Got a Good Question?

May 24, 2015:

After leaving digital and physical clues for The Question, May and Oracle have a chat with him.



NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Saturday night before Memorial Day. Most people are more concerned with making sure they have all of the grilling supplies they need for the next two days. May isn't the grilling type, unless it involves extracting information from an unwilling subject. She's not a SHIELD Agent tonight. She's currently moonlighting for Oracle, and following a plan they'd agreed to in advance.

Oracle had picked up intel about one of the more … unique Gothamites in the area. A man with no face who moves about the city in a manner very much like a private investigator. A bit of digging about the individual gleaned enough information that she knew if particular clues were planted here and there, the man in question (unintentional pun there) would likely surface. The online breadcrumbs were left by Oracle, the more physical ones by May.

Now, with heavy clouds overhead and the smell of impending rain in the air, the clues have pointed toward a meeting scheduled to happen in the Japanese Rock Garden of the Giordano Botanical Gardens. May waits silently in the deep shadows under a heavy-limbed cherry tree, the blossoms already gone for the year and bright green leaves in their place.

A silent motorcycle emerges from darkness, no headlights, the engines dampened and the once-gleaming surface of the paint brushed and bristled to dullness. The faceless man on the back removes his helmet, setting it aside before he straightens the jacket on his shoulders, stepping off slowly as he assesses the place into which he must step. The footprints for this particular meet were scattered just so, like rice marking the trail of a bride and groom - and, like the rice, it formed a more deliberate pattern than one might normally expect to see. The Question recognizes the mark of a guiding hand when he sees it - which doesn't mean that he won't show up.

Traps can be just as interesting as hunts. Sometimes even more so. After all, the bait might still be succulent and, in time, the trapper must always show his hand. One must simply be careful not to get a limb mangled in the jaws of the thing.

He makes his way quietly into the gardens, his hands thrust in his pockets. He might almost pass for an ordinary visitor if it weren't for the seamless, featureless blank of his face, his dark hair ruffled and tousled above from being in the helmet ,his movements poised and graceful even in simple steps. He breathes deeply and opens his senses, letting himself be aware, letting himself experience and simply be. Anticipation will do nothing but make your heart race. The Question preferred simple, even calm.

"You have incoming, May" Oracles in the Clocktower (of course she is) with the video feeds from the gardens displayed on her monitors. "East entrance, approaching you now."

Approaching the person in question, is prudent. The more they learn about who is working in the Gotham, the more she can help…. or perhaps hinder…. Batman has a strong policy about vigilante activity in Gotham, Oracles is little looser.

Pepper Potts steps out of her shadowed spot, taking up almost the exact same tactic as the faceless man and putting her hands in the pockets of her black leather jacket while walking seeming casually toward the nearest park bench. She settles on the bench facing a section of the rock garden sporting a water feature, the babble and clatter of the water cascading down the rocks seeming like perfect cover against eavesdropping, electronic and otherwise. She has a spare communicator from Oracle already in hand for the man, though its functions are currently limited to audio output only.

May steps out of her shadowed spot, taking up almost the exact same tactic as the faceless man and putting her hands in the pockets of her black leather jacket while walking seeming casually toward the nearest park bench. She settles on the bench facing a section of the rock garden sporting a water feature, the babble and clatter of the water cascading down the rocks seeming like perfect cover against eavesdropping, electronic and otherwise. She has a spare communicator from Oracle already in hand for the man, though its functions are currently limited to audio output only.

The Question finds his way into the same section as May, marking her presence if only for the mere fact that she was present it all. It wasn't exactly the tourist season. He takes her in for a moment, reading what he can from her body language, her posture, the mere fact of her open presence. She wasn't afraid, but he didn't expect fear here - people who set traps tend to feel confident that they have the upper hand or, at least, that they can get it with little trouble.

He isn't noting any other intruders, though - no snipers, no hidden swat team, no would-be kidnappers prepared to spring out of the brush.

And so he just sits down next to her, leaning back into the bench and taking in the rocks and the water. It's as nice place.

Oracle smiles to herself, watching the two people interact. It's like this, working with Batman… no words, just silent observation on her part. The audio/visual feed from Mays Oracle Communicator gives her a good view of the man when May faces him. "I see you found our messages. I am Oracle, thank you for joining us." Her digitally disguised voice filters through Mays communicator for the man to hear. She'll let May introduce herself.

Ugh. Too loud right by her ear. May knew it had start off that way, but that doesn't mean she has to like it. Though… since her commlink is pretty much completely concealed by her hair, she waits to see how the man reacts, she (supposedly) can converse with him without moving her mouth. Not even any indication of ventriloquism. She maintains her posture in a quasi-relaxed state that only someone trained in martial arts would see as readiness instead of simply at ease.

The Question shows no obvious sign of reaction, but, then, how can he? He has the ultimate pokerface, lacking one entirely, his empty visage still and unmoving at the sudden eruption of sound. After allowing a moment to pass, he replies, his voice low and calm and even, "I could hardly not. When an invitation is laid out so carefully, it would be rude to ignore it. The question is, am I being invited to a party, a date or a hanging?" he says simply. He reads May's readiness easily enough, his own posture mimicing without mocking, showing the distinct style of his training in his loose limbs.

"A discussion" Oracle responds, poor Mays ear. "I've noticed you around Gotham and thought it time we spoke." The wheelchair bound woman watches the interaction "I'm always interested to know more that work in Gotham. My colleague here, agreed to help."

Well. Since Oracle just gave away that she's only the face of this conversation, she carefully pulls the spare comm unit from her pocket and offers it to Question on her open and upturned palm. She herself still hasn't spoken aloud, and Oracle at least likely knows that that's normal for her most of the time.

The Question takes the offered com, cocking his head a bit at May's silence but leaving it be. Not that he isn't curious, he's always curious. Curiousity is his very nature - but, despite his name, he's learned that sometimes you have to let things reveal themselves on their own, rather than try to forcefully unpeel them to see what's inside.

"I do tend to be remembered, where I show my face," he says. "I've heard the faintest of rumors of the Oracle, although not much more than that - whispers, hints, teasing little nuggets, unpolished and not yet gleaming enough to show themselves as gold. Oracles are a myth, of course, so that's as it should be. I'm no myth - I'm just a man who asks questions."

Mays not just the face in the conversation but Oracle knows she is a woman of few words. Activating the comm unit he has just been given, Mays can go back to being just hers nows "It is good that my name is heard in whispers only." She pauses and lets the silence grow for a while "You seem to follow interesting leads with the questions you ask. Do you get the answers you're seeking?" The man deems to dogged in his approach to uncovering the truth… in general, this is a good thing… but sometimes…

Pepper Potts is a little more curious about the kinds of questions the man has been asking, but this is Oracle's show at the moment, so she's not going to intrude. She instead spends her concentrtion on watching the man's body language for indications of how he's reacting to this. He doesn't have a face to watch, after all. This is usually Romanoff's specialization, but she knows enough to make educated guesses.

The Question can be quite hard to read, from a body language perspective. The peace and emptiness that comes with his practice, with his training and discipline, leave him almost as blank as his face - he doesn't overthink, complex as his responses might seem at times, but tries to exist in the moment, reacting only to the stimuli placed before him. Of course, a strange, deadly woman and a voice from beyond are unusual stimuli to say the least.

"I get the answers that exist - predisposing myself to expect would only taint the results. But answers I do get, almost always, one way or the other. But if you're concerned about me being excessively violent, I assure you, my methods are as measured and precise as can be - I use the leverage suited to the task, no more and no less - but I have no interest in taking the breath from someone, except for the heartbeat's range of a blow to the solar plexus," he says. "I ask the questions that help me to expose the truth, whatever it may be."

Excessive force hadn't been one of the things she'd been overly concerned about. The man had managed to keep a low profile for now. "You know of Batmans edict for the Batfamily, then? That criminals not be killed, but handed over to the appropriate authorities?' To May, Oracle speaks "A seeker of truth… interesting." and then through the other comms unit "How do you decide what is truth and what is not. Isn't truth fluid based on ones world view?"

Going for the deep philsophy there, O. May doesn't seem perturbed by it. Those questions aren't being levelled at her, after all. Instead, she keeps up this one-sided game of 'who can keep a poker face the longest?' while nothing's being expected of her. Because, really. How often does one get to sit and enjoy the quiet of a garden in the middle of Gotham?

The Question allows a hint of something to slip through, then, a small laugh, "Does he really call them a family? That's an interesting dynamic - I had thought of them as a team, perhaps, or just friends, but a family? But, then, I don't know very much about families myself - they're one of those mysteries that's hard to penetrate from the outside," he says.

"Some truths are, some aren't. When I speak of truth, I speak more directly of honesty - whether or not something is objecitvely true, lies and deception only muddy the water. I try to provide a certain amount of filtration, so that you can see clear to the bottom. Although the metaphor breaks down since I use a combination of wits and fists to filter out the contamination."

That gets a raised eyebrow. "Most people are mainly amused the Bat-anything moniker." Oracle responds "Feel free to chime in whenever you want, May. He may be an interesting addition to the team. " This said to May alone. "And what is you do with this information once you've…. decontaminated ….. it? Information is only useful if actually put to use." A fact the Information Goddess knows well.

Oh, don't fret. May has every intention of speaking up, when she's ready to or when the faceless man says something she feels is truly worthy of comment. Though, she did just have one rather silly thought cross her mind: If he's truly faceless, how does he eat? A silly thought indeed, because that HAS to be a mask, no matter how brilliantly made.

The Question shrugs, "Bats are a useful symbol - I can understand utilizing an animal that inspires a certain degree of supernatural fear. I only met the gentleman himself once, many years ago, and he was mostly threatening to beat me senseless at the time. Admittedly, I'd almost gotten myself killed, so I can hardly blame him for it. I was less prepared then," he says.

"When I find information that should be known, I find ways to distribute it. I have contacts, in the media, on the internet, on the streets, that can spread knowledge and make sure it's widely disseminated. Secrets lose much of their potency once they're no longer secrets - I have little use for such things, beyond the basic requirements of anonymity needed for the work."

That could be … useful … and dangerous. Oracle works with secrets and information gathering. Someone to add to that data mining pool could be helpful, though. "And when revealing those secrets may hurt others? Some secrets, in my view, are a neccessary evil." beat "Batman can be rather persuasive when he feels that people are hurting themselves. Do you feel better prepared now, then?" Yes, she's asked two questions….

Pepper Potts manages to refrain from rolling her eyes at the comment about Batman. From the one time she came across the man, he seemed only too willing to let a younger vigilante fall off of a multi-story building to 'help' her learn. She's from a different school. One where trust is given in order to be earned.

May manages to refrain from rolling her eyes at the comment about Batman. From the one time she came across the man, he seemed only too willing to let a younger vigilante fall off of a multi-story building to 'help' her learn. She's from a different school. One where trust is given in order to be earned.

The Question has a hint of mirth in his voice, "Yes, he seemed very concerned for my well-being. I felt warmed to the cockles of my heart by the persuasion of his compassion," he says wryly. "I am far more prepared now, in mind far more than body. I had a certain degree of awakening and, with it, a period of mentoring wherein I learned what I needed to do and who I needed to be. Whether or not that is who I shall remain has yet to be seen, but, for the moment, it suits me."

"As for secrets? It depends on who they hurt and how, I would say. But the reasons I find are often specious - I care nothing for someone's embarrassment or reputation - those who live in lies generally have earned what they have coming. But that's not the same thing as being indiscreet or untrustworthy - I can keep a confidence, when needed and for someone who deserves the courtesy."

Oracles view on Batmans approach, is kept to herself. She typically prefers to mentor those she finds… which might be why she and May have teamed up. If they're going to fight, they she can at least train them.

"A good answer. Discreet and keeping confidences, I can accept that." Then to May "Someone else gathering data, who can distill it… would be useful. What do you think?"

Finally, FINALLY. May speaks up. "I think we've done worse." She looks at the faceless man squarely in… his featureless face. "Would you be willing to work in conjunction with a team of individuals hand-picked by Oracle and me when your skills are requested?"

The Question considers for a moment, "I'd be open to the suggestion, but I would never be so foolish as to swear fealty to anything unseen or too far off in the future. I would answer a call and, if things seemed amenable, I would be open to the theoretical possibility. But I don't like making promises - they're too much like contracts. I never got along with lawyers," he says with an unseen smirk.

"I'll warn you that I'm independent minded - not particularly good at doing what I'm told. I suspect that was one of the Batman's problems with me. That and the getting shot in the head thing. I think almost getting my brains blown out made him doubt my capabilities. But I like defying expectations, too," he says. He reaches into his pocket and unfolds a small fedora, popping it out in his hand and settling it on top of his head.

"That is one of the reasons we're putting this team together." Oracle starts to fill in gaps "It is independant and the idea is to bring together skills sets as necessary to address the different… projects …. we work on." beat "We also understand that not everyone can be available all the time… if you aren't, then aren't."

As to being told what to do? Well, May can address that, but Oracle doesn't like to 'tell' people what to do in most cases. She's not in the field… and being able to think independantly is something she appreciates in her team members.

One would think that working for SHIELD, May is just a well-behaved grunt. Quite the opposite. She and a handful of others — Coulson among them — are considered part of Fury's elite and are expected to decide for themselves when to follow orders and when to tell Fury to shove it. Not that anyone would ever admit to that openly. "All reasonable. And if someone barks an order at you, you can be assured that they're doing so for very good reasons. And that someone will most likely be me."

The Question has a smile in his voice, even if it can't be seen, "I take most orders in the form of a request and, as with all questions, sometimes the answer is no. But I always listen to the question first…and, if I refuse, I usually have a good reason why," he says. "Is there a particular form of contact to establish, or will you continue to leave clues scattered in the wind for me to assemble like a jigsaw?" he says. He doesn't seem particularly perturbed by the latter option - if anything, he almost prefers it. It's rather fun, if indirect and not terribly precise.

"Keep the communicator. We'll use that but if you like, I can leave clues as well." Oracle smiles herself at The Questions response. "That communicator works both ways. If you have need of assistance, use it… it's what I do." The redhead pauses again "May, is my right hand. One of us will generally respond to requests. Maybe not in a way you'd expect."

May nods once. She's been holding off on using her Pendulum lately as it's still got a crack in it, but if it's dire enough, she can and will use it to get places a whole heck of a lot faster than a plane or car could manage.

The Question smiles and slowly rises from his seat, settling his hat on his head as he tucks the comm in his pocket, "I've always been more of a left-hand path sort of fellow myself. The road not taken and all that jazz," he says. "But I can listen to righty tighty on occasion, so long as lefty loosey still gets a say," he says. "With that, I'll bid the pair of you adeiu, both bodied and disembodied. Speaking of jazz, there's a guy who works the park this time of night that plays a harmonica like you wouldn't believe and he's been having problems with a few local amateur pharmacists who get jealous of his nightly take. I'm going to remind them of the importance of charity or, at the very least, rattle a few teeth in their heads. At least they know where to get painkillers."

"Thanks for the conversation. When you need a good question, you know where to find me."

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