Recap of everything up to date, including the mysterious phone call made from David Cain that ended the previous episode.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO
“She’s just a child,” scoffs a female voice. “A toddler, if I’m not mistaken.”
A man and a woman are watching through a window, though we cannot see what it is they are watching exactly.
The man smirks and as we get closer, we realize it’s David Cain. “She may be a child, but I assure you she’s far more deadly than most men you will come in conflict with.”
The view now shows what they are viewing. A child of about four years old, dressed in black with four men. As David Cain turns to the woman, we see that it’s a younger Lady Shiva. He can’t help but grin, “Just watch.”
David nods his head and the men begin to move towards the child. “I’ve told them they aren’t to go easy on her.”
One rushes in, but the child easily avoids them as she leaps through a somersault. Quickly, she springs into the air and onto the man’s back and she climbs up and locks her hands around his face. The man begins to scream in pain, almost shrieking as tries to grab at her. Blood begins to drip down his chin, though we cannot see why.
He suddenly falls to his knees as one of the other men rushes over at the girl, who leaps at him and hits him right in the throat with a kick. She kicks him so hard, we can hear the bones crunching upon impact. He clutches his throat and drops to his knees as well.
It’s now we see that the first man is holding his eyes in his hands as they’d been ripped out of his skull by the child and he’s still shrieking in pain as the second falls forward on his face, finally dead.
This leaves two men left who look at each other and decide perhaps this isn’t the best place for them to be as they try to make a run for it. The child charges at them.
As we go back to where David Cain and Lady Shiva are watching, Shiva has an impressed look on her face. “She may very well become the most lethal assassin you’ve ever crafted.” As she’s speaking, the sounds of men screaming can be heard. A splatter of blood even manages to hit the window. Soon, the room is quiet once again.
As the scene looks out of the window back into the room where the four men lay dead, we see the child is looking at the window standing in the center of the room. She gives a bow towards it as David returns the bow. The child is covered in blood but pleased at the silent praise given by her father as someone comes in to lead her out of the room.
“I need your help with her,” says David.
This seems to surprise Lady Shiva, “She’s nearly perfect as she is, what could I possibly do?”
David nods, “ She’s almost perfect. She needs a woman’s touch. At this rate, she’ll grow up to believe she’s a man. I need her to understand her place as a woman. It’s the one thing she’s missing. I will pay you handsomely for your time.”
“I believe I can help you,” Shiva says.
THE NEXT DAY
Shiva enters David Cain’s office, “You didn’t mention I would be at a disadvantage,” she seems a bit annoyed.
He looks up from whatever he was writing, “I don’t understand.”
“Neither does she,” Shiva says.
David chuckles, “I understand. Just talk to her as you would normally. She doesn’t speak. I never taught her. But, she has learned a different way to understand. It’s what makes her effective. You will see.”
ONE YEAR AGO
Orphan sits on a rooftop in Hub City. She was considering staying here, but there seem to be more heroes than she anticipated already. She may very well not be needed here.
She watches the van drive into an alley and stops. She knows this typically means something is not right. A man approaches the truck as a woman runs towards the alley. As the man is opening the back of the van. The woman enters the alley and holds up a gun and a badge.
The police are here. Orphan feels like she might not be needed here after all.
The man slowly turns around and it’s then that she sees that he has no face. From her vantage point, Orphan sees the man tighten up as a hand from inside the van plunges a knife into his back and then cuts him upward.
As the faceless man falls forward, the female police officer rushes to him, but Orphan sees the door of the van open and a woman getting out of the van and begins to take off when she suddenly stops.
The woman turns around and looks up and right into the face of Orphan. They maintain eye contact for a moment, then the woman turns and leaves. It’s then that Orphan hears the siren. Something doesn’t seem right so she springs into action.
She scales down the building and rushes over and scoops up the police officer and then scales back up the building to the rooftop just as the cop car pulls into the alley.
As she sets the surprised officer on the roof, she rushes towards the edge to look back over.
“Who are you?” comes the question.
Isn’t that always the question? She’s asked often and the name she had chosen for herself is always the answer as she turns back to the woman, “Orphan.” She walks over and places a finger on the policewoman, “Run.”
As soon as the word is spoken, Orphan runs for it, leaping off the building and towards another, leaving Renee Montoya alone on the rooftop.
Meanwhile, Orphan scales the next building where she sees the back of the woman she saw earlier, just standing there looking over at the scene she created. “So, you saved her. She was supposed to be the patsy in all of this and you’ve made sure that didn’t happen.”
Finally, the woman turns around, and its as if Orphan’s brain goes into overdrive as she remembers this woman and everything she did to train her when she was only a small child. Orphan reaches up and removes the hood and mask from over her head and face.
“So, you remember, do you?”
Shiva chuckles, “And you’ve learned a few words.”
“So what is your plan now, Cassandra?”
Cassandra rushes in and Lady Shiva easily dodges every fist and every kick. “I heard you left her father. You haven’t improved since then? You’ll never defeat me.”
Cassandra is struck hard in the side of the neck and it causes her to fall to the rooftop. She leaps to her feet and rushes in. The one thing about Lady Shiva that always got her was that Cassandra had a hell of a time reading her.
A flurry of exchanges and once again, a foot from Lady Shiva finds it’s spot on Cassandra’s chin, once again dropping her.
“I thought after all this time, you’d be more of a challenge to me, but you’re still that same little girl as before.”
Cassandra is on her feet and though she can’t understand the words, she knows the tone and she knows she’s being mocked. She doesn’t like it one bit. She rushes in again, but the result is just about the same, except this time the strike comes much harder than she expected and she’s down for the third time.
Lady Shiva walks over and kneels, “Poor, little one. I’m afraid our time for game playing has to come to an end. But, I’m certain our paths will cross again.” She reaches down and brushes some of Cassandra’s hair away from her face. “Goodbye now.”
Lady Shiva stands up and walks to the edge of the building and through blurry eyes, Cassandra watches her step off the ledge and disappears before everything eventually goes black.
Cassandra looked at the screen several times before she believed that Lady Shiva had come to Gotham.
Barbara Gordon liked to keep track of those coming in and out of Gotham and when Lady Shiva hit her radar, she immediately brought Cassandra in. “I feel bad calling you ‘Orphan’, but I don’t know what else to call you.” Cassandra hadn’t been able to convey her actual name to Barbara or anyone else for that matter.
But Cassandra’s eyes were glued to the screen. Her one defeat. The one person who could probably beat her. She didn’t try to correct Barbara, in fact, she probably didn’t even hear the question.
Barbara reached over and waved a hand in front of Orphan’s face, and when she got her attention she asks, “Can you beat her?”
It had been a year and Cassandra had gotten better. In the end, she didn’t feel confidant as she turned back to the screen and then to Barbara and shakes her head.
Barbara Gordon hadn’t seen anyone fight like Cassandra. Ever. Even Batman. There was someone that Barbara knew who had a grudge with Lady Shiva as she reached for her phone.
Since helping out Montoya with the Crime Bible situation, Barbara had been keeping tabs. The woman had let her down, but they’re going to need help on this one and Renee Montoya owed them. Big time.
“Someone you are looking for just showed up in Gotham.”
There is a pause, “For real?” is the question on the other end of the line.
“Shit. I’ll get packed and catch the next flight. Look, about before…”
“Just get here.”
“I’ve got some information on your friend you might be interested in. I’ll bring it.”
This was confusing, “What friend?”
“Your friend, Orphan.”
Barbara glanced over at Orphan who was still transfixed on the image of Lady Shiva on the big screen. “Thanks.”
Barbara hangs up the phone and sets it on the desk. She wasn’t about to lie. She was worried. She sat there for a long moment and then reached again for her phone and scrolled through her contacts. She starts to click on one but hesitates as if reconsidering before she finally gives in and presses it, then brings the phone up to her ear.
“I hate to involve you, but I may need your help.”
It’s been a few days since the altercation on the pier and David Cain’s daughters had spent every waking moment sulking. Well, Willow was sulking and Marque was being Marque talking to her steel chain.
A chime on his phone lights it up as he reaches for it and stands up. “I’m going on,” he announces. “Stay inside. Do not get into any trouble.” He walks over and reaches for his jacket, pausing as he hears no response.
“I said to stay inside and do not get into any trouble,” he emphasizes louder which finally gets a response as the duo answer in unison, “Yes, Father,” after which they exchange knowing glances at each other.
He seems unconvinced as he hesitates, reaching for the doorknob. “I’ll be back shortly.” He has to go meet her, so he’s no other choice but to leave them to their own devices for a few hours.
The daughters hear the door shut and look at each other.
“We need to redeem ourselves to our Father,” says Willow as she stands up and reaches under her bed to pull out a suitcase and sets it on the bed. “We have to find Cassandra before she does.”
Marque hasn’t moved, just the metallic sound of her chain being played with, “Father said to stay here,” she singsongs back to her sister then grinning from ear to ear. “He was very upset with us last time.” She lets the chain fall into her lap. “I want to know what’s so special about her,” she hmphs as she rises abruptly.
She walks over to see what her sister is doing, as Willow continues to get into her luggage and pulls out some clothing.
“Whatcha doing?” asks Marque.
“Wheeeeeeeere?” Marque drags it out in an annoying whiney sound.
Willow sighs dramatically, “If you wanna know, get your gear on. But hurry, cause I’m not waiting for you.”
Walking into the airport from deboarding, Renee Montoya remembers the last time she was here. Things didn’t end well. She was surprised when Barbara Gordon called her considering what she said the last time they were together. She was fairly certain it was something along the lines of “never contact her again.”
Renee wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to get her hands on Lady Shiva.
About an hour later, Renee was standing at the door to the clock tower, pressing the button. She could hear the door unlock and she stepped inside. She carried her bag up the stairs until she saw Gordon sitting behind her impressive array of computers, probably daisy-chained or whatever you call it these days. “Nice setup.”
“Whatcha got?” Renee asks as she walks over to stand behind Barbara.
“Lady Shiva arrived by private jet. Probably paid for by David Cain. I tried to track her, but she gave me the slip pretty easily. Probably knew she was being watched.”
“However, David Cain was much easier to track and sure enough they were seen together getting into Cain’s limo where they headed to Louie’s for some Italian food. Cain reserved the entire restaurant so they could talk.”
Renee nods. “Impressive. Louie’s is fucking expensive. You don’t happen to have ears inside that place?”
Barbara shakes her head, “No. I’m still trying to piece together the correlation between David Cain and Orphan.”
Renee reaches into her pocket and produces a USB and slaps it down on the table. “You might have access to every corner of the world wide web, but I have contacts in the underworld of the dark web. Check this out.”
Barbara looks at the drive briefly before picking it up and mounting onto her computer. She pulls up the first video that shows a much younger David Cain training a child. The next video features Lady Shiva doing some additional training. More training videos until she reaches the final video. This video is of a seven-year-old girl killing a man and then being interrupted by another child. As Barbara pauses the screen, a curious look crosses her face. “Is that?”
“Barbara Gordon meet Cassandra Cain, aka Orphan.”
“As in the daughter of David Cain.”
It would only be a matter of time until Willow and Marque ran into Orphan. As darkness approaches, Orphan was moving around Gotham doing her nightly patrols when she spotted the limo from before. She began to run across the rooftop to keep up with the vehicle when it came to a stop in front of Louie’s.
Orphan watched as David Cain and Lady Shiva exited the limo. They started to walk to the restaurant when Lady Shiva stopped suddenly and looked up at Orphan. David stopped and noticed her looking up but when he looked up Orphan was gone.
“Something wrong?” he asks Shiva.
Lady Shiva shakes her head, “What could be wrong?” before stepping off and heading inside as the limo drives off.
In the alley behind Louie’s, Orphan drops down to the ground. Unfortunately for her, there are no windows to peek inside from here and there are too many lights to try and catch a glimpse through the front windows.
“So we meet again,” comes the voice from behind her. She spins around with a fist, but it’s easily blocked as Lady Shiva stands there. “I thought that was you on the rooftop.”
Orphan pulls back her fist.
“You and I will have our confrontation very soon, but this isn’t the time nor the place, so let me get back to my dinner. Shall we meet, say, in two days? Let’s make it dramatic and say at the stroke of midnight at Gotham Tower. Fair?”
Orphan nods her head.
“Very well. Now be a good girl and run along, hm?” With that Lady Shiva turns and walks back into the building disappearing from view as Orphan watches her leave.
Orphan scales back up to the rooftop.
“Look what we have here,” says Willow, which is followed by the cackling of Marque.
Orphan gets into a fighting stance, but Marque just laughs. “Not here, silly girl. Keep up if you can!” Marque runs and leaps off the edge of the roof over to the next building over and Willow follows.
Orphan watches them leave, scratching her head. She gives a small shrug and goes after them.
They lead her towards Wayne Park.
As Orphan enters the park, she’s met with silence. The park has trees and benches, but its main attraction is the large fountain in the center where people would toss coins and make a wish upon the name of the Wayne family, hoping for the good fortune that would rarely come. Occasionally the coins would be swept up and donated to charity.
Orphan takes a few more steps towards the fountain when the sounds of rustling leaves are heard and she springs off her hands and flips onto her feet as the sisters find nothing and the three face off.
“Nothing to say, sweet sister?” asks Marque as she grins widely. “Daddy wants you to come home with us, but we would rather you didn’t.”
Willow looks at Marque then towards Orphan, “I’m afraid Father’s affections don’t split well three ways.”
The duo charge towards Orphan as they begin to fight in the park. Orphan keeps pace with both of the other females, blocking or ducking each blow. She reads them well enough that she can anticipate each strike or kick that comes her way. All she needs is an opening.
Marque whips her chain and it wraps around Orphan’s wrist, but Orphan just wraps it once more and then pulls Marque towards her with it and drives a foot right into her face, sending her sprawling to the ground, allowing her to turn to Willow.
A flash of worry crosses Willow’s face, but she sucks it up and charges in with a flying kick, but Orphan sidesteps. Willow lands on her feet, nearly crashing into a rising Marque.
Orphan dropkicks them both, sending them into the fountain.
Orphan dusts off her hands and sprints away from the park, leaving the sisters to soak as they sit in the water as it sprinkles over them.
“Water again,” murmurs Marque under her breath, before screaming out, “I’m going to kill her!”
Willow reaches over and pushes her over into the water, “Shut the fuck up.”
Back at the clock tower, Renee and Barbara are watching the park scene on the big screen.
“Should I go help her?” asks Renee.
Barbara chuckles, “I don’t think you’re going to need to. She’s beaten them both before. I feel like this is more redemptive on their part after getting tossed into the harbor.”
The door buzzer sounds and the face of Dick Grayson appear on the door monitor.
“A friend of yours?”
Barbara shrugs, “My ex.” She reaches over and buzzes him in.
“This going to be awkward?”
“Not sure yet.”
Dick walks up and around the corner and stops, not expecting to see Renee sitting there.
“Dick, Renee. Renee, Dick.”
The two exchange nods, then Dick asks. “Any word?”
“Well, Orphan — or as we now know her to be, Cassandra Cain…”
“Wait. Cain? As in David Cain?” asks Dick.
Renee chuckles, “Yes, we’ve already gone over that part of the story. You’re late to the show, my friend.”
“Well, that explains why he is here. He wants his kid back,” says Dick as he pulls up another chair.
Barbara nods, “Though she’s not much of a kid anymore and she doesn’t seem to want to be around him. I guess that explains why she calls herself Orphan.”
“Ouch,” says Dick. “Not something a father wants to hear.”
Barbara spins her chair around to face him, “I need you to hear me out. Orphan — Cassandra needs someone to train with. Mother Panic is still recovering from what David Cain did to her. You’re the only other person I know.”
Dick interrupts, “Look, I’m rusty as fuck. She will outfight me every time. Orphan needs someone better than herself and I don’t have any idea who that would be.”
“I need you to do this for me.”
Dick stands up and walks over to open the fridge and pull out a bottle of water, twisting off the cap, “I haven’t been the same since…”
“I know. But I’m asking.”
Renee just looks back and forth between the two, “Perhaps I should step outside.
Dick stops her from leaving, “I’ll think about it. Okay?”
Barbara nods her head, “That’s fair.”
Renee doesn’t leave, but the awkward look on her face says that she wants to.
The one thing about being wealthy, when something fucks up, you can just start from scratch. That’s what Violet Paige is having to do now that she’s stuck with a couple of billion dead nano-robots that once made up her suit.
What she hasn’t figured out is how David Cain realized what all that electricity would do to her suit. Was it dumb luck or did he figure it out on his own?
After making a few modifications to her program, she had fired up the production line that began to reconstruct new and improved nano-robots for a new suit. She had already put together new controls. All that’s left now is the waiting process while everything is produced.
She was feeling fine except for a few dizzy spells but she took quite the jolt. Perhaps a night out might do her some good. It’s been a while since she made an appearance in public as Violet Paige.
She checked in once more on the production line before heading upstairs to get ready.
The following day, Cassandra is in a makeshift gym with Dick and Barbara. They had been sparring for quite some time as Dick is sweating profusely while Cassandra is barely winded.
Barbara smirks at him, “I can’t believe you let yourself go this much.”
“Shut up,” he responds as he wipes his face with a towel. “I’m not sure how I let you rope me into doing this.”
“Well, it looks good on you. The sweat, I mean. If you keep sparring with Cassandra, you might be back to your old self sooner than you think.” She turns her chair so she can face Cassandra, “You have a plan for tomorrow night?”
Cassandra nods her head, “Yes.”
Barbara nods. “Can you beat her?”
Cassandra shakes her head. “No.”
Barbara nods again, “But you have a plan?”
Cassandra nods once more. “Yes.”
Dick takes a swallow from his water bottle, “I’d ask you to elaborate but I think we know that can’t happen. You got this?”
Cassandra nods, rising to her feet. “Yes.” With that, she turns and disappears up the stairs.
Barbara turns to Dick, “She’s really good, but Lady Shiva is on another level.
Dick wraps the towel around his neck, “We’re going to have to trust her. I mean, she’s the best we have right now. Whatever Cain has planned, we just have to make sure he doesn’t succeed. Lady Shiva is where we start.”
Upstairs, Cassandra rounds the corner towards her room when Renee motions her over. “We should talk.”
Violet Paige wakes up on her couch, still dressed in the previous night’s clothing. She winces as she lifts her arm to block the brightness of the sun that pours into the room.
“Fuck…” she mutters under her breath as she gets to her feet and walks towards the bathroom where she opens the medicine cabinet and scavenges a few aspirins from a bottle, then fills the cup with some water and takes the medicine.
She sets the cup down and leans against the sink counter and looks at herself in the mirror.
“Get it together, Paige. Get it fucking together.”
She walks downstairs to the basement to check in her equipment to find it has finished production.
A few moments later, she has attached the bracelet to her wrist and presses the button and in a matter of seconds, she is covered from neck to foot in her new costume.
“Time for the goddamned payback.”
The clock at Wayne Tower strikes midnight as Orphan waits for her challenger to arrive. Lady Shiva has been the only one able to go toe to toe with her and even defeat her. To say that Orphan was a little on edge would be an understatement. So why is Orphan on the rooftop of Wayne Tower holding a bouquet?
That’s what Lady Shiva would like to know as she steps out of the darkness. “Tricks? Are you resorting to tricks?” As Lady Shiva approaches, she seems cool and calm, despite going into battle momentarily. “I thought you would come at me more seriously, considering the result of our last challenge.”
If it were any other hero, there would probably be a retort of some sort, but Orphan couldn’t even if she wanted to. Instead, she lowers herself to her knees and offers up the flowers to her better. She knows she’s no match for Lady Shiva.
A flicker of confusion crosses the face of Lady Shiva. It’s an old custom of her people to bring a gift in the event of surrender but surely this child isn’t giving up so easily.
And yet, Orphan kneels there holding up the flowers towards her.
David Cain looks at his watch.
He looks over at his daughters who are fast asleep. He rises from his chair and walks towards the door.
“Where are you going, father?” His movements have awoken Willow.
“I am going out. I expect you to stay here. And I mean to stay here this time. Don’t think I don’t know about the incident at the fountain,” he says sternly.
Willow bites her tongue as she watches her father open the door and step outside.
In the hallway, David Cain once again glances at his watch. While he’s certain that Lady Shiva will have no problem bringing his daughter to him, perhaps a contingency plan is in order.
Back on top of Wayne Tower, Lady Shiva still stands over a kneeling Orphan. The flowers still offered as a peace offering, while Orphan maintains her submissive posture.
The entire process is making Lady Shiva very nervous and uncomfortable. “Get off your knees. Are we not here to fight?”
Orphan knows full well that Lady Shiva will not attack her when she’s in this position. She once again offers the flowers to the woman.
Lady Shiva scoffs. “Listen here, child…” Then she stops.
Then she falls.
Behind her we see The Question standing with a two-by-four. Orphan rises and drops the flowers to the ground.
“Nice going,” says The Question as she kneels to the place Lady Shiva’s hands behind her back and cuff them. “The Hub City police would like a word with her about the death of Vic Sage. I’ll make sure she keeps that appointment.”
The Question stands up and offers a hand, “Thanks for your help. One day you’ll kick her ass.”
Orphan pulls back her hood, revealing her face. She reaches out and clasps hands with The Question. “Thanks.”
She then turns and leaps off the side of the building.
The Question watches her leave and then turns back to the fallen Lady Shiva, “I gotta drag this bitch down. You two couldn’t have this moment at ground level?”
Barbara Gordon had heard nothing since Orphan and The Question left the clock tower hours ago. She was getting antsy, so she rolled herself out onto the sidewalk outside of the clock tower.
She starts to roll herself down the sidewalk when she hears a car door shut.
Suddenly, David Cain is standing in front of her.
“So, you’re the little miscreant that’s been steering my daughter away from me, hm?”
Barbara looks up at him, “I’m certain I don’t have any clue what you are talking about. If you’ll excuse me,” she starts to wheel by him, hoping she was convincing enough.
David Cain steps back in front of her. “I’m afraid you and I need to have a little chat.” He reaches for her as the scene goes black.
All in all, it was a good evening, as Cassandra walks back to the clock tower.
As she rounds the corner she stops.
She sees Barbara’s wheelchair toppled over and she rushes over to it. She sets it upright and looks towards the door. She rushes over and punches in a code and thrusts the door open and rushes up the stairs to the top level and sees that no one is there.
She rushes back down the stairs and stands next to the wheelchair as she looks to one side of the street to another realizing that someone has taken Barbara.
TO BE CONTINUED
Cassandra Cain/Orphan NORIKO ITO
Barbara Gordon SLOANE TAYLOR
Violet Paige/Mother Panic ASHLEY MARIE CHASE
Dick Grayson MARK CROSS
David Cain DANIEL DREAM
Willow XUIHUA ZHOU
Renee Montoya/The Question MARIAH LOPEZ-ROBINSON
Lady Shiva Q