The Miasma Of Magic

June 04, 2016:

Steel City is closed to the public - no one can go in, no one can go out. No one knows what's happened there but Zee and WAND are called in to start investigating. They pick some helpers up along the way.

Steel City

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It's all over the news. Steel City has been attacked and the Government has stopped anyone entering or leaving. Early reports indicate that there's some kind of contamination that reaches to about five miles outside the city limits. Any other information is simply not forthcoming. The National Guard, DoD and FEMA are all working together to try and get some semblence of order in place - quarantining any survivors (and there doesn't seem to be many) that actually make it out of the city.

Spell casters though, magic users and their ilk, know that this isn't any normal attack - this has been a magical attack and that a miasma penetrates the city, bound to the very essence of the land and rewriting reality. The Leylines are equally effective - making any form of working through them questionable. There are rumours that monsters are moving into the city - what type, it's hard to tell - but assume the worst you can think of and you probably won't go wrong.

SHIELD have received direction - Get Out There - and WAND had been put on the case.

Zee was woken the minute the working went off. Jolted from the only sleep she's had in a few days, the phone call came not long after. Her help was requested. It didn't take her long to join the WAND team - she knows they're going to need all the help they can get. She's also placed calls to X-Red, specifically her friend Wanda Maximoff and few other contacts. Any and all assistance will be appreciated.

A certain Batfamily member received a communication from a redheaded Gothamite hacker. If it wasn't for the digital disguise in her voice, she might have sounded … stressed. She had been monitoring the situation and saw the ritual enacted - with The Fox and Batgirl in the city at the time. She'd sent them to safety in the sewers.

The WAND group, having been flown in on a QUIN jet are observing the city from a checkpoint just outside the city. "Humans can't go in there, they'll get magical radiation poisoning and … it won't be good. Some mutants and meta humans might have protection for a while." Zee's dressed all in black leather, looking grim. "May, with your permission, Rain and I can provide enchantments for your SHIELD team. When we're done here, I'll work some on charms for them to carry."


Having put the quinjet on autopilot to hover in place, she nods her acceptance of Zee's offer of enchantments for her team. "Rain, if you feel that things are going to be too hairy on the ground for Captain, he can stay in here." And maybe even do a bit of comm channel coordination. His paws should be able to work the control panel easily enough.


Rain can do enchantments. She looks to Captain. Captain kind of points his paws in a sort of 'fingergun'. Except he's not quite flexible in the right ways as humans are. "Danger's my middle name." Beat. "Nah, it's cool, I'll chill here." At least Rain can communicate through captain if needed, too.

Rain nods, and will offer what she can. "I can enchant people temporarily. I think you may prefer miss Zatanna's. She's better at making cool jewelry," A wry smile.

But Rain is worried. Uncertain about all of this.


Decked in red and black, The Former Boy Wonder, atop his very red motorcycle zooms to the city. The faint rumble of the motor rolls over Red Robin's consciousness as he barrels forwards. Even with voice modulation, Tim could almost feel the stress, or, perhaps more accurately, he projected his own stress onto Oracle, making the assumption she felt stressed.

"I'm on site," he states blandly into his ear piece. "And I'm alert."


Wanda felt it too…though she had no idea what it was and welcomed Zatanna's call when it came. Not that the sorceress had much of an explanation but it did mean that Wanda hadn't imagined it all. She stares out at the desolate neighborhood from the checkpoint as others talk to the authorities; the Scarlet Witch has never been good with authority. "It is changing" she offers quietly to anyone who is listening. "It is refashioning this world into another." Her fingers absently curl and contort as her scarlet energy builds around them. She is dressed in her uniform/costume of black boots, black leggings, scarlet corset and scarlet long coat. "We do not have long" she adds with a little more volume.

MEANWHILE, somewhere in the perimeter - probably, suspiciously enough, somewhere not too far from where people are landing - there is an object that keeps moving a little irregularity, hidden in the dark and the chaos. It looks like one of those containers you use to put out your recycling.

That's because it is in fact one of those containers, albeit full of bottled water, first aid kits, and several small cheap cameras, because the person towing this material - Noemi Nogueira - knows that a situation like this is RIPE FOR THE ABUSE OF POWER.

Where is she, exactly? Well, there's a strange clear gel that kind of glops around the container, and occasionally makes it move across lines of sight. This probably looks very bad, in context, although THIS PARTICULAR collection of strange and inexplicable gel-like material are not doing anything particularly harmful, nor radiating baleful energies.


"I'll need your help when I make those charms, Rain." Zee murmurs to the violet eyed witch. While Rain and she work on enchanting the SHIELD agents, the checkpoint 'commander' pulls out a map and talks to May. "We believe the epicentre of the explosion was here, right over the Steel Foundry. We've no view inside the city though, all the feeds are cut off. You'll be going in blind. These maps are the latest we have, but they'll be a year or so old." Clearly, they're concerned that the standard tech won't work in the area and are providing contingencies.

Hearing the rumble of the bike as it pulls up, Zee looks over to Red Robin and beckons. "Here to help? You'll need an enchantment to go in there. That's magical radiation and it will kill you." Without waiting, the young mage murmurs her spell and Red Robin will feel the magic settle over him, providing protection from at least the miasma.

"We're ready, May. Let's go in."

The QUIN Jet puts down not far from the city centre (a distance from the Foundry) and the 'troops' pile out. The streets are fogged by that miasma and there seem to be forms at irregular intervals through the streets.

Most concerning though, is the sounds. Grunts, howls, whistles and rustling.

And then it comes, two Minotaurs rear out of the fog at the group in front of them, whilst Wanda is hit by a blast of magical energy that seems to originate from the behind the group.

The 'recycling bin' can likely hitch a ride on the QUIN Jet, if she's quick. When she arrives in the city centre, she'll have to find the survivors.


Melinda May looks at the young man when he arrives, noting the differences in his outfit and bearing from the last time she saw him (quite a while back). Everything's settled, and they start toward their target destination. The moment those minotaurs appear, she pulls a pair of batons of the sort Morse usually uses and offers them to Drake wordlessly. She's pretty sure that regular mundane weaponry is going to be pretty well useless today.


"Sure thing," Rain is aces at beadwork. Rain is with the group, although she pauses. "Here comes the beef," She frowns faintly. "Right. Okay. I'm gonna - bother them." Deep breath. « Remake the beast. » And lo, she's a DIRE DIRE SIBERIAN GODBEAR. A huge, white dire bear that probably went extinct before humanity figured out beer. She roars at the minotaurs and rushes at one. After all, a bear can take a beating way better than a person.


Zee receives a flicker of a smirk at the question followed by a vague nod. "I'm just an eternal helper," Red Robin offers. With the magic settling over him, he follows May forward, and accepts the batons in silence. His gloved fingers wrap around them tightly.


"I will be fine" Wanda smiles to Zatanna - she can scan minds when she needs to - before she is on a QUIN jet flying into Hell. The place gives her the creeps. The fog is something she does not want to get too acquainted with. She sees the shapes charging them, her magic starting to build around her fingers.

And then she is flattened by a blast from behind. Wanda slams into the earth, grimacing as she pushes herself back up. A flick of her wrist and a scarlet, glowing wall is thrown up between her and where she /thinks/ the attack came from. "They are all around us" she warns the others…though perhaps a bit late.


Getting in there quick is something Noemi has had to do in the past. After this she waits silently. In a shadow. This isn't actually hiding so much as 'nobody's going to look at a bunch of silicon resin right now'. Right? Right. Upon landing, she moves to step out and THEN out of nowhere, "What the hell!?" comes an indignant voice.

The fluid coagulates. Coagulates and starts changing form, shedding a chemical-scented mist as it goes. "Hi! Sorry!" Noemi says to Wanda, hard to recognize given that she is changing from 'clear resin' into 'blackish sand'. What she CAN do once her arm gets more or less together is try to smash one of these — bull-men?! "What the hell!?" — in the snoot!


The Minotaurs charge the group. Two tall, massive, solid, bull like bipedals. Each wielding cudgels that look like small trees. One is barreled over by the RAIN-BEAR, bringing its club down on her back as it tumbles.

The other one makes a beeline for May and Red Robin.

Zee's distracted by a gout of magical energy that's just hit Wanda, flattening her, and turns to help her friend. Eyes glowing and blue energy dancing around her hands, her eyes widen as a group of three witches throw bolts of energy at them. With quick murmurs, Zee's own magic doesn't counter the witches - it deflects the bolts, just like she's practiced when battling against a sword. She can't speak to Wanda, her words are needed for her magic - but she's got the full attention of the three for the moment.

Red Robin and May are going to have to look after that Minotaur. It's then that a 'glob' of silicone resin reforms into something resembling 'blackish sand' that punches the charging minotaur in the snout!

The Minotaur blinks and rears back, given the other two an opening.


The minotaurs are moving too fast to bother with a chain whip, and people might be a bit too close, as well. May pulls a pair of small, oil-gleaming swords from under the back of her jacket and uses whatever just startled the thing to close the distance to minotaur #2. That cudgel is a HUGE problem (pun not intended), but she's banking on the creature not being used to opponents getting in close. And, she's going to try to hamstring the monster.


Rain can tank one, but she can't get both of their attention. It would end badly, anyway. She roars, rolling forward to take too much force from the club. Tackling it was too much of an investment. She's totally gonna need a hot bath soak and bruise treatment later. She can deal with it later. For now, she's going to try to put a BITE on the minotaur. The dire bear has some serious bite power. She's also going to try to BEARHUG and include claws. BEARCLAWS(TM). Not just for donuts.


The batons are spun twice over in Robin's hands, and he inhales a deep breath. Recent training recalls muscle memory, and, with an audible exhale, he shifts his weight from one foot to the other. He shifts his centre of gravity from one side to the other, using his right arm to club hard at the minotaur's shoulder, attempting to use the entirety of his weight behind the blow.

He's doubtful it'll have much impact, but maybe it'll serve as a brief distraction.


"WHAT ARE YOU," shouts the woman of black sand, even as the minotaur rears back. She doesn't seem worried, but she is apparently made of sand, so that's probably related.

Then she looks over as Robin leaps into action. She feels faintly abashed and then throws herself forwards, putting her relatively high mass into a shoulder-tackle at the looming bullman's stomach.


Witches? Minotaurs? Sand People? Has Fairyland made its way to this world? Luckily the Scarlet Witch is a gypsy so she's been expecting this all her life. She just didn't know it would hurt so much.

Steadying herself on her feet she gives a nod of appreciation to Zatanna for helping out before she unleashes her own magic at the trio of witches. Scarlet energy flashes from her hands to envelop one of them. It is not a blast of energy though, more a rather nasty manipulation of reality…the kind that turns bone marrow to jelly and causes bodies to collapse under their own weight. No one has told Wanda yet that these things are needed alive.


Rains jaws close around the Minotaurs throat, piercing its supertough hide - as do her BEARCLAWS(TM). The thing roars and struggles, trying to bring that cudgel down again but she's got it pinned rather effectively. She can feel the creatures' struggles abating - just a little bit longer, as the song goes.

Mays oil gleaming, mithril, swords cut deep, severing the tendons in one of the Minotaurs legs, just as Red Robins titanium batons connect and deliver a Tazer shock to the creature. It bellows in rage and pain and is about to swing that cudgel at the young man … only to be taken in the stomach by Noemi's rush. With no balance, thanks to the hamstringing, the thing goes down in a heap.

A Zee and Wanda team up against three witches? Sometimes life just isn't fair, is it? With Zee deflecting the magic blasts like she's flicking a sword, Wanda's blast takes the witches out. Zee's under no compunction to keep them alive - Wanda might need to speak to X-Red later, though!

The six SHIELD TAC agents fan out but seeing the others have the Minotaurs engaged, slowly progress down the street, keeping an eye out for further attacks. About twelve feet from the group, the team stops and one of them calls back "Agent May. You really want to see this."

"We've got some survivors over here." Another agent calls.

When May and the others join the group, they'll see that the figures in miasma are salt statues. They … might have been the people in the street … they look pretty life like.

The survivors, there's four of them, are not in a great way. Clearly affected by the radiation, it's clear though they've spent some time in the sewers.


Eeeeuugh. Rain is going to brush her teeth after this. She keeps it pinned. It's unpleasant, and there's reasons she rarely resorts to this sort of combat. But it's a wild, feral side of the witch clan she hails from. Though, only one of her relatives lived in a gingerbread house and she had obscene insurance premiums. She lets go once the struggles stop. Aack, pthu. "Grooooooooossss," The bear paws at her muzzle. She might find it more appetizing if she gave in to her more bear side, but that's not how Rain rolls. She's the shiest bear around.

She looks up. "You guys okay?" She asks, and moves to join the others. She frowns, seeing the states of the survivors.


Melinda May steps lightly out of the way as the combined efforts of Robin and the… sand-woman? knocked the hamstringed minotaur to the ground. And then the tac team call for her attention. She jogs over there and looks at the salt statues and survivors. So, so not good. "Zatanna, is there anything you can do for these people?" Shifting both swords to one hand (their hilts and pommels are flattened to make holding them this way entirely reasonable), May reaches her now free hand over to bury it into Rain-bear's fur at her shoulder. Possibly a reassuring gesture?


Noemi feels increasing levels of tension, from both the situation and the efficiency of the group's operation. She ghosts behind Rain and Melinda, sucking in her breath despite not really needing to.

Part of her wants to tell the SHIELD agents to back off, and the other part of her realizes that on several levels this is (as of right now) a bad decision. Her arms fold loosely as she glances over her shoulder, perhaps wary of additional minotaurs. (Seriously, Noemi thinks to herself, what the hell made those?)


As her magic consumes the witches and turns them into puddles of evil…still aware and alive…Wanda wanders over to them and studies them for a long moment. She could bring them back…maybe…but they are dangerous. Then there are calls about survivors and the she looks over to the others. "Do not move" she orders the floppy witches before she too starts to watch the world around them. That fog hides way too much.


The fog does hide much and Zee's tension is palpable. "No May, at least not here. They need to be taken to a quanrantine station." This is something new - how does one treat a magical malady? Perhaps someone versed more in healing then Zee might have the answer. "Do we have anything to help with them at the moment?" Noemi's 'recycling bin' of stuff will likely come in handy here.

Speaking to survivors, gesturing for the SHIELD agents to back off "We'll do what we can for you. What happened?"

"Wweee, don't know." One of the girls says, she's about fifteen "We were in the sewers when it happened. Came out not long after we heard the noise." Homeless children, it seems.

Turning to Noemi, Zee gives the woman a slight frown "I'm Zee, by the way. Thanks for the assist with the minotaur. Did you come here to help?"

As Wanda looks, she'll notice the salt statues. They 'resonate' with magic, the magic that flows and weaves through the city. These were the residents of Steel City.

"What do you want to do, May? The enchantments will last an hour or so?"


Rain looks to May and the stick guy. She nods. "Thanks, sorry." She really doesn't like biting into an opponent. But it's hellishly effective, and so it goes. She looks back to the woman ordering floppy witches to not move. "Ma'am, that's like telling a jellyfish to put its tentacles up." It's futile. She pauses. "We can take a look, though, as with mundane illnesses and accidents, it's important to try to find out what they have in common and what happened," She pauses. "Hello. And thank you all for helping." If they can find a commonality, maybe? "I am uncertain."


"We need to get these people to safety." Other objectives be damned, people come first. "We'll come back if we need to." May nods to the tac team to start helping the civilians back to the quinjet, then looks at Wanda and the puddle-witches and approaches, brandishing the mithril swords toward them. "What's the purpose of all of this?"


"Hi! Yeah, I - brought some… stuff," Noemi says to Zee, trailing off because the situation seems dire. Her hands go to fold behind her back instead of in her front.

Her head tilts back as May starts pointing the swords. The abashedness evaporates quickly. "Excuse you?" she says, before she turns to nip over and grab that container of supplies, getting ahead of the people being herded off. Water bottles for everyone! (Small cameras for some.) This occupies Noemi for the moment, at least!


"I am not sure we can do anything with them" Wanda muses about the salt statues. "Did not God do this once?" she asks innocently. She warily touches one of the figures. "This could just be a shell. Their souls…who they were…could have been consumed by now. I do not think this is like they have been frozen." A frown before she looks over at May and her attempt to talk to puddles. "Would you like one back?" she asks before a smile for Rain. "We have no idea what powers they have. They could 'blink' out of existance without needing their hands."


Hearing Mays order, the TAC team returns and helps the four children to the QUIN jet. Noemi's gifts are received with clear appreciation and the youngest one, no older than nine, clings to her leg. "There are monsters … " he whispers to the sandy woman. His words are underscored as a series of howls go out across the city.

The three witchy puddles recoil from Mays blades and one them, sound a little drunken (or maybe like they've just had their mouth numbed), answers "Don't know, don't care. City's open for the likes us though. We were just setting up shop when you arrived."

Zee wanders over to stand with Wanda, looking at the salt statues and shaking her head "The story of Sodom and Gommorah, I believe. I doubt we can help these poor people now. We'll do some research, though." beat "Can you collect the puddles and uh, do something with them? We'll be leaving in a just moment."

It won't take long for the group to return to the Quin Jet and get out of there - there's a lot more investigation to be done, though.


Melinda May leads everyone back to the quinjet, though she does snag a spare bottle of water to offer Rain for mouth-rinsing purposes. Because she suspects changing back from Rain-bear to normal is going to leave her with some serious yuck-mouth. Also, she's hoping to consult with one or two mage-types before returning.


Rain pauses, and will accept the water. Thankfully, she's learning to carry listerine strips and breathmints, too. "Thanks, it tasted - well, they don't shower." She leaves it at that. Plus, the grizzly fact it was living and bleeding. Get it, grizzly? Okay, nevermind. Rain is going to do her best to help.

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