A Modest Proposal

Characters: Mary Marvel Barbara
Summary: Black Mary comes to Oracle to make an unsual proposition.
OOC Date: Sat Feb 03 12:39:01 2018
IC Date: Sat Feb 03 09:31 2018
Where: Clocktower

The light coming through the windows dims suddenly and dramatically: sunlight appropriate for noon on a cloudy day suddenly dips to the moment after sunset stops being orange and just starts turning dark. Thunder rumbles, close enough to give the walls a bass rattle.
There was no hint of rain in the forecast today.
A few minutes later, there's a knock on the windowsill, the round one high atop the clock tower's spire, the one Batman comes in through… except Batman doesn't knock. The yellow-stained glass obscures any idea of whom it might be, but doubtlessly Oracle has methods in place other than just peering through a window to see who's out there. Mary Marvel, resplendent in shining black, floats a few hundred feet above Gotham's streets, toes pointed down, face calm.

Barbara isn't one to bury her head into the sand. The fact that someone is knocking proves the jig is clearly up. There's silence in response to Mary's arrival at first, the winding of seconds as one might actually come to believe that they might, in fact, be in the wrong location. Then, however, a slightly tinny electronic voice sounds on the far side of the glass.
"Stop standing around out there and come in already. You're going to tell everyone in Gotham where I'm located." The exasperation, the brittle, slightly overworked paranoid nature of the woman in question comes across in those syllables. Then a person is moving on the far side of the window.
This person is a redhead, perhaps 5'5" or 5'6" but confined to a gray chair with angled wheels, her slender shoulders buried in a flow of crimson-copper tresses. Wide azure eyes are intensified by the designer famed glasses she wears, and her face is a riot of freckles. She's striking, regardless of her condition. A small hand opens the window outward and then the woman is rolling away toward the inside of the Clocktower. This is the Oracle.
Clocktower itself is a grandiose venture. A massive monitor broken into multiple surveillance screens adorns one wall, while another seems to be used for computing with her primary console. The soft hum of machines beneath the floor is also evident. The lighting is dappled, coming through the transparent panes behind the clock's face and giving the entire place a silhouetted look that would be difficult to shake.
"Who are you?" It should be noted that Barbara has a gun. She isn't bothering to pick it up. Most people who fly up to your secret base in the middle of the day tend to take a dim view of being shot.

"I apologize if I've endangered you," Mary calls pleasantly as she drifts over the scaffolding and rafters beneath the window. "For what it's worth, I think you're safer than you might be worried about. People rarely look up. Thank you for inviting me in, though." She lands lightly on her feet, as far away from Oracle as the room will allow; not that the distance makes much difference to a Marvel. "I know that under these circumstances, my presence feels like a threat, for a lot of reasons. I want to assure you, you're safe, Oracle. You must have questions: would you feel safer if I answered them?" she offers, her smile sympathetic from her place far from Oracle's computer bay.

"Usually people don't look up, but the way the light seems to react to whatever method of gravity-manipulating propulsion I suspect you're using is…" Barbara clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth and then breathes a soft sigh. she glances around the room and then turns those azrure eyes back onto Mary. Then she nods once.
"Yes," the redhead replies primly. "I'll just give you the list." She takes a deep, loud breath, her chest swelling as she prepares. "Who are you? Why are you here? How did you find me? Does anyone else know where I am? How are you flying? ShouldI expect violence? Is this some kind of a recruiting measure? Did Batman send you? How DO you keep your hair that neat when you're flying around all the time…?"

Mary Marvel laughs and holds up both hands in a gesture of surrender. "Please, Oracle, slow down! I'm at your service, so there's no need to rattle them off so quickly. First, my name is Mary Marvel. I was a member of Captain Marvel's family; I'm now Hemet of Kahndaq." Modesty prevents her from translating the word 'Hemet.' Instead, Mary Marvel just lifts a fist with thumb outstretched; the forefinger joins it. "I'm here to thank you for your recent exposure of the atrocities our armies committed under General Al-Fayyid. He was beyond trusted, and we were entirely blind to his genocidal campaigns along our borders." Middle finger joins the other two. "We tried for several days to find you by normal counterintelligence methods and cyber-safety units, but they were completely unable to so much as find your country of origin. In the end, we had to resort to calling in diviners to find you, and I don't know if this will mean much to you, but I have to say how impressive it is that they could only find your handle Oracle rather than your real name, and that the portents were so vague about your location. Your devotion to secrecy has erased even most sympathetic magical links to your location. It took a national effort to find you, and I think the only reason we even could is because we have access to the Rock of Eternity." Ring finger. "A few of our best agents know your position. They're under penalty of death to never reveal it." Pinky finger. "I fly by magic I'd be happy to tell you about in detail later, but I think you're more interested in the next question." Second thumb! "I mean you no harm at all, Oracle. I owe you too much. I'd like to be friends with you, if we can trust each other that much." A genuine smile above her now-extended second forefinger. "I do have an opportunity for you that I think you'll like, if you care to hear me out. If you would prefer not, then I'll leave." Second middle finger. "Batman did not send me, and I'd prefer not to meet him, but whatever happens, happens." Final ring finger, and a chuckle. "It's a magic thing. Whew!" Her eyes widen in a comic exaggeration of relief. "Did I cover it all?

Barbara says, "Babs might be a little darker and edgier but she's still Babs. >.>;"

"That… Addresses everything I asked, yes." Barbara is a little tense, especially in her core. She resists the urge t ofidget form her seat but she does watch Mary with a particular sort of intense scrutiny, studying those movements and words with a thoughtfulness most people rarely manage to carry off so convincingly.
"I remember Al-Fayyid," Barbara replies shortly then, her voice a bit distant.her hands move to the keyboard in front of her now and she begins to type at a furious pace. Oracle, as might be expected, doesn't bother to actually look at what she is writing. Not right now, with this particular person in her home.
"I did a lot of study as to how magic intersects with the idea and existence of a thing and structured my work to-" Babs cuts herself off there and then pauses again. A nod follows and then Barbara straightens. She undoes the brakes on her chair, then carefully spins herself around by holding the right wheel still and rotating the left backward. Now the pair are face-to-face again.
"I suppose I will hear you out," Oracle finally cludes, tilting her head slightly in a wash of copper tresses that flows all the way down to the middle of her side. "I do want to hear more about your magic, however." Barbara reaches up and adjusts her glasses witha finger applied to the bridge, pressing them back into place.
"I doubt you'll need to worry about Batman, by the way. He doesn't seem to come by here."

Mary is no Oracle, but she picks up on the implication of that last statement. She lets her eyebrows raise mildly in invitation to Oracle to continue, but aloud, she politely slides by it. "Thank you, Oracle. I'm sure your time is valuable, so I'll try not to waste it." She dips her head in something like a bow to Oracle, smiling, before continuing. "I am exalted by the pantheon of ancient Egypt. I…" Despite her promise not to waste time, Mary trails off, eyes unfocused, before coming back to herself with a small, slightly sad smile. "The gods have given me a gift of wisdom, Oracle. I'm intelligent, I'm perceptive, I'm intuitive, I make good decisions. So I look back at Egypt's history and all the things it gave the world, the wonders it created, the sciences and maths it pioneered that are still foundational to human understanding of the world, and I'm in awe of what Egypt did… but it did all that on the backs of slaves of entire races of people, and the gods were silent about that. As long as they got their glorious empire, who cares who had to bleed and die for it. You know?" she asks earnestly, eyes turned down, troubled. "And maybe a person can argue that the ends justify the means, but I don't think so. I think the ends determine the means. When you're trying to get from here to the capitol, you don't ask, 'Am I justified in taking Lexington Avenue,' you ask, 'Does Lexington Avenue go to the capitol?' I think the same rule applies to moral questions. Enslaving nations isn't justified by the empire you build; the empire you build can only be built by enslaving nations. That's an indictment of your entire empire, as far as I'm concerned."
Mary Marvel sighs and sweeps her hair back from her forehead with one hand in a gesture of frustration. "What I'm saying is, I'm a champion of gods I don't trust because I've seen what they do with their power and influence. Do you maybe know what that's like? I'm guessing you do; you're an American who uncovers America's dirty little secrets…"

"I'm… Sorry. I don't know that I do," Oracle replies in a hushed voic. She watches Mary as the young woman finishes relating her words, studying her from head to toe. She takes a deep breath and holds it for a second before exhaling in a slow, measured way. "Understand what that means. Not the way you do."
"The truth is that I've never felt beholden to my empire. Built on the backs of slaves? Perhaps? As much as your own, at least. The pyramids, after all, were built by paid laborers. But I was never part of it." Barbara shakes her head firmly. "The truth is, I don't think it has much to do with me directly. I didn't choose to be an American and I don't accept the cultural responsibility for the actions of people I've never met. It's not about making amends. It's about justice."
For a second Barbara purses her lips gently and then adds in a more conciliatory tone, "I guess I know what you mean… But I refuse to feel that way. We are all born responsible for ourselves. Right? And that…Is why you won't find me beholden to any Gods."

"Oh, I don't mean I feel responsible for what they did. That was thousands of years before Christianity, let alone before me." Mary's tone is decisive on that, at least. "So you've never felt like you've been shaped by a world that doesn't care to shape you well, into something you want to be, rather than the shape it needs you to be for the sake of its plans?"
Mary doesn't look at the wheelchair as she asks this.

"I feel like the only thing to do is refuse to be shaped by external forces any further than I'm prepared to be. And that's lso a reaction to the way the world has shaped me, isn't it?" Barbara shakes her head then and starts to laugh. Softly, first, then a little louder. "The world exists. People exist in it. There isn't a grand design- usually, at least, I have no idea what your Gods or magic would have to say on the matter- there are just actions and consequences. We control our actions, other people control theirs, and of *course* the world doesn't care to shape us well. The world doesn't have plans. Sentients do. And I'm very sorry if yours have tried to shape you poorly."
Finally, Barbara glances downward and closes her eyes for a second. "Has the world shaped me? Of course. But it doesn't have *plans*." Babs avoids staring at her chair as well. Just.

Mary nods along in understanding. "Then I think you and I have a lot to talk about," she says, souonding satisfied. "The world doesn't have plans, people do… and people are in charge of the world. So, you care about justice, you care about being in control of yourself. What if there was an organization that could offer you paths to both? What if there was a group of people, a lion's den of influential, powerful people all working toward getting the resources they need to try to shape the world into something better than it is? Would you be interested in meeting those people?"

"I don't ordinarily," Babs begins carefully. "Do meetings. But if you're a measure for the caliber of person I shuld expect to meet…" Barbara is again pursing her lips,studying Mary'sface carefully while she considers what she might say next. "Then I should at least find out who these people are and what you're doing. For multiple reasons." It isn't a threat. Not really. But one would have to be blind or self-possessed to miss the implications of Oracle taking an interest into anything.

Mary Marvel smiles and nods. "Of course. I see the threat in what you're implying, and I want you to know I'm okay with it. Everyone involved is, and has to be. Someone without the means to defend themselves is someone who's not suited to the role." For the first time, she walks toward Oracle, as if the friendship she talked about at the beginning was already cemented. "You should know, the members are almost uniformly superpowered. The telepaths in particular I expect would bother you, so be prepared. My presence as your sponsor would protect you from a lot, but it would also inspire rivals to test your defenses and mine to see if you present a weakness. Do you understand?"

"For the most part I can deal with telepaths," Barbara assures Mary quietly. "Though if truth be told for something like this i would usually prefer not to go in person. I suppose I have to?" Barbara asks, tilting her head slightly as she does so. "I was seriously considering… Proxies, to be frank." There's a faint shrug from Babs, who shifts her weight slightl from left to right as she does. "Possibly even proxies who can walk." Another ringing laugh follows that pronouncement. "I'd need to announce myself in person of course," she continues. "But for meetings and so forth? No deception. Just trusted intermediaries. Or… Drones." A beat. "Are there rules against that in the Hellfire Club?"

Mary isn't just surprised, she's shocked. She literally rocks back on her heels, and her hand flies to her mouth to cover her gaping mouth… before it curves in a smile. "I'm… wow. I underestimated you, Oracle. 'Impressive' doesn't cover it." She lets her hand fall to her side again as she resumes her walk toward Oracle. "Intermediaries and drones would be against the rules, but the rules only count if you can't get away with it. I leave it to you to decide what you're comfortable with." In front of Oracle, Mary drops to a hunker to bring herself closer to eye level with Oracle. "I don't know yet what your agenda would be, and I can't swear it will match my own, but for what it's worth? I don't just owe you, Oracle, I like you. If I can help you, I will. And I'll help you now by telling you if I can't help you, I won't necessarily be honest about it, so be on your guard. Fair?"

"There are only so many organizations of people who are explicitly powered which would even consider me a viable candidate. I can presume you're not a Mason, and if you were working with Lex Luthor and the Society of Villains or Ra's Al-Ghul you would know better than to contact me. Once you cancel out my enemies and the elitists there are only a couple possibilities," Barbara responds quietly. Then she smiles beatifically.
It becomes more serious when Mary takes a knee. Barbara nods slowly, listening carefully to everything said while she studies the other woman's eyes. "I can handle telepaths fairly well," she states sincerely. "How well- I'm sure I'll learn." That is left without preamble. It is what it is. "Thank you for the warning, but I understand. Let's say that I accept your proposal. I'll meet these people you've come to represent and perhaps even join."

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