A few days later After Breakfast - The BatCave - Present
“Guns Raven, really?”
Of course, the Batcave had a gun range with stationary targets. And another one with moving targets that popped up from nowhere. Some of the targets had hand drawn Moustaches, baseball bat, various guns including what could only be the freeze gun. It didn’t end there, one mannequin had half its face de-faced, one wore goggles and it went on. Who knew Bats enjoyed jump scares so much.
“You don’t believe in guns. That’s a belief you share with us, if I recall correctly” Tim and Roy, also known as Arsenal where walking towards Raven and Jason.
Jason had invited Roy to practice at their multipurpose archery, bat-a-rang, gun, really any kind of projectile slinging range. He has been alway for the Outlaws for a while now and about a fortnight at Gotham. His team was in the country and so he invited Roy. And it seemed Raven was also invited.
The last week had been information gathering, going through the information they had on all those shipments and those bank accounts. Raven was handling occult research with Jason, Cass and Damian helping with languages and tracking the artefacts at the warehouse.
The data Raven syphoned were dense with well, data. Some of it run of the mill crime, a bribe here and crate of Cubans cleared customs, that sorta thing. Some of it was more exotic, like providence documents and lab equipment purchases.
By the end of the week his eyes hurt and it seemed Raven was ready to climb walls. Literally. Instead of her usual levitation, Jason found Raven flying backward through bing-wings acrobat course.
So came the invite so shoot things. Raven wore the foldable switch blade he gave her, he observed her joy for all things physical and invited to expand her ballistic knowledge.
Not that he minded, Roy hadn’t seen Raven in ages. He beamed “thinking of joining up with the Outlaws “, he nudged her shoulder with his.
Raven frowned, and smiled back politely, retreated to move a little closer to Jason and a little away from Roy.
Oblivious Tim continued, a little high pitched “We are both aware the dangers these things represent. They make it too easy for any Joe blow on the road to give in to the dark urges. Settle for a violent solution”
Raven relaxed her stance and nodded to Tim. She felt what he was feeling, how could she not agree.
“Yeah well sometimes a violent solution, is the only solution” Jason defended. He moved Raven beside him putting a comforting hand on her shoulder and looked meaningfully at Roy.
Oh, Roy backed off immediately. He felt like an idiot. Got the message that while he was familiar with Raven, this Raven may not be familiar with him. Roy owed the empath. When he was lying in bed close to death, she had held on to him and been strong when he was weak. I owe her so much. Should i have looked her up sooner, he thought guiltily. She has just gained her second chance at life, she didn’t need him to mess things up for her.
“Guns are far idiots, just point-and-shoot. No skill required. Like fast food. You want a weapon that is little more versatile. Not that anyone would ever disarm you Rae, but not everyone is an archer. Less likely for your weapon to be used against you” Roy boomed. He’d brought a spare bow, a smaller variety and offered it to Rae.
Taking the olive branch for what it was worth Raven smiled back “I don’t necessarily disagree, but how’re you goin’ prove it?”
“You’ve been busy”. Barbara remarked entering the Cave.
Standing by the printer, that was continuously churning out paper “decorating” Raven berated her efforts. “By putting everything up, I was hoping that they would provide a handhold or a mind hold, but so far I have encountered sub-par paperwork by the police.” Raven had added police reports of supernatural occurrences that made Barbara grimace. As far as she could see the incidences were written off by investigating police, each of the witnesses were either high on paint fumes, especially when homeless, crazy, or mainly basically just seeing things. Not the best look on cops. She could have contributed to bettering the Department from the inside out, but …….
“There is one promising oddity.” Raven walk up to Barbara and Damian, who had also enter the cave after his nightly patrol. Raven held up a freshly painted page “I am so sorry. I never meant for anyone to be hurt”
“Handwriting analysis? Anything else discernible?”
Tim shook his head dejected. He was helping Raven move ‘mystery board’ to the Batcave. This way everyone could work on it. Besides, the walls of her room proved too small to display everything. “It’s a dead end. The graffiti ink is of the most generic variety. They probably picked it up off the street”.
“Everyone perceives the handwriting differently. There’s some type of spell on it” Raven added. “I have an emotional profile though. That could not be hidden, perhaps.” Raven continued to theories “If I met this person .... maybe, but I don’t think I can locate him just yet.”
“If we can’t analyse this handwriting how do you know it’s a he?” Barbara asked. Raven had been spending considerable time at the watchtower. Vic had called in a solid, he wanted Raven to expand her skill set and her horizons. He didn’t want her to feel stuck with the Titans and so he introduced her to other ways to be a hero. Barb's way, form a distance her finger tip on each informational pulse. It took one meet and Babs had a fried for life in Raven and visa versa. Just an exceptionally open mined pupil. Raven didn’t try and fix her, but respected her, gave her space and valued her expertise.
She finally understood why Damian and Cass were drawn to her. Babs had helped Cass compile a lot of her data on the incident. She wanted to be left out of it, but a lot of those papers in Raven’s file were her contribution, way before it became a joint opp.
“I am still feeling my way through it but the more I use my powers the more I am coming to realise that its an art. It’s all about impressions and instinct and how I interpret them”.
“Any other reason for optimism?” Damian frowned.
“This stylus or wand, is the only distinctive item. Dick’s investigation led him to a little shop in a newly gentrified neighbourhood of Bludhaven. But the shop owner thinks that it was most probably sold during one of those live action role-playing magical fantasy fairs.
“Security there is a joke.” Tim added disheartened. He pulled up the location for the medieval fantasy fair, a lot near another warehouse district. Some office buildings scattered around.
“I noticed Wonderland-gang’s headquarters nearby. I will persuade them to share their security footage for around that time.” Jason chimed in confidentially. “Normally there would be no footage, just CCTV, lucky Wonderland-gang is more dependent on robots and drones than humans”.
“Why approach them at all, I’m sure we can get in. I can put someone on it” Barbara offered “why tip our hand unnecessarily.”
“Even if it was a gift, we can still see who it finally went to. We’ll just have a lotta footage to comb through. So, any takers, shift 1, shift 2 or 3?” Jason rubbed his hand enthusiastically.
Raven volunteered for shift one. Standing, she gave the board a lingering look “There has to be a pattern somewhere, I just can’t seem to find it right now”.
Damian also volunteered, after some hesitation on his part.
Tim fell into step with Raven, following her towards the Bat computer with its multiple screens. Just like old times, Tim could already smell brewing coffee, Raven would look through the security footage and Tim would use facial recognition on whatever she flagged.
Tim stopped at the foot of the stairs and turned, noticing that Raven was no longer beside him.
"When was the last time you slept?” She asked from atop the metal staircase, it served as a divider of sorts. The Batcave was a study, changing room, training facility, emergency med-ward, quarantine facility, crime lab, workshop, hangar and garage. Thinking on it “the night before last, possibly”, he answered uncertainly.
It was ridiculous to Raven that someone so young could practically run a conglomerate with absolute confidence, and yet be so open and vulnerable. “And your eyes?”. Rubbing his bloodshot eyes, “they still hurt” Tim replied matter of factly.
“Coincidence?” Raven deadpanned. Coming out of his sleep deprived state Tim finally caught on, “I will sleep when we catch them Raven”.
Raven raised an eyebrow. Tim faltered. “I will set you up on the Bat computer, get facial recognition running and then sleep?” Rolling her eyes Raven nodded and Tim sighed in relief.
Setting up facial recognition, Tim was about to point out that reviewing footage and simultaneously running facial recognition was usually a two-person job and was about to offer staying for a little longer, when he heard a throat clear behind him.
Damian unceremoniously nudged him out of his seat, took his place and proceeded to effortlessly work with Raven on the footage Jason & Barbara procured.
Pretending it was his idea Tim informed them “and I’ll sleep for two hours and that’s it” Raven hid a smile while Damian looked up with surprise, as if he had forgotten Tim was standing there “are you still here?”