This story is part of the DC Mayhem continuity
“That'll be four twenty-three, please,” the cashier stated, flashing a pleasant smile. The woman seemed almost a little too enthusiastic about her job.
In much less of a pleasant mood, Barbara Gordon breathed out a small sigh and opened her wallet to remove a five dollar bill. “Keep the change,” she said, leaving the money on the counter.
“Oh, well thank you,” the cashier replied, tossing the change into the tip jar.
“Yeah, don't mention it.” Barbara placed her coffee in the cup holder on her wheelchair, then took her bagel in her lap and wheeled herself across the breakfast shop to one of the small tables near the window. She paused there a moment, looking outside and scanning the city streets. “Now where is he?”
As if on cue, her cell phone rang. Uttering a quiet groan, she bowed her head and reached into her pocket, already knowing who it was and why he was calling. Still, she held the phone to her ear and answered just the same. “Hello?”
“Hey, Barbara...” the voice said, carrying with it an air of disappointment and regret. It was her father, Jim Gordon.
“Let me guess, you got called in again?”
A small sigh came over the other line. “Yeah, 'fraid so. Turns out we just got swamped with-”
“It's okay, Dad, really,” she said quickly. “You're commissioner, you're busy, I get it. You don't need to explain.”
“Still, sorry I couldn't make breakfast,” Jim replied. “I'll make it up, promise. How's dinner sound?”
A small smile curled its way across Barbara's freckled face. “Sounds great, Dad. I'll call you later.”
Barbara ended the call and placed her phone back in her pocket, then wheeled herself closer to the table. She knew that her father likely wouldn't make dinner, either, with how busy he'd been lately. He'd try, sure, but work would get in the way, just like it usually did. They had been trying to spend more time together lately, but things just never seemed to open up. If there was one thing that she regretted most about her time as Batgirl, so many years ago, it was all the times she'd blown her father off to go beat up some thugs in an alleyway, all those chances for spending time with him passed up. As terrible a fact as it was, it took her getting shot to really bring them close together again. If not for him helping her adjust... she didn't know how she would have survived.
But life went on. Barbara became used to the wheelchair, used to living her life with a disability (not that she'd ever admit having a disability), and her father fell back into his work, and now... well, now things were back to normal, for the most part, full of more missed opportunities. Still, it wasn't like Barbara didn't have things to occupy herself with. She still had her job down at the Gotham Public Library, and then of course... her other occupation.
Speaking of which, she hoped that Dinah and Helena were ready for tonight. International weapons smugglers didn't catch themselves, and they had a very busy night ahead of them.
Somewhere in space sector 2814...
A bright green streak of light slashed across the blackness of space, bursting through a rippling hole in the very fabric of the physical plane. The Green Lantern known as Reemuz blinked curiously, slowing to a stop and gazing around the star-filled void. He could just make out two large masses in the distance, a small planet and its moon. Remaining on his guard, he flew towards it, bringing his glowing ring up to his lips.
“Green Lantern of Sector one-three-two-one, reporting,” he said. “I've followed the culprit through what I can only assume is a worm hole of some kind. I've come out to... some other end of space, and am continuing pursuit. Will update progress in two cycles.”
Holding his ring forward, Reemuz put on a burst of speed, heading straight for the nearby moon, nothing more than a barren hunk of rock floating around a planet barely larger than itself. He took another moment to look around, scanning the distance. No sign of his quarry anywhere, so far, but he wouldn't give up his search so easily.
“Ring, where am I?” he asked.
His ring began to glow brighter, as a slightly tinny voice responded. “Coordinates indicate Sector 2814.”
“The moon Charon, orbiting the planet, Pluto, of the Sol System.”
Reemuz narrowed his eyes, floating upward a ways and pointing his ring forward. “Scan for energy signatures.”
A wide arc of light burst forth from the ring, sweeping across the space in front of him. He turned slowly, allowing the ring to process its scan, until suddenly a bright trail of flickering crimson haze appeared, highlighted by the ring's energy.
“Got you,” he muttered, flying off in the direction of the residue.
He didn't make it very far, however, before a red hot shot of plasma streaked towards him from behind, piercing directly through his chest and out the other side. Reemuz's eyes went wide, pain ripping through his body. A second shot split the air (or lack thereof), this one puncturing through his neck. Then, his body went cold, as bright colorful spots rapidly set in over his vision. With a twitch and a desperate gasp for breath, his eyes closed.
Several moments past, until finally the ring glowed brightly and floated off his finger. “Ring status report. Green Lantern 1321 deceased. Priority directive located. Moratorium on sentient ring replacement.” Suddenly, the ring shot off through space like a missile, reaching faster than light speeds in an instant. “Proceeding to nearest sentient populace.”
“Are you in position?” Barbara asked, holding her headset microphone closer to her lips.
A crackle of static came in over the other line, followed by Black Canary's familiar voice. “We're all set. What's the ETA?”
“They should be getting there in T minus five,” she said. “You're only going to get one shot at this, so make sure you're ready.”
“We're ready, relax.”
“And make sure Huntress-”
“I'll keep her line, Oracle,” Black Canary replied, letting out a small laugh. “We've been through the plan a dozen times.”
Barbara smiled lightly to herself, folding her arms across her chest. “Just checking. Never hurts to be thorough.”
A small paused followed as they waited. Still three minutes to go. A short moment later, however, Black Canary broke the silence. “So how are things with your dad? You said you'd been trying to see each other more often, right?”
Huffing out a small breath, Barbara hung her head and shrugged. “Same as always. Missed breakfast, had to cancel dinner.”
“Sorry to hear.” Another small pause. “And... how about things with Nightwing, hmm?”
Barbara flinched slightly, sitting up straighter in her seat. Pushing her microphone close, she cleared her throat and said, “That's, uh, not something I want to get into right now. You're coming up on T minus one.”
“That serious, huh?”
“No, that's not what I- Dinah, just not now, okay?”
Black Canary snorted out a chuckle. “Fine, fine. They're here anyway. We're moving in three, two-”
Barbara uttered out a loud yelp, as the computer screen in front of her shattered, sending out a shower of sparks in all directions. She threw herself backwards, only to plummet straight to the floor when she tilted too far back in her chair. With a loud thud, she hit the floor, glasses and headset flying off, while her head bounced against the carpet.
“Ow...” she murmured, sitting up slowly and rubbing the back of her head. When she opened her eyes to see what had caused her computer to explode, however, she instantly forgot her headache, as her eyes went wide. “Oh you gotta be kidding me...”
“Barbara Gordon of Earth,” the floating green ring said. “You show great willpower, and have the ability to overcome great fear. You have been chosen.”
“No,” she said, slowly shaking her head. “No no no no no no.”
Given the fact that she'd been around the superhero community for the better part of eight years, give or take a couple, she knew what a Power Ring was. What she didn't understand was why one of those rings was floating in her control room, selecting her of all people. She didn't want this, she didn't need it. She wasn't meant to be a-
“Green Lantern selection process completed,” the ring stated, as it zipped around the room wildly before flying directly onto one of Barabra's fingers.
Instantly, a bright green glow surrounded her body. But that wasn't the only thing that happened. No, something else happened... something extraordinary that she didn't expect.
Her toes twitched.
“Wha-?” she uttered, staring down at her legs. They were flat against the floor, and, like usual ever since that fateful night five years ago, were motionless... until her knee bent slightly upward.
Eyes going wide, she suddenly felt muscle control in places she hadn't in a long time. It was so strange, so surreal... and yet so amazing at the same time. She brought a hand up to her mouth, stifling a baffled gasp as she bent both legs up to her chest. Then, she reached out with both arms, hands trembling something fierce, and hugged her legs closely... and there it was. Feeling. She could feel her arms touching her legs, and she could feel the open air against her exposed toes.
“No way,” she uttered, swallowing down a numb lump in her throat. “Just... no way.”
Very slowly, very carefully, she began to rise from the floor. She stumbled slightly, legs unsteady from years of disuse. She'd always kept her legs toned with electrical stimulation to contract the muscles, but those same muscles had still not supported her own body weight in over eight years. Even with the aid of the Power Ring, she stumbled at first, catching herself against the desk and pushing up with her arms, until finally, after several minutes of teetering and tripping, she stood on her own two feet.
“Oh my god,” she said, breathing out an exasperated puff of air. Her lips started curling into as wide a grin as they could muster, and she couldn't stop. “Oh my- oh my god!”
Then, suddenly, the ring on her finger glowed brighter, pouring forth a blinding light. She held her hand farther away, shielding her eyes with her other arm, until finally the light dimmed. When she lowered her arm, she spotted a large green object sitting on her desk. There was only one thing it could be, she knew.
“The power battery...” she said, taking a careful look at it. As she drew closer, the lantern began to glow brighter, as did the ring. Taking one more shaky step towards the battery, she slowly extended her hand, bringing the ring forward. As if in a trance, the words of an oath suddenly burst from her lips. “In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall-”
“Waahh!” she shouted, suddenly toppling from her feet back to the floor. Instantly, she tugged the ring from her finger and held it tightly in her hand. Turning around, she noticed a young, freckled redhead standing there behind her fallen chair: Charolette Gage-Radcliffe, otherwise known as Misfit, and otherwise known simply as Charlie. Also, a teleporter. “Charlie! What have I told you about bouncing into my place?”
Charlie blinked a couple times, holding a finger to the corner of her mouth and tilting her eyes upwards, thinking. “Um... to bounce outside and use the front door?”
Barbara merely lifted an eyebrow, folding her arms across her chest.
“Heh, right, my bad. But this is important!” Charlie threw her hands up in mock despair, eyes opening wide. “I met this really awesome – though really weird – friend, and I sorta invited her over to watch a movie with me, but then I realized, I don't even have a TV! So was wondering if I could borrow- hey, what's that? And why is it glowing? ...and why are you on the floor?”
Charlie's gaze suddenly found the Power Battery sitting on the desk. Quickly, Barbara reached up and removed it, shoving it behind her back. “It's nothing, it's just- look, I'm kind of in the middle of something, so just go ahead and grab the TV from the living room.”
“Uh... well alright, cool,” the girl stated, with a small shrug of her shoulders. Her eyes suddenly shifted back down, however, causing her expression to twist into confusion. “Uh, hey Babs? Your hand is glowing.”
Blinking, Barbara shot her gaze downward, noticing that the Power Ring's glow was coming through her hand. “You can't be serious,” she muttered, opening her fingers briefly to look at the glowing ring, then stuffing it behind her back with the battery.
“Hey was that a ring?” Charlie asked, coming closer. Her curiosity had been peaked to a whole new level. “Why was it green? And why is it glowing?”
“OUT, Charlie!” Barbara urged, a little more forcefully than she probably should have.
Charlie instantly backed off, hands raised in surrender as she turned towards the door. “Okay, sorry. Sheesh, must be that time of the month...”
When the girl was finally gone, Barbara breathed out a heavy sigh and then rolled herself over, staring at the ring and battery. She couldn't feel her legs anymore, which meant she'd only be able to use them again with the ring on. As much as she wanted to toss the ring away, as much as she wanted to be rid of that kind of burden... those few moments of standing on her own two feet again, they had smitten her. She had never realized how much she missed it until she had it again... she could walk again, or go jogging. Hell, she'd be able to go dancing again.
“Okay, ring... you drive a hard bargain,” she said, slipping it back onto her finger. Instantly, sensation returned to her tired legs. Breathing in deeply, she clenched her hand to a fist and then pressed the ring to the face of the Power Battery. “Now, where was I?”