(Cassandra Cain) (Classic profile) (part #2)
This article is actually the second half of the profile.
History (part 2)
Batman (Bruce Wayne) confronted David Cain to learn the truth about the murder video. Cain, who had been sinking into alcoholism, laughed at Wayne’s denial. Yet Batman remained convinced that Batgirl wasn’t a murderer, and had somehow faked the kill.
The problem of Batgirl’s crippled skills was a more urgent one, though. Batman trained Cassandra to rebuild her fighting ability, especially her defensive skills. But everything had to be redone from scratch, and that would take years.
Batgirl felt desperate, broken and useless. She couldn’t bear the thought of staying that way for what seemed to be an eternity. She wanted to be perfect again, and her suicidal tendencies returned as she saw herself as crippled and tainted.
No super-hero name
For a time, Cassandra adopted a new identity not tied to Batman. She wore black clothing and had a monster face painted on.
Oracle soon deduced the truth. And though Cassandra was careful, operating in Gotham meant that sooner or later she’d get killed.
When Lady Shiva — likely the greatest fighter on Earth — was spotted in Gotham, Cassandra couldn’t help herself. She shadowed her. Shiva provoked her into a fight by killing the bodyguards of a young VIP who just happened to be nearby.
Shiva had come to Gotham to challenge Batgirl, but the duel was a disaster. Ms. Cain didn’t land a single blow on Shiva, and was slaughtered. But oddly, Ms. Woosan didn’t finish Ms. Cain off.
With a broken arm, shattered ribs and fractured collarbone, Cassandra doggedly confronted Shiva again. She knocked her out with a lamentable sucker punch.
No better fighter on Earth
At that point, Cassandra was facing a choice.
- Train with Batman and approach her previous level of fighting perfection in about 10 years.
- Go with a crazy idea and convince Shiva to teach her.
Cassandra had seen Shiva use the same movement-predicting senses that she used to have. Even Batman couldn’t do that. Shiva likely was the only person who could rebuild Batgirl’s combat sense, rather than teach her normal skills from the ground up.
Confronting Shiva again, Cassandra asked for training. Shiva saw what the problem was, and confirmed that she could restore her. But she’d only do so if Batgirl swore to have a duel to the death with her a year later, once she’d be back at her peak.
Cassandra agreed. She’d never kill Shiva and therefore couldn’t survive the duel – but she preferred to be perfect again for a year rather than mediocre for ten. And she still wanted to die in any case.
Cassandra rebuilt her full fighting skill with Shiva within days, and resumed being Batgirl.
However, Oracle and Batman eventually deduced what had happened.
No photos please
One of the first cases of the revitalised Batgirl was to investigate the disappearance of an Indian movie star. Anecdotally, she saw a movie for the first time in her life during that case.
Batgirl also helped during the investigation and manhunt to find the person who had nearly killed Commissioner Gordon. Then had a short team-up of sorts with Superboy (Kon-El, then in his goofier phase).
Continuing to affirm herself as a heroine, Batgirl intervened in an attempt by a US intelligence agency to eliminate one of their useful idiots. He was a marksman-for-hire who had fumbled a hit.
Taking out all armed resistance within a Federal building resulted in extensive footage of her in action. However, there were no documents to match that against. David Cain had long since erased any record of his daughter.
Still, the footage meant that Cassandra couldn’t stay at Oracle’s place. Batman took her to one of the mini-Batcaves he had installed for her.
Oracle, Batman and Batgirl eventually destroyed the footage.
Not a joke
Cassandra continued to work as Batgirl practically 24/7. She slowly created bonds with Robin and Spoiler.
She even secretly joined the all-women task force assembled by Wonder Woman to retake New York City from Circe. And later had a short team-up with Supergirl (Kara Zor-El).
Looking to prove herself, Batgirl ghosted into Arkham Asylum and challenged the Joker to a fight. But as it turned out, his body language was gibberish. Batgirl couldn’t read it at all.
However, she recalled how Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) had once defeated the Joker by using his insanity against him. She prevailed in the same way.
David Cain then tricked the world into believing that Bruce Wayne was a murderer. This was a notable crisis for the Bat-squad.
During that case, Batgirl (who had never asked any personal question to her mentor) deduced that Bruce Wayne was Batman. She saw his eyes in a photo taken shortly after the murder of his parents.
While Wayne was still a fugitive, the date for Batgirl’s death duel with Shiva came up. Oracle revealed that she knew what was going on – but Cassandra paralysed her with a touch so she wouldn’t interfere.
Cassandra fought Shiva, but was clearly outmatched.
The one-sided duel ended when Shiva killed Batgirl with a single perfect blow.
History (part 3)
A year before that, the extraordinarily intuitive Shiva had realised that Cassandra was her abandoned daughter. She had spent those months preparing :
- Developing fighting techniques to counter Batgirl’s.
- Inventing a better version of a strike Batgirl once intuitively used to stop then restart a man’s heart. Then meditating for months to build up enough concentration to use it.
- Questing for ingredients to prepare some tea. These were so rare that even Shiva would have been hard-pressed to gather them a second time. Perhaps there was a link with Lazarus Pits.
- Invading a temple worshipping her in Gotham, and slaying the cult’s leader.
After killing Batgirl, Shiva took her to the temple. She restarted Cassandra’s heart with a punch. Then made her drink the mystical tea, resurrecting her.
Mother reads aloud…
The cult worshipping Shiva had documented her kills thorough the temple, and the corpse of their leader was still there. As Shiva expected, this prompted the restored Batgirl to attack so as to stop her.
With the tea, Cass had fully recovered within minutes – and her death had lifted some of her guilt. She thus realised that Shiva wanted to lose the fight. She sought death at Cass’ hand, just like Cass had tried to die at Shiva’s hand.
As the two fighters were battered and bloodied, Batgirl told her she knew that she wanted to die. This startled her mother enough that Batgirl could land one non-lethal blow. She knocked Shiva out before collapsing.
Shiva’s plan — to die at the hands of her daughter, whom she saw as worthy to give her the death she’d always been looking for — had been derailed. Both grandmistresses of the fighting arts were unconscious but alive.
Being the least severely mauled of the two, Cassandra recovered consciousness first – and just left. Though she presumably suspected some sort of link between Shiva and herself, she didn’t seem to realise the truth.
… child tries to understand
Even with her healing trances, Batgirl took a week to recover.
Once she was back, Batgirl provided critical expertise about the supposed murder of Vesper Fairchild by Bruce Wayne. Her deep knowledge of assassination and the martial arts were the key to unlock the case – and prove that it was a trap set by David Cain.
Meanwhile, Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) convinced Casandra to teach her better fighting skills. Sparring with Batgirl was exhausting and real painful, but Cass soon came to respect Stephanie’s determination.
They became friends, and Steph made Cass laugh for the first time in years. However, events around Spoiler later forced the pair to put their friendship on pause for months.
The picture kept will remind me
David Cain’s Vesper Fairchild machination had been meant to destroy Bruce Wayne (whom Cain knew was Batman).
But it was also to prove that he wasn’t much more of a father figure for Cassandra than he had been.
Wayne proved him wrong. Though his behaviour had indeed been awful in recent months, he turned around. During the hunt for Cain, Batman worked to apologise, reaffirm his ties with his friends and family, mend fences, and become less cold and overbearing.
Lots of things to say here, so let’s organise it all around themes.
Originally, Cassandra couldn’t speak at all.
She eventually learned a half-dozen simple words (“stop”, “what”, “yes”, “no”, etc.), but never managed to learn to read or write.
Her brain was unable to process even a short note or a postal address. She could draw letter shapes, but couldn’t tell what they meant or how they sounded.
Slightly more verbal
After her encounter with Jeffers, Batgirl can speak. But this is neither intuitive nor pleasant. She’ll stick to the shortest, simplest possible sentences (“Explain”, “Be careful”, “This way”, “No killing”, etc.).
If she has to make longer sentences than that — say, a whole three words — she will audibly have to think about how to say the next word.
She’s less hesitant when saying “long” sentences to people she trusts, such as Oracle. But it still obviously requires effort.
Whenever possible, she’ll prefer non-verbal communication. Such as nodding, pointing, or shrugging her shoulders. For loved ones such as Batman or Oracle, she will occasionally touch them to express caring – unfailingly leaving Batman embarrassed.
Batgirl seems ashamed of these difficulties, and they leave her a lonely person since it is so hard to communicate. She is always quietly happy to have a friend near her, and is visibly (but silently) sad when they have to leave, even though little was said.
Being such a high-speed, low-drag elite super-serious workaholic ninja doesn’t help at all. Cassandra has little to offer socially.
Furthermore, Batgirl is intimidating. Watching her move and fight is unreal. And her taciturn manner and rapid, flawless, intense pace make her come across as aloof and superior.
Even Robin (Tim Drake) was obviously creeped out by Cassandra. Especially after he saw her actually dodging bullets. He had to work to see Batgirl as something else than an inhuman, unapproachable super-assassin.
Furthermore, it’s difficult for her to perceive the qualities of most people. What she values in a person is speed, agility and fighting skill – but she has few peers in those areas.
Batgirl has to be clearly shown the existence of common ground and how she can relate to people, since she has no experience to work with.
Much like Batman, Batgirl is defined by childhood trauma. But in her case murder is not something that was inflicted on her. It was something that she committed.
Cassandra’s guilt means that she sees herself as intrinsically bad and broken – a raised killer. And that she admires heroes for saving lives.
Meeting heroic urban vigilantes was therefore a revelation for her. It was something morally right, yet even a “wrong” person like her could do it.
Her original goal was to atone for her life, and go out in a blaze of redemption. But Batman taught her that it was the easy way out, and that she had to devote her life to confronting her past.
After this, Batgirl no longer wished to die just to apologise for existing. But it never fully went way. It resurfaced in such situations as accepting Shiva’s offer.
Seeing what she did as a child as unspeakably monstrous, Cassandra only wants to be Batgirl 24/7. Her goal is to spend her every waking hour working, patrolling or training.
As she got more comfortable with her new life, she relaxed a bit and tentatively experimented with more normal pursuits. But she had to be prodded into it by Oracle.
After Cassandra’s death at the hands of Shiva, her guilt alleviates… a bit. It remains her motivation and an extremely powerful driver, but it’s no longer completely consuming her.
She seemingly feels that her death pushed her further on the path of atonement, though it’s… unclear.
Batgirl’s guilt also means nightmares where her friends accuse her of being a murderess.
Obsessed with perfection
Like Batman, Batgirl is obsessed with acting with machine-like perfection.
Much of her self-worth is contingent upon being a perfect weapon. This is how she used to please daddy. She might think that it’s the only thing she’s good for.
If she is deprived of her perfection, as happened with Jeffers, she becomes nothing. Life no longer is worth living.
Batgirl likes crushing her more boisterous foes by smugly doing something that looks impossible. Those who claim to be deadly masters without actually being among the very best in the world particularly get to her.
If Batgirl fails or is defeated, she can resort to childish, petty tactics to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat. It’s lamentable, but at least she won’t have to deal with having lost.
Obsessed with saving lives
Batgirl doesn’t seek perfection for perfection’s sake. And she doesn’t fight to punish criminals, or for justice, or to make a difference.
She fights to save as many lives as she can, to atone for the one she took. Her overwhelming motivation is “nobody gets killed”.
Batgirl trains extremely hard despite being instinctively perfect. Her hope is that this may allow her, one day, to save one life she otherwise couldn’t have saved.
Guilt will crush her if anybody dies on her watch. Even when it’s blindingly obvious that there was nothing she could have done about it – such as inspecting a murder scene.
She has never hesitated to take a bullet herself to protect some random murderous lowlife from friendly fire.
Killing someone would destroy Batgirl. When she seemed to accidentally slay Shadow Thief, she immediately collapsed in tears and started crying for help. She was too shocked to even check his pulse.
Batgirl still needs parental figures to help her build her identity.
Early on she practically worshipped Batman. She was pathetically eager to please him and be his good girl. She’s since matured, but Batman remains a clear father figure who rocks her world.
They share a deep bond over their respective childhood experiences and obsessive desire to make the world a safer place. But of course they almost never talk about it.
Oracle doggedly built her own space into Cassandra’s life. She taught her :
- To talk.
- To have scraps of a normal life in her routine.
- To relax to some extent.
- To dress in something that’s not completely functional and jet-black.
- To socialise a tiny teensy bit.
Cassandra eventually came to consider Oracle as a mother. But she’s too shy to ever tell her.
Cassandra utterly rejects David Cain. But she refuses what he does as a killer, not who he is. She could feel some pity for him or even try to please him in a small way… as long as he’s not present as an assassin.
Though she seems carved out of solid marble and with a quasi-inhuman discipline, Batgirl is actually emotional and affectionate.
However, she doesn’t really have means to express it. And so she remains utterly mission-committed. Furthermore, her cowl entirely covers her face – emoting’s kinda hard.
While her emotions are usually difficult to perceive and interpret, they are a significant driver of what she does. In her own way she wears her heart on her sleeve, and can easily be spurred into action out of sympathy, anger, altruism, cockiness and the like.
Quotes (part 2)
(About Shiva and Batman): “Why… are… all people who… can help me… completely insane ?”
“Nobody… dies… tonight.”
Shadow Thief, fighting Batgirl: “Secret Koga-Ryu techniques ! Who taught you those ?!”
Batgirl: “You did. Just now.”
(Cain is preparing a training session for a very young Cass).
Random hired thug : “Hey man, why you need the camera ? It’s a pro camera.”
Cain (smirking) : “High-speed film.”
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
|Dex: 10||Str: 04||Bod: 06|
|Int: 09||Wil: 08||Min: 07|
|Inf: 07||Aur: 06||Spi: 08|
|Init: 040||HP: 070|
Detect (Lies): 10, Empathy: 10, Recall: 08, Regeneration: 03, Running: 04, Superspeed: 10, Systemic antidote: 01, True sight: 08
Bonuses and Limitations:
- All Powers are Skilled Powers.
- Both Detect and Empathy have but a 02 APs Range.
- Detect (Lies) is Contingent Upon Empathy. Furthermore, Batgirl must be able to see her target at a fairly close distance and track its body language, and it only works on humans and similar beings.
- Recall is limited to body language and ways to move.
- Regeneration can only work at full APs if she forces her body to enter a cycle where she sleeps twenty hours a day. Without such a cycle, she can only deploy one AP of Regeneration.
- Running is there to be Pushed. So she can perform a stupendous dash when needed.
- Superspeed can only be used to improve her Initiative, and to to accelerate the time it takes to learn ways to move, particularly when it comes to fighting techniques.
- True sight is limited to piercing disguises, illusions, shapeshifting, etc.. She also must be able to observe the person moving in both forms – and both forms must be comparable (say, two humans).
Acrobatics (Athletics, climbing, dodging): 09, Artist (Dancing): 08, Martial artist (AV, OV): 11, Martial artist (EV, RV)*: 10, Medicine (Forensics): 04, Military science (Camouflage, tracking): 07, Military science (Demolition): 05, Thief (Stealth, locks & safes, pickpocket, security systems)*: 10, Weaponry*: 10
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Martial Artist and Weaponry both have the Multi Attack 2 Bonus.
- Medicine (Forensics) only for analyses where she can apply her Scholars.
- Headquarters (provided by Batman).
- Iron Nerves.
- Lightning reflexes.
- Financial Backing (Mr. Wayne).
- Sharp Eye.
- Scholar (Assassination techniques and strategies ; Martial arts techniques).
- Schtick (Bloodless Gunfighter, Fists of Fury, Goonbane, Pain Management (Low), Speed-shooting, Stance Assessment, Unfettered Fist).
Batman (Bruce Wayne) (High, Powerful), Oracle (Barbara Gordon) (High, Powerful), David Cain (High), Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) (High), Nightwing (Richard Grayson) (Low), Alfred Pennyworth (Low), Robin (Tim Drake) (Low).
- CIA toward saving lives.
- Guilt (until she is killed by Shiva).
- MPR (Halting speech).
- Traumatic Flashback (Killing someone).
- Socially Inept (Serious).
- Misc.: Illiterate.
- Power Loss: Superspeed drops to 0 and her OV is capped to 05 if she cannot read an opponent (no nervous system, not alive, utterly unpredictable opponents such as the Joker, etc.). The OV drop is only against that opponent, but the Superspeed loss remains as long as that opponent is around.
- Power Loss: Batgirl receives a +1CS Penalty to her OVs (and her own OV is penalised by one CS) against opponents with a Martial Artist Skill superior to her Superspeed.
- BAT-COSTUME [BODY 06, Blunting: 04, Flame immunity: 01, Shade: 01, Systemic antidote: 08, Ultra-vision: 04, Limitations: Systemic antidote only against airborne agents].
- Grapple. A compact gun firing a 05 APs long, BODY 12 swingline tipped with a multipurpose piton/grapnel and able to reel in the line with a STR of 03. This is the standard Bat-crew tool for rooftop acrobatics.
- Blunt batarangs (x7) [BODY 08, EV 04 (05 w/STR), Gliding: 01, Limitation: Gliding only to extend thrown range, Dart Bonus]. Batarangs can be fitted with a 05 APs long swingline (BODY 12).
- Edged batarangs (x3) [Same as above, plus Claws: 04 (05 w/STR, 11 w/Martial artists, Dart bonus]. Edged batarangs are usually used to cut and slash stuff at a distance (never as a weapon against living opponents), but Batgirl occasionally uses them by grabbing the middle, wielding them as dual-bladed knives. These very expensive blades are sharp enough to cleave gunmetal.
- Tracer batarangs (x2) [same as edged batarangs above, plus built-in TRACER [BODY 02, Miniaturization: 06, Radio coms (broadcast single signal only): 06, R#02], mostly to track vehicles.
- HEADSET [BODY 01, Eye of the cat: 03, Radio communications: 09, Notes: Radio communications can relay Eye of the Cat, transmitting the signal through radio and cellular networks ; Eye of the cat is actually used by Oracle to receive video and sound from the cowl camera.] A flexible tactical headset with a radio, mike and colour video camera built into the cowl.
- Batgirl also carries a full utility belt… and practically never uses anything from it. For all we know, she’s only carrying packs of Oreos in that thing. When Shiva inspected it, it was full of sophisticated, hideously expensive gadgets… that Cassandra had never used. The few documented exceptions are :
- Disposable plastic handcuffs (x6) [BODY 06].
- C4 charge (with compact disposable timer) [BODY 02, Bomb: 08, Ammo: 01] used to open a stuck bulkhead door.
- A sort of scalpel blade.
- Capsules of smelling salts to wake unconscious people up.
- The small Batcave that she uses has a holographic combat simulator (a danger room, basically) set to her needs – maximum speed, maximum difficulty and all safeties off. The computers also have the full voice recognition and speech simulation suite.
Cassandra Cain owns your world and will beat you up
Batgirl III has a basically superhuman ability to efficiently engage multiple opponents; She moves so fast as to be a blur, and hits like a truck.
She is particularly good at engaging goons. Disarming five men before anybody can register that she is moving is almost routine for her.
With her enormous Initiative, Batgirl will usually Press The Attack. Here’s a standard computation for Cassandra in action, sticking with the example of disarming five men.
The penalties for this are +3/+3 CS for the Multi-Attack and the +2/+1 for the Take-Away. On Cassandra’s side :
-1/-0 CS for Pressing the Attack.
-1/-1 CS for the Fists of Fury Schtick.
-2/-2 CS for the Multi-Attack Bonus on her Martial Artist.
For a total of -4/-3 , bringing the penalties back to a modest +1/+1 CS for a quintuple Take-Away. Assuming standard mob associate stats, that’s a 87% success chance for Batgirl (subbing her Martial Artist for EV).
And if making it is particularly important she can spend HPs at a very favourable rate due to her Goonbane Schtick.
Of course, with her enormous Thief (Stealth) score, she is also often able to Blindside.
The tragedy of language
After her mind is ‘fixed’ to understand English, fighting and movement is no longer Batgirl’s only language. This devastates her style – a Power Complication Subplot.
Right after the “fix” is done, her Physical AV and OV are capped at 05. Though she manages to drag her AV back to 08, it proves impossible for her to go higher.
Her ability to predict movements being gone, her defensive fu also remains stuck at 05.
She loses her Superspeed. Batman asseses that she is learning at a normal rate and that it will take her a year to restore her AV to 09 and OV to 07. And perhaps ten years to bring her back to AV/OV 10.
Her training will Shiva erases this whole Power Complication Subplot.
A year later, during her second encounter with Shiva and after she is killed, some of Cass’s Martial Artist Subskills reach the truly epic level – 11 APs. Prior to Shiva, all of Batgirl’s Martial Artist Subskills were at 10.
Source of Character: DC Universe.
Helper(s): Kal El el Vigilante, Danielle Mendus, Darci, RD Miles.