Not A Museum

December 11, 2015:

'Berto follows up on 'Not Jerichos' advise and visits Shadowcrest

Shadowcrest Manor - Gotham

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Not too long ago it was suggested that Berto check out the Egyptology collection in Shadowcrest. He thought that meant a museum - so he's likely somewhat surprised to find that it is really Zatanna Zatara's residence.

Having made contact and explained what he wanted, Zee's sent a message to Jericho … and invited Warm Twin to visit.

When he gets there, he'll be directed to Zee in her workout room, where he'll find her - a sash whip in hand, being instructed by the redoutable Agent Melinda May … and looking a far cry from that that polished, show biz look most will come to expect.

Hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing yoga pants and a tank top, she's covered in bruises and grazes and clearly working at this for a while.


Melinda May is being kind to Zatanna — she swapped out the metal weights in the young woman's sash whip for packets of gummy candies. That way when she hits herself it's only embarrassing, not actually damaging. Currently, May is helping her get the very basics down. Have to start somewhere.


Roberto enters the workout room wearing the sort of polished outfit he would wear to any museum function, and therefore looking utterly out of place. It's a three-piece suit, in fact: a slightly warm black jacket and vest, over a white shirt and a salmon-colored tie. "I think that I might be in the wrong place," he says, perfectly comfortable engaging the problem directly in spite of the awkward social situation. "I'm supposed to be looking at some Egyptian artifacts." His gaze strays for a moment, before he gets himself under control. "I'm not seeing any here."


Jericho arrives not too long after Berto does and sufficiently behind him that he doesn't see him right away. He's not, for obvious reasons, conversant in the finer points of the doings of his… other self. Still feels weird to him. Still, the hacker will probably pick it up fairly quickly. "Zee? You ca- oh Berto, May… hello to you both. Wait… Egyptian artifacts?"


Zee is grateful it's gummy candies in the sash whip. She's already bruised enough as it is. Turning as 'Berto comes in, the mage nods to May, they'd been expecting the interruption but stolen some time to practice - Zee needs all the help she can get.

Giving 'Berto a good once over and smiles "Mr da Costa, we met once before, I'm Zatanna Zatara." She'll May introduce herself "Egyptian artifacts? Yes, that what's the message you left said…" her eyes cut to Jericho as he enters "Why would you be looking for them?" She /hasn't/ said he's in the wrong place … that's encouraging, right?

Letting her hair out of the ponytail, shaking it out so it falls round her shoulders, the teen still holds the sash whip in her hand but starts to fold it.


Melinda May folds her nearly identical sash whip when Zee clearly signals the end of the practice, giving Berto an evaluating once-over before nodding hello to him. Unlike Zee's exercise garments, May is dressed in very normal looking civilian street clothes. Sorry, Jericho, no brain-melting's going to happen today.


"Pleased to meet you, Zatanna," Roberto answers, extending his hand for a shake. "My driver assured me this was Shadowcrest. An evil parallel version of you assured me that I needed to see Shadowcrest's Egyptian collection." It all sounds so straightforward and logical, when he puts it that way. Then again, for Bobby da Costa, evil twins are getting sort of de rigeur. He puts his hands up in a helpless gesture. "I didn't realize it was a private residence, full of combat training. Please, don't let me interrupt." He gives May a deferential nod. Of all people, he does understand the need for self-defense training.


Jericho blinks a bit. "You were visited by the Darkchild Zatana. Lovely. And she told you to come here?" The tone of 'why' might be evident in the question. "Well she wasn't wrong. There are egyptian artifacts here that are of… immediate interest to those with an interest in Limbo. Zee's been keeping them safe but we think they may hold the records of an ancient war from the time before Illyana, or even Belasco was in charge there." Pause. "To the extent that 'time' means anything there."


Zee stiffens as Berto mentions 'Zatanna' "You met her". Poor Berto comes under even more scrutiny now … but seeing Jericho doesn't seem worried, she'll give him a leave pass … for now.

"Shadowcrest is my home, but as Jericho says, I hold artifacts here …" lots of artifacts… not just those pertaining to Limbo. "Tell us…" stopping herself and taking a deep breath, the teen tries again "Would you mind telling us what she said?" She tries to be polite when she can.

Looking past Berto to Jericho and then to May, she considers "I can show you where they are … " They're in one of the vaults, which is pretty amazing, given that the manor doesn't look that big from the outside.

Leading the way, gesturing for the others to follow, she directs them to a door in the hallway… and takes her sgian dubh from the sheath that she's wearing on her thigh and cuts her hand, so a small amount of blood wells … "I so much preferred to do this the other way" she murmurs before speaking in that backward way of hers.

Locks are magically locked in Shadowcrest … keyed to Zee's magic and without her natural ability, she has to rely on ritual.


Melinda May follows along silently, picking up her black jacket and grey scarf from next to the doorway as they step out into the hall. Tucking the sash into a pocket, she then puts the jacket on, which seems to hang as if it's far heavier than the normal-looking cut and seemingly normal leather would suggest. If one were sharp-eyed (or knew what to look for), there might have been a few metallic glints from the jacket's lining.

She manages to not react visibly when Zee cuts her own hand, except to reach into an interior pocket of her jacket then offer the mistress of Shadowcrest some gauze for the cut she just made on her hand.


More attuned to social cues than militant ones, Roberto remains oblivious to May's extra precautions. He simply strides after his host through the mansion's corridors, cutting a dashing figure in his suit. Merely dashing: normally, he fits this outfit so snugly that he might as well have found a very formal way to go nude. Unfortunately, he's a mere shadow of his usual self at the moment, and most of his suits are simply oversized. This one is the best fit he has available, and dashing will have to do.

"Well, actually, she said I shouldn't come here, on pain of something hideous that I didn't bother to remember. Darkchilder aren't such news to me," he says. He shrugs, and his tone remains casual, although well short of dismissive. He has enough experience with at least one Darkchilde not to be flippant about them. "I've only been to Limbo to help my friend Illyana. Why this alternate would think that me perusing your collection would be such a threat, I don't know."


Jericho snorts. "So you ignored her. Well that sounds a bit more like both of you." The hacker's eyes flash though at the thought of the other Zee making so much trouble. He's apparently not a fan. May might be a little confused but… he trusts she'll pick things up quickly.

"Off the top of my head, Berto, because you're her friend. Illyana's actual friends aren't so numerous though… that Zee is playing a long game and I still don't know what she's getting out of it." Which is annoying to be sure.

"Perhaps, also because… oh…" Jericho looks meaningfully at Zee and then says something that may not make sense. "Aten, Zee. Aten was a sun god."


Zee really has to remember that her friends aren't used to her doing ritual magic. Honestly, blood magic is a little lazy … if painful. Taking the gauze from May, with a grateful smile, she holds it to her palm and opens the vault … which is large. "The Limbo stuff is over here…"

To the side of the room, laid out on a table, are the tablets she and Jericho had retrieved from beneath Amenhoteps tomb.

As to 'Bertos appearance … Zee clearly doesn't mind looking … but that's all she's going to do, there's someone else in her life.

Stopping to look at Jericho, then May, Zee's eyes widen. "Mr da Costa, your power has something to do with the Sun, doesn't it?" She's aware of X-Red, being a Titan, she's worked with the team before.


Clearly, May has missed a few things. But, you can't tell based on her demeanor. She's just along for the ride, and taking in everything they're talking about along the way. She'll corner Zee and/or Jericho and demand they explain more fully later.


"Aten zee? I've only heard Aten Hut. What is this 'Aten Zee'?" Roberto asks facetiously. He's playing the second language card, just a bit: obviously Jericho isn't making a military reference. "The only gods I've met were in Asgard. I performed some feats of strength, and we all got along famously. Not exactly the supernatural powder keg Wicked Zee made it sound like."

Zatanna gets a winning smile as Roberto prepares to give her his rehearsed speech on the nature of his powers. As one of the few mutants — hell, one of the few metahumans of any stripe — whose abilities are deliberately public and, in fact, literally advertised, Roberto has quite a bit of practice explaining his mutation, and for at least this aspect of the conversation, May won't have to make any guesses..

"Think of my skin as a solar panel, and my metabolism a high-capacity battery," he says, making abstract gestures with his hands. "Sunlight, and indeed, any light, gives me fuel that my supercharged body turns into nutrition, strength, heat, or force. From what I understand, Superman himself runs on basically the same system, turning solar power into superpowers; light from different suns gives me a different level of power. Although" — he gives that photogenic smile again — "it's hard to beat good old Sol for a balanced breakfast."


"Aten was a diety worshiped in Egypt for a brief period of time. The pharoh Akhenaten is credited for trying to change the entire traditional Egyptian religion to focus on just that one god. And apparently did so during or shortly after a war with demons we think came from Limbo… some three thousand years ago."

Jericho's clearly thinking now. "Okay, we haven't done much investigation of these tablets here. But they contain the accounts of that war. In which an artifact called the 'unbound key' which we've found half of figures greatly. I wonder if she didn't want us learning something…"


Zee's in show biz, used to performing and Berto's winning smile and recital have her smirking a little. It's possibly the first time in a number of weeks, she's not been quite so grim. Even his facetious comment gets an amused shake of her head. But Jericho's explaining all that. "Thank you, Mr da Costa… " That explains much.

Casting a /slightly/ guilty look at May, yeah she'll explain later and in detail - not even Kane knows the full extent of what she's involved in, Zee turns to the table and looks at the tablets. "The second sun being?" she murmurs, taking up one of the tablets … this one has two beings that seem to represent the sun on it. "Want me to activate it?" Jericho might know what she has to do, to do that … not as easy as it was before.


Bobby da Costa trails off mid-pander, realizing that the full X-Red sales pitch for mutant contractors is a bit overkill in this context. It was, perhaps, a little bit silly to launch into it in the first place; consider it an old habit from his former life as the team sponsor.

"I thought the Egyptian sun god was Ra?" Roberto ventures instead. Seems his mother, an anthropologist, managed to pass at least some of her knowledge along to her son. "You think this Aten was a real person, like Illyana? Trying to turn Limbo to a better purpose? I'm not sure what to think of any keys, though…"

He glances over the tablets, but he's nowhere near enough of an anthropologist to actually start interpreting their inscriptions, or anything. "I'm not a sun god — I don't even really shoot out light, I just absorb it into myself."


"No. I think Aten was someone or something who helped turn back the tide of demons. The one tablet we have activated showed us the very beginnings of what I suspect was an invasion." Jericho murmurs. "Ra was the Egyptian sun god, but Aten was also one. For a time his temple was the grandest thing in Egypt but after a few generations of Atenist pharohs the priesthood rebelled and the backlash was so bad that the Aten pharohs were expunged from the record. Tutankahmen was the last." Bit of a history lession there, but it can't be avoided. "I'm starting to wonder if Aten wasn't a mutant. Time was, Berto, when people like you would have been thought of as gods. And I'm wondering further if the 'Sun' isn't somehow important in that conflict. The Key… we have half of it… Belasco has the other half. And he wants ours. We don't know what it does yet but if he wants it…"


"We don't /know/ what Aten did." Zee's noticed Berto trailing off and casts him a grateful smile. It's unfortunate, but he's found her at her most focussed … which she often is these days.

"And what is a god, really?" Zee knows a few, has one as her mentor even "Someone others look to and choose to worship…." she smiles a little, a mutant explains a bit. "They are powerful, yes, but mainly because others around them don't have that power or understand it." A little like magic, really.

"From what we've seen, it looks like someone tried to launch a Limbo invasion of earth and the power of Ra wasn't sufficient to turn it back … and that's were Aten comes in."

Jericho's next words, have her considering … "The 'Sun'? As a symbol or for real?" she asks the demontainted hacker "Because if for real… there's a number of rituals and celebrations that are dedicated to the sun. It might give us something…"


"Certo, no need to elaborate," Roberto says, holding up a hand to forestall Jericho's explanation. "If Belasco wants something, we keep it from him. Simple as that." No friend of Illyana's would question that course of action, under any circumstances. "But what, and where, is this key? You need me to guard it? Or…"

The Brazilian mogul leans back on his heels, crossing one arm over his midsection and curling the other hand in front of his chin. "You're thinking my powers are related to those of a historical figure Aten is based on?" he ventures, voice laced with uncertainty. "So you think those powers will be somehow effective against demons? You should speak to Illyana about the time I tried to 'save' her from Limbo. Let's just say taht I'm lucky it's the thought that counts."


"Mmmm… well there's one way to find out…" Illyana's told Jericho a few stories but not that one. He's gotten the general tenor of the interactions of Limbo and her friends though. Perhaps that's why having someone to share it with was so important. Zee can explain to Berto about how half the key is here.

"We can go look and see what the case actually was. I'd like to have Illyana here for that though and there may be something you can do first. Belasco got his half of the key from HYDRA or at least, he got the information that led him to it from HYDRA. Your company recently had… something to do with AIM did it not? Is it possible there are documents or access to anything that might provide insight into what they might have been doing a couple of years ago?" Jericho knows better than most how HYDRA is fragmented but if Berto can get into even a part of AIM's archives it may provide a window into their operations that will be important even if it doesn't wind up have anything to do with this.


"The 'unbound key' is an amulet made from material only found in Limbo." Zee could use the word promethium, but it's not that well known. Berto might know it, but Zee isn't sure. "We…" her eyes cut to Jericho for a moment before looking back to Berto "don't know what it does. We just know that it's important and may be tied to something called the 'unbound heart'."

Moving to a cabinet behind the tables, Zee pulls out the half of the amulet they have - it's in a magically warded container "It's suspended between dimensions. It shouldn't be here at all, that material can't really exist outside Limbo… Jericho and I found in the same place we found these tablets." beat "When we dove one of these tablets" what strange thing to say! "We saw it being split in two … "


Roberto winces visibly at the mention of AIM. "'Something to do with them' is… one way of putting it," he reluctantly admits. "I'll have my assistant look through the archives and share anything we have digitized." It's telling, for those who are closely attuned to Roberto's manner, that he is already distancing himself from this task. He usually prefers a hands-on approach.

Unfortunately, the matter of the mystical amulet doesn't afford him much opportunity to get involved. "Certo," he says, his tone cautious and ambivalent. "That sounds… mystical. As you said, Illyana is who you should talk to." He gives a slight shrug. "I'm better at negotiation or punching things than dealing with the supernatural. Obviously, if there's anything I can do to help, let me know… but if it's a question of figuring out what that anything might be, I'm afraid I will not be all that useful."


"Well, I'd dearly love to figure out why Zee is threatened by your involvement and if you're amenable I'd like to take you on a little historical field trip…" He glances to Zee. "When we can get everything arranged. If I can get Illyana soon when she has time we'll do that. Otherwise we may have to do it without her. But I don't think right now is a good idea. Not just yet. Will it be okay if we come find you when this is ready? I'm sure you have a lot on your plate."


"Zatanna, Jericho." Zee corrects the demontainted hacker. She's Zee … or if Jericho or Illyana really want to push the point - 'Kitten' … the other woman, the older, demonic version of her, is Zatanna.

Her mood changes slightly, as Jericho mentions making arrangements … they would have been so much easier a week or so ago. Now, she's hamstrung by the loss of her powers and they have to go the long way about doing things.

"I might need help, punching things." she finally admits quietly. The bruises and grazes that mar her arms are testimony of that. "It would be good to have you along for that expedition, though."


"Like I said earlier, beating Belasco is its own reward," Roberto says with a wan smile. He has always been more than happy to fight any battle on a friend's behalf. "Drop me a line and I will be happy to contribute however I can. If I need to punch some demons, that's just fun. If I have to dress up as some ancient Egyptian sun god, so be it. I don't have that much dignity to lose, anyway."

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