Trafficking Redux

November 16, 2014:

Returning to the scene of an incident with Iceman, Sunspot and Cypher become acquainted with Robin and Oracle

Gotham Waterside Dockhouse

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Gotham.

This is not the usual haunt of the X-Men but with Berto back, less busy and perhaps less stressed he'd thought it wise to take an evening trip out to the place with he and Doug. The destination? The docks where he originally encountered metahuman traffickers. The reason? Well, he's sure the Clown Loving Boy Wonder and his friends are on the case but this sort of thing falls squarely under the banner of Things The X-Men Like To Know About and Berto and Doug are two of the ones he trusts mosts (the other two, Magik and Storm are otherwise occupied at the moment).

"Doesn't look like it's being used now, but as I was saying on the way over, it was about a month back we ran into folks moving people. They were drugged somehow and they were decidedly not regular people. Not sure if all of them were mutants per se, but definitely metas."

-

For his part, Roberto enjoys any opportunity to hit the interstate and leave his friends clawing wildly at the dashboard of the custom sports car Mike made him. He's been angling to get the vehicle onto Top Gear for a while now, and while money and influence go a long way in that regard, a stack of moving violations taller than his hapless PA, Simon, certainly won't hurt.

Once in Gotham proper, of course, he doesn't move at quite the same speed, so Bobby (riding shotgun) and Doug (crammed into the miniscule backseat) will have gotten over their heart palpitations by the time he brings the car to a halt at the dockyard and pops open the drivers side door.

He stands and stretches his arms, looking pleased with himself. "Vamos, camaradas. We're here," he announces, his accent a warm blend of upstate New York and upscale Rio de Janeiro. Between the car and his immaculate bespoke suit, he stands out a little in this part of town, but if that concerns him, you'd never guess it.

-

"Are we there ye—- oh, thank goodness." It'd been a cramped ride, and Doug was practically in Berto's ear about just what a terrible -car- this was for transporting more than two people, or even for transporting more than one. The 'are we there yet?' query had become a tone of desperate prayer very early in the trip.

He'd simmered down, though, when handed a prototype tablet to work with, and occupied himself accordingly. Even with the insane car ride going, the distraction being given was just enough to get a 'Hey Berto, there's police up ahead, cool it' and a 'did you just run over a squirrel?' while he poked around the tablet.

Now that they -were- there, though, Doug stretches himself out, clutching the prototype tablet. NOT GIVING IT BACK. It's PAYMENT for the horrible, horrible ride, the stare Doug was giving Berto was saying.

-

Lingering on the rooftop that started this entire investigation, the Boy Wonder, shrouded in shadow, peers into the hole atop the dilapidated building. Robin adjusts his mask and slides forwards to peer inside. It's just as empty as the last time he'd made this trek — only then it was to take photos, not revisit to see if there's anything he's missed.

"I don't see anything new," he offers towards the comlink as blue eyes work behind the lenses of his mask. "No sign of any activity. No sign of… well… anything." He sighs.

Tim Drake uses his cellphone to capture whatever else he may have missed because missing isn't an option. Not after everything that's happened over the course of the last few weeks.

Voices prompt him to slip towards the roof's ledge, stepping along it with feline-esque paces. "We've got company," he murmurs.

-

Oracle has been waiting for Robins report and when his voice filters through her comms system the woman stirs and stretches before settling back into her wheelchair. The CCTV feeds from the area have shown the rather flashy car turn up, nice car really if you're into that sort of thing, and the three men get out. "Yes you do, one of them looks to be Iceboy… Activate your suits video feed please, Robin."

Oracle is patient, she's learned to be, so for now she just watches video feeds to see how this will pan out.

-

Bobby's hair is an even more wind tossed mess than it is usually. But he's grinning from ear to ear having not had the same reaction to Berto's driving that Doug did. It helps that when he has to he simply ramps around the city at high speed with no form of protection other than the ice he can call to himself. When Berto 'parks' Bobby hops out and takes a look around. "There was a ship pulled up over there." He points toward an empty pier. "But I think the Feds impounded it. We called them, I wanted to make sure the GCPD wasn't the primary on this." There are rumors and Bobby wasn't going to risk it.

"The holding facility was over there." Bobby points to the building Tim is currently on and starts to walk there. "There was a bit of a fight when I was here last."

-

"Sinto muito," Roberto says as he holds his seat forward for Doug, although he doesn't sound sorry at all. "That space is really just there so you can recline the front seats when you need headroom for two." Adding innuendo to injury: by now, it's a signature Sunspot move. At the very least, he doesn't seem at all reluctant to let the mutant linguist keep the prototype.

Once Doug is safely on the pavement (and has undoubtedly started kissing it), the young head of Da Costa North America snaps his door shut and activates the car's security lockdown with a quick scan of his thumbprint. He then follows the other Bobby, listening attentively as he describes the situation he encountered before. "Sim. If the business side of things is anything to go by, Gotham is corrupt as hell," he says, his experience matching up with Bobby's rumors. "Who was involved in the fight?"

-

Robin steps off the edge of the roof. His cape catches the air and stiffens as a glider that helps him land on the ground. Feet plant and then he's activating the video feed. "Hello Drake," that doesn't get any easier. The Boy Wonder manages a lopsided grin at the Gotham-visitors as he treads forward. "Looks like we're all a little late — " the people he doesn't know are cast a small nod.

-

"I'm surprised there's room for two given the size of your head," Doug responds in Portuguese, as his feet touch pavement. The tablet was still running, an experimental GPS/satellite program going. That the mutant had tested one of Berto's special development wasn't a surprise, that Doug had added -more- security while on the go might be. Or might not be.

Shading his eyes to look up at the building, Doug follows Bobby. "So, have the, um… metas been interviewed yet? Should we check reports…?" he asks, just in time for Robin to land and… "WHOA!"

-

Thanks to the video feed on Robins suit, Oracle is able to get a look at the other two with Iceboy and sets of searches based on the images she's captured from the feed. Roberto comes up pretty quickly, thanks to his public profile… the other one takes a few minutes longer. "Taller, darkhaired gentleman is Roberto, Codename Sunspot. Shorter, fairhaired gentleman is Douglas. I'm digging deeper for more on him"

Oracles systems detects the tablet and notes it. Unless there's some reason too, she doesn't go meddling… she prefers to play with permission or be invited. Unless of course, the fate of Gotham is at sake.

-

Bobby blinks as Robin descends like a colorful clown loving sidekick of the night. Too soon? "Well this guy for one." Bobby notes. "He's called Robin. You may have noticed him in the news if you were paying any attention to it on your trip Berto. He's the guy who was photographed smooching Harley Quinn." The ice nerd shakes his head.

"The other two involved were a much more violent vigilante type. Didn't catch his name. And a rather mysterious woman - I assume it's a woman anyway - named Oracle." He produces his communicator. "Who sometimes talks through this."

-

The dark-skinned Bobby looks over, eyebrows raised in surprise, when Tim makes his dramatic entrance. "Hey, cool! I know who Robin is," he says with a grin, handling the Boy Wonder's appearance with a bit more aplomb than Doug. Truth be told, he was sort of hoping he would run into one of the various Gotham vigilantes on this trip. He tugs a slim black phone out of one of the pockets in his blazer as he approaches the newcomer. "I guess you know why we're here, but… Do you mind getting a selfie with me before we get started?" he asks. (He's a very serious crimefighter.) "No smooching necessary."

-

Digging into Berto was one thing, his public info was a matter of record. Digging into Doug's, on the other hand, was an oddity, considering that public records had indicated he was dead. A bit of hacking might show 'death certificate- revoked' from some long-suffering clerk who apparently was far too used to having to re-do these things.

The walking dead, meanwhile, was offering a hand to Robin, while glancing at Bobby. "Yeah. Hard to miss -that-. What was -that- about anyway?"

-

The response to his landing prompts Tim to arch his eyebrows at Doug. It's nice to know he can still surprise someone these days.

"Thanks Oracle," he murmurs back to the comlink. "As always any guidance would be great…"

"I definitely didn't smooch Harley Quinn. She smooched me," Tim's voice deadpans towards Bobby. "The woman has a thing for theatrics," they can virtually hear his eyes rolling. "But yeah, I'm Robin. Batman's — " and then someone is asking for a selfie with him. Dumb-founded, he turns to look at Bobby with a certain air of is this for real? before turning back to the fellow with the cellphone. "Uh. Oh-kay?" it's not really a definitive answer, but it's not a no either.

-

Green eyes show a degree of amusement at the mens antics. Iceboys communicator is activated. The laughter in her voice won't translate through the digital encoding "Hello Gentleman, this is Oracle. Roberto, be sure to use #herotracker when you post that selfie, won't you? Now Iceboy, it wasn't really Robins fault. Harley really does have a thing for the Boy Wonder here and he was …. too much of a gentleman to fend off her advances. Douglas, do tell me about that tablet you have… I'm always interested in technology"

-

"Mmmmhmmm. She smooched you." Bobby deadpans back, the primary difference between his deadpan and Robins being that he's teasing the red clad wonder.

"Hello Oracle." He's almost not surprised when the communicator crackles to life. "Yes as you have deduced my companions are the redoubtable Sunspot and Cypher. Do you happen to have anything on the incident I participated in a few weeks back?"

Aside, to the other two X-Red members, "Robin here is also a Titan and they're missing a member, or were a bit back. Do you still need help with that, oh you of the gentlemanly disposition?" That last to Robin. Now Bobby's eyes are dancing with mirth.

-

"Obrigado!" Roberto stands next to Robin in a pose that exudes casual confidence, holds the phone out at a low angle, and snaps a shot. Then he shuts the screen off and pockets the device again. "Sure thing, Oracle. But don't worry, I won't post it until we're gone," he assures the distorted voice with a smile. He spent enough time on the secret side of superheroics to know better than to give away a cape's current location on the internet.

"I'm pleased to meet you both," he adds, his manner becoming a bit more businesslike as he slides his hands into his hip pockets and surveys the location. "Have you found any leads here that we can help to run down? And… who's missing?" He's been out of the country for a few weeks — Oracle is likely to spot that soon — and he occasionally still feels like he's catching up.

-

"Well in his defense, I wouldn't fight too hard, I suppose," Doug grins, before glancing back at Bobby, and towards his communicator. "Huh." That she could identify a tablet… "You're watching from somewhere?"

Holding up his tablet, Doug grins, even as he taps away on it. C'mon, sweep, there's got to be -something- monitoring this, right? "It's a DaCosta prototype. Still a work in progress. It's, uh… a field test." Never mind -why- Berto has let it go on a field test right now… if she were nosy enough she could probably already have seen Berto's road trip, which would have looked remarkably like a speed-up film. Except it was -real-.

"So, um, just get Berto his pic, and then we can get down to business… like what's in that warehouse?" Doug adds, as if reminded to stop paying attention to the tablet sweep and start focusing on the here and now.

-

"Actually she has some sort of super human ability to take a punch. It was unreal," Robin states blandly towards the comlink. "They still need help, I think," Tim replies about the Titans. "Lots going on there. Big teams are like that though. Lots of activity." His lips twist thoughtfully to the side and then curve into his trademark boyish grin when the selfie is snapped.

"We have a few leads. But nothing concrete. There's this fellow connected to this ring who wears a mask. He's huge, and the mask has red lenses. I don't know much else. To be honest, the trail gets piping hot and then it gets cold. They seem to move underground somehow through tunnels. And the people that work with him have abilities of some kind… One literally shocked me off a roof."

-

The woman shrugs, not that they'll see it. Of course she's watching, what did he think? "I see many things, Douglas or do you prefer Cypher, in many ways. With your permission, I would look. I could just take a look at the tablet myself but for those I consider allies, it's polite to ask first. You're a linguist, I see… I assume you like algorithms?" a pause, the commslink goes dead for a brief moment "My thanks for waiting Berto…" a comment about Robin and trouble remaining unstated.

Now to business "The vigilante you spoke of Bobby" Oracle drops the humour "is known as Midnighter. An effective fighter, but a concern for the Bats as he employs lethal methods. He's certainly investigating this, but not on his own. My purview is mainly Gotham but I can tell you that from the information we retrieved the ship that day, there are three delivery points worldwide. Robins…. friend with the red lenses…. is yet to be found."

-

"Red lenses, mmm?" Bobby knows only one person with that description and he's fairly sure Scott isn't wandering around beating up the Boy Wonder. Though, you know, some days he wonders. "Not familiar to me, but we might be able to help you follow up on some of the other delviery points. Even if Berto can't swing permission from the relevant authorities to investigate we can pass the information on to people with more freedom of action." Blue team has to worry a lot less about things like permission.

-

"For all we know, she's actually a telepath who is just making us think her voice is coming through a communicator," Roberto tells Doug, wearing a teasing half-grin. "Gotham heroes are sneaky, right? Lots of smoke and mirrors. Wheels within wheels. Other clichés they didn't teach me in ESOL." Given his flawless diction, if Roberto ever was in ESOL, his teacher must have been incredible.

But that's enough levity for the moment; he leans back, eyebrows furrowing as he processes the details provided by their Gotham contacts. "Too bad Amara's still out of the country," he says. "She's good at underground. But Mike might be able to work up some variant on those seeker drones he used to track the M-virus."

"As for the deliveries — are any of them in Latin America?" The Brazilian glances over at the communicator. "DCI is big in shipping worldwide, but absolutely dominant in that region. We can lean on harbor masters, customs agents — get pretty much anything we want, in secret and with full cooperation from the locals. Elsewhere, we may have to be a little more clever, but I can check with DCI ship captains, look for popular routes or get lists of active smuggling ports or black market traffickers."

-

"Just call me Doug," the linguistic mutant replies. No, he wasn't getting anywhere poking around, as he couldn't be explicit in his attempts to figure out where Oracle was watching. The All-Seeing Eye, indeed. "I do like algorithms. It's just another way of expressing information. In shorthand form, of course. Now if we were sitting down and talking about computer languages and programming…"

Before he could digress into another train of thought, the reminder that they were here for -work-, he looks towards Roberto. "You wouldn't even have to go that far. Just track down manifests, and then compare manifests with cargo load, and see whether the weight can't make up for the ballast they have. A little bit of calculated searches ought to identify likely targets."

-

"Look. They were harvesting something from the metas. I can't tell you what, but something. And the fellow in the mask called me a soldier. His people treated him much the same. Like he was a Captain in a military. I don't know if it means anything, but…" Robin shrugs. And there's a beep on his comlink. The alert catches Tim's attention and he hmmms. "Uh… I have to go." Tim frowns lightly. "Duty calls." And with that Robin uses his grapple gun to take him back to the roof from which he disappears on the other side.

-

An email should appear on the tablet, addressed to Berto of course via a publically available email address. "A sample for you Doug… you might find it interesting, I was bored last night." Well not really bored, busy - the code is a modified encryption algorithm based on the one she fixed for Batman yesterday. Not as extensive as what got deployed, but it's good.

Oracle watches Tim depart "My apologies for my young colleagues departure, but they're kept rather busy… As he says, they were harvestting something much like they were from here, just on a much bigger scale." another pause "One location in Latin America, if Doug gives me access to the tablet I'll send the details securely. Email is… rather insecure."

-

Bobby watches him go. Date at Arkham perhaps? He doesn't say it. He does look over at Berto and Doug. The investigating of things is largely going to be up to them and Oracle. He can help, but a lot of it's just going to be physical backup or scentific analysis. Give him samples to work with he can probably get some answers through collegues if not himself.

-

Hands still in his pockets, Roberto gives a light shrug and watches Tim leap away, idly musing that with his agility, he'd make a great goalkeeper. Perhaps a Titans/X-Red futebol match is in order? "Doug's our information security guy. I'm sure the two of you can work out something secure," he tells Oracle conversationally. "They just keep me around to pick up heavy stuff and keep the lawyers off their backs."

His natural curiosity gets the better of his self-deprecation and he asks, "When you say 'harvesting,' are we talking about physically removing tissue, or some kind of energy or essence?" The verb can't help but call to mind a few of the darker enemies the former New Mutants have faced over the years.

-

"Access…" Giving Berto a look, Doug shrugs, before poking at the algorithm, following it up with setting up a VPN, and then a sandbox. Oracle might notice that she could easily wipe it off behind her if she wanted. Playing it straight up, he wasn't going to tag it with a tracking worm. Unless, of course, he could catch her at something, then all bets was off.

Yes, Doug Ramsey was a subscriber to the 'reciporal altruism' gaming theory.

"There you go, Oracle. And while you're at it… this is my email." Another 'publicly' available email. That would have to do for now.

-

"Trust is a wonderful thing, is it not?" Oracle thinks this is so much easier than fighting digitally. Several encrypted files are transmitted to the tablet. "That's the information I have. The raw data file from the ship, what I've managed to extract and analyse so far, and the locations of the end of points." She pauses "My first priority is to protect Gotham. There's enough going on here that anything else becomes fragmented. This issue, the trafficking, it's important and if you have the resources to take it further, that works… If you need assistance, I can provide it." Good luck tracking where she's connecting from. "There's an app there as well, break it down if you like. Standard Google and Apple Terms of Service apply - I get access to all resources on the device it's installed on and of course, I promise to maintain your privacy." It's a bad joke… really it is… Who knows what those two players do with your data? "It will make it easier for us to connect."

"Harvesting Berto… removing bodily fluid as if they would blood. In both cases I've seen, it's the same method. Bobby saw what they were doing here."

In the Clocktower, Oracle watches the CCTV feeds. Now Robin is gone, the close up feed is gone as well.

-

"It involved the administration of some kind of intraveneous drug too." Bobby notes. "There've been other cases? I guess I'm not surprised. In Gotham I'm going to guess since that seems to be your baliwick." The ice nerd turns to Berto and Doug. "Do I sense a South American business trip in the works?"

-

Roberto's lip twists in disgust as he pictures what the procedures must have looked like. The cold Bobby's question shakes him out of his reverie, and he exhales slowly, sounding resigned. "I feel like I just got back, but yes, we're going to have to take a trip south to pressure the port officials. At least this time, Illyana can provide transportation. Just one thing." He holds up a finger. "I'm not any happier about the thought than you are, but the first order of business won't be to break up the trafficking ring. We have to get all of the information we can before these filhos da puta even realize we're there."

-

Berto and Bobby - Doug refused to think of them as Hot and Cold Bobby, simply because it wasn't really the term he'd want to apply to Roberto - earned a few good looks, before the linguistic mutant goes back to studying the 'terms of service'. A bit of poking and prodding, and then the young blond shrugs. "If you're going to prod at privacy, I'm hoping you won't mind if I do the same." An invitation to a dance, apparently. "Got any information on the ship manifests too, or are they being kept in paper form?"

"Let's see how much we can get without being there. If they have security cameras down there, we should be able to hack into them and see what there is… and Illy has her scrying pool, doesn't she?"

-

"I've given you everything I can find. Manifests are hard copy. Midnighter has been doing a lot of investigation into breaking the ring here, I can organise an introduction if you like. He's rough but he cares." The voice filters through the communicator. The owner stretches slightly as she observes the scene, her face serious. Dougs invitation to dance is ignored… he can break the code down and see what she intends.

Bobby makes a face. "We'll have to move with purpose then. If other investigations tip the ring off we'll lose the network, since that's what we're really trying to bring down." He glances over to Doug. "I think so. And then we could ask Kitty to help. She's a decent hacker. Berto, do our contacts or allies have any among them? Just a thought. Dunno if we need it with Doug and Oracle on the case but it's a thought."

-

"Hackers? Sure, we know a few," Roberto answers evenly. "Some who might even owe us favors. The problem with passive observation, though, is that it will take too long."

Roberto (for whom 'Warm' Bobby is a perfectly acceptable moniker) lifts one hand out of his pocket and gestures with it as he explains, "Scanning around the port by remote viewing, hoping to stumble across them, will take much longer than bribing or bullying the information out of someone. Any security cameras that might offer us a direct look at their operation will be mysteriously malfunctioning. And we'll have to watch an entire ship full of slaves complete its journey to figure out where they're coming from or going — I guarantee you, their manifests are simply faked. That's just basic compartmentalization."

He shakes his head, hand returning to his pocket. "I have a little experience dealing with these sorts of operations, from when I was trying to dismantle some of the uglier holdings my father passed along to me. I think the direct approach is going to get us a lot faster results."

-

"I was thinking more that we'd notice the curious omissions, but your point's taken," Doug replies, before holding up a list of likely places to observe directly. "Still, given Oracle's information, we can at least narrow down the places to go hit directly. So if we're going to hit them, these are probably your best bet."

-

"As I find more, with your permission Doug, I will send it to that device. All three of you, and anyone you're planning on bringing in, will be targets for this ring… I'm sure I'm just telling you to suck eggs… but becareful." another pause "Surveillance, Digital Disruption, Misdirection, I can assist with that. You can contact me anytime." Hot Bobby, Cold Bobby and Doug seem to be taking the lead. Oracle is a support resource (most times)… this will work.

-

Bobby nods. "You let me know where you need me Berto. I'll keep contact with Oracle along with Doug. Let me know if you want me to call in Nancy's team." The Outsiders are definitely a direct action group but some of them are capable of subtlty. "Untill then, though I'll just keep my eyes and ears open."

-

"Got it, Cold Twin. I don't think we'll need the backup, but maybe for the final strike, it could be nice to invite them along." One hand rubs along his jawline and he gazes off into the middle distance. There might be a specific member he's hoping to get more face time with. But he shakes off the thought with a smirk. "Much appreciated, Oracle, but being targets is what we do best," he tells the hacker, his confidence unshakable as ever. "The bright red X's on our chests aren't there by accident." Of course, his own costume features the bright red X in an even more worrisome spot, but he's not going to bring that up. Oracle can undoubtedly find photos of him in action with a simple Google image search.

-

"You're telling me, we had extra padding in the X for a reason," Doug replies, although he can't help but offer a wide, shit-eating grin at Roberto, before his attention turns back to Oracle. "Anytime," Doug replies, as he pokes at the tablet. "Aw man, the power's draining… that's one note, needs a better battery system." And then realization sets in.

"… Wait, are we driving back?"

-

Rolling her neck, relieving tension, the redhead smiles broadly "How else are you going to get back, Doug? If we're done here… " Her eyes scan her screens "I'll take my leave. Thank you for your time gentlemen, I'll be listening and watching for you. Oracle out." And the communicator Cold Bobby is holding, deactivates.

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