"Heart of Cold Steel"
On the top of the Three Towers Business Centre, Batgirl has been cornered by Knightfall and The Disgraced; Katharsis, Bleak Michael, and Bonebreaker. After being introduced, Batgirl puts on a brave face and challenges them. However, Kightfall doesn't intend to fight, she intends to recruit. They fancy themselves vigilantes; but they are vigilantes of the kind that crosses the line into murder. Knightfall wants to annihilate crime, not merely stop it. Seeing that Batgirl is opposed to killing, Knightfall gives up on her, and allows her henchmen to attack.
Batgirl manages to knock back two of the three Disgraced with her batarangs, but Bonebreaker is very strong. Fortunately, the woman steps on an explosive batarang, and Batgirl detonates it, knocking Bonebreaker into a wall. Unfortunately the distraction allows Bleak Michael to lay his acidic hands on her. Batgirl has to take at least one of them down in order to take out the others. She grabs Kathatsis by the hair and rams her knee into the her face, breaking her nose. By then, Bonebreaker has recovered, and she easily withstands Batgirl's fists pummelling her muscular abdomen. Batgirl realizes that this isn't going to go well for her as Bonebreaker raises her up by her neck.
Meanwhile, Alysia Yeoh returns to her shared apartment with Barbara Gordon, accompanied by her new boyfriend James. Alysia is as yet unaware of the fact that James is her roommate's psychopathic brother, who has recently escaped from Arkham Asylum. Alysia is drunk, and James helps her inside and onto the sofa. Though she is eager to pass out, James has brought her a present: a pure-bed long-haired Siamese cat. He has named it Alaska.
Bonebreaker is choking the life from Batgirl, and she marvels that Knightfall seems not to care at all. Batgirl refuses to go out like that. She will have to stop using the kid-gloves. Knightfall approaches with knife in hand, to finish the job. Batgirl waits for her to get close enough to unleash her more violent moves.
She is spared the effort by Detective Melody McKenna, who trains her weapon on Knightfall and warns her by name to let Batgirl go. Knightfall remarks that the situation ought to seem familiar: a standoff where Melody must shoot, and a hostage lies vulnerable. Melody maintains her cool, and Bonebreaker - Sally - drops Batgirl. McKenna insists that she is taking Batgirl out of there, and that they will be allowed to go unmolested - otherwise, she will tell Batgirl everything. Even as the two of them escape, Knightfall warns that it's not over.
Melody rushes Batgirl into her car, warning that if they don't stop Knightfall and The Disgraced, they will be seeing the longest, ugliest obituary in Gotham City's history. Batgirl correctly assumes that Knightfall is Charise Carnes. The Carnes family had bought a worthless landfill by the Bayfront, and then built the biggest land reclamation on top of it. After that, there was a massacre which killed the entire family except Charise. The girl claimed to have been forced to watch the whole thing by an intruder who used the very same knives that she uses now as Knightfall. Still with no evidence of there having been anyone else present, Charise was convicted of the murders.
Having just turned 18, Charise was put into Arkham Asylum. A while back, there had been a breakout at Arkham which saw ten guards taken hostage by several of the sickest murderers in the country. Charise was left alone in her cell while those same criminals were free to do as they wanted. For forty-eight hours, she was there - and there is no telling what she might have survived then. She had gone into Arkham a sweet girl, but had come out as something unrecognizable.
Melody invites Batgirl into her house, and acknowledges that the vigilante seems to have a question. Batgirl demands to know why McKenna might need three side-by-side, state-of-the-art computers; how she knew where Batgirl was, and that she was in danger; how Knightfall knew who McKenna was; why there are pictures of Melody with a man all over the room, but only one empty bottle on the table. Put off by Batgirl's intuitiveness, Melody pulls her gun. She assumes that Batgirl is working for some kind of organization like the D.E.O. or Medusa.
Batgirl disarms the detective, and demands to know her connection to Knightfall, and why she was saved. Reluctantly, Melody explains that on the night of the breakout, she had bribed a SWAT member to switch places with her. The chances of the hostages being alive by then were almost zero, but Melody had to know, because her husband Nathaniel was one of them. Commissioner Gordon hadn't wanted the SWAT team to go in yet, but the Mayor overrode him. Melody and the SWAT team had gone in with a vengeance. They had killed indiscriminately.
Melody raced ahead of the others, and stumbled upon her own husband, held hostage by an inmate with a gun. That night, faced with that scene, Melody had done what Batgirl had done the first night they had met each other: She froze. That hesitation resulted in her husband's death. Charise Carnes had seen the whole thing. When she was released, she contacted Melody, as she had contacted several Gotham officials. Now, Knightfall's collection of playthings has a mole in Batgirl's organization.
Outside Melody McKenna's home, Batwoman reports back to her superiors and prepares to engage her prey.
"Heart of Cold Steel"
- Knightfall (Flashback and Main Story)
- The Disgraced
- Alysia Yeoh
- James Gordon Jr.
- Alaska (First Appearance)
- Melody McKenna
- Nathaniel McKenna (Dies in flashback)
- Batwoman (Cameo)
- Gotham City
- Cherry Hill District
- Three Towers Business Center
- Barbara's Apartment
- Arkham Asylum (Flashback Only)
- Cherry Hill District