4405/The Shadow knows and the Oracle sees

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The Shadow knows and the Oracle sees
Date of Scene: 14 December 2020
Location: Historic Clocktower - Penthouse
Synopsis: No description
Cast of Characters: Barbara Gordon, Natasha Cranston

Barbara Gordon has posed:
Tons of superstitious nonsense.

That's the back and forth Babs has had with any thread she pulls related to the Shadow. The Oracle Array was on constant routine search protocol for any reference on the individual. Any link in a chain web that could give her a clue on which to build more leads to find more clues. This was the work.

Everyone wanted it handed to them, but that's why we get Hulu subscriptions:

So we can watch Black(ish) while running scans on the world wid web.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
He's a vampire.

He's a ghost.

He's several vampires - or ghosts - all pretending to be the same figure.

He was taught secret martial arts by a secret order of monks in a secret monastery in Tibet.

He's someone who was betrayed and left for dead and sold his soul to the devil in exchange for vengeance and hunts down sinners.

He can look straight into your soul and know whether you're destined for Hell.

He's just another idiot in a trenchcoat with some stupid tricks and this poster isn't afraid of him.

    ... The list goes on and on, opinions and rumors and flights of fantasy as wild as some of the rumors around Batman. If any of it is accurate, it's going to be purely by accident. Still, there was something...

    It's in the middle of one of Babs' favourite scenes - involving a researcher pulling up something from the archives - that she remembers where she'd come across the reference.

    One of her last jobs while working as a librarian was setting up the OCR and tagging software to automate the process of scanning in old newspapers and making the contents keyword searchable... And a couple of the articles from 1962 she'd looked over to double-check for point errors referred to someone or something called "The Shadow"...

Barbara Gordon has posed:
Most of the wildest rumors are filtered out after a while. Filed away with keyword search options in a dummy folder that she can go over when she's not knuckle deep in a bowl of popcorn.

Having done the bat thing for years now, she knows how wild the rumors can get, after all... and then how untrue they actually are in reality. So she's not really looking over those crazy theories as much as a layman would.. At least not until the memory hits her.

Tossing a few kernals of popcorn in her mouth, she switches around to lay hands on the keys after putting the bowl to one side. Root access into the library archieves to use her own programmed algorythm to pull up the newspaper clipping with the reference she'd seen some year or three ago.

"Seems old, but maybe it's a linage thing? Stranger things have happened."

Natasha Cranston has posed:
... Well, at least the people in the Thirties didn't lack imagination either, although without the Internet to instantly immortalize your every thought and theory some of the wilder ones likely never made it to print, and while Yellow Journalism was a problem back then as well, serious newspapers employed serious journalists who tended to do their homework.

    The tagging system had been quite thorough, apparently helped by the capitalized name, and quite a few articles come up on the match. Mostly secondary sources and no official confirmations -- which matches Barbara's knowledge of history on the Mystery Men of the era; they were vaguely tolerated by law enforcement so long as they let the cops handle the arrests, but official statements would deny their existence. Vigilantism was - and still is - illegal, after all...

    Skimming through and collating parallels yields a few mostly solid details:

* The Shadow was active from approximately the Thirties to the Sixties, in what's sometimes called the 'First Era of the Mystery Men' by cape historians, making life difficult for organized crime of all stripes.
* Rumored ability to 'cloud minds', whatever that means.
* Alleged eyewitness reports repeatedly insist he could become invisible "except for his shadow" -- which makes absolutely no sense from a physics standpoint, but that /would/ match up with what she did and didn't spot on the cameras.
* There was a short-lived series of radio plays that tried to cash in on the mystique. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow Knows". A brief trace of the financial records of the companies involved yields no useful leads.
* Occasional references to the Shadow having 'agents'.

    The other details match up with what she herself observed -- disconcerting voice, tendency toward using psychological warfare to unnerve his targets, tall, black coat, hat, red scarf. The last even tentatively confirmed article stems from an incident in 1963.

Barbara Gordon has posed:
Reads through the archieved articles with her thumb and index finger gently tugging at her bottom lip. Eyes quickly moving over the screen behind the lense of her red framed glasses, brow furrowed just so with curiousity as just how much the similarities are there... and some that don't make a great deal of sense from a scientific standpoint.

She could chalk it up to a difference in societies ideologies of the times, but..

Another search, sifting through heaps of information in a short span, Babs leans back in her chair with a notable frown. Rereading that initial article that brought her to this trove of clippings from 1963. "So either this is a generational affair or this person is well in their 90s..." Cap springs to mind, but..

"Clouds minds... psychological warfare... some kind of magic? Metahuman maybe?"

Natasha Cranston has posed:
The second strangest thing about the case in the 1963 article is that it involved, in the words of a witness statement, 'an entire skyscraper just appearing out of thin air in an empty lot'. Especially since that 'empty lot' was in the middle of the Financial District in Manhattan, where real estate prices even in that day and age were measured by hundreds of dollars per square inch. Stranger still is the fact that one enterprising reporter found complete paperwork and construction logs registered and filed, and the construction company still had attendance logs for every day of the construction, but when asked why they'd thought that was an empty lot, they had no answer.

    The first strangest thing about the article is that it's the only reference. Some otherwise unidentified people - armed, unconscious, 'strangely dressed', injured and/or dead - were hauled out, some "experts" removed "a device"... And none of those things appear to have been followed up on. At all.

Barbara Gordon has posed:
That is very strange.

It also has Babs rethinking her filters on what should be headed to that bin full of wild conspiracy theories where it comes from a far more reputible news agency... "Huh.." Reading about the disappearance of this entire skyscraper...

She pulls up a map of Manhattan and checks the current city against that location NOW. The smallest details, right?

Natasha Cranston has posed:
At least the address was listed in the article, so looking up the city maps is easy... Okay, that's possibly even more disconcerting. There aren't that many photos of street scenes dating from back then, because photography was a much more involved business before the advent of digital cameras, and what photos there were of the district were obviously carefully tailored to make the place look as good as possible -- but one of them, taken around the time of the article, shows a corner of a vacant lot at just the right spot that wasn't quite cropped out of the shot.

    There is, in fact, still a building there even today. City records are extensive; they're also technically locked, but Oracle tends to regard secure municipal data stores as a quaintly polite request rather than an obstacle...

     Some kerfluffle about ownership records and payments that were recorded but not actually made by a company that didn't exist, seizure by government pending investigation, sold in open bid a year later to a financial records company that promptly sank a great deal of money in 'renovations' with an expenditures pattern that all but screams 'embezzling and/or money laundering' to Barbara's eyes well before the next entry confirms that that's what the entire directorate was arrested for a year later, civil forfeiture /again/, bought up by a small shipping company that needed a central office in 1968, another takeover, a merger, and the current owner of note since 1976 is a company named Cranston Multinational Shipping...

Barbara Gordon has posed:
"Cranston Multinational Shipping." Babs sucks her backteeth thoughtfully, pulling up everything she can find on the traded company with her left hand while looking at the odd picture of a half an empty lot circa a little while before the original photograph was taken.

"I've seen that shipping company around the Gotham Harbor.. Hell, every harbor." The hacker murmurs quietly, leaning back in her seat with a rubix cube yanked off a small metal stand to absently twist while reading what information she can dig up.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    As it's at least partially publicly traded, a lot of information about CMS is publicly available. Apparently it was founded as Cranston Oriental Shipping back near the turn of the previous century by David Cranston, Jr. Taken over by his son Lamont in 1929, takeovers, mergers, and Cranston International Shipping came out of the Crash looking pretty decent.

    Yadda yadda, contribution to war effort, bla bla major shipping contracts awarded during Post-WW2 reconstruction efforts in the Far East, a lot of excellent PR and reputation work, bla blah Kevin Cranston takes the reins of Cranston Multinational Shipping from his dad in 1990... And goes missing in 2001 together with his wife when the executive jet goes down over the Pacific. No wreckage or bodies recovered.

    Legal heir at the time, Natasha Cranston, age 12, deemed not eligible to head the company and a 'Temporary Board of Trustees' is formed to manage day-to-day business while Natasha is carted off to a boarding school by her legal guardian. Natasha returns from her sabbatical in 2020 to take the reins and promptly fires half the remaining Board of Trustees as well as divesting a number of recently acquired subsidiaries.