January 07, 2017:

Batman calls Spoiler in to discuss a security breach.


Built into the living rock under Crest Hill, the caverns that Batman has
set as his home travel for miles and miles in many directions. They're a
twisting, convoluted maze that even a professional spelunker might have
trouble with. Add to that the deliberate deadfalls, traps, false walls and
panels, it's very difficult for someone to find the Batcave, even if they
know where to look.

The Cave itself occupies several levels and antechambers around a central
grotto. Various vehicle platforms are set up for quick launch, including a
jet angled for a dark exit and the Batmobile on a low pad a short dash from
the main control consoles. Alcoves support storage for gear, weapons,
equipment, and there's a gymnasium and even a recreation area not far off.
In the far corner of the cave is Batman's 'museum', featuring a bizarre and
eclectic array of items— oversized playing cards, a plant frozen in
mid-bloom, a penny that's easily 20 feet tall, and in one corner, carefully
preserved under glass, is a red and yellow outfit with green trim. A
memorial, clearly, and set apart with quiet dignity from the museum itself.

It is, despite the wealth of gear and electronics, still a cave— it's
gloomy, poorly lit in many areas, and perpetually smells a bit musty and
moist. And there's the ever-present rustling of furry flying animals in the


NPCs: None.

Mentions: zatanna azalea


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The summons was simple, terse, and somewhat mysterious. 'Security threat. Come to cave. Priority: Medium'. Not a routine issue, but not something urgently time-sensitive, either.

When Stephanie arrives, Batman is not at his console— he's sitting pensively at the table where he conducts rare briefings that affect the entire family and list of allies. His hood is off and thrown behid him, black hair laying flat against his skull from the cowl's pressure, and his blue eyes are focused at an invisible spot on the table, fingers interlaced under his chin.

At Stephanie's approach, he looks up at her and gestures at a seat at his right hand. "Spoiler. Take a seat," he invites.

Well. That could mean anything. Stephanie makes her way into the 'conference room', sitting where he tells her to. She can't help but have those butterflies of 'principal's office' dancing in her stomach, which she attempts to still by folding her hands in front of her on the table.
-— New Activity ---

"We've had a breach," Batman says, getting right down to it and looking at Spoiler. "Zatanna Zatara penetrated the caverns." He flicks fingers once in the air. "She only found the study clock and the upper caves. I've already disabled that entrance and opened the closet access, with the sliding poles," he tells her. "But she was persistent enough during her investigation that I had to render her unconscious. There was a struggle before I succeeded," he says, his tone flat and emotionless. "I gave her a sedative and a small dose of modified propofol," he says, "in order to stunt her short term memory development. However, Zatanna was able to use her magic and return home before it took effect. So she's aware that there's a cavern under the Manor and I, at a minimum, am hiding something. Tim seems to have deflected her suspicions from him, for now."

"Az calls her a friend. Do you want me to inquire about it?" Stephanie asks, her face growing serious at this news. She recalls the name from her conversation with her mentee, and knowing now that Zatanna was poking around makes Stephanie nervous and defensive. This place is like a home, and now that home's been broken into, it's safety and security shattered. Of course, Stephanie herself doesn't have any dealings with the witch personally, but…
-— New Activity ---
[New BB message (25/4) posted to 'Bat-Family' by Batman: Security Breach]
-— New Activity ---

"Unfortunately, Azalea hasn't proven herself ready to know about our connection to the Wayne name," Batman tells Spoiler. It's peculiar sometimes how easily he makes that sound like Someone Else. "That might come in time. But as far as Zatanna's concerned, her grievance is with Bruce Wayne, not Batman. Azalea only knows the Batcave as a hypothetical somewhere in Gotham; I've taken measures when I bring her here to ensure she can't find her way back without my assistance. Inquiring about Zatanna might provoke suspicion."

This has Stephanie nodding, having suspected but wanting to try any and all avenues. Still, the situation makes the blonde frown.

"Any idea why she's upset with you? What she wants? What she's after?" Because unlike Batman, she's not so good with talking to him out of hte mask and NOT seeing him as Bruce. Of course, she still sees him as Batman, which causes headaches with thought about for too long. Hence, Stephanie not thining about it for too long.
-— New Activity ---

"Likely because I attempted to subdue her and drug her," Batman says, a bit dryly. "It's not something a friend does to a friend." A look flashes across his face for a moment. Remorse? Guilt? It flickers and goes almost before it can be accurately diagnosed.

"I suspect Zatanna's motivations are benign. Even helpful," Batman tells Spoiler. "Given more time, it's not impossible she might have been invited to learn the truth all together." He purses his lips, framing his words. "But it's no longer just my secret to hide or share. Inviting Zatanna into my confidence by definition has to be a group decision. It'll affect Tim. Dick. You," he tells her. "I had limited options and a short timeframe to act. It was perhaps not the most ideal solution but I felt protecting our secrecy was paramount."

He exhales. "Frankly, it would have worked just fine on anyone else. She must have anticipated trouble and set a contingency in place. I underestimated her," he admits, a rare confession from the Batman. "But I have the impression that she went into the caves because she sensed the magical wards I put in place in anticipation of Mueller or the like trying to penetrate our secrecy. She was trying to help us."

Remorse? Guilt? Both? Stephanie's expression softens into a flicker of very obvious concern.

"If you trust her, I trust her," Stephanie says, giving Bruce complete permission to do anything he needs to with her identity. Hell, post it on Facebook if he wants. She knows he wouldn't but if he did she wouldn't be upset. That he underestimated anyone is concerning on its own and she's not going to push at it. Instead…

"Mayeb she could make sure it will hold?" Stephanie ponders, not sure what to do in the face of the admission. Not poke DUH but what else?
-— New Activity ---

"The wards aren't designed to hold someone out. Only to prevent casual reconnaissance," Batman explains. "My understanding of the practical side of magic is very limited due to the secrecy of the real practitioners. Given the liability of having anything sorcerous under Wayne Manor, I've since opted to make them passive rather than active; but frankly, I don't think there's anything we can do if Zatanna decides she /has/ to know what's under the manor," he tells Spoiler, eyes flickering to the cavern roof. "Camera footage shows her walking through a wall. I imagine there's little that can stop her from penetrating down here. At that point we'll have no choice but to enlist her as an ally."

Stephanie follows that flick of gaze, lips parting slightly.

"Oh… maybe… preempt her breaking in again?" Stephanie asks, lowering her chin to look at Batman again.
-— New Activity ---

"I've spent time re-acquainting myself with Zatanna Zatara since she returned to my life," Batman tells Spoiler, his tone low and difficult to read. "I am very confident that the only reason we have any privacy at all is because she has elected to give it to us. The only way to guarantee our absolute security here would be to…" His eyes flicker. "Hm."

He goes still as a stone for a few moments, a sign of an intense debate raging in his mind. "Intersting," he murmurs.

Blue eyes return to Spoiler. "At any rate. You'll be advised of any changes to our security, and I am interested in your next assessment of Azalea's progress. That will be all for now," he tells the blonde heroine.

That.. is.. Why is he acting so strange? Stephanie frowns, brows pulling together. She's leaning forward when he suddenly looks over at her and it has her sitting back again. All fo rnow. She nods, standing up as if dismissed.

"Ok." Now her heart's racing. It wasn't before she sat down. Now? Now she's worried.
-— New Activity ---

"Be calm," Batman advises Spoiler, making it more suggestion than command. "Zatanna is upset with Bruce Wayne— not with Batman, nor with any of my allies. By all measures she's… one of the 'good guys'," he says, the corner of his mouth tugging, though it's hard to say if he's smiling or scowling. "At worst she might be disinclined to aid us but I… suspect she's not the sort to out our secrets."

He rises up from the table. "Let me know if you come across anything useful." And with that, he turns and walks into the cavern's library, which lately is teeming with a collection of antique books and scrolls on a new set of shelves.

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