Think It Like The Street
Roleplaying Log: Think It Like The Street
IC Details

Dinah and Barbara unpack the recent intel on the Whispers and realize they need a new perspective

Other Characters Referenced: John Constantine, Frank Castle, Huntress, Bobbi Morse
IC Date: January 19, 2019
IC Location: Sherwood Florists, Gotham City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 21 Jan 2019 04:39
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

Sometimes, the only thing you can do when the sun goes down is do an entire arsenal inventory. After the run-in with the Whispers and their shadow magic again last night, Barbara is not in the right headspace for patrol. Her skin still crawls with the after effects of the magic, and she's puzzling over what she had seen down in the abandoned rail station.

So, she has taken over the living room, spreading out an enormous fleece blanket, and going through everything that is in her Bat inventory. There's dozens of batarangs of varying purposes, another dozen bolas, a few grapplers and their associated batlines. Then there's her new suit — folded and stacked in one corner. She's rocking forward, reaching a few wood coins she recently acquired from John's place, tossing one of them casually in the air before catching it in her palm. She opens her hand to reveal its carved face, frowning at it thoughtfully.

Then she calls upstairs, "Hey! Dinah! You awake yet?"

* * *

"Fuck you," Dinah groans back. There's a sound of a pillow being thrown at an open door, missing and hitting the wall, and then a surly blonde cursing everyone who lives.

A few moments later she drags down the stairs, thumping one foot at a time with no effort at grace. Flannel pajama pants and a thin grey t-shirt that once said 'Sturgis '13' on it. Hair doing a haystack impression, she scowls at Barbara for no particular reason and shuffles to the kitchen with a limp.

Dinah clatters around in the kitchen, mostly pouring coffee into a mug, and moves back into the living room with her shoulders hunched around the mug like she's protecting a delicate candle flame in both hands. Or drawing life force from it directly. "Coffeecoffeecoffee." She glances at the clock, pushing her hair back from her face with one hand, and glances at Babs. "Wow, I *was* out. Didn't realize it was after eight already. Thanks for letting me sleep," she says, and walks past (over) Babs to curl up on the sofa near her. "Whatcha doing? Color coding your gear for easier sorting?"

* * *

The thump of the pillow hitting the door, punctuating Dinah's declaration of love, draws a warm and casual smile on the redhead's lips. She gives it time, waiting for her roommate to slunk her way down the stairs in her lovely disarray. Her chant for something caffeinated has her nodding vaguely. "Got a fresh pot almost brewed."

Then her smile redoubles, dimples activating. She glances toward Dinah, nodding. "You got in after dawn, Di… I figured you needed a lot more than eight hours of sleep." She also notices the limp, and so casually tucks a bit of hair behind her ear before she asks quietly, "You okay?"

The comment about her gear draws a snort, and she shakes her head. "No… just… I don't know. I had a really weird start to my night last night. You were out by the time I got home, or I would have told you about it right away. So, instead, it's been stewing about in my head."

* * *

Dinah folds her legs bonelessly under her and drinks the coffee as rapidly as the heat will allow, immediately scalding her tongue with a small hiss of discomfort. "Yeah, it got a little wild on my end," she admits. "I was checking out this Mafia dive bar when Huntress showed up. Threw down with a bunch of mafia princes right in the middle of the club. I jumped into it, and this off-duty SHIELD agent threw down, and next thing I know we're taking on half a friggin' family syndicate. Cleaned house, but Huntress got stabbed pretty bad. Called up Christine, she did her Night Nurse trick, and I spent the night at the hotel we dumped Huntress at to make sure she didn't bleed out or something. Hard to get any sleep when you're constantly checking to make sure someone didn't swallow her tongue."

A gulp of coffee passes her lips. "Okay, I showed you mine, you show me yours. What's been up with you? I haven't seen you for like, two days. I feel weird not knowing where my house spouse is," she says, pouting at Barbara playfully.

* * *

Huntress. She has been so caught-up in the fact that Gotham's gangs are getting handed magic that she forgot about the woman, forgot her promise to Frank. She breathes out a slow exhale, nodding thoughtfully as her lips set together. "Did she kill anybody?" Because that appears to be the most important question, or it was. Until — "Wait. SHIELD? What was SHIELD doing in a Mafia dive bar?" But all the pieces start to come together, and she shakes her head. "Di. I'm sorry. I should have been there with you, but…"

She grimaces. "Jessica Jones got a lead on the Whispers in Gotham, and so I got together Jess, and Zatanna, and Red Robin, and we hit this abandoned Rail station over in Sandy Hook. Found another kid's body strung up, but this time it had some kind of magic alarm cut into his chest."

* * *

"I don't know. Drug bust? Gun smuggling? SHIELD's always up to something. Heck for all I know she was just there off-duty slumming it with the rest of us and just felt compelled to jump in."

Dinah hesitates, then wiggles her shoulders at Barbara in an attempt to feign nonchalance. "If she didn't, someone's gonna have some big hospital bills. It wasn't a good fight," she clarifies. "Guns, knives, flying chairs. She definitely pushed him into it but I wouldn't say she threw the first punch, either. Fuckin' guido douche," Dinah mumbles.

"Anyway. Your thing sounds more important than my thing. Who was the kid? Local? Gang member?" Dinah presses, trying to turn on her 'investigate and detect' mode.

* * *

SHIELD. Something about SHIELD makes Barbara nervous, perhaps because of their stance on the new registration laws in NYC, perhaps because they operate outside of the law, outside of the government. And they are totally welcomed to do so. That sets her off in weird, disquieted ways.

Dinah's clarification on the fight has Barbara looking more worried, rocking back on the balls of her feet with her butt balanced on her heels. She folds her arms languidly across her thighs, looking bemused. "Jesus Christ, Dinah… this woman is serious business." She rubs at the back of her neck. "Frank gave her my contact info. I haven't heard from her yet." She toys with the red hairs on the back of her neck before she looks up at her friend.

"I don't know. I didn't recognize him… he was late teens, maybe early twenties? African American… I have no idea how long he was down there, but they had him strung up across the tunnel entrance. Definitely some kind of warning against going into the tunnels." She frowns. "Zatanna made it sound like he was rigged with some sigil that the Vikings used to guard their houses, carved into doors." She frowns. "Were there Vikings in the Ukraine?" It's a musing directed to Dinah, and maybe the Black Canary knows.

Then she sighs. "Jess got some samples, but the moment she touched his skin, he basically… turned into some goddamn alarm."

* * *

Dinah sets her coffee aside and leans forward to rub at the back of Barbara's neck. It's not a gentle touch of affection, it's an attempt to realign some clearly tweaked muscles. Also, it's a little affectionate. Bonding time.

"Do I look like the History channel?" she asks, dryly. "But yeah, I think they did," she says, without waiting for a response. "They were everywhere, they've found Viking trading goods all the way from Nova Scotia to like… I wanna say the Dead Sea," she ventures. "So I'm pretty sure Ukraine is in that area. But runes are pretty distinctive looking, right? So it's pretty unlikely that Zatanna would get a bad read on them, of all people. I'm sure she knows what she's looking for. That narrows the band of perps down a bit, right? How many magical hitters are using Norse magical boobytraps on a professional basis?"

* * *

The redhead relaxes a bit when Dinah offers up the massage to her aching neck, and she doesn't put up much of a fuss. She grimaces slightly at the ache, but keeps up the conversational all the same.

"Didn't the History Channel have that Vikings show on it? You know, the one with the cute blond?" Not that, that's going to be all that historically accurate. Then she frowns slightly as Dinah gets that thinking going. "Alright, so… the Ukraine Whisper gang is using Norse bindrunes and shadow magic." She'd bring up the Hellraisers and the hulking monsters at the Christmas Ball, but she stays focused. "And John and I ran into some shadow creatures that were guarding something in the underground."

She looks at Dinah. "So, what? We're looking for some Asgardian selling black magic to Gotham gangs?" She's laughing through those words because they are so absurd, and probably not even close to an actual theory.

* * *

"Myeh—" Dinah makes a corrective noise and pushes Barbara's head forward so she can keep working on her neck and shoulders. "I mean, it's a theory, right?" she asks Barbara, rhetorically. "Deductive reasoning, we fit the theory to the facts. Neither of us has been hit in the head so hard we've forgotten how to do some deductive work," she reminds Barbara.

"Okay. Let's go over the facts. We know the Whispers are bucking for territory, not just cutting into margins. They're recruiting local talent and somehow making them psychotically loyal. Practically suicide bombers," she remarks. "They are operating in low profile, high crime areas, so they're not ready yet to go toe to toe with the cops. Or they're worried about getting identified in their public life," she amends, holding up a finger.

"Let's treat the magic like we would a crimescene gun," she suggests. "You find a snubby Saturday Night special near a body, you can take a few guesses what happened. So talk to me about the magic," she prompts. "What do we know about it?"

* * *

"Alright, Watson," Barbara muses playfully at her friend, inadvertently making herself Sherlock in this metaphor — which really John might be more apt to fill that role. Speaking of John — where is he? The question tugs at her thoughts briefly before she sobers into the two friends, roommates, and vigilantes putting their heads together.

"The Whispers have always operated in the Rails, but you're right… they're making bigger moves. Atlantic City is well outside their wheelhouse, and yet there they were." She huffs out a thoughtful breath, looking at her gear even while her mind turns over the questions.

"John thinks they bought it, or were given it… the Whispers in Atlantic City? Ones in the summoning circles? They got their power entirely from the amulets, not from their own source… and obviously there was some price they were paying for it, because the second we forced one outside the summoning circle, they basically got eaten." She frowns. "Alright, so… someone is selling magic. If I understood Zatanna right, she suggested either a demon or a warlock — but she thinks if it's a warlock, they'd be playing recklessly. So, maybe it's a demon."

She shifts as she recalls something else Zatanna had said, and her lips thin. "She said if it was demons, that someone at this place… the Morning Star Club in New York… they might know. She got a thread of their magic last night, and so maybe she can figure out where it came from. Magic forensics. But we still have one of the burnt-out amulets. Maybe we can do our own asking around."

* * *

Dinah thumps Babs' temple lightly. "Hey, there you go. Now you're thinking like a detective." She sits back and lays sideways on the sofa, propping her head up on her palm and elbow, and gives Barbara a Serious Look. "Honey you gotta remember— the only thing you and I *really* have is our brains," she points out. "Constantine and Zatanna sound like they could whistle up frickin' Satan for a little mystical jam session. Jessica's the next best thing to bulletproof. We always gotta be thinking smarter than they are."

She probes at her lower lip with her tongue, wincing a little. "Fucker," she mutters, and rubs her palm across her mouth. "See what I mean? I forgot how to duck, apparently."

"Okay. So we're on a good roll here. This is sounding a lot like a drugs for guns deal," she points out. "Remember the, uh, … oh who was that Triad asshole. He was selling Kalashnikovs to the Jamaicans, remember? And then when they got into it with the Cubans, the Triad just rolled in and swept them all out to sea." She makes a sweeping gesture with her palm for emphasis. "So this *arsenal* these Whispers have," she says, stressing the word. "It's dangerous and unstable shit. Probably difficult to acquire and not a lot of people are just handing that out for the lulz, y'know? So I'd start angling after the supplier rather than screwing around with the foot soldiers. Figure out who's hooking them up with this high-level weaponry. That's got to be a *real* short list of movers and shakers."

* * *

Barbara reels backwards dramatically at the thump to her temple, and then she laughs lightly as she rocks back into place. She settles down on her butt, legs butterflied out. "We also have our charm and amazing good looks," the redhead quips back easily. "But you're right… I've been going about this all wrong." She rests her chin in her palm, elbow pressed into one knee. She frowns, but it is a thoughtful frown.

When Dinah makes links and comparisons in ways that actually track, Babs nods thoughtfully. "Alright, so. Zatanna has a sample of magic. She's going to try to figure out if she can trace it to the caster. So, we follow that trail and it should land us on the doorsteps of the dealer." Maybe. "We're missing a big question here, though Di. Why. Iz — " That Triad Asshole(TM) " — had a motive. So, why would someone try to up the power level of a Gotham Rail Gang? If it is a warlock, maybe they aren't being reckless. Maybe there's a damn good reason why they are powering up the Whispers with borrowed magic. If it's a demon? Crap, Dinah… I don't even know. I can wrap my head around human motives, warlock or not. But demon?"

* * *

"Crap," Dinah agrees, and rolls on her back to stare at the ceiling.

"Okay, no, fuckit, let's not go down that rabbit hole," she says, waving hands through the air declaratively. "If it's some kind of horrible monster then the motive might actually just *be* crazy. THat's like trying to figure out why the Joker does anything. We don't need to understand the why, just anticipate the next step."

She interlaces her fingers behind her head, one knee crossed over the other and her bare foot drawing circles in the air while she thinks. "Territory or respect," she says, finally. "If it's territory, that's a question of how much Sandy Hook is worth to the local black market. Drugs, guns, human trafficking, I don't know. We gotta ask where the money is. Hell, maybe it's some shady real estate crap. Fisk has done that a few times," she observes.

"If it's respect, then it's not just about the cash. It's about pushing out other gangs and making them afraid. So— forget the vics. Who are the wards and bodies meant to scare or frighten? What groups or gangs are hanging around Sandy Hook and are gonna freak out when they see a body hanging from an overpass?"

* * *

"John still has one of the amulets from Atlantic City, and now Zatanna has an actual sample of magic." Barbara frowns slightly, wondering quietly. What has John been up to with that amulet, and why didn't she follow-up with him about it? Soon after Atlantic City was the Ball, and then Christmas, and then it was all about the Hellraisers. The Whispers fell off her radar, almost as if that was their intention. She forgot about the shadows.

Maybe John did, too. Or, maybe not.

"It isn't respect." Barbara sounds confident in that. "The Whispers had respect. I think this is about power, and in this case, probably territory." Thoughts drift, and something nags at her. She can't put her finger on it.

Then she frowns. "What if they aren't meant to scare anyone?" She looks to Dinah now. "Look, I've snooped around John's library enough to know one thing: the strongest vessel for magic is a mortal. Blood, bone… all carries the greatest bang for the buck. I think the intimidation factor is just a bonus… and the Whispers are built on loyalty, proving that you can keep your mouth shut. Use snitches in your magic is probably just culture for them. They were going to kill them anyway, might as well use them for magic."

* * *

"Uh, okay, no more snoopign around John's library," Dinah scolds Barbara with a pointed look. "I've seen enoughs shlocky horror movies to know that it all goes pear shaped when some well intentioned virgin nerd starts learning things that she shouldn't know."

Fingers flex and crack as she pops her knuckles with her thumb, mulling over Barbara's thoughts. "God, I really prefer dealing with human scumbags. They're all predictable," she mutters, passing a hand over her brow. "So maybe we're going about this all wrong," she postulates. "It's not about or territory, or resources, or respect. It's about power, like… heavy magical shit. They're doing something else entirely and it just *looks* like a bunch of low level thugs are amped up on magical amphetamines, right? So they go out, tearing shit up, causing trouble, and everyone's so focused on these crazy hyperviolent kids that no one's looking enough into what the side effects of all this is. Yeah? No? Maybe?"

* * *

"Heeeeey," Barbara scowls at her friend good-naturedly. "I thought we agreed to stop calling me a nerd." Then she smirks. "And I'm not even getting into the virgin bit. If we wanted to worry about virgin nerds, we'd be having this conversation with Peter. Or Kamala." Burn. "Besides, John's doing the whole 'only leaving the mostly harmless books lying around while keeping the scarier books down in his secret warlock dungeon' routine."

Then she sobers a bit, thinking with a deep frown. Dinah's words settle into her unnervingly, and she looks aside toward the Black Canary with an almost owlish look. "Um. Dinah, I… I think you're onto something." She looks down at her gear, brows arched. "Alright, so… Big Bad gives magic to the Whispers. The Whispers start to use the magic because they can and it makes them scary, but the Big Bad didn't give them the magic just to up the fear factor in Gotham. Gotham doesn't need that. The Whispers are just the means… but to what end?"

Her frown redoubles as she looks at Dinah. "I keep trying to avoid it, but… I think we need to go look into this Morning Star Club. We might be able to find someone who knows who might be feeding the Whispers magic." She hesitates. "You up for some really strange recon?"

* * *

"Being a virgin's a state of mind, mein fraund," Dinah informs Babs. Her eyes stay fixed on the ceiling, but a smile crosses her face. "You're still entirely too corruptible. It's okay. It's cute, according to some dudes," she says, baiting Barbara playfully with a lame tone.

"I'm not *wild* about hitting up some freaky magic nightclub, but I don't know we have enough to go on without some boots and ground to walk on," she concedes. "I imagine John and Zatanna would stand out a bit. Sounds like they've got a rep in those circles." She gets to her feet with a groan of pain and shuffles to the medical cabinet. Bottles are opened, pills are popped, and she limps back to the sofa with an e-cigarette and a dab of cannabis oil loaded into it. "I gotta go see a chiropractor again. My back's all tweaky."

She ignites the digital cigarette and takes a few deep whiffs of it, then eases back into the sofa as the painkillers uncork tweaked muscles. "I'd still rather not go in *completely* blind," she says, finally. "Last thing we need is to get whammied with that friggin' sound blindness thing. And I'd like an idea of who we're looking for. It all keeps coming back to motive, means, and opportunity," she remarks, as if mentally rolling through it again. "Who gains from the Whispers raising hell up and down the coast? What does it take to get that kinda power into the hands of a bunch of scrubs who couldn't hack it with the Tang or the Mafia? And," she says, holding up a third finger, "who is in a position to recruit and equip all these kids? They can't exactly hold pep rallies at the local high schools. The scrubs are coming to them *somehow*, so *someone* on the street knows where these recruiting drives happen."

* * *

"I hate you with a fiery passion," Barbara replies flatly at her teasing words. "I'll have you know that I actually know what sex is… I know this may surprise you." Her own words are laced with dry mirth before she looks back out at the spread of her gear once more.

"I was thinking the same thing," Babs says as Dinah gets up, and her blue eyes track her friend's movement to the cabinet. She frowns worriedly at the self-medicating, but she knows better than to say anything. Barbara isn't about to judge, while also quietly judging. It's out of concern though.

"I'll ask Zatanna what she finds out about the magic; that will give us something. I think John still has an amulet." Which may mean she's about to steal from her boyfriend's magic cache. At the three key ideas from Dinah, Babs nods her head. "If we treat the Whispers as the thugs with guns, we're looking for the guy calling the shots. I think that's the angle we go with… this isn't about the Whispers anymore. They'll lose their power once we cut them off from their dealer, and so we go to Morning Star looking for someone dealing in shadow magic."

* * *

Dinah stares at Barbara, saying nothing for a long few seconds. Then she explosively exhales a gout of water vapor upwards, and sags back into the sofa. Her free hand rises and she rests her forearm across her face. "Fuuuuck that feels better," she says, rubbing her face. "Save the Percostet for the stab wounds. And stop judging me, Miss Judgey," she remarks, without needing to look past the arm thrown over her eyes. "I can hear your lips pressing together."

She drags her palm across her face, focusing. "Well, there's two angles we can play, and I fuckin' hate both of them," she remarks, wryly. "We go in as meat and get in over our heads, or we go in as applicants— candidates? And see what their secret induction ceremony looks like. Learn the secret handshake, try to scope out some names and faces, bail before we get our souls eaten, or something."

* * *

"My lips are not pressing together," Barbara says in a scowling reply.

Then she crosses her arms along her knees once more, and her lips do press together — but not for the reason that Dinah was teasing her for. She rubs slightly at her chin, and an idea begins to form. "Way I see it… either we go in pretending to be young magicians who are looking for power, or we go in as doe-eyed college girls who heard this was a great place to party." She starts to laugh, but it is hard to say just what she finds amusing. "I can't actually decide which is the better route…" She then breathes out a slow exhale. "Neither is entirely ideal, is it?"

* * *

"I believe the technical term is 'sucks donkey wang'," Dinah observes, philosophically. She folds her legs under her and grips her ankles with both hands to lean forward a little, rocking back and forth on her rear in thought.

"Okay. Well, you're the one with the magic boyfriend, so I guess you're gonna have to play sorcerer's apprentice," she tells Barbara. "And since I've got the good looks, personality, and bubbly charm, I'll go in as a moll," she suggests. "That leaves us a little shorthanded if shit hits the fan," she remidns Barbara. "Our prep work is gonna have to go into overtime. I'd feel better knowing Frank or … hell, even Huntress is out there covering our backs. Preferably from an armored vehicle with a machine gun on it," she says, with fervent hope.

* * *

"Pretty sure that's not the technical term." Barbara smiles toward Dinah with a half-cock of her head. "But I see your point."

She frowns at her gear, which seem abruptly mundane. Something about the casual mention of John has her looking toward Dinah after a long, thoughtful heartbeat. Then she nods soberly. "I should tell John." The words are quiet, uncertain. "Frank's not the one we're going to want as back-up in there, or Huntress. I've gotten a glimpse of this world, Di. Some of these things don't even flinch when you hit them with a mini-gun." Then she frowns more thoughtfully.

"John might not be able to go in with us, but… he should know we're going in."

* * *

"God I hate magic shit," Dinah says again, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "You know you're gonna have to grab him by the ear to keep him from knocking our legs out from under us in there," she warns Barbara. "He's not gonna like the idea of his girlfriend getting into the middle of a sting operation. Frankly if we're made while we're in there, we're dead. John, Frank, or friggin' Superman notwithstanding. So no magical geegaws or eldritch hand cannons." She points her chin at Barbara's gear stack. "A/V surveillance, remote feeds, escape and evade equipment. I think I've still got those flashbang earrings somewhere," she remarks, craning her neck thoughtfully. "So yeah. Everything we need to make a lot of noise and bail in a hurry if it hits the fan, yeah?"

* * *

Babs can't help but laugh, lowering her chin slightly as she does. "Look, John's overprotective, but I think even he would see that there's something to be gained with an operation like this." Or at least, she hopes. "I'll talk to him when I see him next." Which is another reminder that she hasn't seen him since last evening. Happens, she reminds herself. She'd know if it was serious.


"Alright. Let's play this right. No rushing in without a solid plan." She glances to Dinah, tilting her head again with a wry smile. "I'll order some pizza."

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