Gardner would be able to trap the creature in an energy bubble.
Because Gardner wasn't sure if he could maintain the bubble against the creature's strength, he did not want to try to contain it within the city proper. Batwoman would have felt better trying it here and finding out if it would even work, but she conceded that Gardner was the expert on his abilities.
The small team was not exactly what she desired either, but she was also secretly thankful. She had been the "den mother" of the Gotham City heroes, and that had not turned out well at all.
The creature seemed to take the bait, and Batwoman pulled out a small walkie-talkie. "Kara, it's on the move. You, Red Star and Captain Marvel get into high gear!"
There was no audible response, but within seconds, three figures raced out of the sky towards the lumbering behemoth. The heroes, though philosophically opposed, did generally represent the most powerful forces on the planet. Batwoman did not like Red Star, despised him in fact, but he was the hero here. She was sure that the idea of a woman in black slinking around the dark alleys of Gotham City wasn't accepted as "nifty" in certain parts of the world.
She was about to confirm with the Flash that the path was clear when Gardner suddenly leapt into the air, a green aura surrounding him. Batwoman looked to see what had caused him to do such a thing and spied a small child, obviously lost, stumbling from behind some wreckage, just behind the creature.
Time to slow to a crawl as everything happened at once. Gardner flew in to intercept the monster's leg, which was moving back and sure to crush the child. The creature reached out and, seemingly by dumb luck, grabbed the hero by his ring hand. Then there was an almost instantaneous explosion as Green Lantern's power ring was destroyed along with his hand under the pressure of the creature's grasp.
Captain Marvel, moving like the wind, moved past the battle to grab the child and carry it to safety. The creature tossed the screaming Green Lantern into the air, and Red Star immediately moved to catch him before the landing crushed him. Standing alone before the creature, Supergirl raised her fists. The creature growled and Batwoman started to sprint to her friend's side.
Before she had taken two steps, the creature had reached out and grabbed Supergirl. The woman fought against the monster, but it was no use. The creature held her up and squeezed. There was an awful, bone-curdling scream and a sickening snap and the heroine known as Supergirl fell.
Almost simultaneously, both Batwoman and Red Star cried out. The Soviet hero reached his cousin before Batwoman could move another inch and he cradled her in his arms, oblivious to the creature that simply stared at them. "Do not die, Kara…no…I am sorry…I will change…"
She spoke to him, in the tongue of their home planet. "Kal-El…we were not sent to lead by force, but by example…being powerful does not make you a hero…"
Batwoman reached them and noticed that the creature seemed entranced by the events occurring. "Kara…"
Red Star looked at Batwoman and nodded. He handed his dying cousin to the Gotham Crusader and then stood up very slowly. He began to speak, again the tongue of his home world. Batwoman understood it perfectly after being taught it by Supergirl. "Burn."
Batwoman immediately pulled her cape over herself and Supergirl as Red Star sent a massive wave of heat vision at his son. The very light from it seemed to be brighter than the sun, and Batwoman realized that she was now being exposed to a high dose of radiation. The heat was almost unbearable, and she was thankful that she had worn the extra-thick suit for this mission. Kara was whispering something in her ear.
"Heroes do what they can, even when it seems too late, Matty. It's not so much what you do…" she began to cough blood and despite the heat being generated by Red Star's attack, she could feel Supergirl's body going cold. "You are important, Matty…you make people want to do the right…thing…don't stop…I…love…you…"
As Supergirl died, Batwoman could hear Red Star and the creature bellowing. The smell of burnt meat was filling the air and also the smell of her costume burning. She tried to pull her cape even farther over her, but it was no use; it was starting to burn as well. She looked down at the body of her friend and knew what she had to do.
Rolling, she grabbed the body of Supergirl and pulled it over her to use as a shield against the onslaught occurring just a few feet away. The thought of her actions made the bile rise up in her throat and she felt herself getting angry again. She couldn't even mourn her friend.
When was she going to get to mourn? Bruce…Thomas…James…Dick…Kara…when was she going to get to just mourn?
So lost in thought, she did not even notice the silence that seemed to overtake the world. For a moment, she thought she had gone deaf. It wasn't until she felt a hand on her shoulder and a familiar voice that she realized it was over. "Batwoman, are you okay?" the Flash asked.
Pushing Supergirl's body off of her, she was greeted by a wave of heat. All around her steam rose from melted concrete. All of the snow in the area had been melted along with the streets. Where Red Star and the creature had been were only two ashen mounds. "Jesus Freaking Christ!" Green Arrow called as he ran up a street towards them. "Damn glad I decided to go check on Gardner or else I would have been cooked!"
"Batwoman, your chest…" the Flash said, reaching a hand towards her breasts. Had it been anyone else, she would have hit him or her. This young man, though, had real concern in his voice; She looked down and saw that her costume had burned away, leaving her left breast exposed. It was red and sore.
"Damn!" Green Arrow said, looking at Supergirl's body while removing his tunic. "Here, put this over yourself."
Captain Marvel landed next to them, Gardner slung over her shoulder. "I got to him to late." Batwoman noted that the dead hero was missing his arm.
"What a fucking mess," Green Arrow said. Batwoman thought that summed up everything just fine.
* * * * *
"So, we have a deal then, Mr. Smith?" Queen said from behind his desk.
"Agent Smith," the FBI agent corrected him. "And, yes, Mr. Queen, we do. You give us the blood sample you took from Supergirl's body and we dropped the tax evasion investigation against your company."
Queen leaned forward and stroked his beard. "You got that straight from Hoover?" he asked, referring to the head of the FBI.
Agent Smith turned to Agent Jones. Agent Jones spoke. "Mr. Hoover is informed of what he needs to know about, Mr. Queen. You need to ensure that you keep quiet about this."
Queen held up his hands. "No problem with that, amigos. You guys also ensure that I get to stay in the League, okay?"
Agent Smith nodded. "Your service to your nation is duly noted, Mr. Queen. With the investigation now ended, we see no reason why we can't recommend to the Attorney-General to approve your application for another tour with the League."
The man who was also Green Arrow smiled at his change in fortune.
* * * * *
President Kennedy looked across his desk at the Soviet attaché that had been secreted into his office minutes before by two members of the L.A.W., who also stood guard at the doors in place of the Secret Service agents normally there. His brother, the Attorney General sat comfortably in a chair.
"Let me once again make my position clear, so that you and the government of the Soviet Union know exactly where we stand, sir. If we discover that activities like we recently saw in Cuba ever occur again, we will not hesitate to use all of the force at our disposal to protect our nation from what we see as a threat to our national security.
"We have known for years about your secret laboratory, where you were conducting cloning experiments on Kryptonian DNA. The fact that you tried to hide the fact with a fake nuclear weapons installation indicates that you cannot be trusted. Our ships have stopped and boarded the merchant vessel carrying the "Ultraa" clone and it has been destroyed."
"You have only been able to do this because of our weakened condition; but beware Mr. President," the man began, "that the people of the Soviet Union have faced worse than this and have triumphed."
"I don't personally care, right now," the president said. "I have had enough of this, sir; the entire episode leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If the American people were to find out you were trying to create a being more powerful than Supergirl…"
"More powerful than Red Star," Bobby Kennedy interrupted. He leaned forward. "This whole super-hero fiasco ends now. Under the agreement with your country, neither the United States or the Soviet Union will support any more attempts at cloning alien beings for any reason."
"As a sign of goodwill, you have removed your nuclear weapons from Cuba and we will begin moving our advisors out of Viet Nam," the president added.
The attaché smiled. "I do not think your military will approve of such an action, Mr. President."
"I'm the president of the god damned United States, sir; we respect that office in this country."
* * * * *
"So, this is the end," Matty said from her bed. Alfred hobbled over, forcing a smile on his face. He had sensed the inevitable as well this morning.
Before he could comment, the door to the bedroom open and a small dark-haired child came running in. "Mawmaw!"
Matty smiled as Helena hopped into the bed and gave her a hug. "Good morning, precious."
Helena sat back, realizing she was holding her grandmother from the left side. That was the side the doctors had to operate on and remove the breast. The cancer had not been stopped, though. Matty was going to die and she knew that today was the day.
A red-haired woman stepped into the doorway, and placed her hands on her hips. "Helena Wayne! Get down from there right now!"
"Oh, Babs, let the child say good morning," Matty said.
"Mawmaw, are you okay? You look sick," the child said.
Matty almost started crying. She sounded so much like Bruce, back when Matty had caught the flu and the child had taken it upon himself to watch over her. "Yes, I'm not feeling good today, dear; but don't you worry about it. I've got a surprise for you."
The child's eyes lit up with joy and she clapped her hands. "What is it? What is it?"
Barbara Gordon moved into the room slowly and threw a glance over to Alfred. Alfred gave a small nod. Barbara suppressed a shudder, maintaining a brave face for her daughter. "I'm sending you and your mother on a cruise…you leave today."
The child hopped off of the bed and started to dance with joy. Alfred moved over to the front of the bed. "Perhaps it would be prudent if young mistress Helena and I went and packed her things."
Helena nodded and ran out of the door. Seconds later she came back in and raced to Matty. She threw her arms around her and kissed her on the cheek. "I love you, Mawmaw."
Matty kissed her back. "I love you, too, darling."
Barbara sat down in the chair that had become her second home since her adoptive mother had taken ill with the cancer. "Are you sure?"
Matty closed her eyes and swallowed. "Yes. I've seen enough death to know when its coming."
Barbara reached out and took Matty's hand. "I don't know what to say…I have so much to say…"
Matty squeezed her daughter's hand. "There's nothing to say; I know, honey. I'm just thankful I was able to say good-bye. I saw Alan last night. He tried to cure my cancer."
Barbara was quiet. "Bastard…"
Matty's face took a frown. "Barbara, that's enough. His role in the universe is bigger than the both of us. Anyway, he wasn't as good as Thomas in bed anyway."
The two women laughed at the joke and Barbara had to wipe a tear from her eye. "What do I tell Helena?"
"The truth. Teach her everything we learned."
Barbara shook her head. "No. I won't have her getting into that lifestyle…"
"Why? Honey, I learned after Kara's death that life is too short to spend on the sidelines, waiting for someone else to fix the world's problems. Maybe I could have headed up some charity organization or something like that, but it wouldn't have helped. If Dick hadn't taken up the role of Arsenal…"
"He would still be alive," Barbara snapped.
"And that little black girl he saved would be dead. Worse, there would have been nobody to counter Harley Quinn's actions over the years. After I watched Alan and Kara, I learned that some people have a destiny greater than themselves."
Barbara shook her head. "I can't, mother; I can't take the chance she will get killed…"
Matty sighed and then looked deep into Barbara's eyes. "Someone once said that it doesn't matter how you die, it's how you live. I lived a good life, I made good friends and I loved good people. I made a difference, whether I intended to or not. Hell, I'm a damn legend."
* * * * *
"And in the news today, a new super-hero debuted on the scene in New York City. A dark-haired woman, clad in what some called the skimpiest bathing suit created, stopped a runaway city bus. The woman, who called herself Wonder Woman, took little time to speak to reporters before she leapt into the air and flew away.
"Many on the scene claimed that they thought it was Supergirl, the heroine that disappeared nearly a decade ago. Reporters compared photos of the two, but no evidence exists to suggest that the two are the same person.
"At the same time, a new Soviet super-hero, the first to appear since the retirement of Red Star and Power Girl, was introduced at a meeting of the United Nations. The red-haired woman, named Artemis, said nothing, but once again there was speculation that the hero was actually Power Girl, come out of retirement…"
Ted Grant turned off the television and simply shook his head. He looked at his reflection in the screen and noted the appearance of gray at the temples. He thought he was aging slower than that, but then gray hair ran in his family anyway.
Barbara came in to the gymnasium, clad in a skimpy bikini, looking very desirable. He envied that damn Jason Todd, the second husband of the owner of Wayne Manor. Not because he wanted Barbara, she was like a daughter to him; it was because he never got around to getting married himself.
Barbara smiled at him and moved on into another part of the house. Seconds later, Helena, clad in running shorts and a tank top, came running into the room, sweating. "Five more laps, young lady," Ted called at her as she moved to the outside door.
The girl was coming along fine in her training; she was as good a student as her grandmother had been, God bless her soul. He still couldn't believe she was gone. Hell, they were all gone weren't they?
Alan Scott was serving his little blue masters in the Green Lantern Corps, his latest replacement, some kid named Rayner, trying to hold together a Justice League that was as messed up as the country was at the moment.
Oliver Queen was now financing "erotic art films" out in California, kicked out of the League when he was found in bed with an underage girl. Some super-hero!
The Flash was still out there, married to Captain Marvel. They were pretty good eggs, bringing their son, Bart, by to train with Helena. The old guard was trying to prepare the new one.
He still was trying to contact the Black Lightning, a man labeled as a "black activist" by the government. Bullshit, Ted thought to himself. The man was a "people activist" and they needed him. It was time to learn tolerance in this country!
He walked over to the punching bag and his eyes drifted to a photograph on the wall. There he was, with Matty and Alan, right before she debuted as Batwoman. Those had been happy times, even though he had been against it.
Here he was, again training another Wayne to be a super-hero and he realized that it was probably his destiny to do this. He figured that he would probably end up training Helena's kids as well.
"Ain't that a hell of a thing?" he asked out loud. There was no reply, but he was sure that somewhere, Matty was laughing at him. He started to giggle and then began punching the bag.
* * * * *
Federal Bureau of Investigations
CLASSIFICATION: EYES ONLY
In response to the request made by the Office of Super-Hero Activities, an investigation was opened on the reported re-appearance of the Batwoman in Gotham City. The Batwoman was last reported being seen in the Gotham City area in 1963, shortly before the assassination of President Kennedy.
It has been rumored that some select agents of this agency knew the true identity of Batwoman, but that information has never been verified. Therefore, it has been impossible to confirm whether or not the Batwoman is dead. As you may be well aware, several former members of the Justice Society have managed to retain their youth over the decades, so it is possible that the Batwoman may possess this ability.
I contacted Detective James Corrigan of the Gotham City Police Department, since confidential sources (see attached addendum) have maintained that he has had contact with a female super-hero operating in the city. Corrigan was less than receptive to my inquiry and without further evidence, it is feared that by applying pressure on him, he may go to the media.
Interviews with criminals in custody that have allegedly confronted the new Batwoman produced no solid leads with the exception of one interview. Jack Napier, a small time criminal who calls himself the Red Hood, claims that the woman actually calls herself the Huntress.
(As a matter of coincidence, Napier is the illegitimate child of Harleen Quinzel, the criminal who went by the name Harley Quinn. Please reference file HQ-1961-C)
As such, despite several weeks of investigation, observation and interviewing, no physical evidence has been found to verify the existence of the Batwoman/Huntress of Gotham City. Inclusion of such a person into the new Justice League International would not be possible at this time.
My personal recommendation is to appeal to some of the major figures of the super-hero community, including League chairman Booster Gold, to investigate the sightings themselves.
Of course, it is also possible that the Batwoman never actually existed and may have been part of the extensive anti-communist machine incorporated by certain factions of the government. In fact, there are no files or records that actually prove the existence of the Batwoman. No photographs or film exist, despite the fact she was reported to be a member of the Justice League of America.
It's quite possible that she's nothing more than an urban legend.