"So," smiled the greasy salesman

Disclaimer: I don't own Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, JLA, Static Shock, Teen Titans or any other affiliated idea- those are owned by DC Comics

I don't own Ranma ½ or any other anime/manga I may mention.

As usual, thank J.St.C . Partick for the fact that you can read this. Seriously, one of these days I've got to learn how to spell.

This something was human shaped. Covered completely by a black bodysuit, the only things the ventriloquist could see were the burning red eyes, a mane of dark red hair, the tall pointy ears, and a blood red Bat emblazoned over a pair of breasts. "B.B.B... BATMAN!!" He shrieked.

"No," the dark figure growled, "Batwoman."


With a subtle hand gesture, I activated the rockets in my boots, and hurtled towards Wesker, and his dummy Scarface. Before they had time to react, I was already past them, Scarface in hand. Landing on the floor, I showed the puppet to Wesker. Then, using the myomer-fibre enhanced muscles, crushed it in my hand. Wesker screamed, and fell over.

From outside, my augmented hearing picked up five police sirens. I looked back at the group of disabled thugs, and kicked one that was trying to get away. Finally, with a small smirk, I strode out the door and reignited my rocket boots, stretching my arms out from my sides and spreading the small wings built into my suit.

Captain Renee Montoya strode into the building, gun in hand. The gun was unnecessary- all the criminals were lying unconscious on the floor. Spread throughout the shop were some frightened hostages. She took all this in, and noted the unconscious form of Wesker. Finally, she helped one of the hostages up. "Hi. I'm captain Montoya, Gotham GCPD. Are you ok?"

The hostage nodded, looking like she was about to go into shock. "Y..yeah, I'm fine. Just fine."

As more police came into the building, Renee led the woman out. "I know that you've been through a lot, but can you tell me what happened?"

The woman sat down by one of the ambulances. "It... there was a man, with a puppet, and all those men with guns." She sniffed. "Then there was this dark figure… so fast, it took them all down in seconds. Then she grabbed the puppet, and SMASH!"

Cold sweat trickled down Renee's back. "She?"

Hoarsely, the hostage could only say one word. "Batwoman."

Invisible, I landed gracefully on a balcony of an apartment, and walked inside. As I cleared the threshold, I took off my mask, taking a moment to enjoy the feeling of air on my face.

"Success?" Penny asked, offering me a bowl of pasta. This apartment was one of several I had scattered throughout my city under false names. This particular one was under the name of Brittany Grayson, a girl with an abusive boyfriend she couldn't stay away from. Since he was the jealous type, she didn't get home very often. All it took to maintain was an appearance once every few weeks, with a little makeup to make it look like I was hiding injuries.

Of course, now that I was Batwoman, I wasn't likely to have to fake injuries.

"Yes. The myomer-fibre interfaced flawlessly with my spinal nanites, and the rocket boots responded to the hand signals. The invisibility worked too. The audio needs work though."

Penny gave me a bright grin. "Put the fear of the Bat back into the city?"

I shook my head. "Not with just one appearance. I'll be heading back out in a minute."

"Gotcha." She stood up, and grabbed a scanner off the couch. "Hmm. Power at 87... 98 before you engaged the invisibility. Structural integrity holding. Hair masking holding. Heat dissipating at normal levels." She closed the scanner. "As long as you don't use the thermoptic-camo too much, you're good for the rest of the night."

I nodded, and put my cowl back on. "Don't wait up." With that said, I flew out the window.

Commissioner Maggie Sawyer had quite a background in the police. Former inspector from the Metropolis Police department, she had ended up heading the MSCU, Metropolis' Metahuman crimes division, for four years. When she took a blast to the right arm, she was forced to take medical leave. The Mayor of Metropolis had fired her (the head of MSCU being unable to fire a gun was considered bad press), and she had ended up taking the job of Commissioner of the Gotham Police Department. Having held the position for three years, she was considered one of the hardest people on the force.

"What were you thinking?! You barged, ALONE, into a hostage situation!!" She roared at Renee.

Renee refused to be cowed. "There was no lookout, no faces in the windows. The clerk managed to set off the silent alarm quickly, and we were close. I was counting on the fact that they hadn't finished setting up, or had already left."

Sawyer glared at Renee. "Well, you were wrong. What the hell happened in there?"

Renee frowned. "The perps were already down- unconscious, beaten, but alive. The hostages were scared, but fine."

The commissioner sat down heavily. "Infighting? Another crook with a claim to the place?" That had happened before. One famous account had six of the most dangerous Arkham escapees being found unconscious at a scene- they had all tried to rob the same bank, and Scarecrow's fear gas had reacted with Harley Quinn's Smilex, causing a powerful sedative affect.

"I don't think so. Most of the hostages were too busy keeping their heads down to see anything, and none of the thugs we've woken up can say anything helpful. Just a dark figure, too fast to be human. Out of the whole lot, I only found one who saw anything useful, and I only got one word out of her."

Sawyer glared at Renee. "Well? Don't keep me in suspense. What was it?"

Renee wet her lips. "Batwoman."

I punched the rapist in the stomach, and handed the woman her purse back. "You should walk someplace with better lighting."


"That's what she said. Batwoman."

Sawyer grimaced. "So, another bat-knock off. Damn it, we have to find this loony and stop her."

Renee bit her lip. "Are you sure? I mean, she did stop those men."

The commissioner stood up, and started pacing. "Shit, you've been here longer than I have. Ever since the big smash, the only bats around have been crooked. There were, what, four knockoffs who died, half a dozen kids in Halloween costumes the Joker killed, and seven people pretending for money. This is another one."

Renee's face twisted. "What if it isn't?"

Sawyer glared. "Then it's a vigilante. That IS illegal. Find this bat. Bring her in."

I stood up, and discarded the crowbar. I looked at the young couple who had had the stupidity to take a romantic walk through Gotham central park at one in the morning. "What?"

The boy was the first to regain the ability. "Dude... you beat them all up with their own crowbar!"

Captain Renee Montoya nodded at the man in charge of the warehouse. "Thanks. You sure this is the place?"

The other cop nodded. "Yup, this is where we keep the crap that we don't use, and can't throw away. You wanted something specific?"

Montoya picked a piece of paper out of her pocket. "Item number 1342-4452-11234."

The cop disappeared into the maze of odd items which filled the warehouse. There was all sorts of things there- riot ploughs, shields, a dozen suits of cold-weather environment suits, a fire truck modified to spray Agent Orange, an entire warehouse devoted to the idosyncrycies of Gotham. Finally, the cop reappeared, holding a large, oddly shaped piece of metal. "Here it is."

"Thanks," Renee said absently, staring at the object. "Hey, do me a favor- don't put me down on the log, ok? I don't want the boss finding out about this."

"Yeah, sure."

"Damn it, what's takin' them so long," griped one man. His head was clean shaven, as were his companions'. The way the three of them were waiting around… It just set off my instincts. I moved quietly into the shadows and listened.

"Probably stuck in traffic," another one said. "Calm down."

"Calm down? Calm down!? Shit, you know what'll happen to us if we get caught with that stuff."

The third laughed. "In Gotham? It's just a truck of heroin. That's nothing." Heroin? There were times I hated it when I was right. I settled in for a long wait, and listened.

It was almost twenty minutes before a truck arrived. The trio moved up to the driver, and there was an exchange of money. The driver got out to help the trio unload. That was my cue to move in. Silently, I jumped onto the truck, and moved to the rear doors.

"Right- let's take a look." One of the three skinheads announced. Opening the doors, he took the driver and one of his friends into the truck. The remaining man waited outside. I reached down, and quickly grabbed him by the collar. I lifted him up, and punched him unconscious before he could make a sound.

"Everything looks alright," one of them announced. "Jerry, let's get this stuff into th... Jerry? Where did you go?"

The men hopped out of the truck, and started looking around. When they were all looking in different directions, I grabbed the driver, and took care of him just like I had the first guy. There was a long moment before the other two noticed.

"Fk me! Where did the driver go?"

As the man who had just screamed turned around, I grabbed his friend, and added him to the pile. Now the man was all alone. He was getting whiter, and sweating nervously. "Who's there? Jeff? I told you, I won't have your money 'till Friday!"

Repositioning myself, I made no noise at all, and he only got more scared. He pulled out a handgun. "Come out and show your face, coward!"

"Ok." I growled, emerging from the shadows to his right. He screamed, and shot me.

"Ha! Got you, bat-freak!"

I said nothing, only walking closer to him. His eyes widened. He let off another pair of shots, doing no good at all. He screamed again. "Please! Leave me alone! I'll do anything! Don't kill me!"

Growling, I grabbed him by the collar. "Did you think you could stop me?" I brought my face right next to his. "Did you think I can die?" The eye-lenses of my suit glowed red. "Demons can't die."

He screamed in pure terror, and wet himself. I threw him into a wall, and he ran away. I turned to the truck.

Renee stared at the pitiful man. "So, let me get this straight. You want to go to jail."

The man nodded. "For as long as possible. Please, I've earned it. I killed a guy last week, and tonight I helped bring in a heroin shipment into the city."

Renee sweatdropped. "And why, exactly, do you want to go there so badly?"

The man looked like he was about to cry. "The bat. The BAT!!"

Renee snorted. "She's just a human being, like you or me. Pull the other one."

He shook his head so fast Renee worried for his health. "No, she's not." His voice turned horse. "I shot her. Three times, right up close. All it did was piss her off. And those eyes... those evil eyes... Please! Maybe she can't get me in the slammer! I got nothn' to lose!"

I flew into the night, wings spread. Behind me, the truck burned. Its entire contents was quickly turning to ash.

Groaning, Renee Montoya pushed the piece of twisted metal into place. Once it locked into place, twisted the base upwards, pointing at the sky. She flipped a switch. On the dark clouds, a huge stylized picture of a bat appeared.

Perhaps a minute later, Renee stretched her back. By the time she was looking forwards again, she was staring at a dark figure. The only color on it was the blood red bat symbol on the chest, the blood red hair, and the dark red eyes. "You called."

Renee jumped. "Y, yes. I did."

The red eyes narrowed. "So. Talk."

"Right. Down to business." Renee took a deep breath. "There's something going on in Gotham. Something weird. In the last month we've had two new rogues appear. They've been meta's."

"Silversmith and Monk. Weak, inexperienced." The dark figure growled.

The captain smiled slightly. "Figures you'd know. A few days after they reached Belle Reve, they lost their powers. Not that they had much power to begin with, but it disappeared. Then the doctors ran blood tests. The results came back negative for the meta-gene."

"Technology-based superpowers?"

Renee shook her head. "That's what the report said, but I don't buy it. Those guys still had their powers in our cells, and on the way to Belle Reve. We had taken everything off them, and X-rayed them so many times they might be sterile." Renee cleared her throat. "I think something's happening. Intergang's been shipping trucks of drugs into Gotham, but none of it's making its way onto the streets."

"You think that they're mutating people." It wasn't a question.

Renee nodded. "I think so. The commissioner won't let me do anything- Intergang's been keeping their head down in Gotham for years now, and she doesn't want to poke a bee-hive with a stick. I've got no proof. You, on the other hand..."

"I'll look into it," the dark figure replied flatly. "What made you start the bat-signal?"

Renee's eyes darkened. "I worked here before the crash. I knew the original Batman, both Robins, and Batgirl. I've seen all the fakes. You- you aren't a fake. You might not be the Batman, but you aren't a fake." She grinned. "Not that the commissioner believes it. You know she ordered us to arrest you, Batwoman... Batwoman?"

But Renee was alone on the rooftop. She groaned. "Exactly like Batman."

A teenage girl looked out her bedroom window and sighed. She wasn't suffering the common teenage ailment of a broken heart, or anger at being grounded. She wasn't even sighing out of loneliness. No, this girl was sighing because her mother was gone. Again.

She didn't run away- truth be told, the girl would almost prefer that her mother would run away, and never come back. No, her mother was gone because she was in Arkham again. After all, her mother was one of the Joker's henchwomen. Ever since the original Joker had died, his sidekick, Harley Quinn, had taken up the mantle of 'Clown Prince of Crime'. Pushing her dead beloved's cause, she had dozens of clown-themed minions.

Not that she needed a role model or anything, the girl thought to herself. It would just be nice to have a mom.

There was a flash of movement past the window, and the girl stuck her head out to get a look. A dark figure was flying, almost impossible to see, down the dark alley. The girl was struck by how majestic the figure looked.

Barbara Gordon had no idea, but her choice of a route back to her apartment would change Stephanie Brown's life.

Authors Notes:

Renee Montoya, Stephanie Brown and Maggie Sawyer were characters in the comics, in various roles. Predictably, I've tweaked them a fair bit.

Harley Quinn and the jokers: In Batman: Beyond (Batman of the Future, in some countries) the Jokers were a gang of clown themed criminals, who did little more that beat up and mug people. As the original Joker was well and truly dead at the time (although in cannon Tim did it instead of Bruce), I'm providing an alternative explanation. Expect to see more of Harley Quinn, by the way.

In Batman comic history, it was very, very male dominated. Bruce, Dick and Alfred were the original heroes- their example of an 'Ideal homosexual lifestyle' was most famously put forward in the book 'Seduction of the Innocent', a book which criticized comics and forced significant changes to the content allowed in comic books. If you've ever wondered why all western cartoons are aimed at 12 year olds, and Japanese Anime is aimed at adults and contain blood, murder, difficult issues and sex, it's because the laws against mature content in comics were never written there. You can find Seduction of the Innocent online, and I recommend reading it. It's the funniest non-fiction book I've ever read.