Oracle and the Network

10.0

Amanda Waller was a big woman, and not just in weight. She was tough, strong, and quite imposing, and that was before factoring in her government connections. She had served three presidents, running black operations like the Suicide Squad, as well as being involved with Checkmate and other organizations. She was possibly one of the ten most powerful people in the United States, not counting the superhumans.

Amanda opened the door to her apartment, noting the security systems were all secure. She shut the door, walked into the living room then stopped cold as she saw a familiar figure sitting there waiting for her.

"Amanda," the woman in the wig and sunglasses sitting in a wheelchair said to her calmly, "we need to talk."

"Oracle," Amanda nodded slightly. Oh, she knew that voice, even though it was being run through a distorter and so on. "What do I owe the pleasure?" she asked as she shrugged off her coat and sat down on the couch facing her. She wasn't going to ask how Oracle beat her million dollar state of the art security system, she knew the woman wouldn't tell her anyway.

"Some old business and some new," Oracle acknowledged calmly. "When you were head of Checkmate, why did you send Spy Smasher after me?"

"I knew that would come back to haunt me," Amanda admitted with a sigh. She got up as she asked, "Can I get you a drink?"

"No," Oracle answered as she watched her pour from a bottle in a hidden mini-bar. "Well?" she asked calmly.

"Yes, I sent Kat Armstrong after you," Amanda acknowledged as she took a drink, "why would take some explaining, and some of the story is politics."

"I'm listening," Oracle said neutrally.

"I supported Luthor as President, and when he went down I lost a lot of power," Amanda shrugged, "and I was left holding the bag for some of his decisions. I was a embarrassment to the new president and ended up shuffled over to Checkmate as a US representative and hopefully a mole to act for US interests."

"You reactivated the Suicide Squad around then too," Oracle noted.

"Yeah," Amanda nodded. "Anyway, I needed to regain prestige in the US military and intelligence establishment. I was... pushed into assisting with a international project to send super criminals to another planet, one I disagreed with."

"Sounds chancy, considering the types you were sending away," Oracle noted, "you knew they'd get back eventually, and probably be pissed."

"Exactly," Amanda agreed. She didn't mention that the same project cost her one of her best agents, Deadshot. He was STILL pissed she double crossed him. She puffed out a breath, "The Department of Defence came to me with a offer: more control of domestic affairs in exchange for you." She smiled grimly, "They obviously didn't know exactly who you were or that we'd worked together, all they knew was there was a mystery hacker of phenomenal skill, and she or he had a team of effective agents. They wanted a handle on you, if not actual direct control."

"So you sent Kat," Oracle said calmly.

"Yes, which was a mistake, considering her personal issues with you," Amanda admitted candidly. "Her mission brief was just to establish contact and leave your organization intact, NOT directly take over."

"Which she completely ignored," Oracle sighed.

"Pretty much," Amanda admitted as the door to the apartment slammed open and troops poured in, swiftly surrounding where Oracle sat.

Oracle didn't seem bothered as the guns pointed at her. "Communications device hidden in the bar?" she asked coolly.

"You're under arrest," Amanda ignored the question as she said, "I can't believe you'd be dumb enough to confront me directly."

"And I can't believe you'd be dumb enough to think I'd put myself in your reach," Oracle answered, looking amused then her face went entirely blank.

"What...?" Amanda started.

"She's rapidly heating up!" a soldier with advanced scanning gear clamped to his gun yelled, "It's a bomb!"

Amanda was bodily picked up and hauled out of the room, the troops rapidly following her out before there was a muffled boom. After a few seconds she shoved several soldiers aside and went back into her apartment, where a strangely focused explosive device had destroyed Oracle and charred a large patch of her carpet.

The phone rang a few seconds later, and a somewhat shaken Amanda picked up the call, "Waller. This had better be good."

"That was a intergang surplus android," Oracle said calmly, "my remotes tell me no one was harmed in the explosion."

Amanda mentally reminded herself to sweep her home for bugs, assuming Oracle wasn't just messing with her. "I didn't THINK you were that dumb." She paused and asked, "What was the new business you wanted to discuss?"

"I'm establishing a Network, a bit like my old Birds of Prey but with greater reach and power," Oracle said, "I want you as a information source."

"You're kidding," Amanda said flatly.

"In return I can assist you in dealing with entities like Kobra, the Loa and others which you, for various reasons, can't touch."

Amanda frowned, wondering how she knew about Kobra's return, something that was well above 'classified.' "Wait, what do..." she started to ask.

"I'll be in touch," Oracle said then severed the connection.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

Back in the Aerie in Gotham, Oracle sat back with a smirk. She was moderately proud of actually catching Waller off guard, considering how dangerous the woman could be. Getting Waller off balance was the only way she could be reasonably sure to get somewhat straight answers from the political manipulator too. Babs was also glad to get some use out of the Intergang surplus. She had bought the robots from a police auction to make sure they didn't fall right back into criminal hands.

After she briefed Huntress and the others who had been around for the original run in with Spy Smasher, Helena frowned, "From what you've said, I though you and Waller got along?"

"It's complicated," Barbara admitted as they sat around a table, not far from the computing center. "I worked with Waller shortly after I started out as Oracle, and I like to think we got to be friends," she mused.

"But?" Misfit prompted, knowing Babs wasn't finished.

Barbara shrugged, "But Waller is also firmly focused on the 'greater good' and if she needs to throw a friend under a bus to get there, she'll do that."

"Lovely friend," Huntress said dryly.

"Yeah, well, I know where I stand with her," Barbara said with a sigh. "I don't trust her, and she knows that. Vice versa too."

"So if you know you can't trust her, why bring her into the Network?" Misfit asked curiously.

"Because I want to keep an eye on her. Keep your friends close and all that," Barbara shrugged.

"Makes sense I suppose," Huntress said dubiously. She got up, stretching, "Now sorry to say I need to beat it boss. I need some sleep before work tomorrow."

"And I have classes," Misfit pouted. "Who's bright idea was it to put me in school again?" she grumbled as she trailed after Huntress.

Babs bit back a chuckle even as she headed to the computers to check on her other allies and agents. It took only a second for the system to query their pagers, and each member came up on the screen; Cass was patrolling out by Metropolis' Suicide Slum again, baiting muggers, Zinda was in Gotham at the Police Central offices, along with Manhunter.

Barbara still felt bit... odd, about Zinda seeing her father, James Gordon. It wasn't that she disapproved or anything, but she was physically younger than him. (Though she was from World War two. Time travel made things strange.) She also was more a partyer than Babs was comfortable seeing with her dad. Still, Zinda seemed serious about things so...

Renee Montoya was also in Gotham, and the Question was someone that Babs found herself thinking about too. The young police officer had worked with her father before quitting the force and becoming the Question. In the time afterwards Renee had been connected to Kate Kane, whom Babs strongly suspected was Batwoman. They had broken up, apparently, and she had noticed Renee flirting with Huntress.

'That could make things complicated,' Babs thought with a sigh, 'I wonder if I should talk to her about it?'

Babs smiled as a message from Gypsy came in. She was in New York, investigating a Intergang cell there too along with Manhattan Guardian and Bulleteer. She relayed the heads up to the Justice Society, the group nearest to respond just in case.

For a moment Babs considered putting in a private call to Dinah, but quickly dismissed the idea. She had offered Dinah, Black Canary, a opportunity to join her new Network, and the heroine had said that the Justice League took precedence. Understandable, certainly, but it still stung considering how Babs had helped get Dinah back on her feet way back when.

Babs shook her head wryly. On the other hand if SHE had been made the leader of the JLA... well, Babs would have had a hard time turning that down too. In a more cheerful mood she fielded information requests from Booster Gold and Arsenal. Both were chasing a person smuggling ring, and she quite happily hacked into the criminal's bank to track where she was going. Hopefully the two could save the victims...

In between snacks Babs did the Oracle thing for most of the rest of the day, only switching the system to the AI in the evening. Tiredly she rolled her wheelchair out of the computer lab, closing the concealed door and heading to the kitchen for something to make for dinner.

"Ugh," Babs sighed, looking into the fridge and seeing only a few frozen dinners. She REALLY needed to remember to stock up... deciding she didn't feel like take out Babs locked up and took the elevator down to street level, knowing several good eateries were nearby.

"Gimme all your money!" the young man yelled, leaping out from a nearby alley.

Babs never even slowed down, detaching the metal batons concealed in her chair. She slammed one into his leg behind the knee, then used another to knock the gun out of his hand before he even hit the ground. With a casual strike she knocked him out, leaving him sprawled on the pavement.

"Guess attempted muggings happen here too," Babs sighed as she got her phone out and called the cops. 'This is going to make dinner even later,' she thought glumly.

To be continued...