Let the Games Begin

July 09, 2017:

Caitlin gives the latest Titans recruit a tour that gets horribly sidetracked.

Titans Tower


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Red Robin


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The Titans Tower isn't big, but it's large enough that people can often find a cozy nook to curl up in with relative solitude, if they like.

Often as not, Caitlin's in the tower hangar, working on her jet.

It's not 'her' jet— it's an old, early model of a Javelin that she'd 'acquired' at some point as a repair project. Hotrodded and overclocked in every meaningful way, the Javelin sports a suspicious number of modifications that are probably not remotely approved by any regulatory agency.

But it is fast.

When it flies, anyway. Caitlin disengages the last of the nuts holding an engine onto the fuselage and drops it onto a trolly, then lifts the entire engine and walks it over to a cradle and sets it where she can work on it. Wearing a sleeveless, close-fitting croptop in a grease-stained lime green, she's clearly been at it for a few hours; she looks like she crawled through a greasetrap at one point while working on the vehicle, her jumpsuit worn unzipped and tied around her waist.

"Okay, that part, that part, that goes there, that goes there," she mutters, removing parts and putting them back in proper place.

She holds up a manifold. "…what does this do?" she mutters to herself, boggling a bit.

It's only good for solitude when you don't have an overly curious speedster giving himself a tour of the place in the only way that he knows how. At least no one likely notices save for perhaps the random breeze that might waft past now and then, although if someone's looking at the right time they might think that they'd seen some kind of blur.

Bart's probably only been at the Tower for a couple of minutes, having taken less time to scope out the vacant rooms before picking one out for himself and dumping his backpack so he can scope out the rest of the place. …and he might have rooted around the kitchen a bit for a sandwich or something. Coming straight from Alabama works up an appetite!

"I dunno, but this thing's supposed to fly, right?" comes a response that likely hadn't really been expected to be made. The teenager who apparently spoke is standing by the work in progress, an arm folded, the other propped as he fingers his chin in a classic pose of thoughtfulness. He's dressed fairly normally- t-shirt and jeans, sneakers and a red sweatjacket. It hasn't occurred to him whether or not Tim's given people a head's up about him, but then that's nothing new.

Caitlin screams and falls over.

To her credit, she turns it into a defensive fall, and cocks one arm back as if prepared to throw the manifold at Bart. She checks herself at the last moment, clutching her sternum and exhaling heavily three times to balance herself.

"Holy criminey, you SCARED me," she scolds him, with an embarrassed huff. She eyes Bart grudgingly and gets to her feet, brushing fruitlessly at the grime accumulating on her jumpsuit trousers.

"You must be Impulse," she says wryly, trying to recover her aplomb. "Robin said you'd be stopping by today. I guess he wasn't kidding. I'm Caitlin," she tells him, her irritation already leaving. Seems she's not the sort to hold a grudge, and she smiles tentatively and sticks a hand out at Bart.

Standing facing him and not hunched over an engine block, it becomes apparent how much, much taller she is than Robin— or Bart— or probably anyone except Starfire.

"Gah!" Bart exclaims, jumping a little at Caitlin's reaction. Clearly he hadn't expected her to do that as he gives her an exasperated look. "I scared y- Oh." He looks a little sheepish at that, at least seeming apologetic for accidentally startling her. Scratching the back of his head, he starts forward to offer Cait a hand up, but she's already getting to her feet by then.

A grin springs to his face as she figures out who he is, and he nods, moving his hand to shake the one she holds out. "Yup. That's me," he says as he looks up at her. Up and up. Wow. He knows he's not really all that tall but it doesn't really help when you're standing next to someone like this. And info on a screen just doesn't do a person justice.

"And you're Caitlin, right?"

"One and only," Caitlin confirms, very gently squeezing Bart's hand and beaming at him as she's recognized. "Welcome to the Titans. Did Robin give you the formal tour already?" she inquires, reaching for a shop rag and wiping her hands on it.

She hunches a little, her posture a bit less than ramrod erect; like many tall girls, she's a little self conscious about her height and moves to stand a bit furthur away from Bart so she's not looming over him like some kind of monolithic ginger henge, and so he isn't forced to crane his neck. "Looks like you found the kitchens already."

Tim had shown him the current Titans lineup, so at least Bart can match up names with faces for those he hadn't already known. "Thanks. Glad to be here," he says, and he means it because anywhere is better than one of Max's training trips, at least in his opinion. "Formal tour? Oh, no, not really. He just told me where the place was and to pick a room."

Blinking as she mentions the kitchens, he wonders if he'd missed the part about Caitlin being psychic or something before he thinks to wipe a sleeve across his mouth. Oh. Mustard. He smiles awkwardly. "Er, yeah. I kinda helped myself there- hope no one minds. I didn't eat before I left for here."

"Oh sure, gosh! Always love to meet new Titans," Caitlin says, with an eager beaming smile. "C'mon, I could use a break anyway— I can't figure out what's misfiring in that engine, and we're like, five percent under predicted power gains. I think it's a solenoid that's not regulating a fluttervalve properly, but it could also be the secondary injection manifolds not maintaining pressure. Are you a gearhead, Impulse? D'you go by Impulse?" she says, chatting amicably as she leads him out of the bay. Back towards the kitchen, almost as if unaware she's going that direction. "It's okay if you do— I go by Caitlin, Kori goes by Kori, though I guess almost everyone else actually likes having a secret identity. I don't much see the point, but—" she shrugs. It's not like she blends.

"So, here are the dorms, which are most of the upper floors aside from the hangars," she tells Bart. "Lessee… I've been putting symbols on the doors. I thought that was a cool touch. Wondergirl, Connor… I offered to do Robin's— Red Robin's— but he kinda… ehhh?" she says, shrugging her bare shoulders with her hands weighing the air.

"Everyone needs a break some time. Even Robin." Bart grins as though divulging some secret information in itself, right there. Maybe it is. Who knows- he's not sure what kind of reputation Tim's got with the newer Titans, but he wouldn't be surprised if the guy hadn't changed much since he's known him.

He looks a little blank as Caitlin begins to ramble about the progress on the jet. "Uhhh… Not really? More of a gamer." Not that those two are really related. "-and you can call me Bart. I mean, secret identities are cool and all and Max insists it's better to have but it'd be kinda weird with me just calling you Caitlin, right?"

He seems to have no problem with wandering through the kitchen again, his eyes roving for a bag of chips or maybe some cookies to snack on while they tour, as he's assuming that's what Cait's going to do. And he supposes it's nice to have someone to tell him properly where things are and any house rules.

"Oh, that was you? Cool stuff." Bart nods as he looks towards the doors. "'Eeeh'..? He not go for it?"

"Not really," Cait acknowledges. "But I think I'll ninja in the night and do it anyway."

She opens a cabinet and pulls out a small crate full of energy bars— high calorie, high energy, perfect for metahumans on the go. They're about five hundred calories each, and most people can't stand them as they're mostly honey and peanut butter.

Caitlin offers one to Bart and inhales one herself in three big bites, chewing hungrily, then reaches into the fridge for a quart-sized bottle of smoothie.

There are two fridges, in fact; one of them is filled with nothing but smoothies, labelled with different flavors and throw-out dates. Looks like Caitlin makes her own.

"Oh! Kitchen," she says, gesturing grandly and forgetting she's leaving grease marks everywhere. "I cook dinner three nights a week, and I always have snacks on hand. Robin said you've got a big appetite, so lemme know how much you need to eat a day and I'll make sure we're stocked. I kinda go through a lot of food, so I figured someone ought to be in charge of making sure I don't eat us out of the building. Might as well be me."

"Do it. Do it, do it, do it." Bart. Best encouragement. He'll totally help too, because Robin needs to live a little.

Not about to say no to a snack either. Caitlin puts away that bar at an impressive speed but the speedster's not far behind, even when gobbling his own down at a normal pace. It serves to fill in whatever bit of space he'd had left from devouring a massive sandwich from earlier. …there might need to be a grocery trip in the near future, sooner than expected.

"Eh, it depends. I do kinda burn through a lot, but I guess I can help if you need anyone to go on a shopping run or even for take-out. Just so long as someone calls in beforehand." It takes foreeeever otherwise.

"You're a speedster, right?" Caitlin inquires politely, looking at Bart while she adds some ingredients to her shake. She rattles it violently, almost blurring to anyone not possessing Bart's hyper-senses. "Red Robin gave me the thumbnail but I'd much rather hear it from you. C'mon! Do you mind walkin' and talkin'?" she asks, her lazy Iowa accent coming through. "We'll go see the rec areas and the gym and stuff, too. Robin says 'The Mudroom' isn't ready yet, or I'd show it to you. or tell you what it is," she concedes, heading towards the stairs that lead downwards.

Bart certainly looks proud at that as he nods in confirmation of that. "Yep! My grampa's Barry Allen- the Flash? You've heard of him, right?" Really, who hasn't heard of the Flash? Although when did he have a grandson? Or kids for that matter? Naturally Bart hasn't seemed to think through on any potential confusion, and he's already pretty much ditched his quote-unquote normal background that's reserved for regular-ol' human and definitely-not-a-speedster Bart Allen that Max always insists on. But that's because he's here in the Titan's Tower with a new teammate and you can get away with saying you're from the future without getting strange looks from people, here.

"Not so big on the walking but I'll deal," he says, grinning. He's joking. Mostly. "What's a mudroom? Ooh, like mud wrestling? That'd be weird. Doesn't sound very Robin-y either."

"Yeah, it's weird, right? I don't know what it is," Caitlin says with a shrug. She offers him one more candybar for the road and they start walking, and she points out items of interest as they walk along.

"Yeah of course I know who Barry is," she assures Bart. "I was— well, before I joined the League— I was a super hardcore superhero nerd. I ran the biggest metahuman Instagram page going," she says, proudly. "Well, the biggest non-porny one, anyway," she allows.

"So you're his grandson, huh? That's awesome! My daddy was a hero, though he worked for the government," she says, a little proudly. "Did secret special forces stuff. I think a lot of people do it 'cause of family. Are yours in the area? Do you get to visit them often?" she inquires, slurping down the smoothie as they walk.

Yessss snacks. That. Is so not going to last very long but he'll make the effort to try. "So. Weird. Have you asked him what it is? We should ask him."

Bart laughs, amused but supposing it's entirely acceptable to have a superhero be a fan of superheroes. Anyway, he's kind of the same when it comes to his grandpa. Or is it different since he's related? "Oh sweet, family thing? Nice." He nods, and then pauses, taking a giant bite of his candy bar. "Well…not…really? It's complicated. Like. A lot complicated." How much should he explain? He's not sure he should mention the things regarding Barry. Time paradoxes or something like that. Ugh, what did Max say again?

"I'm from the thirtieth century so it kinda….yeah." Nooo that's not what Max said.

"Thirtieth century? You're from a thousand years in the future?" Caitlin balks. "Woah. That's crazy. I've never met anyone else from the future," she tells Bart.

"Wait," she says, hesitantly— her nose wrinkles, and she stops, counting on her fingers and staring up at a fluorescent light illuminating the hallway.

"That doesn't track. You'd be from the… like…twenty-second century if you were his grandkid. Thirtieth century? You're his… great… great grandkid to the—" she does the math with a finger in the air. "Thirtieth power."

"Told you," the speedster replies around a mouthful of candybar. "Complicated." He doesn't even try to figure out the math in that. The Flash-family in general seemed to be notorious for zipping about the timestream and Bart sure doesn't have the patience to even try to explain the things he'd been told by his grandmother. His head would probably hurt trying to figure out how it all works out, so he's simply accepted that it does and he's here now so that's that.

Caitlin inhales, a world of discussion and debate primed.

Then she deflates with a short exhalation and nods. "Complicated's fair. I can get behind complicated," says the clone of a former world-class assassin working for an illegal government wetworks team.


"So! Gym," she says, gesturing into an open room with lots of light and fresh air. It's a strange mix of regular weight bars and bikes— the sort of thing humans use to stay fit— along with a massive jungle gym, acrobatic equipment, and a squat rack that almost looks like something out of a science fiction film. 'DANGER: HIGH WEIGHT' is written in massive red stencil font on the back wall of the platform.

"If you need any specialized workout gear, lemme know. I'm kind of a fitness nerd so I made sure the gym is at least up to my spec. And we've got a sparring arena I'll show you next, it's sort of a holographic training room-slash-boxing ring."

Bart nods back, seeming to be relieved that that explanation, or lack thereof, has been accepted. He's eager to move on to the gym as Caitlin announces their next stop on the impromptu tour. Were he fresh from time travel he'd be poking away and gawking at the things because what in the world are all these funky looking objects?! As it is he still goes to have a quick look, gone and back in the blink of an eye that he might not have even left Caitlin's side- was that a breeze?

"Cool deal. I've never really…used any of this stuff. The most we had of equipment was like. Maces and axes and things that Max'd throw at me to vibrate through." He says this casually like it's normal training routine for any superhero, but he doesn't know any better.

"-holographic training room? So like a video game?" Oh, you can practically see Bart's eyes light up at that.

"Oh, I can totally build you anything you want," Caitlin tells Impulse as they walk. "Maybe a modified tennis ball launcher, y'know, something to track your motion and give you something to play with. Just don't use the big weights, the gravity's set for me and Conner right now. You'll get squished."

Making no explanation for THAT comment, she follows along with Bart— until he says the best thing ever, and her eyes go round as dinner plates. "Oooh. Oooh," she says, gripping his bicep to halt him. Her eyes stare into the distance, unfocused. "It's— the hierarchies aren't fundamentally different than basic VR code," she murmurs, looking thrilled by this new thought. "It's just higher definition rendering software, but the textures… we could upload… and then … thread the compositional elements…" she mumbles, talking to herself but only sharing about a third of the conversation.

"I just had this crazy idea about porting Warcraft right into the holographic arena. But that would be wrong."


"So like. Super-extreme dodgeball? That sounds fun." Of course Bart would think so. He arches a brow at the warning about the weights. Robin's dossier on Caitlin had mentioned something about super-strength and toughness but it hadn't been very specific. Putting her on par with Conner? Well, color him impressed!

Stopping as Caitlin sets a hand on him, the speedster blinks, glancing back at her. "What, what?" he asks, looking at her curiously. She mentions a bunch of stuff that sound like it could be relatable to video games but he's still not figuring out where it all clicks in-

Until she says something that may as well be magic words.

"Dude. Dude. Don't you mean awesome?" His expression? Absolutely ecstatic.

Caitlin frets at her lower lip. It's a bad idea. They both know it's a bad idea. She jitters a heel on the floor impatiently, and makes a whinging noise.

Okay, for being the 'oldest' member of the team, she's still got a bit of a juvenile streak.

"Okay, like, we -cannot- tell Robin," she tells Bart. "I don't even know him that well, but… I know he'll flip his lid if I go digging in the computer. But it's really doable, in theory. I mean. I got Steam to run on the Justice League's mainframe; okay, I got in a lot of -trouble- for it," she concedes, "but the principal is the same."

That's…going to be unfortunate. Because Bart will be absolutely no help in tempering that streak of Caitlin's.

It seems that the more she seems undecided about the idea, the bigger Bart's grin gets because he can tell that she's all for it. After all, she's the one that suggested it! There's no way he's going to say not to it now!

"Pff, don't tell Robin? No prob. I won't say a thing! But I don't think he'd be that upset about it." Oh, wait. Maybe he shouldn't mention that Tim Drake did indulge in video games on occasion. Did anyone else know that? Aside from Conner, maybe? Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm… "-okay so we won't tell him. But this'll be so cool!"

"…Okay," Caitlin says conspiratorially. "We'll need to get Steam installed to the local system, and then I'll talk to some friends about multiperspective rendering patches. I know it can be done, it's totally doable— I bet we can make this work, like, heckin' radical," she tells Bart.

"So, uh, do you really wanna mess around with the rest of the tour, or go see if we can take a multimillion dollar computer and get it to render a World of Warcraft server image?"

"Uuuuh, does that even have to be a question?" It's pretty clear where Bart's attention is now, and it's likely that he'd insist they hurry through the rest of the Tower if they did resume the tour. Nah-uh. Not happening now.

"Installing should be the easy part, yeah?" He's lived in and plays games, never put them together. The added detail in that they're going to be doing this secretly just tosses in an extra layer of thrill. Were he any more eager to jump into things, Bart would probably have accidentally vibrated himself straight through the floor.

"Uhh… okay." Caitlin squeals a little, then clears her throat and clamps a hand over her mouth to recover her aplomb. She's clearly wildly enthusiastic about the idea, and trying very hard to be the 'cool, senior member' of the Titans of the moment.

Granted, she and Bart are talking about breaking a very valuable and important mission item, but…

"This is training, right?" she tells Bart, moving with long strides back to the dorms. "Like, we're learning about computer systems, and modifying equipment. Oh! We could even use it for combat training, right? And, uh, er… something… something…" she mumbles, trailing off with her faux excuses. "But oh my gosh, Warcraft in full, immersive VR? How fun is this gonna be?" she demands, voice shifting up an excited octave again.

Caitlin's already 'cool' so far as Bart is concerned. And he wouldn't say they were breaking something so much as putting it to good use. Tim had said that this place served as a hangout, after all, and what good was a multimillion dollar computer if it couldn't do something simple like run an MMORPG?

"I think it could count as training," he reasons, not very deeply, but he can connect those dots somehow, and if asked to expound he'd likely spin a pretty good proof. As it turns out, Caitlin works out a reasonable enough explanation for their secretive endeavor to count towards training, which the speedster nods at enthusiastically. "Yeah! Exactly! It can still be applied for training purposes. Different terrain, combat simulation…" he offers helpfully. Oh, but who's he kidding. He's in it for the fun, ultimately.

He matches her pace without the giant steps, if only because he appears on one side, then the opposite, feeling the need to bleed off some of the excitement somehow as he zips about and yet not far at all, lest he miss something interesting. "Bet it'll be amazing!"

"Wh- h- wha— stop. Stop. Bart!" Caitlin laughs, trying to grab at him between blinking blurs. "Stop that! Pick a side! I'm gonna get whiplash," she scolds the younger fellow, reaching out to tousle him affectionately like a wayward little brother.

"And it will be amazing! So we're gonna need… a crate of protein bars, some more smoothies—" she throws her empty(!) sixty-four ounce(!) drink container away, "and a buttload of high speed data cables… my desktop computer, and probably some of that Red Bull Extreme," she tells him. "Anything else you need for a late night coding session?"

Yoink. Bart gets pulled to a halt pretty easily with a bit of a yelp. "Sorry! I just- agh!" He half-heartedly bats at her hand, starting to laugh as well. And it's not like any amount of tousling will do much harm for his hairstyle.

"Computer code-cracking party, awesome! Maybe a couple of taco party packs and…. Well, if we need anything else I can probably grab it no problem," he assures. Having never been a part of a late night coding session, he has no idea what all one might require- he has a feeling Caitlin will be doing the bulk of the work but he'll be happy to help if she just lets him know what he needs to do.

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