In Pursuit Of Richard

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July 17, 2016:

Zatanna comes after Richard … it's time to move that she loves most. Of course, Zee is in for a shock.

Turkey

Characters

NPCs: Richard Fitzgerald, Demon Zatanna, Child Zatara

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Zee knows that one day, soon, 'Zatanna' will be coming after Richard in an attempt to hurt Zee where it hurts most. It's known by those closest to the young mage, but not by any others, that Richard is almost as close as her father. He's been with the Zatara family since before she was born and takes good care of the young woman.

Zee's going to use that to her advantage and when the Alt Limboqueen makes her move, the young mage and a friend will descend on a chateau in Turkey and take that which Zatanna loves best. A… risky move.

The Shadowcrest Majordomo has agreed to act as bait. Zee's organised a series of teleport charms that will keep him moving and hopefully far enough of his pursuer … and buy Zee the time she needs. Hopefully … nothing will go wrong. Or, dreadfully wrong.

Which is why Agent Melinda May gets a message via the Leylines in the very early hours of a monday and a certain demontainted hacker gets a message. If the hackers earthside, he may be able to help.

It's time. Zatanna has made her move and Richard is running.

Zee teleports to May, grabs her and they arrive at the house located in the depths of Turkey. Just outside the gates. "My father used to bring me here, May. For holidays, not long after my mother disappeared." As they approach, Zee can feel and actually see it and Mays pendulum responds as well. Whilst the house appears normal, there's something wrong "Part of the house is phased, May. She's moved part of the house between dimensions. We'll need to find the portal before we can get what we need." It's a good guess where the 'prize' will be.

Placing her hand on the wrought iron gate, the young mage pushes gently … seeing if it will open to her touch. "Watch my back, we have to move quick. I don't want Zatanna catching up with Richard."

So far the house and the grounds look quiet - it would be a mistake to believe that's the case.


Somehow, May knew this call would come in as it has. And as usual, she was prepared to move at a moment's notice. So, mere seconds after Zee's message comes in May acknowledges it and less than a minute after that she's at the young magician's side. "Let's do this." Sheknows what's at stake. And she is as determined as Zee is to see that this goes according to plan.


Jericho answers immediately. He'll meet them there. It's quite quick, his way of getting back and forth and he knows that they're 'on the clock.' Much like May, he's not a mage. He's not sure what they're looking for. But where Zee brings magical expertise and May brings an intelligence's agents eye for detail, Jericho brings a knowledge of the economy of force and an eye for tactical situations. It's almost inconcievable that Zatanna has left her secret unguarded.

That's what he's here for. Or will be in a minute or two. He'll catch up. Limbo walks take a short amount of time.


Zee doesn't believe for one moment that Zatanna has left her secret unguarded. Part of the house is phased, she knew that it would be something like that but she's sure there are traps and then some.

The gate flares slightly as Zee's palm touches it and swings open with nary a sound. "It's keyed to the Zatara bloodline." she explains as they make their way up the gravel driveway, keeping the shadows and diverting to a side entrance. One the staff use. "She couldn't 'reprogram' it without an awful lot of work. Of course, that's going to work against as much as it will for us. Someone will have been told they've got visitors."

With Zatanna otherwise engaged though, Zee expects they'll encounter 'minions'.

Mays job comes next. The staff entrance won't be warded as heavily and it won't have a bloodline key to open it. May will have to use one of her gadgets to get the door open. Preferably somewhat quietly.

"Glad you could make it Jericho. Can you get access to the security systems? It might have magical protection, but if I know me … I'd be using something else as well."

While May works, Zee concentrates on the ward. It's been made by Zatara's, she should have this.


Wow. May hasn't had to pick a lock in… years. But, she still remembers how and can do it. Just might take her a moment. Especially as she's being cautious. This is a little too Dungeons and Dragons for her taste, and it would just be her luck if she set off a trap while pfutzing with the lock. Carefully now…


"Let's see…" Jericho frowns as he concentrates. "Yeah, there's electro-optical security here. Give me a few minutes. Zatanna's got this lock-warded interestingly. No doubt she's run into me before…"

The hacker knows that Zatanna's 'evil twin' has clashed repeatedly with the man Zee calls 'Old Man Jericho'.

"Okay. I'm in. Just move quick. There's a… spell in here. It's kind of like Maxwell. I'm not sure how long I have before he sees me and then I'll have to fight to keep from being locked out."


Zee glances at Jericho and nods. Blue/black eyes serious. She shouldn't be surprised that Zatanna has something similar to Maxwell.

The more traditional ward falls before her ministrations and the door opens to May lockpicking revealing a darkened 'mud room' that leads into the kitchen then out into a corridor. No, the door was not trapped. But the DnD reference might be more than accurate.

Moving quickly and quietly, Zee leads them on … following … something. Mays Pendulum is tugging her in the same direction. In the dim light of the corridor, everything looks normal to the 'muggle' eye until you look at the third door down from them out the corner of your eye… it … flickers, like it's not quite in time with the rest of the building.

"There." Zee confirms, eyes glowing faintly, indicating that she's channeling magic. "It's out of phase, I … need … to … align it. Be ready, this will likely alert something." Trusting the two at her back, she sets to work, blue energy slowly forming in her hands as she starts to speak the words of a spell.

She wasn't wrong about it alerting something, two suits of armour animate and descend on the trio. Jericho and May are going to have to deal with this, lest Zee loose the spell.

If Jericho's tapping the security system, he'll also see more movement stirring around the building. Seems like some of Zatanna's playthings might like a game.


Having brought the Tengu sword along, May wields it paired with her butterfly swords held together. Shh, don't tell any purists. They'd likely be horrified. The clanking suits of armor earn a raised eyebrow, but at least she doesn't have to worry about hurting any innocents inside them. And for metal armors she would have preferred to use her chain whip to get a little distance, but there's not enough room in here to do that without the risk of hitting Zee or Jericho. Or both. So she's got to rely on her speed to avoid them. Fingers crossed.


Jericho pulls a .45 from the small of his back and lets out three expertly aimed shots at the rightmost armor suit. There is absolutely no effect besides some impressive noises and sparks.

"Well it was worth a shot." Ba dum…

Jericho's traces flip blue and moments later it's a case of valiant knight versus hukling monster… only with the contexts reversed a bit. The crashing sound is ear splitting.

Maxwell, bar the doors as long as you can. Delay our guests.


These constructs are very fluid in their movement for clanking suit of armour. One suit does stop and rocks backward as the sparks fly but it's soon moving again, raising a broadsword edged with an eldritch flame and slashing it down on the traced out demonwolf. This should be interesting.

Mays brute is wearing a shield on its on left arm and carries a similar broadsword with a similar light, that lashes out at the waiting agent with surprising speed. It seems to want to dance.

Maxwell does bar the doors, but he's soon communicating to Jericho that some of the playthings are shifting … disappearing through walls and subverting the locks. They'll have more guests soon.

All the while, the blue of Zee's magic shines around and they can hear her speaking her spells. Soon though, the blue energy starts glow more darkly. That makes sense, this spell was wrought by Zatanna and much like the cage she caught Zee in once, Zee is going to have to undo that spell by fighting fire with fire.


There's no way in hell May will be able to hit harder than these things. So she's going to have to hit smarter. Narrowly dodging that flame-edged sword, she asks her Pendulum to give her a teeny bit more speed as she aims her Tengu sword at the knee joint of the armor she's faced off with. If he's done this right, she'll be able to remove the thing's leg at the knee. … is this suit of armor black, by any chance?


Company is not good news. Not in the least. The demonwolf hacker slips the blow from the magically charged broadsword and grabs the sword arm. He drives his knee up into what would be the armored figure's gut, less for the stunning effect and more to displace him enough for the ex-commando to get enough leverage to physically throw his assailant down and into the floor.


It really is a bit like a dungeon or a delve in some of those new MMO type games. Whilst one of the party unlocks the door, the others gain XP by fighting the monsters.

Mays sword slices through the leg, like a hot knife through butter, causing the suit to topple and stumble. At least it doesn't respond as is it does that so that it's merely a flesh wound. It's still wielding its sword, but its vulnerable.

Jericho's attack gets the grunt and screech of metal as the armour scrapes down his traces. The knee to the gut causing the suit to 'fold' and land with a crash on the floor.

Zee's spell ends with a flash of black light and she's calling to the pair behind her. "It's done, let's move. I doubt it's going to be as easy as this."

She's through the door before she finishes speaking, into a room with stair case that leads down …


Melinda May jumps lightly away from the armor, making sure there's zero change of getting bit on the knee, and turns to follow Zee. That much less actual fighting is always a good thing. "Are you calling that easy?"


The follow up stomp that Jericho delivers to the suit is meant to scatter the pieces which he hopes can't reform like they're part of a zombie movie. If they can… well he'll go to plan B.

"Hurry. There's things coming. Lots of things. I can't keep track of them all they're phasing through the shadows."

Which is bad business. Jericho will bring up the rear because of said bad business.


Turning dark eyes to May, Zee shakes her head. "No, but I think that's the easiest we'll see tonight. This is my demonic double we're speaking about and we're going to take what she loves most." Jericho's armoured assailant lies scattered in pieces across the hallway, it's not trying to reform - the enchantment or whatever it was seems to have been broken.

As all three cross the threshold of the door, Zee turns and murmurs a spell. The 'door' closes, hopefully blocking the things that are coming from getting through. Who knows? It's probably best they don't stick around and find out.

The staircase leads down into the gloom, but as they reach the lowest landing there's a soft glow of warm light. It seems like this is some form of sitting room, with couches, a TV, gaming console and the likes. Off to the right are two doors - perhaps to a bedroom and bathroom?

On the farside of the room is a floor to ceiling glass window with sliding door that seems to lead out into some of garden.

Mays pendulum starts tugging on her, drawing her towards one of the doors on the right. She really can't ignore it's pull.

Maxwell reports to Jericho that the shadows are slowed by the 'door' above, but they're starting to slip through. They've minutes at best before whatever those shadow dwellers are join them.


Melinda May is following Zee, but when her pendulum starts tugging she slows to a stop and looks in the direction it's indicating. "Zee?" She starts toward the door, but isn't forgetting about being cautious. "I think there's something over here." She pulls her pendulum to sit on top of her shirt for a change, the carnelian and dragon now openly visible.


Ever since Jericho, Illyana and Zatanna first encountered this 'Demonic Zee' in Limbo (and out of it) the recurring question has been 'why is she involved?'. Limbo rulers don't generally fight because it doesn't get them anything. The only way their conflict makes sense is if Belasco had some kind of hold over her, some way to incentivise her to fight on his behalf. The big question is… what would that be?

The answer is, apparently, a little girl. That's what's in the room that May is tugged into. She's ten, maybe twelve. Dark curls. High cheekbones. Actually she could be Zee's little sister. Or… something else. She's asleep and judging by the runes floating over her, there's something that's keeping her that way.

A quick look tells Zee that keeping the girl asleep is only a side effect of the spell. The working has been anchored to her life force. Any attempts to conventionally dispell it would kill her. Any attempts to unravel it and return the energy to the girl would probably corrupt her beyond recognition. The spell is, after all, black magic. Belasco's work.

This is Belasco's leverage. He's got a magical gun to the head of this little girl.

Why is it that May's Pendulum, and Zee's as well, are starting to glow so brightly? Bright green like… like the magic that created them.

Jericho turns at bay at the bottom of the stairwell. "Whatever you two do, hurry up."


It's a good thing Jericho that has turned, the first of the shadow creatures flows down the stairs. A group of three horned demons, the demontainted hacker should be relatively familiar with the type. They're from Limbo after all. They rush him, cruel talons and teeth trying to rend the man … You'd think they'd know better.

Leading May to the room, Zee stops at the door and holds the Secret Agent back. The girl is the spitting image of Zee at that age, it could be her. "We're not here to kill her. We just want Zatanna neutralised." she says as much to remind herself as anything. Who, or what, the child is … she'll worry about that later. "That's Belasco's work, I recognise the flavour. This must by why … "

Noting her pendant glowing green and Mays as well, Zee considers for a moment. The pendants had been made by Fenris, the epitome of Life Magic. Belasco deals in black magic … would the two cancel each other out? Do they dare try?

They don't really have an option, judging by the noise coming from the stairs.

"May, focus your pendants energy on the runes. I can't undo this by my magic alone." When May does, she will feel the resistance, like magnets repelling each other. It will take a strong will to make this happen.


THis is the exact kind of thing that May has been doing more and more frequently of late — pitting her willpower against negative effect or other. Her first inclination had been to get a hold of the kid and use the pendulum to go somewhere else, somewhere very far away. But no. She thinks of it more like arm wrestling. It has to be all hers and Zee's in order to undo whatever is keeping his kid here.


Outside the noise grows worse. The first three demons to attack Jericho get eviscerated. Claw swipes rend limbs from bodies and lay them open. It's brutal and efficent and the hacker does it without a second thought. Good thing too because the next wave has a lot more than three things in it. The shrieks of wounded and dying demons, the grunts and sparks of Aspect fighting and the crash and crunch of the timbers and walls all combine into one horrid symphony of death and destruction. He can't hold that long. Not with no room to maneuver and more and more critters pouring out of the wood work with every passing second.

The glow of the pendulums gets brighter but it's the push of the will that makes the beams form. As if they were focusing lenses for magic fueled by will, twin viridian shafts of light lance into the aura of sigils surrounding the girl. The sigils start to shift rapidly. The spells are triggering. In another moment the girl will be dead or corrupted. But… in another moment the spells will also be broken. They can save her. They just have to push… a little… harder…


The spells are triggering and if Zee has to, she'll channel her own lifeforce to the young girl. Whatever is going on here, no child deserves this … and Zee knows the power of love. Sister? Niece? Alt Daughter? Perhaps even an alternative her. No one deserves the fate bestowed on this child.

"Just a little more, May. But we need to be quicker. If we don't … it will be all over for her." The young mage draws a deep breath and pushes her will through her pendulum. It glows brighter and light arcs from one symbol to another.

Once this is done and they've got the girl, they can find Richard and stop his pursuit.

More demons flow down the staircase. Someone really hasn't thought about this. It's a choke point. Only allowing a maximum of three to attack the demonwolf at a time. As Jericho drops demon after demon, the bodies start piling up, slowing their access and making it easier for him to protect the two womens back.


At Zee's words, May redoubles her efforts to force her willpower through her pendulum toward the child. Please let this work. She's concentrating to the point that she has lost track of their surroundings. And that's something that NEVER happens to her.


Perhaps it was and perhaps it wasn't the intent of whomever designed this little retreat. A choke point to defend is never a bad thing and Jericho takes full advantage of it. In the room where May and Zee are battling the there's a bright flash of light and the spell itself unravels as if it never was.

At that exact moment two people appear. One, right behind Zee, is Richard. The other, right behind Jericho, is Zatanna.

The hacker turns and kicks on instinct. There's a spell flash that sends him sprawling to his back.


At the flash, Zee stumbles forward and nearly falls. She'd been leaning with her whole body it seems, as lost in her concentration as May had been. Using that momentum, she flings herself at the bed and gathers the child into her arms, smoothing the hair back from her forehead. "Nicely done, Ma——"

The arrival of Richard and then Zatanna has her scowling, clutching the girl tightly to her. "Leave him be, Zatanna. You've lost." They've got the child, the child is alive… which might stun Zatanna enough for May to do something.


Melinda May nearly stumbles forward as well, but catches herself and lets Zee pick the child up. She turns in time to see Zatanna and Richard appear and she sidles away from Zee in the hopes of sneaking an attack in on the demon-woman. She just has to be careful, as Richard is right there as well. Again asking the pendulum for help, she rushes at Zatanna with mithriland Tengu blades in hand.


The demoness doesn't follow up her brief confrontation with Jericho. And the hacker, intelligently, doesn't renew the fight when he picks himself back up.

May's pendulum fueled rush actually gets a look of concern from the Queen of Limbo. She does something that Zatanna has never seen her do the moment she realizes (almost too late) that she's under attack. She 'bubbles'. She surrounds herself in a force-shield, devoting all her energy to it. The power of the pendulum crashes into the shield. May might be able to breach it in another hit or so but Demon-Zee calls out.

"Wait!" If May stops she'll continue. "Wait… The child. What do you want with her? Give her to me."


"She'll come with me." Zee's eyes are slowly turning blue/r again "And you'll withdraw from the Limbo conflict. When my Illyana is safe from Belasco and N'astirh, you'll get her back. But right now, you're going to tell me who she is." The young mage hasn't had chance to glance down and see if the girls eyes are open and what colour they are. Like that might tell her anything, anyway. "Defy me in this and you'll never see her again."

That might sound like a threat to the childs life. But it isn't. Zee will find a way to tuck the girl away good and well.

She also knows that Richard is somewhere behind her. That he's alive is a great relief but she can't spare the attention for the moment…


Zatanna's eyes flash. "No. I will not lose her again. Give her to me and I will depart back to my own realm and not trouble your Darkchilde again. Keep her from me…" Flames start to form around her hand. "And there is no power in this world or any other that will keep my hands from your neck."


Having almost literally bounced off of that sudden shield Zatanna tossed up like running into a clear glass door, May is momentarily stunned. It's long enough for the older Zatanna to ask her question and for Zee to start bargaining. And … that's breaking down quickly enough. Does she have another shot at Zatanna? She's not sure. She glances over at Jericho to see if he's got a shot.


"Until Belasco takes her from you again." Zee shakes her head. She can't see a way out of this. The child could be leverage, but it's not how she works. "Give me your blood sworn oath on that and that you will contact me if he or his ever try for her again and I'll release her to you." Her eyes dart to Jericho, hoping she's making the right decision.

Because honestly, if it was her… she'd do anything for a child. Especially hers.

"Jericho, May. Take Richard and go." They should be right to go and Zee will follow soon.


"I am a queen of Limbo. Belasco will not have another chance." Zatanna says harshly. The shield drops as the child's eyes open. Blue, clear blue, just like Zatanna's.

"Mom?"

"I'm here…" Zatanna says quietly, coming into the room as Jericho motions to Richard. They're getting out, just as Zee said.

"You have my oath…" The elder Zatara pays Richard and May no mind as they leave. Jericho though… "Darkwolf."

Jericho turns. That's not one he's heard before but there's only one person she could be talking to.

"We'll meet again."

"Hopefully not soon." Jericho says. Then he's gone.

Zatanna gives Zee a searching look and opens her mouth as if to say something. She doesn't though. She simply raises her hand and teleports both her and the child away.


Zee sighs. Left alone in that room. Whoever the childs father was … she'll never know.

With May and Jericho looking after Richard, she's not going home straight away. She's … got some thinking to do.

For now though, it's over.

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