Antiquities Stake Out

January 27, 2016:

Sara Pezzini returns to New York after a prolonged absence

New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Not so long ago, Sara Pezzini was a New York City detective who'd hardly ever been out of the city, let alone out of the country. For the last several months, though, she's been in Europe, following the trail of an antiquities trade that doesn't seem consist entirely of mundane antiquities. Indeed, more than a few items of some mystical significance have been traced back to a particular seller. And when Sara tracked that seller, she found an address for a shop in midtown Manhattan.

In the middle of the bright lights and tourist attractions isn't quite where one would expect to find an antiquities shop so high-end that its unassuming entrance doesn't even have a sign on it. The nameplate on the buzzer, though, reads 'Worthy Acquisitions.'

Sara has staked out a hot dog stand on the corner of the block, handing her money over to the vendor as she eyes the doorway.


Jemma hasn't heard from Sara in very long time and was a little surprised to hear from the woman - a request to provide backup on the stakeout.

Situated in the back of an unassuming car, laptop on her lap, Simmons is trying to gain access to the video feeds from the street. "Nearly have them, Agent Pezzini." she murmurs into comms.

Of course, if Fitz was here, that would be so much quicker.


John Constantine appears from a nondescript alley and walks into the building that Sara's scouting. He's got a set to his jaw that promises something unpleasant is about to happen to someone. He doesn't even get buzzed in— he just jiggles the handle to the door and it admits him into the interior.

There's the sound of muffled, loud voices, audible even to the woman across the street. Whatever's going on just escalated quite a bit.

Plans, meet wrench.


A black short haired cat makes her way towards the outwardly ordinary looking shop across the street and darts into the shop at John Constantine's heels. She keeps to the shadows inside but is probably still visible to anyone looking. The cat seems to be in good health and even has a collar though it's decorated in what look to be the fangs and claws of small animals. She sits and starts washing a paw in an idle manner while occasionaly looking up and around.


"Dammit. Simmons, this is about to go south-" Before Sara can even explain how things are about to go south, there's already shouting from inside the building. "Constantine's in there." Because really, that covers the whole situation.

Abandoning her hot dog, she jogs to the building, giving the door a solid shoulder before she heads up the stairs. "Hands in the air," she calls up ahead of herself. Well, at least no one's going to question if she had a right to go in.


"I've got the video feed, Agent Pezzini…" Simmons trails off as she's Constantine enter and then the black cat.

The cat gets a cursory look through the feeds, as Jemma turns on her speakers.

She's now got eyes and ears on the inside of the shop.

Reaching across the seat to the case beside her, Jemma opens it and looks down at the silver spheres. A new invention, of not too long ago, based of the FitzSimmons Seekers. "Ready to deploy my ICER spheres on your mark, Agent."

Inside the shop, the shopkeeper looks about as terrified as if someone has a gun on him. And not New York 'Whatever, just don't steal my ID' robbed, but 'holy crap I won't be able to delete my browser history' terrified.

And John's hands are empty, palms on the countertop, and he's leaning forward into the man's personal space.

"Sanguine obsidian, Boris," John says again, his voice cold. "I've been willing to overlook at a lot of the hock junk you've moved. You've done me a turn or two and I figure, one more antiquities dealer selling crystals to over-wealthy bourgeois, I don't need to ruffle my petticoats over."

"But," he says, jabbing a finger at the man, who flinches in terror. "Blood stone? That's some high-level malarky, mate, even for a tosser like you. I want to know where you got it, and I want to know what sort of bollocks you've got that makes you think you can sell that on my turf and I'll turn a blind eye."

At the sound of a door kicking in, John's eyes flicker and he holds a commanding palm out at Sara, fingers upraised and together— the universal gesture of 'stop'. "Take a number, luv," he says, eyes not budging from the shopkeeper. "My friend here's got some explaining to do before you bobbies take him off my hands."


The small black cat has stopped washing her paw and started roaming around the shop in an apparently random manner. She stops to sniff or rub against table legs and shelves and other odds and ends of furniture but doesn't take her eyes off the two people at the counter for long. At least not until Sara suddenly enters. Then she hisses softly in startlement and darts back under a table where it's safe. She's given no sign yet she's anything other than what she appears to be. Maybe she's waiting to see which side to join, or maybe she really is just a cat.


"John." Sara rolls her eyes, holstering her gun as she steps inside. "This guy? Small fish. Also, fuck you and your take a number. I've been waiting in 'queues' and tracking 'lorries' and all that for the last four months. The charm of the accent's wearing out. Go take a tea break or something." She steps toward the counter, pushing up her sleeves. It's an innocuous gesture, really. Or it would be if it didn't reveal the bracelet on her right wrist.


In the car, Jemma colours a little as Sara's temper begins to show. She's worked enough with the woman to get used to it, but still … it can be a little daunting.

With no direction, Simmons sets her silver spheres on their way. If nothing else, she'll have them in position and can ICER anyone looking to run … or on Agent Pezzini's say so.


"Congratulations on advancing your cultural expertise, Pez. I see a few months in sunny London hasn't improved your disposition at all."

"Ah-! Don't move," John says, snapping a finger at the shopkeeper, scowling.

"He usually -is- small time," he tells Sara. "Crystal balls for bored housewives, some antiquities that are probably better left in their home country. But I just found the corpse of a teenager in Gotham who was holding a sanguine obsidianus in his hand and didn't have a drop of blood left." He reaches into his coat pocket and comes up with a handkerchief folded around a single, glitter-edged piece of obsidian that's a deep, almost flushed scarlet in color. "This is some very dark magic, and way beyond what he normally moves. I want to know how this tosser got it and what he thinks he's doing selling it to teenagers. So, do you want to watch the door while I beat it out of him, or vise-versa?"


The cat has no idea what's happening and she's hampered by the strange dialect John speaks in. Sara uses a few words that she isn't familiar either. Dead teenager she understands though and that combined with the shopkeep's fear is read by her as an admission of guilt. A child murderer? She knows how to deal with this.

The cat stalks out from beneath her tablespot and towards the shopkeep with an angry yowl. She jumps up onto and then over the counter before instantly shifting form to a rather rough looking woman in a black fur bikini with a fang and claw leather necklace. She means to reach for the man but suddenly pauses and steps back with an uncertain expression. Her memories are still so fragmented and shrouded by fog. Perhaps she doesn't know the proper course of action. If she does wrong then the God will come looking for her.


"And I've been tracking a whole business trading in high level artifacts," Sara replies, stepping closer to the counter to lean her right hip against it. Setting her hand on the countertop, she taps her fingers, the jewel in her bracelet glimmering. "Ones with a connection to something I've got some personal interests in- Whoa!"

Shop cat was not a big concern for Sara. Strange woman in a fur bikini on the counter, on the other hand, is a little bit more concerning. "And apparently other things." She's taken aback for the moment, not entirely sure what to do there. "Simmons, are you getting all this?"


Simmons peers at the screen and blinks … and blinks again. She might not be part of the Weird Ass Nasty Division, but she works with them closely, you'd think she'd be used to this type of thing.

"Uh… uh… Uh yes! Agent Pezzini" the biochem replies over the comms as her ICER Spheres enter the shop and start circling, slowly. "That … cat just turned into a woman." let's state the obvious Simmons. "What do you want to do, Agent Pezzini?"


John eyes the feline shapeshifter, one hand disappearing into his coat pocket. John's a progressive sort of wizard— if a few ounces of lead can solve the problem, why resort to chucking spells around?

"Hmm. This party's getting interesting," he says, eyeing the confused shapeshifter and the thoroughly baffled shopkeep, who now has a cop, a werecat, and John Constantine all looking angrily upon him.

"Oh god, please, I'm sorry," he whimpers, shrugging. "I couldn't move those damned rocks," he confesses, eyes wetting. "They're fucking bloodstones, John, c'mon. The only people who want them are… vampires and sanguinaries, man, I don't truck with their type. This kid was in here looking for something for his… goth… rave thing, I don't know, and saw them, and I didn't think he'd actually know how to use them!"

"Please don't turn me into anything," he whispers, terrified.


And, of course, who else would be driving said surveillance van that Simmons is currently ensconced in? Agent May checks in with someone on her earpiece before addressing Jemma without looking toward her. "Can you get facial recognition started, Simmons?"


The strange woman eyes the terrified man and emits a low angry growl from deep within her chest. She looks very much as if she wants to kill him but realizes that he isn't the one who made this blood stone weapon. She's also now unsure if her impulse to kill is the correct one. She can't remember the land she hails from but has been made aware that it was another realm. They may do things very differently here and a misstep could cause her problems and danger she isn't looking for at the moment. She hisses in frustration. "Speak the truth, worthless cretin! Where did you get this weapon?!"


"Lady. Off the counter." Sara reaches toward the previously feline woman, pausing only a moment when she realizes her options for grabbing her are limited. She finally settles on the back of her neck. Might as well try scruffing her. Maybe the cat thing will go that far.

"He's not turning you into anything," she adds to the shopkeep. "Yet. So long as you answer some questions."


"I don't know Agent May." At least Simmons is honest. This type of thing is Fitz's normally, she's just the biochem dammit! Hastily tapping at keys, she zooms in on the shopkeeper first, taking a still and then does the same for the cat woman.

Hopefully, she's using the right program.


"Let's not table anything yet," John agrees, nodding at Sara. He fishes in his pockets and comes up with a tiny, ragged stuffed mouse, and throws it against the far wall. It twitches and seems to roll in a circle… and it smells overwhelmingly of catnip.

"Start talking, mate, before I decide to make the good bobby's life complicated by making her find out how to book a small invertebrate," he threatens.

The fellow swallows audibly. "Christ, okay, shit," he babbles. "Lou Perimon, it was Lou," he tells John. The Brit's brows rise, and he glances at Sara meaningfully. "Lou said he cleaned out some .. I don't know, like, warehouse or storage locker or something, and this crap was in it. He asked me to move it for him and I was sorting through this shit when I found the bloodstones. Okay? It was Lou, it was… it was Lou."

John considers the man, then relents. "That's all I needed," he says. "But the good officer here just heard you admit to selling hazardous materials to a minor. I imagine there's some kind of law against that, right Pez?" he asks Sara.


Meanwhile..a few blocks away. Coulson sits in an unmarked Sedan. He's got feeds from the van showing up, as well as getting reports from May in his ear. "May..who's the guy in the trench? One of these things is not like the others.." he says quietly, no louder than a whisper. No need to be. May's the only one who knows he's on scene, and he prefers it that way. Less than twenty four hours back, and old habits die hard. Always has to keep a close eye on his people.


The woman is either not as human as she currently appears or has a very feral nature and being grabbed in a vulnerable place suddenly clearly alarms her. She leaps across the counter, breaking Sara's hold on her neck and lands in a crouch on the floor before rising with feline grace and glaring at the other three people.
Her eyes had gone from yellow to a deep oceanic blue but now the edges turn yellow again and her pupils have morhped into ovaline slits. "Do not touch me!" She hisses angrily. Her stance isn't aggressive yet, not exactly. It's more.. proud. The way her chin juts out and the angle her head is tilted. Her hands remain at her sides though her fingers are curled and her expression is rather fierce. Grabbing a housecat by the scruff is usually a good strategy. This one is not just a housecat but she's yet to show her other form. There is danger here. The man and woman both scent of power and magic. The shopkeep mostly smells of terror and that at least pleases her.
When the mouse hits the wall and then a strange but overwhelming scent bursts from it she seems baffled at first and her confusion lasts long enough for the strange herb to have a seemingly calming effect on her. The moves over and kneels down to study the mouse, for the moment forgetting everyone else. Or at least giving a very good impression of it.


May doesn't pressure Simmons about the facial recognition. If she manages it, good. If not, she's at least got the surveillance footage being recorded and they can run facial recognition that way later. "Simmons, has Pezzini figured out yet why Constantine is here?" She's partly asking because she wants to know, partly to let Coulson know who the Brit in the trenchcoat is. John Constantine, he's in SHIELD's database as a 'person of interest'.


Sara quirks a brow at the strange woman, but John seems to have that distraction handled. "Why you come packed for cats, I think it's best I don't know," she murmurs to the magician, turning back to the shopkeep. "All sorts of laws," she agrees, reaching to the small of her back for her cuffs. "And, you know, I think we're going to need to take a look at your books in order to determine if you've been selling them to any other minors."


"Constantine is speaking with, threatening, the shopkeep about selling some dark magic artifacts to minors." At least that's what Jemma's got out of the discussion "And he's making it very difficult for Agent Pezzini to do what she came here to do."

"She's just about to arrest him, Agent May." Simmons murmurs. "Someone named Lou Perimone, apparently gave this shop keep the goods to sell."


"Well done, Pez," John tells the woman. He glances around, then hops the counter easily. "And if you'd ever been sexually assaulted by the catgirls of India, you'd start carrying catnip, too. That little gimmick saved me from a disastrous trip among a tribe of rakshasa."

He starts rummaging around, frowning. "His books aren't going to be here… all right," he jams his hands in his coat. "This is how it's gonna happen, mate. You're going to tell me where the nasty pieces of work are, and the good officer here is going to be over-busy with detaining you for a few minutes. I want your books and the stuff you're saving for those select clients. If I hear some poor bobby so much as pricks a finger sorting out your collection of voodoo needles…"

"Oh, god, John, please!" the guy protests. "Okay! Okay! Back room, it's in my back room," he winces, turning to let Sara handcuff him. "In the cabinet that looks like a medicine chest, there's a false wall there. Just… please, go easy, right? I'm cooperating here!?"


After prodding the mousething with a finger and waiting to see it doesn't move on it's own again, the strange woman picks it up and gets to her feet. She stands by the wall and studies it with a bemused expression. The yellow has faded from her irises and they are wholly blue again. Almost hesitantly she brings the mouse to her nose and sniffs at it then looks up at John with narrowed eyes. "Why do you drug me, Man? I have not offered you harm. Are all peoples in this realm so badly met to strangers? I do not wish for enemies but will not falter when I find them." There isn't any anger in her voice or expression and she eyes Sara as well as she speaks. She sounds calm and maybe a little baffled. The catnip is clearly having a calming, even blissful effect on her that she's having to work hard to ignore. Fighting right now would not be ideal but she has a long memory and is skilled huntress and tracker. The shopkeeper is restrained and not good prey and thus beneath her attention now.


Phil Coulson hmms softly from his Sedan, "May, mark the cat..person? too. This Constantine character is on our POI list..I want a dossier running on that woman as well. They don't seem to play nice, and the last thing I want is some kinda supernatural throwdown happening with our pants down. We might wanna flag this for Miss Zatarra for follow up as well. She might know more about these folks than we do."


"Constantine, things disappear from here and I'm going to know where to find them," Sara calls back to John as she goes about reading the shopkeep his rights. "Base, this is Agent Pezzini. I'm going to need an evidence team up here, and someone equipped to deal with cats that turn into fur bikini-clad women with attitudes. Not it." She eyes the woman back, dry. "Lady, I'm not sure where you're from, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say not New York. Even here cats turning into women isn't exactly standard operating procedure."


May knows for a fact that Zatanna knows a fair bit about Constantine — just say his name in her presence and she immediately looks like she bit into a lemon rind. "Already done," she replies to Coulson too faintly for Simmons to hear, then speaks in a more normal tone. "Start tracking down Lou Perimon, Simmons. I think I need to go have a word with Mr. Constantine." She's preparing to get out of the van and go over there and tell the human smokestack of a Brit exactly how she feels about his interfering with Pezzini's investigation.


"Acknowledged Agent Pezzini." Base responds to the woman. It won't be long before the evidence team is there.

Jemma recalls the ICERSpheres and slips from the car behind May. She … wants a good look at the Cat Woman. Hey! SCIENCE!! thankyou.


"How would you know?" John's already vanishing into the back room while Sara's inconveniently busy with the fellow she's handcuffing. Procedures take time, after all, and he's making full use of the moments alloted. He's in the back, the false cabinet is open, and John starts shoving bits and pieces of bits and pieces into his endless coat pockets, and making a mess for the evidence crews who follow along later.


The woman huffs. She doesn't like being ignored. She is a cat and a warrior woman and considers herself to be glorious to look upon and these people have all been very rude from her point of view. They have either threatened or ignored her. She stuffs the small mouse beneath the band of her fur top and heads towards the door. She's clearly not going to find what she'd hoped in this place now anyway and there has to be someone out there who will give her the kind of attention she wants and deserves. Maybe the weird meat vendor will share some food with her. Some of the people in this realm are very fond of cats, as it should be.


"Basically I'm going to assume anything strange and unattributed that I come across in the next year and a half at least is a result of you running off with something here," Sara summarizes to Constantine, putting a hand on the shopkeep's shoulder. "So you'll either be helping me clean up the mess, or I'll be dragging you off in cuffs next. And not the furry kind." She starts toward the door, making room for the next team. "Keep it in mind, Johnny."

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