Shouldn't We Vet More?

May 10, 2016:

Follow on from More Vertical Babs and Tim continue to plan and receive an unexpected visit from Harper

Hamiltons' Gym - Gotham

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It's late afternoon and as usual Hamilton's Gym looks empty. The old posters still line the windows and it's … a little bit dingy. As one would expect from an empty building. Those that know, know differently.

Babs and Tim are seated at the table in her 'living' apartments, discussing … well a number of things. Babs is dressed in a pair of loose yoga pants and a tank top - she's been working out.

"There's a number of business connections to this. 'Circe' has been funding businesses… " Babs notes, looking at Tim. "A lot of them, most, are fronts for organised crime." A list of businesses appear on the screens "These are ones that I've managed to find so far. If your Dad had connections there, maybe that's an in. Otherwise, I'd probably recommend going as Red Robin."

There's a moment silence as she sips her tea "Time before last, when Kane went alone, it was bad. It's a warzone, riots everywhere."


Tim sips his tea as Babs speaks, and despite his best efforts, frowns slightly, “Sounds like the kind of place that needs heroes more than the everyday.” His eyebrows tick upwards wordlessly, but the meaning is evident: his skepticism, while unspoken, is apparent. While Steel City may be influenced by the enactment of a ritual, on-the-ground seems to a point of immediate concern.

“The rioting — was it solely because of the crime, or is there more to it? Discontented people eventually fight back. Eventually. Or is it just chaos?” His lips hitch up on one side thoughtfully. “It begs a lot around that whole Sodom and Gomorrah illustration.” He exhales a quick puff of breath and then crosses his arms over his chest.

“Red Robin it is then. I’ll keep a low profile, and follow-up on both the police-folk and the businesses.” His eyes squint at the screen, “Our priority, I think, will be halting whatever mayhem aims to descend on the city, buuuuut,” his head cants to the side, “maybe we can get some of the active police look into things? Or, at least, help them get a win or two…”


Bluebird’s arrival is nothing short of quiet, even if quiet was a learned thing but there was a need to make herself known so that she wasn’t shot or chopped in the throat. It happened once, a swift kick to the sternum, broken nose and bruised coccyx later, and her lesson was learned once entering someone's private space.

“Don’t shoot!” Harper calls out, both hands risen, costume fitted to the frame with face guard still on even though her identity was well known by now. Maybe it was a thing of comfort, something necessary, or maybe she was just about to go and kick some ass and take names whenever.

But she quiets almost immediately, there seemed to be new blood afoot, not to mention, the conversation seemed all too serious for her jokes to take precedence. “Sorry to interrupt. I was just going to grab a few things and ske-daddle. You know, hit the road? Gotta go? Yeah buddy?” Two thumbs up, which wiggle in the style of the Fonz. Maybe. No? Alllriiight!

With a shrug of her shoulders, she approaches the fridge, pulling the door open to look inside. And eavesdrop. Why not?


"The police had to move in pretty heavily as crime rose." Babs sighs in response to Tim's question "and whilst, initially at least, it was the gangs responses to that, now, it seems to be filtering out across the people. As you say, discontentment and people are starting to fight back." Nodding to him "Exactly. Remember the grimoire we found says they need to 'sow to discord', I'd say they're doing a pretty good of it."

Harper's arrival was heralded by Babs' systems, the noise probably wasn't necessary. With a laughing look to Tim, the redhead watches the young woman make herself at home "Good thing, Kane helped me stock up recently. Hello Bluebird, what brings you by - out of groceries at your place, again?" She's teasing.

"It's a good thing you're here though, we were discussing Steel City and the potential ramifications on Gotham. Have you seen anything more of The Bat and the legends?"

Finally returning her attention to Tim, the redhead nods "Getting the police a win or two, would be good. Restoring the public's faith in their ability, helping them feel safe, could go a long way to settling things down." There's a long pause "I really would like you to help Kane, if you can. He wants me out in the field quickly, but …" she shrugs lightly "… going back right now, will jeopardise the team. He's stretching himself thin, trying to cover this."


Bluebird’s entrance causes Tim to squint. His face, much like a mirror of his thoughts, scrunches in an attempt to discern the implied grocery situation. Babs, obviously, seems cool with the hero raiding the ‘things’ she has to pick up, who is he to question?

“Well then, we’ll shoot to get the police what they need,” Tim replies easily with a tug on his leather jacket. “But, honestly, I’m doubtful you’re jeopardizing anyone or anything. Couldn’t if you wanted to — you’ve always been an asset in the field. Regardless of circumstances.” His throat clears, “But yeah, I can help Kane.” And then with a humourless laugh he adds, “It’s not like I’m rusty,” despite time away from Gotham.

“And I’m always happy to try to solve a mystery.” He winks, “Play to our strengths and all.”


And then Bluebird is out the door. Babs just shakes her head "I guess she hadn't… " she sighs as she watches the woman go.

Babs has long since become used to her fridge and supplies being raided, with Cass and Charlie living with her, on and off. Now more off than on, but there you have it and it doesn't change that they raid her fridge when they can. Sort of a halfway house for wayward Bat wards.

"I'm nowhere near quick enough yet, Tim and my balance is still off. I'm good, but the last thing we need is for me to try a takedown and get into trouble." It's a reality she has to face right now "I've been so frustrated for months, not being able to help in the field and now, it's so close I can taste it. And before you say anything…" a smile is thrown the Boy Wonders way "I know that I'm useful and helpful here … I just don't like seeing my family hurt, while I sit in my 'ivory tower'."

"Alright then, so Steel City. You've got the names of three officers who I think need the help. What do you think, start with the beat cop?"


Sure enough, Tim was certainly going to draw attention to Babs’ usefulness with Overwatch, however, Babs beats him to the punch, and so he shrugs instead. He doesn’t interrupt while she explains her displeasure with seeing other folks getting hurt and then he simply nods, “Fair enough. I get it. Watching other people get hurt while everyone is spread thin isn’t ideal.” His eyes turn downwards for a beat with some unspoken thought, and for a moment, he almost looks like he’s going to offer something, but thinks better of it, instead relaying, “But don’t worry. There’s enough of us to be able to fill the gaps and support each other. That’s our job, right?”

The question about the beat cop is met with a nod, “Agreed. Probably the best place to begin some measure of support. Ultimately, we need the public to find confidence in the police again, so that’ll my goal.” Pause. “That and supporting Kane where needed.” He shakes his head, “Undeniably, I understand little to nothing about the whole hocus pocus thing, but I’ve seen freaky things up close, and know enough to know it’s real. He’s got support.”

And then, as a sort of side note, he remarks, “And, for what it’s worth… if it’s worth anything… he seems cool to me…” his throat clears, “Kane, I mean. Not mystic people,” his eyebrows furrow, “although I’m sure they’re pretty cool too. Sometimes. When they’re not offering the beat down for a city in chaos — “ And there he is: moderately awkward, talking-too-much, Tim Drake.


Babs might know her friends a little bit, it seems, having beaten Tim to that punchline but she cants her head as he looks down. "What is it? You're thinking of something, I can tell." As to whether there's enough of them, she gives a small shrug "If it was just Steel City and this, I would say yes. I sighted Ra's al Ghul boarding a plane at Hamad International Airport which means Batman is off investigating that."

"Hocus pocus …" that gets a sigh "… seems to be something that I'm learning to deal with on a daily basis. Kanes good in that respect, he seems to know how to best … deploy people and is quick to offer advice when needed."

Tims last comment though has eyebrow quirking and elicits a chuckle. "It's worth something and I think he's pretty … cool, myself. He's certainly proven to be a big help. Just don't let his gruff ways get in the way." For a moment, she's going to let Tim continue, it's been a long time since she's had this level enjoyment.


Tim’s face puckers as if he’s just sucked on a lemon at being called out about his change his expression, but he simply shakes his head, and focuses on the situation at hand, “We’ll still be okay, you know. We always are. Even when things seem stacked against us, somehow we manage.” For his part, even with his more self-deprecating nature, Tim has just a stitch of optimism, whether or not it’s warranted.

The earned chuckle merits a grin from the former Boy Wonder, “Way I look at it,” he begins, “if my opinion still counts, may as well give it.” He chuckles again at the notion of gruff ways, “I wouldn’t worry too much. There’s a lot of surly to go around here. I was Robin. I was spat on by my successor.” His eyes squint, “I’m pretty sure I can handle gruff. I think I’ve been trained in gruff.”

He smirks. “And it’s good you’ve got a lot of support here. Good that we’re always growing and helping the family move forward.” He sighs softly, “Like legacy or something. Just remember what you’ve built all of,” his eyes tick up and scan the gym, “this into. I remember times when things weren’t so…” his lips twist to the side as he aims to find a word “… well-oiled, I guess? The systems are working. Your systems are working.”


“Well oiled my ass.” Harper chimes in as she enters back in, she had forgotten something obviously. A sandwich that was spied in the back of the fridge with a date that places it two days ago. Still fresh.

“Though, at least I’m getting the things I need and the things and stuff is getting done.” Me me me! Though, Harper wasn’t the one to talk, she’s been patrolling alone and shacked up in Arkham Asylum for months. She was ready to end it all.
But instead of going for the sandwich, she pulls up a chair, twisting it around so that she could straddle the seat, her fingers prying off her mask to flop it down upon the table which soon allows her to run her fingers through her hair unabashed. Steel City, she’s heard them talk about it and got a little bit of info. It was time for the Bluebird to fly, so to speak.

“About this Steel City. When are we going and who’s butt I gotta kick?” She pauses for dramatic effect of course, looking in between the two of them. “And who’s this kid?” Thumb jammed towards Tim, not ignoring him but the question was for Babs.


"I remember too, Tim and I know what I've built here. I don't just support the Batfamily anymore because of it." The redhead offers a wan smile. "And yeah, he's not really as bad as a Batman in that regard, but there are times I want to 'gibbs slap' him when he growls at me." Which might be saying something.

Babs squints as Harper comes back in… she never seems to have quite a handle on the young woman. "Welcome back…" the mild response is given. Giving Tim a slight smile - this is Bab's life, it seems - she considers Harper again.

"We aren't … yet and … we're not sure." Highly reassuring answers, right? "First, this is Tim Drake, a friend of mine." If Tim wants to reveal his alter identity, he can. He can be assured given that Babs is sharing information and using The Fox's name that Bluebird is on the 'inner circle'. "Tim, this is Bluebird." Again, the other identity kept quiet.

"Steel City. We believe there's going to be a ritual enacted, to do what exactly, we don't know but there are many references to Gomorrah, like Sodom and Gomorrah. So we're pretty certain it's going to be bad." She'll wait to see if Bluebird gets the biblical reference. "And we believe that something called 'Medusa' is behind it, but I'm still digging on that."

"Kane's been out to Steel City a couple of times, mostly intel gathering and the whole city is a bit of mess." Tim can share the other information they've just discussed.


Tim squints back at Harper and allows his eyes to flit between the pair of women before resting on Bluebird at length. There’s a measure of consideration, and, perhaps, hesitation. For Tim Drake, identity revelation has never really gone well aside from some notable exceptions. And, perhaps worse than revelation has been others’ reactions to his revelations in the past, and fallout following such incidents. Stephanie Brown pretty much immediately comes to mind. Instead he whistles, “Another bird, eh? Seems like they’re a dime a dozen these days.” Whether warranted or not, the observation actually causes him to smirk.

“And, hey. Not a kid. Just an average concerned citizen.” Clearly. But as usual, he gets just a glimmer of mischief in his eyes, “I have a distinct feeling you’re not the only one on patrol, Bluebird.” He shrugs, “Call it a sixth sense.”

“As an aside, Medusa seems like something you’d call your pet Octopus or a doomsday device.” His eyebrows tweak upwards, “Not that it’s either of those things, but seriously.” He rubs the back of his neck and emits a sigh, “I imagine though, you’ll,” no longer we’ll, “need all hands on deck to ensure continued safety and security…” as far as the rest of the intel, he states, “as it stands right now, what we know is it looks like an inside job. Someone is manipulating things among Steel City’s police force. It needs further investigation to flush out the source — on top of which, suggests that …”

Tim stops mid-sentence, leans forward in his seat, and walks towards a computer screen. “Babs, can you pull up the shift schedule? The three police that need assistance… can we see if any have access to shift schedules?” His jaw tightens, the gears in his mind are turning.

——

Well, her mask was off and the bag was out, but there was a small level of trust there if he was already in the building and not speaking to Oracle over the phone. So there was that. “Tim. I’m Harper.” She doesn’t reach out to shake his hand, but she does stick her hand into her vest to retrieve a bag of cheetoes that were left crushed against her chest.

She shakes the bag out as she listens, and even though she appeared to be in her own little world she was concentrating. They had no info, someone is performing a ritual, this was way out of her paygrade and if she went there as she was now? She’d.. Probably be killed.

AWESOME!

And this is probably why no one could really keep a handle on her. To say that she was two steps ahead of everyone else is false. To say that she was two PACES ahead and already thinking of hopping on her newly gifted bat-bike to head out to the city to look for herself was correct. So while they were planning, she was too. All the while, her fingers dipping into the wrinkled bag to pull out a cheetoe to quietly munch, eyes lifting and darting in between the two to watch their expressions carefully.

“Well, there’s Kane on patrol..” She says as an after thought. She didn’t know what Dick was doing but she was sure it had to do something with Pyg. Bruce had his hooks ready and waiting to sink into Ra’s. Harper, well..

So lets just put it plain and simple. It went -way- over her head.


"Bruce has reassigned Richard to cover Cass' patrols, so Kane and she can focus on Steel City but they're stretched." Babs notes to Harper, knowing the woman had been out of the loop and … yeah, Babs has seen Harper in action. Also a tacit indication to Tim, that Harper was truly on the inside.

"Medusa does, doesn't it?" she agrees with Tim "This entire thing though, has greek accents. Medusa, Circe, Hectean Witches. I'm wondering which author / story teller we might trip over." a poor attempt at a joke.

"Tim found a pattern in the information Kane and I had dug up. System: show Steel City Overlay 2." A map of Steel City appears on the screens with various locations highlighted "This shows the location of potential ritual sites and locations of recent /legend/ sightings." Tim can share what he saw …

"Shift schedules." giving the command, the shift schedules appear in another window. Tony Wethers (interim police chief) has full access to the schedules, unsurprisingly. Nathan Gates (2nd in command) has somewhat more limited access and Phyllis Crowe, can read the schedules. "What are you thinking?"


Tim’s eyes remain on Babs as she talks about each of the Batfamily members in turn. After a couple of moments, he says, “It’s weird that you call Dick, Richard. He doesn’t look like a Richard. It’d be like calling Cass, ‘Cassandra.’ Or me Timothy.” He shudders. “Only Alfred does that.” His throat clears and his attention turns back towards Harper, “I was Robin awhile back. Until Damian took over the mantle.” He shrugs. “Red Robin now. Been away, doing things.” And stuff. Clearly.

He hmmms quietly. “I think the easiest way to definitely figure out who’s who is to give them easy access to some order and a few wins. My suspicions tell me the most logical is actually interim chief, buuuuut — “ his head tilts, “ — I’m not always right. It’s all instinct. So we create the bait. Give them the opportunity to succeed…”


Harper remained silent as Babs began to explain the similarities that they’ve found, leaning back within the chair as she’s settled to look at the screen that houses the map, and then the other that houses the shift schedules. “I probably missed something..” She murmurs quietly to herself. The police had something to do with it? Then it was.. Pretty horrible.

“Makes sense why he’s unreachable.” She comments quietly to herself, her gaze focused on Tim as he speaks of the rest of the members. “I honestly like Richard though. He looks like a Richard to me. Plus if I really want to make a joke at his expense I think me calling him Dick is.. Well, redundant.” She grins a little, her nose wrinkling in the process.

Though, hearing that he used to be Robin well, it just gets her goat. So she’s met Robin. Apparently a new Robin, and this one is just Red! There was so much that she was behind on, but.. She was getting there. Slowly but surely. “Oookay. So two Robins. Though one is Red. What? The other one is whi..” She pauses. “Nevermind. But it’s pretty cool to meet you. Heard some stuff about you. Or it could have been the other one. Something. But.. cool.”

She reaches out to give him a proper slap of hello on the shoulder, then draws away quickly, though not far enough to avoid a hit in return.

“Now, if you bait and let them succeed, I don’t think jumping in on the prize right away is going to be feasible. Even though you kind of just said that. Giving them a few wins and actively tracking them to take down an entire unit should be a thing. I’ve seen it on television. I think something like that’ll work. Alls you need is a tiny little bug planted on them. And you let them give up the ghost.” She smacks her hands together, then snaps her fingers. Easy peasy.


"Based on the positions of these legends sightings" Harper does know about the legends that have been attacking the people of Gotham and Steel City right? "Tim determined that there is likely some corruption in the SCPD. The locations are in places that are either missed by their patrols, or the attacks occurred between patrols." Looking at Harper, Babs smiles faintly "And you know what I say about coincidences - there are none."

"The three names I just pulled up are police that I believe we can trust, those hard pressed but trying to make a difference. All the others? We treat a suspect." Which is kind of chilling in it's own right, three police out of an entire department? Of course, SCPD had been taking a beating and their numbers were down.

"Who's unreacheable?" the redhead hadn't missed that comment and her green eyes search Harper's face but the smile returns as the young woman expounds on why she uses Richard instead of Dick.

"He's become Richard to me, Tim. You know things weren't too happy just before you left, but we made our peace and now, he's Richard or Nightwing." And no, no comment about the number of Robins except "I'm sure you've heard good things about this Robin." The other one that's now active? Well, not so much, maybe.

Tims deliberation get a nod of approval. "Do it. Harpers good with tech too. I know she's acquired, from time to time, Wayne Industries drones, for her own personal use. Perhaps you two could work together, take that angle of investigation. Leave the arcane and mystical to Kane. What would you need from me?"


Tim cringes at the comment about the Robins. “Yeaaaah. He’s Robin-proper now,” he winks, “I’ve kind of become… “ he clears his throat, “redundant, I guess. Hence the reason I have a new title. Red Robin. Clarification or something.” He emits a soft sigh and shrugs his shoulders. “Damian is, well, Damian.” There’s nothing else to say about the new Robin.

The slap on his shoulder has Tim instinctively turning to try to see if there are remnants of Cheetos left behind, and brushing it, regardless of whether his black leather coat now has a dusting of orange. He reaches to give her a return patpat rather than an actual slap.

He silently nods at the mention of Dick’s change. “Yeah, I recall there was some tension,” to put it mildly, “before I — “ he points towards the door. “So. Good to know how things happened. I have to say though, looks like a lot changed during my,” he tilts his head, “sabbatical.”

He rubs the back of his neck and hmmms quietly. “Good. We’ll arrange some bait then. Harper, it’ll be good. We can get this done… when do you want to head out?”


Harper nods quietly towards Babs, her eyes going back towards the screen, standing for that brief moment to right the chair to settle into it. Her back needed a brace, arms needed to lift and cross over one another and foot needed to rest upon the top of her knee. And all was right within her world.

“I just can’t go on the believe that those are the only three who are good in that department. There has to be just -one- or maybe a few good men in that whole gathering who are worth a damn.” It was unsettling, it showed upon the young womans face as she shifted uncomfortably. “Shouldn’t we just vet a few more? At least?”

She shakes her head silently as Bab’s asks her question, though a little frown comes across her face. “You.. know. I mean I just worry about the guy is all. So, it’s whatever right! It’s what we do.” Her arms uncurl, fingers tapping lightly against the table, desperately wanting the subject to change.

Though a little smile plays upon her lips at the mention of the dual Robin’s, totally understanding where Tim came from. “Yeah, I guess that’s why I chose Bluebird was to just.. Not be called you. No offense. Plus I don’t think I deserve the title, I heard a ton of good things about you and hell, no measuring up.”

“Though I did meet the other Robin. I liked him. Dude seemed really cool to me.” She wrinkles her nose again, then relaxes. “I figure we can head out this weekend. It’ll give me enough time to find a sitter for Cullen. Well not a sitter, he’s old enough to be on his own, but I just want someone to watch him while we’re gone. Is that cool with both of you?”


"Not redundant." Babs voice is firm with that statement "You've just … levelled up. It was time to turn the pixie boots in." her eyes twinkle just a little "and, I note, that it's you here talking to me, making plans." which should tell the young man something.

Harper’s observation on the matter get an approving nod. "Exactly. Make your own mark on the world." That Babs herself will probably reuse Batgirl and share that title with Cass well, that's something for the two women to work out.

"I'm vetting them as quickly as I can, Harper. Even with Tim’s help, it takes time. These three, are the three I can most sure of and Kane, and I, believe we're running out of time. We simply can't afford to wait on hard data." A glance goes to Tim "We have to rely on our intuition to a degree."

Watching Harper talk about worrying, Babs' eyes widen slightly as realisation starts to set in. "I see." Maybe she too worries more than she should about someone. "He's well trained, and I'm watching out for you all."

As to lots of changes whilst Tim was on sabbatical, Babs can only shrug "It's the way of the world, I think. To change, keep growing. But yes, a lot of things have. If you ever want to … talk …" Out of them all, Tim might have been the only one that she could have talked to for a while. But some of that too, has changed.

"Go as soon as you can. This weekend is fine. I'll be here monitoring. Just tell me what you might need in advance." Giving a thoughtful look at Harper, Babs sighs "I'd say drop him around here, but if he's anything like you, I wouldn't be able to keep any secrets. Let me know if you get stuck, though."


Harper’s facade was grim. Even as they spoke of the upgrading of the names her mind still wandered. If she could get there a little bit early just to -watch-, maybe her intuition could at least sort some people who would be on the side of good. She had faith, at least.

“I know it takes time, and I know it’s something we don’t have. But we could at least try?” She pushes her chair back, nodding towards Babs and her realization with a slight little smile. “I know. Just, let me know if things go tits up with Richard.”

She stands and snatches her mask from the table, drawing it over her head and fixing the jaw brace as best as she could. It was a sloppy job, but chances are she’d take one to the chin before the night was over.

“Alright, this weekend. I’m installing some cameras on our frequency in my house. Just look in on him once in awhile? He studies hard, and he forgets to eat.” The big sister gene, it runs through her tough.

But there was little else to be said, there was one more location that Batman wanted set up and she was going to head there soon. With a flip of the two fingers in the sign of peace, she strolls on out. Then comes back, she forgot the sandwich.

With another flip of the peace sign, she jogs right on out again, leaving the two as they were.

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