|Birds of a Feather|
|What: Oracle has a virtual chat with Batwoman and Spoiler, and brings them into the Birds of Prey.|
First thing this morning, as she promised, Batwoman put in a call to the phone she had been given, told the mysterious voice on the phone that she would meet it at the scene of last night's incident an hour after sunset, and hung up. She spent the rest of the day doing research on Oracle and going over, for the billionth time, the reseach she'd already done on Batman.
She arrives at the building early, just after sunset, parks her bike in an alley a few blocks away and slinks into the shadows for a while to check the place out. Once assured that the building is now empty she allows herself to be more visible and begins a more detailed search.
All is quiet for a time--quiet for Gotham, anyway; what, after all, would the city be without the piercing strains of police sirens in the distance?
A short time into the investigation, another masked vigilante shrouded in dark colours gingerly works her way down from the roof of a pawn shop.
Dangling upside down from a length of rope - purchased earlier today from Wal-Mart - the Spoiler clutches her lifeline in one hand and an aerosol can in the other as she crawls down the wall, back turned to the Batwoman's investigations the entire way. She, in fact, has no idea that she /isn't/ alone here; her last several minutes were spent psyching herself up to dangle head first above the ground for a while. Eventually, she seems content to just brace herself against it.
She begins painting a bright red line down the wall, seemingly intent on working her way gradually towards the ground.
Batwoman is regarding the wall of the building next door, scanning the grimy brick carefully, when suddenly she stops. Going still, she reaches up and holds one hand to the ear of her mask, nods, then turns toward Spoiler. In a few seconds she sees the girl hanging from her rope and smiles curiously. "Either the Bat-ranks grow faster than rumor, which I find hard to believe," She says, just loud enough to be heard by the Spoiler, "Or I'm not the only one breaking 'the rules' tonight."
The stream stops dead as soon as Batwoman speaks, leaving a fine red mist lingering in the air for a little while. Spoiler glances over her shoulder, revealing wide, solidly white eyes and little else amidst the shadows of her hood; her head twitches back and forth for a moment before she turns her eyes forward and concentrates on getting to her feet.
As it turns out, this entails rather a lot of ineffectual wriggling and struggling to re-orient herself; eventually, she manages to push herself off and land in an awkward crouch on the ground.
"That's--right," she calls out, peering around for some glimpse of Batwoman. She begins walking, but the rope is still attached to her belt; as she struggles to free herself, she adds, "I'm--" She swallows and pulls on the rope to no avail. "--Bat-Teen.""
||"Well lookie here. Two birds, one Oracle,"|| comes a voice behind the two. It seems to be originating from a bank of closed circuit tvs in the front window of an electronics shop on the street. On each screen is a glowy, green avatar, as androgynous as the voice speaking. ||"Two ladies I need to talk to. Come closer, so I don't have to shout to the entire Bowery."||
A virtual green hand beckons them, showing blurry photos of both vigilantes on some of the screens.
Batwoman manags not to chuckle. Barely. Her grin is very amused, however. Tilting her head to scrutinize the teen, she starts to speak. But is interrupted by the televisions. Spinning, she frowns momentarily at the screens. "Still choosing to remain anonymous." She murmurs as she steps cautiously forward as requested. "Well, come along 'Bat-Teen. Let us verify your claims, shall we?"
Please ëº‹ for some others before you repeat your vote for her.
Spoiler turns her head juuuuust in time to catch a glimpse of a grinning Batwoman; a wee shudder runs down her spine as she quickly finds anything else to look at.
Conveniently, the TVs nearby seem to have her covered--though it takes her a couple moments of squinting at the screens in disbelief and pointing at herself before she accepts that there isn't a /third/(or perhaps fourth, with the electronics store locked to Channel Oracle) vigilante lurking in the Bowery tonight and edges closer.
Along the way, she sneaks another peek at Batwoman, only to pull her cape a little tighter around her neck as she focuses her attention on the mysterious green thing in front of her. After tapping the glass a couple of times, she holds a hand up in greeting.
"'sup?" she tentatively murmurs.
The green avatar head tilts to one side, almost looking amused, even if the voice is the same monotone. ||"This is Gotham. Can never be too careful with one's identity."|| On some of the screens shadowy pictures of the two vigilante's alleged handiwork appear. Some are images from overhead. Others look to be taken from traffic or security cameras nearby. ||"And one can never be too careful not to trod on the Bat's toes. I'm Oracle. What should I call the two of you?"||
Batwoman nods in acceptance, her eyes narrowing behind the mask at the continued images of herself and her new companion. Placing her hands on her hips, she eyes the green avatar and answers, "You may call me Batwoman. Though I must say, I'm less than worried about trodding on the Bat's toes. Depending on which Bat we're talking about, that is."
Most of Spoiler's 'handiwork' seems to consist of her leaving faintly cryptic messages or markers on the walls of various properties around the city--often ones used for illegal activities. There is also a groan-inducing one of her peeking out of a trash can with her cellphone's camera sneakily pointed at a back alley drug deal; from that pic onward, the teenager buries her face in her hand and lets the rest of Oracle's slideshow play on without her.
"Spoiler," she mumbles, after Batwoman gives her name. "Because--I--there was this--" With another groan, she lets her hand slide down her face.
"I don't have, like, garbage powers, or anything," she weakly assures the other two.
||"Nice to meet you, Batwoman, Spoiler."|| The Oracle can be polite it seems. ||"Gotham belongs to the Batman, and he has some pretty strict rules about other vigilantes operating in town without his express permission,"|| Oracle explains. ||"I've been asked to speak to you both on his behalf. He has rules. The main rule is absolutely no killing. The next is absolutely no endangering of civilians. If you don't think you can abide by these rules, he wants you out within 72 hours or you will be the next target he hunts down."|| The voice pauses, as if to let the words sink in. Scaring them is the first step in the Book of the Bat. They have to respect his AUTHORI-TAY, as Cartman would say. ||"I also have a secondary offer for the two of you. I have my own small, Bat-sanctioned organization operating in town with Batman's blessing. I provide high-tech surveillance and information gathering, and can also get you equipment and gear as needed, provided you handle missions I send your way. Some may be in Gotham, some may be elsewhere. I communicate via electronic means, until and unless you earn my trust, in which case I may introduce myself in person someday."||
Batwoman listens, unmoving, her expression (or what little can be seen of it) unchanging save for a quickly-suppressed smile for Spoiler. She remains silent for a moment after Oracle finishes, glances at the teen, then gives a sort of nod, "I may be willing to work with you, on a trial basis. And I certainly have no problem following those rules. What I would like to know, however, before we proceed any further, is whether your Batman knows that there is another using the same identity who does not follow those rules running around Gotham?"
"Wait, you mean there's /actually/ a--" Spoiler murmurs with a bemused squint; when Oracle keeps right on going, she purses her lips and lowers her head to listen. It pops up again when the digital seeress gets to the part about leaving Gotham or being hunted.
"But I--" she tries to protest with a hand on her chest. Beneath the mask, her eyes scan the screens for some break in the Oracle's electronic visage, some sign that she's bluffing--or even joking. "What do you mean 'belong'--" she quietly wonders once it becomes clear that she won't find any; she stops herself once Oracle launches from full scale intimidation to making a job offer.
"Wh--" she stammers as Oracle speaks; the syllable is repeated a few times more before she finally decides to just listen to the rest of what's on the table. Now and again, she flicks her eyes towards Batwoman, edging a little further away each time. By the time the pitch is wrapping, her hadns are clenching and unclenching nervously at her sides; once she's able to get a whole word in, they clench.
"What?" she blurts. When it seems as though Batwoman might be entertaining the offer, the amateur crime fighter's attention snaps towards her.
"/What/?!" "I--she--" She gestures at the screens with both hands. "--/you/--" More gesturing - this time at Batwoman - is abruptly followed by her pivoting back towards the screens. "--all of that sounds /insane/, I--" Her hands slowly fall to her sides and she edges a step back from the glass before a digitized green hand comes clawing through it for her.
||"He is aware. It's being investigated,"|| Oracle replies to Batwoman, whether it actually is or not, she'll have to find out from Bruce later. The green avatar head tuuuuurns slowly to seemingly focus on Spoiler in 20 screens. ||"More insane than running around Gotham alone in a cape, tagging buildings?"|| she asks. ||"This is not just an offer to help me. It is to ensure that you are protected while doing the work you do."|| Or from yourself, perhaps.
Batwoman nods. "Good then. I would like, if possible, to be a part of that investigation. The impostor shot a cop in front of me, I want to see that he goes down for it." She allows her grin to resurface as she too turns toward Spoiler, "The best way to learn about someone is to get to know them personally, yes? And I have had a curiosity in Batman and his rumored companions for some time. Haven't you?" ^t
Spoiler turns slightly away from the store front, sucking on her teeth and throwing her arms over chest. "Whatever, so some drunk drivers have a couple more walls to scrub during their community service," the wee vigilante mutters. With forty electronic eyes stuck on her, the proper level of indignation is hard to manage, but she soldiers on regardless of how shaky her voice gets, "who even cares, if it helps the police do their jobs a little better?"
She jumps when Batwoman speaks to her, but turning to face the redhead makes it a bit easier to avoid eye contact with Oracle. "Yeah, sure," she murmurs, arms tightening around her body, "but I used to be really curious about Santa Claus, too, and he didn't turn out to be--you know--" She spreads her hands out to her two fellow crime fighters.
"--a real guy, intimidating all the other magical, toy making elves into leaving the North Pole." Groaning, she lowers her head and rubs her masked face with both hands. "It just--this just sounds /wrong/..."
||"I'll convey your desire to join the investigation to Batman,"|| Oracle replies to Batwoman. ||"Spoiler. What you are doing may seem like fun and helpful to the police, but you have no idea of the danger you are in."|| The screens change to show the areas she had tagged, shortly before and after she did so, and bad guys with guns, druggies with knives, etc just missing her by minutes. They might be real, they might be something Babs put together digitally to try to scare the girl straight.
Again, Batwoman nods to the screens, before turning back to Spoiler. "So come and meet the wizard." She says amusedly, "See if you feel up to facing that danger. And if you're willing to accept help while doing so. I for one wouldn't mind having a little more support. Though, as I said, I'm taking this as a trial just as it seems they are."
The next time Spoiler lifts her head, she's greeted with a panoramic view of grungy looking guys with weapons. Initially, her eyes narrow to bemused slits; then she catches the graffiti.
Beneath the mask, her mouth falls open; five, six, seven pictures later, she collects herself enough to look over at Batwoman.
"--fine," she mumbles. She clears her throat, then repeats her acquiesence a little louder, loud enough for Oracle to hear; after swallowing, she adds, "--I'm not, like, pricking my finger, or anything. I swear to God, I have seen that movie," with what little indignation she can muster.
The screens shift to show the top of the building the store is in. ||"Taped inside the air conditioning duct on the roof above here, you will find two envelopes containing very small, very high tech, earpieces. With them, we will be able to talk whenever we need to. Put it in your ear and tap once to turn it on, twice to turn it off. If you get into a situation and need assistance, contact me and I will send backup to your position. If you need research or information for a case, let me know. I will contact you if I have a specific need for your talents."||
Meanwhile, back at the Clock Tower, Babs is grinning, because at least now she can keep an eye on the kidlet so she doesn't get herself killed running the rooftops. She sips her coffee from her Superman mug while wearing her Flash t-shirt and sweatpants.
"Agreed." Batwoman grins at Spoiler, "I don't see their faces, they don't get my blood. I think that's a fair trade." She turns to smile at the screen, glancing around a little now for any cameras she might be able to quickly spy. "Understood. I'll keep that phone on me as well, when you are ready to contact me about the investigation you can call me." Her tone suggests that she expects to be included in said investigation, no matter what she's been told.
Scanning the building for a fire escape - why go through all the trouble of climbing a rope if she doesn't have to? - Spoiler mutters, "Sure, 'fair'," and tries to forget the part where Batman, or Batman's AI butler or whatever threatened to hunt her down and--
Actually, Oracle didn't exactly say what would happen next, but Steph has heard enough stories.
"How far does this even /go/? Is there a Bat-/Dog/, or something?" she quietly wonders, rubbing her masked forehead. "I just--I just /quit/ if you're going to use your high tech earpiece to make me go walk Bat-Dog, or something."
||"Copy that, Batwoman,"|| the voice relays. ||"Spoiler, There is no Bat-Dog walking. There may be Bat-Guano cleanup though."|| Pause. ||"JOKING! I'm joking! I'll be in touch with both of you. For now though, the information highway needs some patrolling. Oracle out."|| The TV screens all blink out at once.