Disclaimer: I don't own Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Womman, JLA, Static Shock, Teen Titans or any other affilcated idea- those are owned by DC Comics
I don't own Ranma ½ or any other anime which might be mentioned in passing.
My name is Barbara. Just Barbara, now days.
I've had a lot of other names, though. Once, I was Barbara Gordon. My father was the chief commissioner of police for Gotham. I didn't have a mom, but we managed. We were happy.
I wish I could point to any number of times, any number of events and say 'This is where it all changed.' But I can't. Real life doesn't work that way. I could point to the day that Bruce Wayne's parents died, or when he donned the cowl for the first time, becoming Batman. I could point to the day that he and my father became allies against the crime of Gotham. I could even point at the day that Dick Grayson's parents died, or the day that he became Batman's first protégé, Robin.
Any one of those could be the beginning, but for me it was the day that my father was framed for corruption. Ironically, he was one of the few honest cops in the city. I had a plan- I would pretend to be Batman at the support rally. Gotham would think that Batman supported my father. I made a Batman costume to fit me, and I hid in the shadows at the rally.
Fate has this habit of screwing me over though. While I was waiting for the rally, there was a drive-by shooting. I, being an idiot, leapt to help. The back of my cowl ripped, and my hair came tumbling out. In front of everyone. I guess that's where Batgirl was born. A fashion disaster in front of a crowd. That says it all, doesn't it?
I worked hard, protecting my city. Eventually, Batman accepted me, let me work with him. Even let me into the Batcave. I got to know Dick Grayson as he grew up, from Robin into Nightwing. I watched as Tim Drake became the new Robin. We were a family. I was happy again.
Didn't last though. I should have known.
Dick and I were engaged for a while, but it didn't work. I couldn't handle the fact that he could snap me in half; he couldn't handle the 'feelings' I had for Batman. We broke up, and he ran off to Bloodhaven. We didn't speak again, except that one time.
Then it finally happened. The Joker got one of us. Tim. But instead of killing him, he did worse. He tortured him, brainwashed him, turned him into a mini-Joker. That was the one time that Batman ever broke that sacred rule. He killed him.
But Joker had the last laugh. As Batman pushed him over the edge of the cliff, he got a shot off. Hit me in the gut. Batman rushed me to a hospital. I survived.
Sometimes I wish I hadn't.
That bastard paralyzed me. I'd never walk again.
When the Justice League threw open its doors, when almost every superhero in the world joined, we didn't. I couldn't walk; Tim had slunk off with his tail between his legs, swearing off the vigilante life forever. Dick was too angry to join any group that had Bruce in it.
Oh, I had plans. I was going to be the super-hacker, Oracle. I was going to play Professor Xavier to the vigilantes of Gotham. Huntress and Black Canary had signed on to be my team, and I had my eye on a couple of others.
That dream ended when the Justice League did- when the Watchtower was destroyed, and the bulk of Earth's protectors with it.
I tried though. I really did. I sent Nightwing to infiltrate Luthor Corp, to figure out if Lex Luthor had killed our mentor. We never did find out- he died at the hand of Luthor's security systems.
The Teen Titans perished- all of them. Hawkgirl died. Static, Gear, Ruberband Man, Shebang- all gone. Even Tim donned the cowl once more- and was killed. One by one, in teams, they all died. I was the last.
I tried to change that. I tried to create a new Batman. He died on his first patrol.
That's when I gave up. Our golden age was over. No more would a dark knight emerge from the shadows to stop rapists and serial killers. Never again would Superman catch a falling plane, Static stop a metahuman breakout, Flash pull people out of the way of a car, Green Lantern hold back a tidal wave. It was all over.
I had inherited all of Bruce's fortune, with the deaths of Tim and Dick. I moved into the mansion. I became something of a recluse, and then an alcoholic.
I probably would have stayed that way. I was on track to drink myself to death. But something happened.
I was wheeling myself along the halls of Bruce's mansion, when I heard a noise coming from the Batcave. I tried to make my way down the stairs to the cave, to see what was happening.
A word of advice- never try and wheel yourself down a winding staircase when drunk.
I fell down the stairs and slid across the floor. When I looked up, I saw Batman. He glowered at me. I could feel the disappointment in his eyes.
I was wrong, of course. He hadn't risen from the dead- it was his costume, on the rack. But it hit me. What was I doing? I'd sworn to fight the good fight. Not to pickle myself.
That was the day I stopped drinking. Mostly.
I put Bruce's money to the use he'd intended it for- to make people's lives better. I started funding medical research, in honour of Thomas Wayne.
I started going through Bruce's computer. I found one interesting file- Batman of the Future.
Some people assumed that Bruce didn't know how to make powered armour. After all, he fought world-destroying enemies and rampaging gods with nothing but a belt and Kevlar. The people who knew him –even me- figured it was some kind of martial artist honour. The truth was a little different.
Batman wasn't like Superman, the Flash, or any of the other heroes. He wasn't a shining beacon for people to idolise and emulate. He was the one who was little more than a story swapped between prisoners in prison. An urban legend given form. As far as anyone was concerned, Batman wasn't human- he was a demon who preyed on weaker demons. Any bulky powered armour, like S.T.R.I.P.E or Steel, would make him look human to his enemies.
Batman of the Future was a research and development program Bruce had started a month before he died. It combined myomer fibre with light-bending nano-probes, along with ground-breaking audio-visual surveillance technology. It even interfaced directly with an operator's nervous system.
It would be a week before I made the connection. Nano-probes. Nervous system. My spine.
The technology had been completed in the years since Bruce's death. I found a respectable and trustable doctor, and she agreed to perform the operation. By using the nano-probes as an advanced form of stem-cells, they could be used to create artificial cells.
A week after the surgery, I was able to twitch my left big toe.
Two weeks after the surgery, I could move my entire foot.
A month, and I moved like someone who'd been in a coma- my muscles had gotten weaker, but my nervous system was as good as new.
I spent the next year training my body, and by the end of it I was in better shape than I ever had been. The night after I celebrated my newfound health with a cheap bottle of scotch, I walked down to the Batcave again.
I reached out to my old costume, and picked up the cowl. I tried it on- didn't fit, in more ways than one. I went back to the living room, and put on some crappy reality show.
What was I going to do? One woman couldn't make that much difference. I was all alone. In the ten years since the world was robbed of the Justice League, no new heroes had emerged. I was the only one left. What could I do against the world? One person couldn't change the world. Could they?
And why did this conclusion leave me feeling dirty?
I looked down into the dregs of my bottle. "Damn it. I wish I knew what to do." I looked up. "I may not believe in you, you son-of-a-bitch, but just this once, don't screw me over. Just give me a sign."
The Jerry Springer show suddenly disappeared, replaced by a news broadcast. The presenter was sweaty, and unlike the solemn professional face that most presenters had, she was grinning like she'd just won the lottery.
"People of the world. I'm sorry to have interrupted your regularly scheduled programming, but today we have ground breaking news." She took a moment to compose herself. "Today, in the air over Metropolis, three planes were hijacked by al-Qaeda. In what was to be a gruesome repeat of 9/11, the planes were to smash into the new 'Liberty Reborn' statue."
She took a deep breath. "I say 'was' because these attacks were thwarted, and the planes were taken to the airport without any loss of life."
The video changed to a grainy view of a plane interior. Several men, armed with guns and knives, were threatening the hostages. As one tried to stab a loud one, there was a blur of black and red.
I gasped. The man was Asian, with shoulder length hair and good looks. He was big, tall and muscular. He wore a skin tight red and black suit, with an emblem of a rearing horse on the front. He grabbed the knife by the blade, and without any apparent effort squeezed it into a shapeless mass. He then darted forward and knocked out each of the hijackers, leaving the one who'd had the knife conscious. The presenter spoke again. "Unfortunately, at this time we do not have the original audio of this recording. However, Boeing has released a transcript of the conversation."
'I won't let you hurt these people!'
'Our loss does not matter. We are but a third of this attack. You and all the infidels will burn! The others will continue our glorious work!'
'Then I'll stop them too!'
The man in red and black tapped his knuckles on the top of the terrorists head, and the man fell to the ground unconscious. He blurred, and suddenly he was at the door of the plane. 'Everyone, strap yourselves in. I'm gonna have to get out of here.'
He moved to open the door, but the hostess put one hand on his. 'Thank you. You saved us all. Who.. who are you?'
He grinned, and I blushed at that grin as much as the hostess. That guy was something, all right. 'Call me WildHorse.'
I just sat there and watched, my jaw dropping, as this WildHorse flew out of the plane (shutting the door behind him), and broke in to another two planes in flight, emerging minutes later after each one and welding the doors shut with some strange power. There was more, but I didn't really notice it.
One person could make a difference. One man just saved hundreds of people from dying in plane crashes. Hundreds from dying beneath the planes. Probably thousands from another war.
What the hell was wrong with me? Once, I would have been out there doing what I could. It wasn't about changing the world singlehandedly. It was about doing my best to make the world safer. It was about having no regrets. It was about doing the right thing.
"You did this alone, WildHorse," I whispered to myself. "But you aren't going to stay that way."
This is the second story in my WildHorse-verse. In case you wonder, WildHorse isn't a Mary-sue, a Self Insertion, or even an OC. He is an older version of an anime character, Ranma. For more information, check out his story, WildHorse: The Man of Steel. That said, you don't need to read any other fic to enjoy or understand this one.
Continuality: Batman: The animated series (not The Batman). All the animated movies happened, except for Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker happened (at least the flashback portions), except that Barbara got shot.
Most of Justice League happened. The episodes 'Justice for All' didn't, so there never was any Doomsday or the Justice Lords. Justice League Unlimited didn't happen- the league was destroyed during the opening speech from the first episode.
Static Shock happened, as did all crossovers between it, Batman and Justice League.
Teen Titans happened, up to the end of season 4 (where Raven killed Trigon). The following season about the Brotherhood of Evil never happened, and none of the heroes introduced in it ever existed. Tim Drake was the Teen Titans Robin, and he alternated between Jump City and Gotham.
Batman Beyond- well, Bruce is dead. How that will turn out, wait and see...