Catching Up With Ripper

December 20, 2014:

Oracle tracks down David Ironheart and has a chat with him.



NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

As a rule, David Ironheart does not get unexpected deliveries. His crummy little hole-in-the-wall apartment is not the sort of place that attracts solicitors, and to date he had not once accidentally received another tenant's mail. So when somebody shows up to his door holding something his paranoia ratchets up General Suspicion to Almost Certainly A Trap. The person at the door is forced to wait a good minute or to as David silently checks to make sure he has no incriminating evidence in sight and that he has numerous knives hidden on himself; the lack of an initial reply upon his part is to see if the person will go away or not.

When he does finally open the door, he's checked through the peephole repeatedly and listened for the sounds of anyone else nearby. The door opens to reveal the young man in plain clothes, looking unfriendly but not aggressive. He doesn't even speak; he waits for the other person to say or do something.

The young man is carrying a rather non descript box, with a simple label saying "Open Me" on it, no other identifying markings can be found. Looking at the silent young man in the doorway, he hands the box over with a quick "Delivery for you." and pushes the box towards him.

Yes, mysterious packages are exactly the sort of thing people with mental issues like David enjoy receiving. Frowning at the man, it is several seconds before he reluctantly accepts the box. He then closes the door without waiting for any further response. Locking it behind him, he brings the package into his bathroom, depositing it in the empty bathtub. Operating under the assumption that it is rigged to do something unpleasant when opened, he fetches his sword and uses the tip of the blade to cut open the box as he stands just around the corner of the bathtub's nook. If it's a small enough explosion, he'll only lose one arm!

Inside the box is a small communication device, that allows video and audio to be transmitted. There's a label on it that says "Speak To Me" and a small card with a logo or an avatar on it. It's obvious, that to use the device, you press the only button on it.

The lack of explosion, gas, confetti, or anything else is very surprising to David. Even after using a hand mirror to exam the contents without actually leaning over the box he fails to spot anything obviously threatening. It just looks like, and probably is, a communications device.

"Huh." Somebody wants to talk to him, privately. The image seems vaguely familiar, but he can't place it. Figuring he has little to lose at this point, David takes the device and sets it down on the edge of the bathtub, which he then climbs into, so that the only thing the camera should transmit is a view of David in front of some rather ugly bathroom tiles. Finally he presses the button.

Oracle is in the Clocktower, waiting for the young man she's had the box delivered to, to open the comms channel. It's take a while to track him down but after seeing what he did to Misfit, she's be relentless in her search. As the picture of David, sans costume, appears on her monitor with the bath tiles behind him, she smiles grimly. "Hello, my name is Oracle and I thought we should speak." The voice is digitally altered and David won't be able to tell if she's male or female. It is… just a voice.

Oracle. With that one word everything clicks into place. Oracle, the famous hacker/know-it-all. The one Misfit addressed. One of the few people who could have tracked him down, given how careful he had been in keeping his true identity secret. While his face is very reserved, the look of recognition, understanding, and concern are glimpsed quickly cycling through his cold, hard eyes.

"I'll take the lack of cops arresting me as a good sign," he answers her in his regular voice - no need to use the Ripper persona under the circumstances.

"For now" Oracle replies. Watching his face and the responses flash over it, she smiles again. "So, you know who I am then, that's a good start. You hurt one of mine recently and yet, you seem to be trying to do the same thing as us." She pauses, letting the silence grow momentarily "Would you like to explain why you hurt her?" Oracle, of course has seen the footage from the fight and knows what happened, but she wants to hear his side of the story.

The skin around his eyes tightens ever so slightly more than it already is; he does not enjoy how precarious his position is, what with Oracle holding all the cards. David is quite certain that this conversation will determine his future, either maintaining his current lifestyle or giving up his real name and fleeing for the rest of his life.

"She's weak and needs to toughen up, or someday soon she'll run into somebody who doesn't have my sensibility and die a painful death." While aware that being respectful and polite is the smart way to go in this situation, he can't help but allow his disdain for the rookie superhero to show though. "But to answer your question, she was trying to send me to prison. I did what was necessary to avoid that outcome."

Nodding, Oracle listens to his statement "Yes, she was. She said you had killed and then mutilated someone. Our way is not to kill, but to detain and let the authorities deal with it." The redhead sighs knowing full well that the Bats are one of the few that maintain this line. "She is young and eager… and for not killing or maiming her, I am grateful."

There's a pause again, the Information Goddess considering his response "You ran yourself through with your own sword… to stop her trying to arrest you or was there more to that action?" Oracle is trying to get a feel for this young man, who quite frankly took extraordinary measures to stop Misfit getting hurt.

"She was right." He doesn't even consider denying what he did to the criminal. He's proud of it in fact, even if the mentally scarred man keeps that pride out of his voice for now. He has many secrets kept from the world, and many faces he wears, metaphorically speaking, layers upon layers. How close to the complete truth should he allow Oracle? That person already knows enough that most of his lies would be useless. So he hedges, concealing not just the truth but some of the lies from her in favor of being vague.

"I needed an opening so I could disable her. I don't inflict lasting harm on anyone but the bad guys." His voice is utterly flat and emotionless, just as his facial expression.

"Lasting harm… an interesting way to describe killing and mutilating someone." Oracle watches the young man, carefully. "And yet, you seem to display compassion. In my experience, people don't just start hunting and hurting 'bad guys', as you call them, without reason." She hasn't earned the title Gothams Information Goddess for no reason and she's pieced together bits of the young mans background. "Are you hunting them to deliver justice or revenge?"

It wouldn't be terribly difficult to find out that David Ironheart not only witnessed the murder of his mother, but barely survived being murdered as well in the same incident. Less easy to find would be information on his downward spiral into antisocial behavior and insanity, though hints are certainly evident to those who know what to look for.

"Well I suppose that qualifies too, but I meant breaking bones or leaving scars when I said 'lasting harm.'" Her observation seems to displease him even further, though even with his very deliberate, almost expressionless mask, someone like Oracle should still be able to tell the reason behind it: everybody hates it when people point out information that was supposed to be secret. A few seconds pass and then he relaxes ever so slightly. Oracle was about to get an unprecented level of Truth from him.

"There's overlap," his gruff yet slightly less tense voice explains. "What I aim for is justice though. Many people deserve greater punishment than the law permits, because most people have no stomach for punishments beyond the abstract. The only reason people are even willing to send others to prison is because they don't know what the experience is like themselves. You can get life in prison for stealing cars too many times, or because you like kidnapping and selling children. I hardly call that justice."

"I hear that justification a lot, in this job" Oracle responds and the sighs, letting the sigh filter through the comms unit this time. "So many of you, think to take punishment into your own hands… I have difficulty understanding how that makes us any better than those we seek to punish, when we do." Oracle watches the responses, carefully assessing before continuing "But, given the state of our penal system, I do understand your sentiments. I may not agree with them, but I can understand."

Another pause, and then Oracle continues "Batman does not take kindly to those who act in his territory." Again she sighs, as she suspects she knows what the response will be "Particularly those who kill those they are hunting. It is not the way of the Bats." Oracle may be part of the Bat family, but her network is vast… "That said… I would prefer to work with those who insist on operating in Gotham, to ensure the safety of all."

"It's not about being better than them. It's about doing what needs to be done to make the world a better place. Some people are good at medicine. Some people are good at spreading happiness through art. I'm good at permanently removing the greater threats to humanity." He gives a shrug, as if admitting that his main skillset being murder is no big deal.

Batman. Someone David definitely does not want to cross if he has the choice. But does he actually have a choice in this? "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it," he replies after a few seconds, as far as facing the displeasure of the Bats goes. Her next statement leaves him looking momentarily surprised. "Really?" The wheels turn in his head. That would explain Misfit's connection with Oracle, at least. "Elaborate."

"I didn't mean being better like that… " Oracle lets that go, the discussion becomes circular after a while. Davids short request, she'll treat as such is met with a shrug "I don't approve of murder or killing, that you have to understand… and it's why they young lady the other day was adamant to take you in. However, I offer assistance to those who insist on doing what you do. You need help, information, backup, intelligence, I can generally provide it."

The redhead in the Clocktower is watching intently, noting the surprise on the young mans face "The assistance cuts both ways. If I need a resource on the ground, I will call on you. Just as you may call on me for additional support. My only request… is you work to disable the threat, and let Law Enforcement handle it." If David does some digging, he may find that some of the more 'meta or magical criminals' have been dealt with in different ways, as well.

"I understand that not many people agree with or are even willing to tolerate my methods." He's just as happy to leave the morality discussion behind though. Then she's explaining the nature of the alliance, something he listens to very carefully. "Does this assistance apply only if I give up on the excessive force thing completely from here on out, for situations where I'm not trying to kill somebody, or anytime I get in over my head or need help, regardless?" Probably the second option, based upon her later terms, but it's important to be clear on such things. "And what happens if I don't like the offer and want to go at it on my own, the same as I've been doing?"

Shifting slightly in her chair, Oracle considers the young mans questions before replying "Try not to kill them… that's all I'm asking. And really, anytime you need assistance whether you're over your head or not. A well planned operation is the key success… and if we can limit the carnage and mayhem, all the better." The last question causes her to stop and think hard. "You don't have to work with me, it's not a demand. I will still provide assistance, if you need it." She sighs, knowing how harsh the next statement will be "But if you continue to kill people, I can't and, most likely won't, stop those who will try to stop you."

"Maybe I'm not being clear." Despite the fact that she just told him that she's not going to blackmail him, which she easily could, he still sounds just as standoffish as ever. "Besides the times when I am providing assistance that has been requested for, am I required to adhere to the Bat's code of conduct as part of the terms of assistance? Because either I'm forbidden from lethal force except as a last resort - along with other similar behaviors on my part, or I'm not, and any further restraint I display is purely optional on my part."

Oracle sighs and shifts again "I prefer that all the people I work with only use lethal force as a last resort, all the time…" the wheelchair bound woman grimaces "I would like to see you adopt that approach as your general approach, whether providing assistance or not. It is a request for you to consider." she shrugs "If you continue to use excessive force and it becomes a concern for me, we'll talk again…"

Disapproval if not annoyance creeps into his expression at Oracle's foolishly naive (in his mind) request. He's silent for some time after that, only the sight of his chest expanding and contracting as he breaths giving hint that the feed is still broadcasting, as opposed to frozen somehow.

"There are… reasons why I am unable to agree to that overall." Another pause, not quite as long this time, and his expression softens ever so slightly. "You may call upon me for emergency assistance in high stakes situations; while responding to those specific calls, I will abide by your request to restrain my behavior, or at the very least I will make it clear before I commit to the incident if such limitation is not - is unnacceptable to me at that time." He very barely catches himself before saying "not possible." There are things he still doesn't want Oracle to know.

Oracle isn't exactly naive, she just has a vision of how she wishes Gotham to be. She did catch part of the slip and her eyebrows raise. "Very well, keep the communicator, take it with you and call on me." The redhead knows something is up with the young man she's been speaking to. "I will call on you, as needed… "

"Fine." And just like that he presses the button, presumably ending the conversation. Though just in case he heads into the kitchen and stuffs the device into an empty condiment container to dampen its microphone in case it can be secretly activated, at least until he can figure out a longer term solution.

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