On Murdercults and Killbots
Roleplaying Log: On Murdercults and Killbots
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Kate and Tim catch up on recent events, which of Bruce's pilfered paraphernalia is most likely to kill them all, and the extralegal acquisition of killbot data.

Other Characters Referenced: Batman, Zatanna Zatara, Alfred Pennyworth
IC Date: April 30, 2019
IC Location: THE BATCAVE!
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 01 May 2019 10:24
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for naughty language
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

When Katherine Rebecca Kane started her little enterprise as a vigilante, she had no real connection to Batman or his collection of associates / plucky sidekicks. She didn't even know who he was — that'd come later. She just saw the symbol, saw the power behind it, saw the greater calling it represented — and decided she wanted it to be her calling, too.

For the most part, this remove from the rest of the would-be "bat family" has persisted in some form or another, even after she found out it was her cousin behind the mask. Some things are easier to work independently for, especially when you have your own billionaire resources supplemented by slightly-borrowed military tech. Less things to be responsible for, that way, less people in her life she has to feel beholden to. She's a soldier at heart, and a soldier needs her unit, but this — this works for her. But let it not be said that experience and obsessive devotion towards the cataloguing of all manner of illegal and metahuman activity within the bounds of a single city doesn't reap benefits that you can't get from money alone. All this to say —

"How the hell does he find the time to keep all of this up to date?"

— sometimes, sometimes, Kate Kane can see the benefit in mooching off family.

"Bruce… you have problems."

This is exactly why the redheaded Kane heiress finds herself in the fathomless depths of the Batcave tonight; there are things in the databases of Bruce's batcomputer that she simply can't get anywhere else, and right now, she needs those resources. Plus, also, there's something appealing about coming to visit this place every now and again. Family is here, something she has in short supply these days, and besides…

… visiting the Batcave is like visiting an even stranger Ripley's Believe It or Not museum.

And so, here sits Batwoman, her cowl shrugged off and resting on the back of her (Bruce's) seat, long red wig dangling off the edge as she taps away at the keys to the Batcomputer's main terminal. There's files open on a small handful of recently(ish) arrested individuals — the photos are all incredibly recent, each of them shaved bald — one in particular covered in scars like someone might decorate themselves in ritual body art.

All of them distressingly minimalist in terms of actual, usable information.

"Well…" begins Kate Kane eloquently, brow scrunching up as she brings her cup of coffee to ruby red lips; there's a dearth of alcohol here in Wayne Manor.

"… fuck."

But rest assured, that coffee is decidedly Irish.


How does he keep all of it up to date?

Even the vaunted Batman needs to sleep sometimes, even if he's perfected methods for minimising the amount of time he 'wastes' on unproductive things like rest… There's only so many hours in the day, after all, and some of that time needs to be devoted to Bruce Wayne, Gotham's #1 Citizen or to beating up evil clowns or to what is surely an absurd exercise regimen.

But of course, the answer is right there, isn't it? All you have to do is look past the gruff 'I work alone' posturing and instead focus on the fact that he has at least two brilliant computer experts in his immediate circle of associates, and most of the others can probably do some data entry too.

Probably not Dick Grayson, though. He seems like a peck-typer.

"Careful," says a voice from about fifteen feet above Kate, judging by the way it echoes off of the (literally) cavernous interior of the Batcave. "If Alfred hears that kinda talk he'll re-institute the swear jar."

The speaker, who is perhaps practicing a little of the Dark Knight's own 'ah jesus how long was he there??' techniques, proves to be Red Robin. Rather than the more lightweight suit he favours among the Titans, the former Boy Wonder is dressed in the heavier, caped and cowled costume he first took up when he assumed his new superhero identity. Or, well, he would be, but he took off his cape and his cowl to do this.

Because he's hanging up there on an admittedly flimsy-looking harness, darkened welding goggles over his eyes. He might not live in the manor anymore, he might spend more of his time working out of his own secret base than the Batcave, but that doesn't mean he's going to let a place so closely associated with his childhood fall into disrepair.

"What are you researching, anyway?" Tim wonders. "New case?"

There's always a new case.

It's Gotham.


There's a subtle art to the Bat Sneak. One can go into the technical details of it like controlling heart rate and respiration and minimizing movement to produce near-soundless motion, but in the goddamn Batwoman's personal experience —

Careful.

— it's all about how to make the entrance when you finally choose to reveal yourself.

If Alfred hears that kinda talk he'll re-institute the swear jar.

Green eyes flicker in a blink; it's a testament to said personal experience that Kate doesn't just jump out of her chair at the sound of someone suddenly there, calling her out on her potty mouth. Instead, paused just before sipping her spiked caffeine, the Kane heiress purses her lips, and slowly tilts her head back until she can peer towards the source, upside-down.

Robin. Well, one of the Robins. Of the redder variety. Red lips tug into a lopsided kind of smile.

"I won't tell if you won't," is her first pronouncement, bringing a secretively upraised finger to her lips. "We might even get away with it for a whole day before he finds us out, if we really try to work together."

A second passes.

"Or half of one, at least."

With that, Kate turns her attention back to the screen, drawing legs up until her heels plant into the seat of her chair, and gloved forearms rest on one upraised knee to serve as a bed for her chin to rest upon, mug dangling only somewhat-precariously from her fingers.

"You're getting too good at that, you know that, right?" she says after a moment — though whether she means the patented Bat Sneak, or welding with what is clearly a harness that would not pass any sort of conventional safety-inspection, is anyone's guess. Before she can clarify, Tim diverts her attention back to those case files — and the redhead shifts, lifting her free hand to rummage through her short mop of hair with a dawning sigh.

"If you can call it that," she says, because of course there's always a new case; it's Gotham. "Hostage situation from a charity event I was attending a couple months back, hosted by Ultimate Computer Corporation — yeah, I know, terrible name, right? Anyway. They got into the security detail somehow. Some kind of cultists, a lot of crazy zealot talk about murder being a great virtue."

Sarcastic quotation marks go….. here.

"Weird SOP, weird MO, weird tech — some kind of plasma rifles, or something. None of them have said a word, and we haven't gotten any kind of similar activity from anyone since. Like some kind of blip. So all it amounts to right now is a bunch of d-list cultist—"

Kate looks, as if expecting a certain butler to suddenly appear out of the ether. He is, by far, the greatest amongst them for that.

"- fudgery." So she doesn't take her chances.

Her shoulders roll backwards moments after, feigning a surrender to this just being nothing that she doesn't quite feel as her green gaze rolls tiredly back up towards Tim. She brings her coffee to her lips.

"… What brings you around here, anyway? Playing house for Bruce?" A second passes.

"You should probably tell him to get some better ceiling harnesses while you're here."

Sip.


It could always be worse: The only reason he bothered with any kind of harness instead of trusting his life to reliable (highly experimental) geckskin was that the ceiling of the Batcave is pretty irregular, being the interior of a cave, and all. All those stalactites, and god only knows how much guano might be stuck in weird places up there…

"Lots of practice," is Tim's only real response about getting too good at either of those possibilities. He's only been doing these sorts of things since he was a young teenager, after all… And it's vague explanations like that which let Zatanna assume the initial Robin training involved Batman throwing his apprentices off of rooftops and expecting them to figure out how to swing on a grapple line by themselves.

Which is silly. It was weeks before he did anything like that.

A quiet grunt of acknowledgement follows from the currently dangling upside-down young man: Where Kate uses a wig to disguise her short hair, he instead relies on that cowl to cover his own longer locks, which are currently obeying gravity and hanging downwards. But he grunts because he's listening, paying attention to the details because that was how he was raised. Hostages at a charity event, sadly not a first time thing for either of them. Ultimate Computer Corporation, definitely not the most original name. Cultists.

Cultists are another of those things that aren't in short supply, no matter how bizarre it seems. Where do all these weirdo murder cults keep finding zealous followers? Is there some kind of cult craigslist?

"Weird," Tim agrees. "Usually cult types just keep coming. Takes that kind of go-getter attitude to usher in a new age of cthulhu monsters or whatever. I can see if Zee or the other two know anything, they've got more experience with this sort of stuff."

But what is he doing there? It's a good question.

"Maintenance, mostly. The inside of a cave isn't really the best environment for electronics or any of the metal framework, and it's not like Stewie can fix all of it. Plus, could you imagine Alfred trying to get up here? Bad enough he tries to dust the giant penny."


Lots of practice.

"Yep," declares Kate in a most decisive way, red brows hefting upward as if to imagine all the possibilities. Part of her doesn't have to imagine; brutally efficient training from fathers and/or father figures is also an important staple of the trade, unless you are the patient zero of fathers and/or father figures.

"That sounds about right." After all, "What doesn't kill you…"

She leaves that observation open-ended, for similar reasons. Imagination is a powerful thing.

Eventually, a swipe of Kate's gloved hand dispels those tragically uninformative dossiers. It's not the first time she's looked through them; it probably won't be the last, either. Looking for something, anything, that she might have missed. She thinks back to that day, eyes narrowing into jade slivers of thought as she chews at the inside of her cheek.

"The key's in the weapons, I'm sure. That kind of tech you don't find just lying around. That's the kind of thing you bring to a Superman fight. Shorted out before they got a chance to use them, though, so maybe it wasn't all that fancy after all." Misfiring weapons. Finished off quickly. Not a peep since. It's something she could easily dismiss as just some idiots trying to make a name for themselves in Gotham and failing.

But…

"… Yeah, sure. Thanks. If anyone would know about weirdo cults…"

… it bothers her.

A fact, and the reasons for which, that she keeps largely locked up behind the sardonic smile and the arch of a dark brow she casts Tim's way. "So. Playing house," she repeats, an easy, teasing air to her words as she pushes up off of that seat and stretches with a growing yawn, the remnants of her Irish coffee sloshing mildly in its mug as she moves.

"I swear, that penny is going to be the death of someone someday. Bruce needs to work on his decor," she declares. Probably not the death of Alfred, of course; Alfred's too good at his job. But someone. "Well, I've been wasting time chasing dead ends so I've clearly got nothing better to do, so… want a helping hand?" She gestures mildly at the work Tim's doing, head canting to the right as she plants a hand on her hip. "I feel like Alfred probably deserves a day off for once."

A second passes; she'll wait for standing orders, such as they are, comfortably enough, before adding on off-handedly,

"So… how's all that going for you, then? Your whole anti-registration campaign over in New York."

She could dress it up any other way, but really, in her experience — it's best to just cut to the quick.

Except when it revolves around her troubles, anyway.


"Well, sure," Tim agrees; crooks showing up with plasma rifles is a thread to follow anyway. "It's been a while since I've hung out with any arms dealers, though. Maybe somebody's offloading substandard merchandise on wannabes?"

It was in the younger vigilante's own pathology to seldom, if ever, leave a thread unfollowed. Maybe that's why, of all the young people who've fallen into the shadow of the Bat, he's the one who most embodies the detective aspect of the Dark Knight. Damian might be Bruce's biological son, but it was Tim who was often the most like his adopted father in personality and temperament.

And, you know, not always in good ways.

Still, there's common ground between Tim and Kate, too, at least in this: If you want to find out about weirdo cults, ask a witch. Fortunately, he knows three, each with their own disparate experiences with different kinds of weirdo cults.

It isn't that Tim doesn't want to press, of course. That he doesn't want to poke and prod and figure out why this, months later, is sticking in Kate's craw, but of course she was similar to her cousin in her own ways, too. One of the most relevant to this situation was that the best way to get information out of them was carefully. Roundabout. Pushing too directly was certain to end in being stonewalled.

"See I keep waiting for the robot t-rex to wind up controlled by an evil artificial intelligence or something. The penny's just too obvious. But yeah, sure. I've just been replacing some of the metal brackets so the lighting doesn't all collapse and crush somebody working at the computer. Then we need to check all the wiring…"

This is why when he built his own secret superhero hideout, he made sure it was all climate controlled. Though more recently also working out of a busted old mall has been an adventure in keeping things working; at least he's not the only engineer, there.

"Well, mostly it's involved just keeping the Titans out of political trouble while we keep doing the guerilla superhero thing. Nobody's suggested just going and rolling the Department of Public Safety, at least… Oh, Bruce and Charlotte want to capture one of those Sentinel robots, but I'm pretty sure they've got some anti-tampering measures on them, so I might have to break into Trask Industries. Can't take any of the others, 'cause they're all metas."


The snap of fingers echoes only mildly through the acoustics of the cavern walls on the heels of Red Robin's observations on that dangling, plasma rifle-shaped thread.

"Damn," utters Kate, tone lamentable. "You're telling me you don't hang out at the black market arms dealers clubs anymore? I was kinda hoping you'd make some introductions."

Sarcasm being her forte, of course, Kate delivers this with a subtly wry touch. Very subtle. It couples well with the hapless shrug that rolls at her shoulders not seconds later.

"Well, I'm sure I can figure something out."

Something violent, no doubt.

Despite the jokes, though, Kate takes the younger vigilante's words to heart. He always had a special knack for this sort of thing, after all. What Kate excels in, on the other hand, is a monomaniacal and unbelievably methodical persistence. A soldier's work ethic, some might call it. Obsession, others might. Either way…

… one can be sure if this is still bothering her now, it's been something she's likely been working on religiously, no matter how blase a manner she might present it.

Setting coffee aside, Kate grips her right shoulder, rolling it once against the press of her palm to ease out lingering soreness from god knows how many hours sitting and staring at images on a screen before making her way from the Batcomputer to where the many and sundry maintenance tools are held in this labyrinth of a lair. She's sure the convoluted nature of this place is part of Bruce's incredibly detailed strategy to deter anyone except himself from making heads or tails of anything here.

It still hasn't stopped her from wanting to murder him over it. Family is tough.

"Didn't he have a whale here once? Where did that go? If anything's gonna come back for its long-awaited revenge…" Letting her sentence trail, Kate crouches down, rifling through tools with experienced familiarity. She looks over a pair of goggles with a frown as Tim speaks, lost briefly in thought. Silence reigns for a moment. And then:

"… I'm sure I don't have to tell you, but that's a whole different ballgame you're in over there. They drew a line in the sand and you crossed it; you better make sure your friends are ready for war, because they're in the shit now." The form might be different, the approach and even the players — but Kate knows a war brewing when she sees one. She can't not.

That advice dispensed, however, Kate stands once more, goggles affixed to her forehead, harness and tools in hand. Her head cants to the left. She pauses, lips pursed.

"You want to steal a government-sanctioned, killer robot," she repeats, very slowly, as if to make sure every syllable is properly understood.

"You sure you don't want to take up drinking? I think it'd suit you."

She ought to know. Which is why, not a second later, she mentions as she starts to get to work setting herself up:

"Well, if you need a helping hand, just ask."

After all —

"I might even lend you Julia."

— she already took up drinking.


Tim isn't about to question Kate's methods, there. He's been in the business long enough to know that sometimes violence does solve problems, as long as it's applied in the right amount in the right place.

He isn't about to call her out on a tendency towards obsessiveness, either. There's plenty of that to go around in this rather peculiar family.

"I wouldn't be too worried about the whale anyway," the younger vigilante remarks. "They're all blowhards."

This is what happens when someone spends their life looking up to Dick Grayson like a big brother.

Bad puns.

"The Titans are as ready as anybody," Tim continues on the subject of the possibly inevitable conflict over registration. "But you're right, we can't afford to underestimate how far this could end up going. It's just…" How to explain it, really? Dividing his time between Gotham and New York over the past few years, he's gained a particular perspective on the similarities and differences between the two cities. "…The problem is, people are afraid. Hell's Kitchen blows up, Manhattan gets invaded by demons… For most people that's what this is, a reaction to fear. An attempt to establish some kind of control in a world they feel is too big for them." Which sounds familiar, doesn't it?

"That's why.. I mean, we could've left New York. Could've relocated to Metropolis, or I dunno, San Francisco? But people need to remember why they embraced weirdos in costumes saving the day in the first place. It can't be like Gotham, we can't lurk in the dark. They need, you know. Spider-Man helping little old ladies cross the street. Wonder Girl getting cats out of trees. I'd make Impulse start delivering pizzas if I thought it'd help. Or thought he wouldn't just eat them himself."

It's a serious risk. Bart's metabolism is one of the most dangerous forces on Earth.

"But no, I don't want to steal a government-sanctioned, killer robot," Tim clarifies. "They've probably got all sorts of countermeasures, unless Trask Industries is totally clownshoes. I'd guess they erase their onboard computers if they're tampered with at the very least… Personally I'd have them rigged with a thermite charge and just torch everything sensitive. No, I want to break into a highly secured facility of the company that makes government-sactioned killer robots and other black projects junk and steal the data about their killer robots."

See? Way less crazy.

"You wanna come with? We just need to pick a site, we've got some data on them from Tony Stark of all people. Can't send anyone with powers, they can detect active metagenes and all sorts of stuff. Old fashioned infiltration op."

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