Destruction and Rebirth
A DC Universe Fanfic
By: Aaron Nowack
Disclaimer: The universe and its characters belong to DC Comics. Only the words are mine.
Special Disclaimer: The timeline of the canon DC universe would not allow this story to be a possibility. So I altered the timeline. If that bothers you, pretend that Superboy Prime punched this version of time a little bit harder.
I can't move my legs.
I can fly, but I can't move my legs.
I can fly? Where did that come from? I've never… people don't… do I? I can fly, I can't move my legs, and I can't remember why.
I have a photographic memory, and I can't remember why I can't move my legs. Why I'm certain that I can fly. I have a photographic memory, and I can't remember my name. About the only thing I can remember at the moment is that my memory is perfect.
I must be insane. Lock me up in Arkham with all the psychotics Bruce…
I can't remember my name, but I know that Bruce Wayne is the Batman. Tim Drake is Robin. Dick Grayson was Robin, but is now Nightwing. Clark Kent is Superman. I know all these secrets - and that they are secrets - but I don't know who I am. Where I am.
Besides lying on a hard, cold concrete floor. A wet concrete floor. Not water. Something thicker, redder. Blood? My blood? I hurt - every part of me. Useless foot to my head of filthy, matted red hair. I need a shower.
In front of me is a broken pair of glasses. My glasses. But my sight isn't blurry, and I remember having perfect - better than perfect - vision. Did I just wear them as a… fashion statement? That doesn't sound like me.
Who am I kidding? I don't know who I am, much less my taste in accessories. And I still don't know where I am. Maybe I should look. Maybe I should have looked earlier, instead of pondering why I wore glasses. I am an intelligent woman, after all. I think.
I lift my head, and I see a shattered room. Rubble is everywhere. Directly in front of me are computers - my computers - not a one of which is working. Some of the monitors are broken, the rest display only static. There's still power, but something must have damaged the actual computers.
"Something," I mutter to myself in a voice that is at once both familiar and strange. "It looks like a bomb went off in here." Perhaps it was a bomb, intended to… what? I feel like I should know why someone would want to bomb my… office? But of course I can't remember. Thoughts spin through my head, chasing the shadows of memories that should be there as I take in each familiar, ruined object before me.
I turn my head to look behind me, and the first thing I see is the wheelchair, flattened by a fallen wall. I swallow dryly. My wheelchair. The wall that could have - did? - flatten me. My head spins again.
Then I notice the cloth lying on my back. I reach to feel it with one hand, an alien yet familiar texture. Soft, but I instinctively know that it is strong, strong enough to survive the strains I… put it… through? My head pounds as I lift the crimson cloth, trying to get a good look at it.
The golden, stylized S I recognize in an instant. Superman. This is his cape? Then I see the rest of the costume, the red skirt and the high boots, and I correct myself. Supergirl.
Facts and figures swarm in my mind, things that no ordinary person should know. Called Matrix, or "Mae." Not Krytponian, despite the name Supergirl. A shapeshifter and telekinetic, besides the usual strength, speed, and flight. No precise origin I know - a fact that sends a spike of frustration and annoyance through me, even as I start to remember something about alternate worlds, a "protoplasmic matrix," and Lex Luthor.
Supergirl. The word explodes in my head, and I… I remember.
I remember sitting in my wheelchair, discussing the usual criminal matters with Bruce.
I remember flying over Gotham, on my way back to Metropolis.
I remember losing the connection to the Cave, frowning in annoyance a moment before the everything starts to shake.
I remember watching the building below tremble, hearing the sudden screams of thousands calling for aid.
I remember something hitting me from behind, pain leading to blackness.
I remember saving a man, a police officer, I don't recognize - my father.
I remember waking, barely able to move, pinned beneath the fallen wall.
I remember nodding when my father asks me to find myself.
I remember pulling myself free of the rubble, trying to ignore the pain and the blood.
I remember swooping into the room, seeing myself dying on the floor. Stupidly, I ask if I'm alright,
I remember a weak laugh that turns into a fit of coughing. I tell myself to take my costume, hidden in a box in the closet, to my father, and that he will understand.
I remember hesitation, and then embracing myself.
I remember pain and blackness.
I remember my name. I remember who I am.
I am Barbara Gordon, once Batgirl, now Oracle. I am Matrix, Mae, Supergirl.
I took my name for myself, lost it, and created a new one. I was given my name, and have never been worthy of it.
I cannot move my legs. I can fly.
The conflicting thoughts and memories war in my head. Who - which am I? What did I/Supergirl do to me/Barbara?
There is a rumble, and everything shakes. Aftershocks. More damage. More deaths. More injuries. There are people who need saving. Who need me. Who need Supergirl.
And then I am in motion, donning Supergirl's… my costume faster than the eye can see with practiced ease, even as I know that I cannot accomplish such a thing. I am out the window I came though in the space of a breath, and the restored feeling in my legs seems perfectly normal and miraculous at the same time.
Familiar, alien blonde hair flies out of my face as I speed through the skies of Gotham City, arresting the fall of a massive chunk of a building and hurling it into the bay with one smooth motion. Below, a man struggles to escape a car, wedged into a crack in the road. It takes mere seconds to free him, depositing him safely on the sidewalk.
In a minute, I have saved six more people, but I cannot save them all. There is too much destruction, too many lives in danger. Too much for one person, even Supergirl, to deal with. A cold, calculating part of me, that I never knew I had, that is all I've been for years, tells me that I'm wasting myself. That I need to be solving the worst problems, not just attacking the ones in front of me.
Before I can second-guess myself further, I find Jim Gordon - saving another three people on the way. He's outside the police headquarters, in an improvised command post, and he starts as I come in for a landing in front of him.
"Barbara?" he asks, his voice strained. "Is she -"
"I - she's fine," I say, forcing back the vertigo of conflicting thoughts my father's presence brings. "What's the situation? Where can I be the most help?"
Gordon breathes a sigh of relief, and then he is all business. "The fires are the worst," he says. "I don't suppose you have some sort of super-ice breath to put them out with?"
It takes a moment to remember whether I can, but then I shake my head.
My father nods sadly. "There's a pocket we can't get to, surrounded by fire. We're attacking it from the outside, but that might not be enough. If you can get those people out, Supergirl -"
"On it," I say, and I take to air once more.
It takes less than ten minutes to evacuate almost a hundred people, get them to relative safety outside the walls of flame. I'm not certain whether that's fast or slow for me. By now, the others should be arriving, from Metropolis, from Keystone City and even farther away. I think I see a blur of red and blue in the distance, Superman or Superboy, but I shy away from it.
I make another pass over the rapidly dwindling pocket, making sure I got everyone out. I don't see anyone, and then a sudden, almost panicked urge makes me keep going, instead of heading back to my father. I don't stop until I reach the ruins I know are the Wayne Manor, even though I've never been there, because I've been there a thousand times. One thousand, two hundred and twelve, to be exact.
My head pounds, and once more I struggle to avoid the contradiction. I land outside what would have been the main entrance. Unlike every other Wayne-owned building, the manor itself was never reinforced to withstand earthquakes. No doubt to protect the secrets buried underneath. The secrets I know, even though Clark never shared them with me, because I figured them out myself years before I came to this world. What -
No. There's no time for that. I call out loudly, straining my hearing for any response. My senses are enhanced, though not as much as Clark's, but I hear nothing. I take to the air again, passing low over the rubble and searching for any sign that anyone's down there, alive or dead. I find nothing.
They must be below, I decide, and I swerve for the nearest hidden entrance that I couldn't know was there. Debris blocks it, but it's a matter of seconds to clear it, and then I'm flying down the winding path to the Cave.
One survivor, that I recognize though I've never seen him before. Alfred, Bruce Wayne's butler. "The way out is clear," I tell him, forcing myself to sound like there's nothing odd about Supergirl finding the cave. "Where's Batman?"
He gestures helplessly to a hole the earthquake had opened in the cave floor. Water pours down into it. "He tried to search down there for an exit, ma'am. Right before the aftershock hit." Almost a half hour ago.
"How long's his air supply good for?" I ask, even as I remember the answer. Not nearly that long. "Go, get to safety," I tell Alfred. "I'll go after him." Without waiting for a response, I plunge into the depths.
The force of the currents is nothing compared to the strength of my inhuman muscles, but I follow them anyway. Bruce is fit - beyond fit, near the height of human perfection - but not strong enough to swim against this rapid flow. The way is blocked by more rubble, and I push through, barely slowing. Moments later, I find him, trapped in a pocket of air, conserving his air supply.
I swim up beside him, and he tries not to let his shock show. "I've cleared the way back to the Cave," I say, not giving him a chance to speak. "Do you have enough air?"
He doesn't answer for several seconds. "If you help," he says finally.
"Then let's move," I tell him, and we do. Less than a minute later, we're back in the Cave. Alfred hasn't left, of course, and he helps Batman to his feet.
"How did you know where to find me?" he growls at me, but I'm not intimidated by his anger. I haven't been for years, even though I've never been comfortable around the Batman.
"I… Barbara Gordon told me," I answer. It's the truth, in a way, and I'm not sure I want to try and explain what I'm not certain of myself. Definitely not now, not to him.
Batman snarls, and Alfred lays a hand on his shoulder. "I… I suppose you can be trusted," he admits after a moment. "Though I will have to have words with Ms. Gordon when all this is finished."
Anger explodes in me, and before I can realize that it's a bad idea, I'm in the man's face. "I - she saved your life! If she hadn't told me, you'd still be trapped down there!" I force myself to calm down, and take a step back. "There's other people in danger. I need to go." I turn around, and try not to listen in as Alfred whispers to Bruce.
I stop, surprised, when Batman speaks. "Thank you," he says grudgingly.
I turn my head back to him. "You're welcome," is all I say in response, and then I take to air again, speeding back up the secret passageway and out onto the Wayne Manor grounds.
Who - what - am I? Supergirl? Why do I have Barbara Gordon's - Oracle's - memories? I was… trying to save her. Tried to share my healing abilities with her. Something I'd never attempted before.
Did we… merge, somehow? Or did I consume her, like the alien, unnatural monster I am in my nightmares?
I can't answer those questions now. I have to just be Supergirl. Until the crisis passes. When there's time to think - time to shapeshift back to Barbara Gordon's form and see what effect that has, the clinical part of me I'm beginning to understand is Oracle's interjects - then I can figure it out. On my own, or with help if needed.
If I… we… are a merger, then I will figure out what to do about this change to my, our lives. If I am the monster, then… I will tell Clark. And he will do what he needs to do. If he won't, Bruce will.
But, until then, there are people that need saving. And neither part of me intends to let them down.
Author's Random Rambling
So, yeah, I recently read the Peter David Supergirl stuff. And all through it, I kept on pondering other characters that Matrix could have merged with besides Linda Danvers. Because I'm a fanfic writer, and that's the kind of thing we do.
Despite not working out at all timeline-wise, this idea stuck in my head. Because the only thing better than Supergirl or Batgirl is Super-Batgirl, right? (I did ponder using the other Batgirl, but this idea came together more interestingly.)
I actually see a fair bit of potential for future stories taking off from this concept, through No Man's Land and beyond. Whether any of those stories will get written is, as always, dependent on free time and cooperative muses.