Author name: SelDear -- author LiveJournal
Recipient name: the Jack
Requested character(s): Barbara Gordon / Oracle
Story title: Salvage
Rating: recommended for upwards of 13 years
Author's notes: I'm actually very fuzzy on the comics, so this story
pertains to no specific comicbook event. I sincerely apologise if the
depiction is not what was wanted. Much praise, worship, and thankfulness on
my part goes to my beta A.j. (familyarchives) who had much to say about
Cass, along with Amy (amilyn) who had links and ideas and much assistance
for me in the writing of Babs.
Summary: There are times when 'interesting' is a good thing. And there are
times when 'interesting' is a curse.
They'd made it this far. Now was where things got interesting.
"You have six seconds to get to the corner beneath the camera on my mark.
Three, two, one, mark."
On the upper right hand window on her screen, Barbara Gordon watched the
various video feeds switch around. Not one showed the barest glimpse of the
tall, athletic girl whose headcam showed her running full-pelt along the
corridor to the 'dead zone' just beneath the camera.
The wall loomed close in the camera's view. Then Batgirl used the momentum
of her sprint to spin herself around so her slender shoulders landed firmly
in the dead zone corner. The headcam view shivered a bit with the impact,
then resumed the usual rise and fall in time with Cassandra Cain's breathing.
Babs nodded to herself in the semi-darkness of her apartment. Bruce had
planned to do this one himself, doubtless on the argument that it was too
dangerous for one of the others to do. She'd argued for Cass on the basis of
size, speed, relative strength, and athleticism, without addressing the
question of danger. The others risked their lives and their sanity every
night. Danger was a familiar companion to them all.
He'd conceded her the point. Tersely, but then, when wasn't Bruce terse?
"First right, first left, then first right again and the door at the end.
Pressure sensors in the floor for the middle two hundred metres of the last
corridor and you'll only have thirty seconds in the clear when you reach the
"Understood." The voice was slightly raspy, diffused between the fibres of
the facemask. A moment later, the young woman began threading her way
through the maze of corridors, moving forward in smooth leaps and bounds.
Babs mentally consulted the floor plan in her mind as she watched Batgirl's
progress via the headcam. The building was a maze of doors and false
entrances and exits, as well as a network of video screens and various
security measures. She'd managed to hack into most of the security systems
over the last couple of days, but whoever had designed them was good enough
to make her worry about being caught there.
There were times when 'interesting' was a good thing. And there were times
when 'interesting' was a curse. She still wasn't sure which one it was now.
From the viewpoint of the camera, the opening door was sudden. There was no
warning footstep, no sign or sense that it was coming, just the swing of the
door, and the security guard who stepped out from behind it.
The only viewpoint she had was the camera by Batgirl's head, and its range
was somewhat limited: straight ahead with no periphery available. Still, she
didn't need periphery to see the black-gloved hand slam into the man's chin,
knocking the breath from him and snapping his mouth closed. It all went
downhill for him from there. The phrase 'never knew what hit him' had been
coined with someone like Cassandra Cain in mind.
Within a matter of seconds, the man was dealt with, a plastic strip-tie
restraining him and a gag firmly wadded in his mouth. Batgirl had even
stopped the door from locking, slipping a flexible plastic strip between the
doorjamb and the tongue of the lock.
Not one of the boys could have managed that so neatly and silently. Not even
Babs had been busy herself while her companion for the evening deal with the
perp. She'd been checking the schematics of the floor, and the notes she'd
made on it in the last twelve hours of watching through the video feeds for
information on how often the passage was used and by whom.
"Tie his feet and put him just inside the corridor," she instructed. "It's
an ancillary passage, and not used much."
Batgirl did so, then indicated the plastic strip she had preventing the door
from closing completely. "Lock door?"
Babs' fingers flashed across the keyboard. "Leave it unlocked," she advised.
"It leads to a set of fire stairs - another possible exit." Even as she
spoke, she was capturing the images she had of the man and feeding it
through an identification program she kept for such situations.
The girl continued along her way, running now, aware that the interruption
had cost her valuable time. They were on a tight margin here, and a
mistiming could be fatal for Batgirl as well as for their intrusion.
In spite of her speed, the inbuilt speakers on the headcam picked up only
the rustle of her outfit and the soft even sound of her breathing - not even
panting after her exertions against the security guard.
Babs glanced at the stopwatch in the corner of the computer screen. It was
going to be tight.
"Pressure sensors in the next corridor. Walk over them, don't run."
Her programming skills weren't capable of completely switching off that set
of sensors. Instead, she had managed to tune them to the point where their
sensitivity was minimal. Cass would be light enough to cross without setting
them off at a walk.
Her instruction not to run had to be placing great strain on the young
woman. The years of working on instinct had set Cassandra Cain's mental and
emotional paths in a particular direction - that of action rather than
Still, over time, Cass had learned to trust Babs, giving trust in return for
the trust rendered her in making her Batgirl in the first place. The camera
slowed as she turned the corridor, and she walked briskly and neatly to the
junction at the end of the corridor, reaching into the slim hip pocket for
the magnetic card that she slipped into the door slot even as Babs'
instigated the hacker program on the card.
A single light gleamed red. No access.
"Twelve seconds. Don't forget the transmitter strip." Almost one-third of
the time in which she'd hoped for to break this code. And they still had no
idea of what security measures were beyond the door. Worry about that when
you get to it. Her fingers flew across the keys, substituting the first
hacker program for a second one. "Swipe again." Another red light. Still no
Damn. They'd only have three attempts to break this, and time was running
A reader machine was unlikely to actually give up the key in the reading
process, however, there were certain signals that could be sent to it that
would make it believe that it had been given the correct key. The trick was
in determining the signals.
Babs had spent most of the day studying the other reader models in the rest
of the building and do her research on how to break them. Everything in the
world had its flaws, human or machine, you just needed to know how to
Three seconds. She kept her voice calm, although her neck was in knots.
This time the light gleamed green, and a moment later, Batgirl had slipped
in through a crack in the door.
The camera monitoring that corridor came online in the guardroom and on
Babs' feed from the security systems. There was the slightest motion in the
grainy screen as the door clicked shut, and then nothing.
Her hand clenched into a brief fist, and a smile stole across her face. They
Caution pointed out that, yes, they'd gotten in, but they were far from
finished. From this point onwards, she'd be running blind, without any idea
of what they might find inside - or what kinds of security measures had been
taken. All her efforts had been unable to determine what had been done in
this section of the building.
However, given what little they'd found out about this company - a distant
subdivision of Lexcorp - it wasn't going to be good.
Batgirl's headcam transmitted the image of a darkened laboratory room. Empty
now, nobody home.
"Wait." Babs instructed the young woman, her fingers flashing lightly over
the keyboard. "Scan the room."
Obediently, Batgirl turned, taking in the full room. A light gleamed in the
distant corner, nothing more than a red pinpoint.
Babs swiftly initiated a hacker program. Nothing much. It was designed to
sneak in beneath the standard interface and take over the security system by
one means or another. If one attempt failed, it was set up to keep trying
with a dozen others - all the various ways that Babs knew of to get beneath
the programming of a security system.
Between Gotham City Police Department and the Batclan - to say nothing of
her work with the JLA - Babs was one of the most accomplished hackers in the
world. And she knew it. Not that she allowed herself to get too complacent.
The human mind was an incredible thing, able to adapt and change very
swiftly. What was current and capable today might be obsolete tomorrow, and
she had to stay on the edge of the breaking wave, not get sucked into the
She breathed slightly easier as her program sent back the message that it
had infiltrated the security systems: infrared and visual - no point in
motion or pressure sensors here where scientifically-minded people would be
moving about their business, quite insensible to what was happening.
The IR sensors would be confused by Batgirl's costume, designed to be
invisible to such sight. It wasn't foolproof, of course, but it decreased
the chances of her being spotted on those systems - especially when Babs
located the sensitivity controls and turned them all the way down.
"Security dealt with. Case the joint."
Definitely a laboratory. Babs recognised some of the machines: chemical
spectrometers, something that looked distinctly medical, a plastic chart of
the human body up on the wall - the kind that was found in school science
labs for students to study. Amateurish, but for the writing that marked the
7mg HrDD for level 1 reaction. 12mg HrDD for level 3 reaction. Incl. 1mg BKL
for preservation of tissue density.
Like a recipe of some kind.
She wondered what the ultimate result was supposed to be.
Interesting. Very interesting.
"Any computers around?"
It wasn't likely. These days, most people kept laptops with which they
connected in to the work networks and then put securely away at night. There
was a terminal in one corner of the room, but it was old - too old for
anything more than the most basic results to be kept on it.
Still, there were signs that computers were routinely used around here,
network cables poked out at various points in the room. And where there were
cables, there was access to a network.
"Do you have the false network interface I gave you? Install that on one of
the wall sockets."
She'd taken all members of the Batclan through this procedure, showing them
how to fit the tiny components into the standard wall socket interface for
network cables. In the case of both Dick and Cass, she'd then made them
practise and practise until they could do it in the dark with their eyes
shut. Bruce probably had it memorised after the first time, and Tim had a
slight streak of anality in him - enough to ensure that he could do such a
task when required.
Information networks were the lifeblood of every organisation in the world.
If Babs could gain access to a company's network then, sooner or later, she
would be able to decipher the data.
And now, with Batgirl's modifications to the standard network plug, Babs had
all the access she needed to this company's information network.
They were done.
"See anything you want to take as a souvenir?"
The huff she received was of laughter. It was Nightwing's phrase to describe
them taking samples from a lab or scene for later analysis and smacked of
the young man's casual approach to life.
As Batgirl made her way back to the door, Babs checked the security systems
again. The timing was slightly off. Cass could either make a run for it, or
wait for another minute before all the setups aligned. She presented the
option to the young woman.
A moment later, the camera was slipping neatly across the junction, with
only the barest glimpse of a heel vanishing from a corner of the screen. It
was cutting it dangerously fine, but Batgirl was good at this.
She walked calmly back through the pressure sensor area, as though she had a
perfect right to be there, and as Cass left that section of corridor, Babs
reversed the changes she'd made to the sensors, restoring them to their
The opening of the fire exit door was, again, unexpected.
And this time there was more than just one man to disable.
Babs glimpsed two more men, both armed, before they went flying back into
the corridor. Batgirl was brisk and methodical in her disposal of them and
the ones that followed, and Babs attended to noting where the alarms were
being set off in the building and how to short them, bypass them, or
A glance at the video feed showed more security guards on the way, none of
them looking happy. Dealing with them had taken less than ten seconds, but
the longer they stayed here, the worse it would get. "Take the fire stairs
up," she instructed Batgirl as the girl dropped a tiny gas canister around
the unconscious men. "Now."
A moment later, the headcam showed the interior fire stairs, going upwards.
Under other circumstances, the sheer silence of the image would freak her.
But, for all that the headcam lifted and fell with a gentle rolling motion
as Cass breathed deeply, her breaths were almost completely silent.
There were shouts from below, and the sound of doors opening and shutting
echoed loudly in the stairwell. Batgirl kept going, her pace never relenting
as she climbed and climbed and climbed.
At the top, Babs instructed her how to disable the alarm wiring on the door,
and they burst out into the cool night air of Gotham.
Less than ninety seconds later, Batgirl was halfway across the city, and
Babs was carefully withdrawing herself from the company's security systems.
She stifled the bitter taste in her mouth. It wasn't a defeat, wasn't a
total loss. Even if the corporation found the false network interface Babs
had set up, she still had the recording of Batgirl's headcam, and all the
information she'd pulled up about the system while directing the intrusion.
After transmitting the information she had to the Batcave computer, she
helped Robin with an investigation into a couple of bizarre things he'd been
chasing this evening, and sent Batman a heads-up regarding the assignation
of one of the Joker's former goons as security to Arkham Asylum. Sometimes
civic authorities could be so na´ve.
It was, perhaps an hour later when a slim, masked figure slipped in the
window of Babs' living room and peeled off the headcam.
"Good work," Babs complimented Cass, wheeling herself over and taking the
headcam from the young girl's outstretched fingers.
"None dead," she said. "All in trouble with their employer and with the
company for lack of vigilance."
She glanced at the computer where she'd left her hooks in the video camera
system of the building. "Well, they've been searching the complex." A shrug
and a smile showed enough of her feelings on the matter. "I backed out as
much as I could - more than I like. Can't stay in there very long. Since we
didn't disturb anything, they'll probably guess we left surveillance
equipment behind and disable the network."
It was a pity to have lost even that much. Their informant had been very
emphatic about the importance of this facility - up until the point where he
was found mugged in a back alleyway of Gotham two nights ago. His death had
prompted tonight's intrusion.
Cass pulled the mask from her forehead and picked something out of her
utility belt and held it up. A small vial of reddish-brown sludge hung from
her fingertips." Took something."
Babs looked from the vial to the young woman in an easy stance beyond it,
So the odds weren't much better than they had been before.
But the future might just get very interesting.
Reference images taken from BATGIRL #52, pages 6 and 7.
you enjoyed this story, please comment here.