Still Busy at the GPL

June 08, 2016:

After most of the other visitors to Gotham Public Library have left, Claire Fontaine has to deal with an odd straggler.

Gotham Public Library, Central Branch, Diamond District, Gotham


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Previously, in the Gotham Public Library…

The odd fellow squints and then his eyes light up when he sees the blue line copy.

"That's another one! Excellent work! Up to date is not the relevant issue in this research. In fact it would be Please pardon me, the jargon is exceptionally complex and does not have easily translatable terms."

He stares off into space for a moment.

"This one seeks the 'original design intent' of those who laid out 'Steel City'. With this knowledge and the knowledge of the original topography, this one can draw a composite picture that can then be utilized in an effort to discern Please forgive the term, it is esoteric and obscure 'Ley Lines'. With this information one can then backtrack in an effort to assist the various entities arranged around Steel City highlight potential areas of high energy transactions and dangerous areas."

Well, that explains it about as well as muddy water, doesn't it?


Claire Fontaine startles slightly at the mention of Ley Lines, her warm complexion paling a little. "Uh" Her eyes look back toward the rest of the library then at the very normal looking man with the very unusual speech patterns. "I might have something better than this," she offers slowly. "Would you mind waiting here? The rest of the maps like this one are in the drawer there. And don't worry about putting anything back." She offers a very faint attempt at a smile, then walks quickly back the way they came.


That reaction spoke volumes. Corvinus isn't quite sure what to say to mitigate that reaction, but instead gives a polite nod.

"Please, miss, this one would greatly appreciate the resources that one may make available. Far too much information stored digitally lacks 'resonance', for lack of a better term. This one will stand by for further information, thank one."

He will give another nod and pull out a couple more maps, flipping them open and comparing them quietly, while watching for the return of the librarian.

…and Now…

Back in the main part of the library, Claire all but runs back to the information desk where she picks up the phone there and dials hastily. "Please pick up, please pick up, pl…Zee! It's Cl—" She actually pulls the receiver away from her ear to look at it indignantly then listens to the rest of the voice mail prompt.

"Um, hi. Zatanna? It's Claire. I'm at work and there's someone here asking me about ley lines for Steel City. What do I do? He's not really all that mean looking, but he talks really weird and I really don't think I can handle this place getting torn up again and…" She starts again when the voice mail time runs out and glares at the phone a second time before hanging it up maybe a little more roughly than absolutely necessary.

After taking a couple of breaths to calm herself again, she accesses her computer for historical information about Steel City — not that they'll have all that much, but it's worth a try — then again practically runs through the historical section, pulling a few books from the shelves pretty much without touching them.

And then she's on her way back.


The ancient entity trapped in Jim's frame has been quietly pulling out more charts, more maps, even ones that are scarcely related to the environs of Steel City in the absence of the librarian. They've all been treated with reasonable care, but still, that's going to be a bit of work to put them all away.

He moves from one, holding his hand over one spot of the map before closing his eyes mostly and tracing the different key points, attempting to commit the information to memory. After a few frustrated moments of that, he pulls out his Starkphone and begins taking pictures of the maps, angling the lens of the built-in camera to get the best angle. He really doesn't want to do this, but there's scarce choice.

Hopefully the partner can make something of this information. It''s just a pile of data-points.


Claire Fontaine steps back into the room to see him taking photos of the maps. Well… at least he's not trying to steal them. "Okay, I brought the oldest records we have for Steel City. They're only from about the Twenties or Thirties, though. I hope that's close enough." She sets the books carefully on one corner of the large table and waits for… something. She's not sure what.


"That is the information this one will have to use. Does one have the census records and building permits in those books, or are they simply histories of the area?"

The odd fellow pauses as he sees the pile and the books, squinting.

"Has this one done something improper?"

The tone is both worried and cautious as he stands there, watching the exits and the windows warily.


"No, no, of course not," Claire replies, perhaps a bit too quickly. "And… if any books will have that extra information, these will." She hopes. "Do you, um, maybe have some pages you'd like me to take to the photocopier for you?" She gestures kind of half-heartedly toward the books that had already been on the table.


"This one requires page thirty from the top volume, page sixteen from the second volume, and the index from the street guide, if one would be so kind as to help this one with such work. Does one require assistance moving the tomes to the proper location from this one?"

Need to give the partner enough time to look at all of these — he would be able to do this in moments.

"If that is not a bother to one, that is?" Corvinus intones hopefully.


Claire Fontaine says, "Oh, I can carry them just fine." Claire is probably going to cheat a bit as they are decidedly substantial tomes, but she's not about to let anyone ELSE know that. Hefting the stack while making a mental note of the requested pages, she's really only supporting the weight of the bottom two books with her hands, the top one suspended ever so slightly above the others. "Page thirty, page sixteen, and the index. Got it. Be right back." She turns to leave the room."


The odd fellow nods quietly and waits thirty seconds for the library attendant to get far enough away before letting Jim take charge, keeping a wary watchful eye out during those rapid heartbeats to make sure he's not being observed.

As Jim flops into being there's a sense of Urgency. He attempts to get his bearings… A library of some sort? Maps? Steel City… Corv, what the hell are you trying to do?

He takes a quick look of the room, committing the contents to memory quickly and then taking a look at the visible pages.

You daft bird, this could get us in so much hot water!

He tries to take in as much information as possible, while keeping an ear out for resounding footsteps or approaching individuals…


Claire Fontaine stops just a few steps away from the room as she realizes she left her keys on the table there and turns back. Just as she's doing so, a small stampede of elementary school kids go thundering past, chattering excitedly and getting scolded by one of the other library employees for running inside the building.

"Sorry, I think I'm already mixed up. You said you wanted page sixtee—EEP!" She's standing frozen in the doorway, staring wide-eyed at the giant … crow-thing that's taken the place of the odd man. At least she didn't drop the books in her hands.


Just a few more seconds and—

Then kids go stomping down a different corridor with attendant shouts masking the arrival of the librarian.

"This is…ah… just a bad dream you're having and you're going to ah, do page sixteen like you were ah, asked to?"

To be fair to Jim, this is all kind of dumped on him even as his brain goes through two dozen scenarios for disabling, dismembering, abducting, or otherwise rendering the poor woman unable to bear witness to his presence.

He straightens up slowly then slumps.

"Sorry about the fright, miss, I can ah, um, just ah, leave right now?"


And then the scary crow-thing talks. And he's almost shockingly normal sounding, even awkward. That's actually a huge relief. She'd been expecting him to point at her and shriek like Donald Sutherland or something. "Uh… where did the other man go? I wouldn't want him to miss out on the copies he requested." She's really, REALLY trying to behave normally when the top book in her arms really wants to just zoom over there and brain the bird a good one.


"The other man? Did he talk really weird like he wasn't really a person or a zen monk or something? Use really weird convoluted terms for everyday average things? That…. hmmm."

Well, CRAP.

"We time-share. It's complicated. Don't try to stab me or shoot me or call the police or anything, please? I can't guarantee your safety if you do? I mean, I have a huge pile of self-preservation stuff going on in here-" it points to it's head "-and it has a tendency to shoot first and ask questions after, or claw first, or punch… you get the idea, I think… I hope?"


"… so you're not here with a giant bat-thing that is trying to eat my blood?" Claire glances back out of the room, then quickly closes the door and sets the books back down. "Thank god. I was about to have a complete panic attack over here." She sinks into a chair and pushes her hair back out of her face.


"No. That's gross. Unsanitary. Like… bleah. No, I eat normal food, like normal people, three meals a day."

He pauses for a moment. "Thank you for not having a panic attack. I know I'm scary and creepy looking and looking in the mirror sometimes threatens to give ME a panic attack, okay? What did the weird guy ask you to do?"

He's being direct and to the point, hopefully that helps defuse the situation some, even as he lets his wings droop and his arms hang limply at his sides.


"He was wanting information on ley lines in Steel City." Claire gestures a bit weakly, and one of a different stack of books — the ones she brought back earlier — separates itself and quickly flips open to a page with an reproduction of what is clearly a very old hand-drawn map of the area. "I don't know if that's what he meant, but that was the closest I could think of."


"It's what he meant, because he was trying to do me a favor but it's sort of like trying to have someone run to grab you beer and all you tell them is 'something brown' and they bring back Pabst because it's in a brown bottle."

The birdly person glances at the map thoughtfully, tracing his hand an inch or so above the picture.

"Ley lines are magical connections and representations of power that thread through everything. Part of the mess down in Metropolis last year was because someone was messing with them on a seriously potent level. Yes. Magic is real. It's messy, but it's real. But if you've been getting jumped by rabid bats and worse, you probably already knew that, right?"


Claire Fontaine nods, her elbows still on the table and her hands in her hair. "And I used to think the craziest thing I would ever have to deal with was my cats getting the eighty-mile-per-hour crazies at three am." Since then she's dealt with the Bat-Thing, multiple cronies, a glowing blue elk that seems to have strangely taken a liking to her…


"Believe you me, if that was the weirdest thing in my life I'd be a happy man. In the last two years I've been shot, nearly eviscerated by a demon of infernal stench, nearly assassinated three times by aliens, HYDRA, and some assholes who believe in genetic purity, and… okay, so yeah, I've seen a bit. Sorry to prattle. Neat trick with the book, by the way. Telekinesis, spiritual assistance, or some sort of parlor trick?"


Claire Fontaine frowns faintly. "… I don't know." And she doesn't. She's never truly thought about it. It's been her personal secret for so long that sharing it with someone else — especially someone that could NEVER get away with tattling on her — is oddly cathartic. "I just.. If it's paper, I can do this." She glances over at a wastebasket in the corner, and a crumpled wad of paper flies up onto the table and smooths itself as much as it can before folding itself into a rather complex origami shape. A bird.


"That's talent. No. Seriously. I couldn't do origami with my *hands* before things got weird, much less remotely. How thick of a paper can you manipulate? Cardboard? Greeting cards? Book Covers? Does it work on silk or rice paper?"

He pauses in his inquisition to hang his head. "Sorry, got a brain that's dying for more input and it can get distracting when something… new… shows up. But um… hmmm. Let's see here…"

The birdly being approaches the open maps and closes three at apparently random before stowing them in their proper spots. "Okay, those were too new to be of use, and… you don't need to make those copies. I've got the data up 'here'."


"I've… never really tried cardboard. Greeting cards are no problem or book covers… silk? I've never considered silk. Or rice paper." She watches the birdman return a few maps, then asks seemingly idly, "Why are you wanting to find the ley lines for Steel City? Does it have something to do with why the city is closed?"


"It's an idea I have that might help save lives, or at least help get to the bottom of things over there. Not everything is related to the lines, but sometimes things break or slip across and you get a mess. My current guess is something big slipped through from somewhere, and that the lines might actually be keeping the place contained and some survivors alive. I won't know until I get into it, though, and that could be a mess. Thus the maps. If I have an idea of how stuff flows or not there, plus other protections…"


Claire's eyes start to glaze over a little at Jim's explanations — or musings out loud. "I, um, need to get back to work. Is there anything else I can help with before I go? You're welcome to stay back here as long as you need."


"If you could put up some safety cones or something to keep folks from coming up this way for about twenty minutes or a half-hour that should be enough time, and then that odd fellow will just walk on out. Try not to talk to him too much, he'll waste your day with questions and ideas, even worse than my ramblings. Thank you for your hospitality."

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