|Barbara Gordon - Oracle (knowsherstuff) wrote in modernage,|
@ 2010-08-17 00:00:00
|Entry tags:||barbara gordon | oracle, jason todd | red hood, ∴ scenes: completed|
Log: Red Hood and Oracle
Who: Red Hood and Oracle
Where: Gotham City
When: Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 (late night)
Summary: Oracle receives a disturbing anonymous call.
It was a slow night, but then slow was relative. No-nuclear-weapons slow was probably a better way of putting it in light of recent events. Barbara felt like her brain was falling into mild stagnation as she routed well-intentioned heroes to their quarry or towards information that could help them achieve their goals for the evening. Maybe they could all get to bed early. In the meanwhile, Babs needed something to occupy her time.
She opened her case file on the drug wars in Gotham. It was an ever shifting landscape of turf war after turf war that all the heroes and cops within the city tried to keep under wraps, and yes, things would die down and rise up in cycles. However, something had been changing lately. The violence between gangs was down dramatically, but there was still just as much product being moved on the streets if not moreso. And it all came back to a name: Red Hood. It wasn’t as shocking of a moniker as maybe the thug had intended, but crooks used it cyclically. In the man’s favor, he seemed to be the most effective of the bunch. He had proved that thoroughly to Stephanie Brown. Barbara briefly wondered if she should have the girl over to make sure she was okay.
What was a slow night for Barbara was a rather productive one for Jason. He was currently occupying a room in an abandoned apartment building, staring at the computer screen set before him. The computer was a decent piece enhanced with advanced hardware that had been installed that afternoon. His fingers darted over the keys, a rush of windows appearing and disappearing on the screen as he typed.
Jason's fingers began to slow, eventually coming to a stop. A smirk appeared on his face. He was where he wanted to be. His hand moved to a microphone that had been sitting to the side, moving it so it rested in front of him.
Ever since the incident with Brainiac, Barbara had had to be at the top of her game when it came to security, so when a blinking icon appeared telling her she had an incoming transmission, she was surprised. It was an unknown line, and it wasn’t as though her system was meant to get unknown calls. She frowned, knowing the only way to properly trace the signal was to open the line. She isolated the connection, keeping it well away from the information on the rest of her systems. She threw on voice modification--a teenage girl’s voice--before answering.
“Like, hellooo? Are you looking for Danny because he’s totally not here tonight!” She wouldn’t lead with admitting that whoever it was had hacked her system had gotten the right number. If it was a real viable threat on the other end of the line, they wouldn’t be deterred. If it was a nobody, this would have them second guessing.
Jason couldn't help but chuckle. A teenage valley girl voice modification? Well, he could give her props for trying to get potential hackers confused, even if it likely failed when used. He couldn't think of any hacker talented or stupid enough to get into Oracle's system without some kind of planned agenda.
"Cute," came his reply, the amusement obvious in his voice. "Props for creativity, but you know as well as I do that doesn't fool anyone."
At this point he leaned forward, once again typing away on the keyboard. Oracle was now aware that he wasn't some random hacker that stumbled upon her system. This meant that she was going to start working on tracking him down and Jason couldn't have that.
"Now let's try this again. I say 'Hello Oracle' and you say..."
Oracle glowered at the screen. It was pretty true that only talented people could get into her system, and even with all those supposed smarts, the people she ran across were always dumb enough to think they stood a chance against her. She glanced at her tracking program. This guy was local, Northeastern US. She tossed up her robotic voice and avatar for the time being. “I say ‘Hello yourself’--I don’t appreciate uninvited guests on my private line. I’m only tolerating you for the moment because I’m interested in what important words you have to impart.”
She could boot him at any second, that was for sure. However, part of being Oracle was playing a little Wizard of Oz with the upstarts to intimidate them. “You have something important to tell me, don’t you?”
"Important? No, not really." Jason gave a shrug, continuing to press keys. He needed to make sure the line stayed open long enough to get in his next few sentences. After that, he was pretty sure Babs would be less concerned with kicking him off the line than trying to figure out who the hell he was.
"I just wanted to chat. Have a little heart to heart. Now how about dropping that techno voice, huh, Babs? It really isn't becoming."
Unlike her, Jason wasn't using any kind of voice modification. He wanted Babs to vaguely recognize his voice. She wouldn't be able to tell it was the long lost Robin - his voice had matured quite a bit in the last five years - but it was similar enough to make her think.
Barbara could feel her blood run cold. Predictably, her focus switched from retaliation to defense. Whoever it was on the other end of the line knew her--really knew her or at least had gotten his hands on the casual kind of intelligence like nicknames. This was disturbing. Strictly speaking, the things Barbara did as Oracle towed the lines of legality perhaps even more than what Batman did every night. She had access to virtually every piece of digital data in existence. With that responsibility came the necessary separation between her online identity and her real life identity.
She needed to know who this was because this was too compromising of a danger. She dropped the voice modification. “A heart to heart?”
"That's it. A heart to heart. Just good ol' Babs and me."
Jason smiled. He was a bit surprised really. He thought for sure Babs would have put up more of a fight. Well, not that she wasn't. She was sure to continue bombarding his system in an attempt to find him. He had just thought the voice modification would’ve stayed up for a while longer. Not that he was disappointed. The voice could get annoying real quick.
"Hope I didn't catch you at a bad time. Heroes sorta keep you busy, don't they?" He continued casually, acting as if he was merely commenting on the weather. "Oh the days you could be out among them. But those are over now, aren't they?"
A deep scowl passed across Barbara’s features. For as much as her identity as Oracle was a secret, there were even fewer people who knew that she had also been Batgirl. She would need to check in on the health of those who were in the know, and she knew there were many unpleasant methods of coercion that someone could use against her allies.
She glanced over at her tracker. It wasn’t doing its job as quickly as she would have liked. Listening to the comm line, she could hear the faint sound of consistent typing. Whoever it was on the other end was obviously smart enough to work at keeping her out. She pointedly ignored his attempt to get a rise out of her. “Industrial sector of Gotham. Not terribly inventive. You might as well have parked yourself on Crime Alley.”
Someone had to be out that way. Someone was almost always within throwing distance of the city’s hot spots. It just made stopping big outbursts of violence easier. She could call someone--bird or bat--and have them grab whoever this was, but then...he had made it personal. She wanted to be a little more hands on about it.
Maybe she didn’t have his exact location, but he had opened up a line of communication to her--and that was a two way street.
"Would you know? I actually thought about that," came Jason's flippant response. As if he even thought of using Crime Alley for this little heart-to-heart. That place didn't have any kind of emotional links for Babs, not like it did Bruce or himself. No, he'd wait until he went after Bruce to use Crime Alley. "Be appropriate, you know? So many damn things happened there."
This was when Jason decided to become serious. There was more to this conversation than throwing smart comments at one another, even if it was fun. It almost reminded him of the time the two worked together as Batgirl and Robin.
"But not everything. That didn’t happen there, did it?" He went quiet for a long moment, then continued in a voice that was quite sincere. "That shouldn't have happened to you. You were too good to be taken down by that piece of garbage."
Barbara continued what she was doing even as he talked. Okay, so Crime Alley had gotten him talking--of all things. He had to be close to the family, then. Bruce’s tragedy, the pain that he carried in the mantle on his shoulders, was familiar to all of them. Who had they worked with? Who had they let in that could be so off kilter now? Her mind couldn’t come up with anyone, but it was worth researching.
She was about to take his pause as an invitation to ask what hadn’t happened in Crime Alley--an opening for him to launch into some typical villain’s tirade--when he popped up with that voice, full of sincerity and pity. So this really was a heart-to-heart, after all. When it came to that, she hated the pity more than anything. Her fingers slowed to a halt. Her whole body felt numb, paralyzed by sadness and anxiety over having so deep a wound re-opened. When she finally spoke again, it was in a voice she wished could sound stronger, “Who are you? I’m giving you one chance to answer me...”
Her fingers lingered over her keys, ready to execute a counterattack if he didn’t comply.
Jason let the silence linger, knowing full well that his words had effected Barbara deeply. He couldn't help but feel somewhat bad about bringing the incident up. He liked Barbara - hell, he even had a crush on her back in the day - he didn't have any reason to hurt her. Not yet, anyway.
"I'm someone who understands." It wasn't the answer she wanted to hear, he knew that, but it was the answer she was going to get. "You and I are the same. The Joker took something from both of us.
"It was too late for me, but you. He could have stopped it from happening. He could have gotten rid of him long before he got to you."
He let his fingers rest on the keyboard, no longer typing. Jason wasn't going to try to counter Babs’ computer attack; he got what he wanted out of the conversation, there was no reason to keep it open.
If you had asked Barbara her thoughts on the no death rule before she’d been shot, her words would have directly followed Batman’s stance on it--no blood on your hands ever: incapacitate, incarcerate, but never murder. But being shot and tortured for a psychopath’s fun had changed all that, and Bruce was too strong, too untouchable in a way none of the rest of them were. He’d never know--he couldn’t know--the fear and the pain and the way it feels the moment you give up and prepare to die, wish you could die. The voice on the other end of the line was right--if she had known then what she knew now, she would have killed the Joker herself when she still had the able body to do it with, when Jason had suffered and died at his hands. The pain she herself had experienced was the reason she watched and tracked him obsessively, waiting for the moment when that kill would be justified, but she couldn’t expect Bruce to understand or agree with her. He couldn’t comprehend her motivations in the same way that her companion on the line seemed to.
In the space of a few scarce minutes, she had been run through the emotional wringer. She would find this guy, but for now, she didn’t have the strength in her. She executed the command, which sent a surge of electricity back at the incoming call. It would effectively fry a mid-sized system and give a nasty shock to anyone in close contact with it. She’d had enough for the night. Her tracking feed died, and she pushed away from the desk, tears spilling down her face.