An Accidental Kidnapping

December 03, 2016:

Zatanna takes it upon herself to rescue a "magical talking raccoon" from the Central Park Zoo, which prompts him to try and take a few valuables from Shadowcrest in the dead of night. Luckily, Star-Lord is here to the rescue! Except it doesn't quite go as planned and the young magician ends up with two more house guests.

Shadowcrest Manor - Crest Hill - Bristol - Gotham

The ancestral home of the Zatara family, Shadowcrest is a mansion that nobody knows exists in the exclusive Crest Hill neighborhood of Gotham City….unless one knows what he is precisely looking for anyway.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Groot

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

To the likes of Zatanna Zatara, Mistress of Magic, Princess of Prestidigitation, her every day is full of sorcery.

To the veteran spellslingers of the world, her daily miracles are barely a blip in the supernatural radar - a flick of her wrist to get ready for school, a muttered incantation to summon breakfast for herself, yet another to teleport herself to New York, in the alleys behind White Light Pentacles, where she could keep abreast of the goings-on in the city that never sleeps. That and Arnie, her manager, is based there, acquiring from him information for her next few gigs. She prefers these meetings to be in person, as it is always important for an entertainer to be seen and heard, lest she fall in the trap of obscurity before her star even has a chance to shine.

It is during this afternoon excursion to New York that she decides to pay a visit to the Central Park Zoo to check out some of the newest additions - an unrepentant animal lover, with an unforgiving soft spot for strays, she manages to wander into the petting zone where a particularly fiesty raccoon is being roughly wrangled by a few animal handlers; they try to be gentle, but considering the animal's temperament, they're given no choice but to….well, sedate poor Rocket.

Gently.

With a needle.

Zatanna frowns, watching the scene. She doesn't know why CPZ has decided to include a raccoon as part of its collection, but it is clear to her that the animal does not want to be there. Still, it isn't any of her business, she decides, turning on her heel to go…

Then she hears a shout; a single word. In English.

And she is /certain/ that it came from the raccoon.

***

A half-delirious Rocket would find his environs awash with blurry images, akin to photographs taken with an unfocused lens, colors bleeding into one another in a spilled tapestry of multiple hues. The smells change, also; in one moment, the pungent traces of other captive wildlife, and then a weird mix of ozone and something else in the next - ephemeral and unknowable, followed yet again by the strains of antiquated varnish and old wood…wood embedded with /something/ that he can't quite identify.

The only constant is a voice; gentle, soothing and female, followed by the butterfly touch of fingers on his ears as someone pulls him from a bag (how did he get there?).

"There you go, you're home now. I don't know what they gave you, but once you're awake again, I'll feed you."

***

He wakes up in someone's opulent living room.

Lavishly decorated with expensive furniture and priceless art, his clearing vision catches sight of vaulted ceilings and rich dark wood. Whoever has managed to either kidnap him or rescue him has placed him on a comfortable pillow, curled up close to a lit fireplace. The female voice is gone and save for the moving shadows cast by the flickering hearth, he is alone. Distantly, he hears the sound of a grandfather clock, ticking away the minutes. Outside the large windows, he would find a vast lawn, its finer details obscured by the encroaching night.

What the hell? Where was he?

—-

"….I must'uv died and gone to that heaven-place…." Rocket murmurs appreciatively as his bleary eyes roam the room in attempted appraisal of everything from the walls to the cushy pillow he sways upon. And then he abruptly leans over to one side and throws up.

"Or not."

Wiping his mouth off with the back of his hand, he levels himself up from the pillow. "Right. Let's try that again." He gets to his feet, trying to will away the dizziness as he totters away from the fireplace. Sniffing at the air- oh yeah, decidedly better than the last place he recalls- he moves towards the windows, pressing his face against the glass to peer outside. Where the hell was he indeed.

—-

Amidst the film set there by a fine blanket of mist, he would find wrought-iron gates standing in the distance, as well as the stygian, skeletal fingers cast by empty branches. It is Fall in Gotham City, but it might as well be an early winter, given the quickness in which the trees here shed their colorful foilage. Red, gold and brown leaves, which look like gradients of chocolate under the light of the half-moon, litter the grass. Dimly, he'd catch sight of a winding path leading towards the gates.

The cavernous living room is easily the size of five rooms of average size, an archway leading further inside the mansion. Whoever lives here was clearly wealthy.

—-

Yeah. So none of that looks familiar to him- not that this surprises him given that he's on an unfamiliar planet that apparently thinks it's okay to lock up perfectly sentient people with penned animals. /Real classy/, Earth.

Pulling away from the window's revelations isn't a difficult thing to do, especially when there are clearly /much/ better things to explore in here. Why and how he'd end up in such a place is as good a guess anyone's, but Rocket isn't one to overlook opportunity. He'll sweep the entirety of the living room to see if there's anything interesting before making his way towards the archway. "This some kinda palace or something?" Rich people. Yeesh.

Aside from anything valuable that he can pocket, he's looking for anything resembling a communications dock, or electronic in general. For reasons.

—-

There are plenty of goodies in the living room, and that's just one of several in the manor.

Rocket's haul, for the time being, includes a few bejewelled Faberge eggs, an incense burner made out of gold, a few ornate daggers that he finds in a display case next to an old suit of armor, and a prism made out of fine Waterford crystal - not because it was particularly valuable, but because Rocket is still a raccoon, and it is very shiny.

Once through the archway, he'd find a winding staircase leading up to the higher floors of the mansion, which seems to stretch on forever in all directions. He finds no communications array yet, but he can practically /smell/ valuable and very important objects housed somewhere above him.

There is no sight of the owner, or even any /staff/….a place as large as this, the lack of bodies milling about makes the overall atmosphere rather eerie.

—-

MEANWHILE!! AT THE ZOO!

"What do you /mean/ you lost a raccoon?!" Peter Quill exclaims as he stares at one of the zookeepers. "I really needed to talk to…er…at that raccoon…come on how do you loose a raccoon! Or one that was…um…you know. Special. Do you have any idea where he even went?"

The zookeeper just slowly squints in the direction of the red clad pilot. "What agency did you say you were with again?"

"Er…the association of adoreable fuzzy animals who totally can't talk?"

The zookeeper squints even more.

"Right so I've taken enough of your fine time. Gotta go. Other non-talking animals to appriciate! See you later!" And he turns away from the zookeeper, who is in the midst of calling security.

"Dammit Rocket," he grumbles as he stalks away, fishing out a tracking device out of his coat. "Where did you go. Good thing I stuck a tracking device on you without telling or asking isn't it."

—-

Aaaand back at the mansion…

WELL with a haul like this he's going to need bigger pockets! And a hat. Can't do anything for the tail, but people won't give someone wearing a hat a second glance, right?

Rocket keeps an eye out for closets to scope out as he goes along. Of course the silence is kind of creepy, and he wouldn't be surprised if there's any security cameras, but so far he hasn't spied any. But then they're on Earth. Low tech. Maybe they just have a moat with teethy reptiles or something outside.

Up the stairs he creeps, his tail practically bouncing behind him in his eagerness to see what else he might find.

—-

Once Rocket reaches the second floor landing, he'll find many doors that open into many rooms. When he opens the first one, he would find a woman's closet, which is really less of a closet and more of a two-story construct full of clothes, shoes, bags and accessories, as if someone managed to take half of Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive and crammed it in the corner of a mansion somewhere. There are stairs leading to /more/ clothes, shoes, slinky underwear and the like; anyone with a brain for architecture would easily conclude that the structure makes absolutely no sense, but then again, he doesn't know what the outside of the mansion looks like.

Still, it's rather clear that nothing would interest him there, unless he decides to pursue a career as a Las Vegas show-raccoon.

There are a set of doors that stand apart from the rest; flanked by large marble effigies of a demon and an angel, they are particularly tall constructs, extending upwards until the very end touches the shadowy corners of the ceiling, and while the other archways are gilded and ornate, none of them have two foreboding guardians like this one.

When he indulges his curiosity to open them, he would find himself in the middle of a library…if it could be called a mere library.

/Everything/ in this room speaks of age - the sort that makes an object particularly rare and therefore priceless. Amidst stuffed and mounted game are comfortable couches and a large table where old tomes are strewn about as well as a few notebooks. Display cases are everywhere, full of shining, glowing objects. Above him, the mounted head of a griffin stands watch.

A golden globe stands in its own case to his right, resplendent with its corresponding plate:

Cagliostro's Astrolabe

—-

"Oh geez, what is this??" He'd heard that women liked clothes and shoes and accessorizing but /this/ is ridiculous! Pawing through things for a jacket he can borrow and altogether giving up on a hat….and maybe unnecesarily going through a few drawers of lingerie, hurricane Rocket moves on for something that would better suit his tastes and needs.

Because getting rich is a need. And taking stuff that someone's got loads of is a quick and easy way to do it.

By now disregarding the lack of people around as the sign of a very lonely wealthy person that wouldn't notice if a few things got stolen, Rocket whistles in appreciation once he throws open the doors- with panache, because that's the only way you can open double doors- taking in the wonderful sights beyond. …so he has no idea what any of this crap is, but it looks like expensive crap, and…..oh. Shiny.

The ringtailed thief gravitates towards that golden doohickey like a moth to a flame, his eyes catching the light off its reflection. "Oooooooh…."

—-

He finds a jacket, but it is one that is decidedly too big, but after poring through the other shelves, he would find a few specifically designed for smaller…creatures? There is a black one done up with sequins at the back, with the word LUCKY spelled out; either a name or an adjective to describe its owner.

Going through the underwear drawers would yield a variety of slinky underthings, some of them very…well, creative, speaking of either the owner's eccentricities, adventurousness or unusual personal tastes.

But Shadowcrest's motherload was always located in the library - otherwise known as Giovanni Zatara's inner sanctum, one of the most impressive collections of arcane lore, rare books and magical (and dangerous) artifacts in the known world. Cagliostro's Astrolabe is one such item, rotating hypnotically on its axis as it emits the faintest, golden glow.

"I see we have a thief on our hands," says a voice. It seems to come from somewhere above him.

Whenever Rocket turns, he would find the severed griffin's head staring down at him, its beak flapping to form the syllables.

"My word!" exclaims another. "How did that /rodent/ get in here??"

This comes from a stuffed dodo from one of the pedestals, its stiff head swiveling to look at Rocket. "Did the mistress leave the door open? Relinquish those valuables this instant!!"

A shadow falls over Rocket, as if right on cue; he would smell it first, traces of dust, age, old sand and petrifaction. Tall, bulky and shambling in its steps, dead eyes stare down at the errant Guardian, from the face of a centuries' old mummified corpse.

When it speaks, it talks in hieroglyphs.

"Hassan, there you are! Have you been sleeping on the job again?!"

"…he /is/ a mummy, Abelard."

"That's hardly the point! Get him!"

—-

…he knew it was too good to be true.

"All right, all right, I know this looks bad-" Rocket starts to say as he turns about, his ears twitching in the direction he'd thought the voice had come from. "Oh sh-"

And as if finding out a severed head's talking isn't bad enough, a giant literally stuffed animal begins to move and speak too. The raccoon that claims not to be a raccoon gapes, his mouth working a few times but ironically his own voice seems to be having difficulty in finding words. And the smell that hits him then is the first thing to get his attention before he's shadowed by something large and definitely not Groot.

"What is this-?!" He leaps back from the mummy, perhaps closer to the astrolab, but for the moment his attention's on the talking tri- er, duo? Whatever!

"You! You're dead and don't have the talking things to do that! And you should be dead too! And you, you're triple dead!" he shouts, pointing an accusatory finger at each in turn. "What're you gonna do now, sing?! What kinda freaky place is this?!"

Already he's moving to try grabbing for his firearms behind his spiff shiny new jacket- except that his hands close upon air. Oh. Right. Those would be with the ship. Which is CURRENTLY /IMPOUNDED/.

"Oh flak."

—-

The mummy lets out an outraged roar (also in hieroglyphs) as it brings its fists down on Rocket, pounding into the carpet as it moves too slowly to really catch anything as fleetfooted as the furry thief. But his growing nightmare only becomes moreso when the mounted griffin's head suddenly /detaches/ from the wall to fly towards him, and the talking dodo - dead, stuffed, and really supposed to be /extinct/, among other things - pries its fat feet off its pedestal to land heavily on the carpet, its wings flapping impotently.

The weird collective of dead objects then start /chasing/ Rocket out of the room, with griffin head flying first, followed by Hassan the Mummy, and lastly Abelard the Dodo.

"Move faster, Abelard, he's getting away!" exclaims the griffin head.

" *wheeze* *koff* Easy for you to say, Chauncey! It must be /absolutely capital/ to be able to /fly/ even without the rest of your magnificent carcass!!!"

—-

About that moment there is thump upon the glass dome above the giant telescope. A familiar(to some there) face peers down though the glass as he tries to make out just what the heck is happening below.

He knows Rocket is in there somewhere. He knows that this house is weird. He knows that SOMONE stole a raccoon from a zoo and kept him here.

…and he also knows this house looks super fancy. And Rocket could have already found all the good stuff already.

So he starts to work at one of the glass pannels to get in, working it off to peer down and at a…

"Who the hell keeps a damn telescope like that in their house?!" He grumbles to himself as he starts to clamber in. It a long way down though, and down, down he goes…

…because the pannel he was working on gives right away.

"SHODDY WORKMANSHIP!!!" Quill shouts as he proves that gravity still exerts its inhuman force on the world.

Thankfully a flare of rocketboots saves him from being spalttered on the floor. Though he does bounce off the telescope on the way down.

His landing /does/ actually look pretty sweet, that three point hero landing. Even if he didn't mean for it to be.

Well no need for stealth now eh?

"Rocket! Where the hell are you furball I know your in here!"

—-

If he could only stop for a moment and- okay no, he /knows/ that this is a completely ridiculous situation that he's in and yet he can't stop and laugh at it because these guys sound like they mean business, and as slow and dusty as the mummy guy is, Rocket doesn't want to find out just how hard a preserved dead guy can hit. "Oh /gods/ can you /please/ STOP /TALKING/!!!"

He makes a break for the doorway, pausing only briefly as his ears catch another noise- no, a shout, rather- that sounds like someone familiar. Ducking into a dash and skid that he tries to aim past Hassan's dead, stinky legs, Rocket makes for that direction. "QUiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill! Is'zat you?!"

—-

The glass panel Peter Quill works on opening shatters on the ground below, scattering dangerous jagged fragments across the floor. Thankfully, his quick reflexes do not allow his bones to suffer the same fate, though his body does tilt the telescope slightly to one side, swinging the lens away from the moon and towards far away stars instead.

When he lands, he would scrape over fine, marble floors, white veined with silver and blue, surrounded by indoor plants and trees that make the room resemble more of an atrium or a giant, fancy greenhouse than just a simple viewing room in a mansion. His call echoes strangely, his words bouncing back to him; a testament to the chamber's unusual acoustics.

But wherever Rocket is, his animal hearing will at least be able to hear Peter from here; it is either that or he has other problems to worry about, as is usually the case.

From within the indoor foilage, a pair of blue eyes shine shine in the dark, stalking Star-Lord in the shadows. It moves silently, like a cat.

A very /big/ cat.

Perhaps it's unsurprising to find a white tiger in a magician's home, but it does lunge towards Peter Quill when he attempts to slip further into the room, claws and fangs glinting in the fitful light of the moon overhead as it…well, tears off a large portion of his jacket and shirt at its wake, landing on all fours with its tail twitching. The magnificent beast rounds on him on its absurdly large paws, crouching on its hindquarters as it readies to pounce.

It seems Star-Lord left one zoo only to fall into another.

The white tiger growls from somewhere at the back of its throat, its ears flattened - all the very real and dangerous signs of a disgruntled cat that was just woken up from its nocturnal repose. And should Star-Lord run, it /will/ give chase, because that is what predators do.

—-

Quill was just brushing himself off and congradulating himself on a fine landing when that familiar shout came to his ears. "Rocket? Why are you yelling are you in trouble already! We havn't even been here a week yet!" He likely shouldn't be yelling in some strange house with who knows what kind of security but I mean. Come on. Its Terra. How bad could it be.

Thats when he sees the eyes.

Spoke too soon Peter. Spoke too soon.

"WHY IS THERE A TIGER IN THE HOUSE?" Is all Peter has time to shout before its leaping right at him. He tries to dodge out of the way, but the damn thing is a /freeking tiger/. Its not like he can dodge it.

So it claws at him. Leather and cloth fly as the claws tear at him but…oddly don't cause his entrails to go flying along with his clothes.

Which is a good thing.

The tiger lands and Star-lord turns to face it. Now wearing only scraps on his upper body. How it managed to do that he has no idea. He's not /complaining/ either. Now though he is staring down a giant white tiger.

"Don't run don't run don't run." He mutters under his breath. "ROCKET IF YOUR HERE GET IN HERE!"

Maybe he can talk to the tiger. They both have fur and stuff!!

—-

Hassan attempts to grab Rocket as he darts between his legs; missing him entirely, Rocket would soon find a very strange stampede behind him as he zeroes in on Quill's voice. It appears to be coming from the end of the hall he is in, towards another set of double doors, though it isn't as ornately guarded as the treasure trove he had stumbled on earlier.

Chauncey the Griffin Head speeds up towards Rocket, his beak attempting to chomp right onto the furry galactic criminal's tail. "He's moving towards the Atriu—" The loud shattering of glass echoes sharply in the mostly silent manor. "….what was that?!"

Whatever Hassan grunts is lost in his hieroglyphs.

"More thieves!" Abelard squawks, his fat wings flapping as he half-runs, half-waddles after the rest. "Chauncey, for goodness' sake, /do/ something!"

The doors burst open; Rocket would find a shirtless Peter Quill standing in the middle of the room, just underneath a mostly intact glass dome. For a moment, his rescue appears imminent.

That is, until he sees the large, blue-eyed white tiger in a crouching position in front of Star-Lord.

From Peter's vantage point, he sees the running Rocket clearly….and a severed griffin's head, a mummy and a stuffed dodo (aren't they supposed to be extinct?) chasing after his thieving friend. He'll also manage to catch the glint of the hoard he has managed to shove in his pockets.

—-

Oh, Rocket /really/ hopes he didn't hear right just then. But with these guys chasing after him, he can't really be surprised, now can he? He has no idea what the layout of this house is so he'll have to trust that his ears are leading him in the right direction. Going further into the mansion would be the last thing that seems to be a good idea right about now, but it seems like their resident Star-Lord's had other ideas. Rocket all but throws himself at the double doors, Quill's shouts clearly originating from within.

"The hell, Quill?! I thought you said this planet was normal compared to all the places we've be-"

Tiger. And Peter Quill minus a shirt. Well that's not /terribly/ new but really. Brown eyes widen and then narrow, and the raccoon picks up speed. "MOVE!"

—-

"THERE you ar—what the hell are you wearing?!" Thats right. Quill focuses on the important things in every kind of situation. In this case its not the disembodied heads or mummies or weird fatburds that are chasing his friend, its focusing on just what the hell the explosives expert is wearing.

Of course then he snaps to the more important things. "Move where?! THERE IS A DAMN TIGER RIGHT HERE!" A pause. "AND WHY IS THAT THING TALKING IN PICTURES?!"

He takes a breath though, starting to slide away from the tiger. "For the record!" he adds as an after thought. "My definition of 'normal' is entirely skewed since I'm friends with a goddamn tree and a talking raccoon!" A deep breath, and then he…well…charges the tiger. He is /moving/ just not quite how Rocket might have expected. Trying to supprise the tiger. Or Rocket. Or the other talking wierdness in the house. If he can get on the cat's back maybe he can…do…something…

…that's part of the plan he hasn't worked out yet.

—-

The white tiger looks unamused, and the sight of the rodent charging for it makes it growl even louder, the rumbling from the back of its throat echoing ominously within the Atrium. It starts pushing its weight further back into those springy back legs, one paw ahead of another, the remnants of Star-Lord's jacket and shirt still clutched within its fangs.

Chauncey swoops in, and while its stuffed and mounted nature doesn't lend him much expression, his relief can be ascertained by his surprisingly polished voice. "Sasha, thank goodness! These people are thieves, regale them with your unique brand of feline justice!"

Hassan gurgles in response, still speaking in hieroglyphs.

" *wheeze* *koff* *wheeze* " Abelard finally waddles into the room, panting audibly from his exertion. "I'm….too old for this nonsense…"

"/Old/ wouldn't be the word I would use."

"Well, if I wasn't so /flightless/ maybe I wouldn't be so fat!!"

But whatever Peter Quill does next, be it move or stay in place; no matter what Rocket the Raccoon does, either to make Star-Lord move or go around him, someone else's voice - young, female, and commanding - cuts through the proceedings:

"EZEERF!!"

And just like that, Time stops…literally.

Everyone and everything in the room would find themselves frozen in place; they would all be conscious of the disquieting sensation of not being able to move, no matter what they are doing, though their brains (or non-brains, whatever mystical fluff is enabling them to speak, considering the room is full of dead, extinct and downright mythological objects) and mouths are still functioning. A new shadow moves into the atrium at that, long legs and bare feet carrying her over the cold marble floors.

She is taller than the average woman, slender and clad in a short black robe spun from silk, her darker-than-midnight hair falling in a tousled curtain as it frames her pale face and spills like ink down her back, blending in seamlessly with the fabric's color. Startling ice-blue eyes hold within them a mix of confusion and irritation, muted by a drowsy haze that suggests a premature exit from sleep. Red lips purse as she takes a gander of the situation in her Atrium.

"What is going /on/ here?" she demands, planting her hands on her hips. "I have a Physics test in the morning!" She pauses for a moment, staring at the raccoon. "….how did you end up wearing Lucky's jacket??"

Turning to Quill, she looks at his shirtless self up and down appreciatively, before her frown manifests. "….and you're in the wrong house, Miss Morrison's bachelorette party is three mansions down!"

—-

"CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE FAZBEAR REJECTS LATER?!" Still moving full speed, Rocket launches himself- and finds that Peter Quill is moving in the wrong direction. Which….really screws up his plans right then. If he gets eaten by a tiger, Quill, so help him…. "WRONG WAY QUILL YOU DUMBA-"

Suddenly he's just…hanging there. In midair. Unfortunately this wouldn't be the first time this has happened to him, but there are no space police descending upon them. There's another rude exclamation from him as he tries and fails to budge, but his attention goes quickly towards the young woman who steps inside the atrium. Well. This is awkward.

He opens his mouth to say something, but with the brief exchange at least finds he can level a glare in the right direction given Quill's in front of him. By the tiger. That's still in an uncomfortably ready position.

"Really?! Really. Can't you just- no, never mind-" And he turns his attention…or, well he would if he could turn his head, so there goes that plan- and addresses the lady of the house, presumably. "What, you think it's weird for me'ta be wearing clothes and okay for him not to??"

—-

There really isn't much Peter can do at the moment, standing there frozen mid-run. At least he looks good, standing in shafts of liquid silver moonlight, his well built frame barely concealed by scraps of cloth and leather. It's obvious that the newcomer knows a good thing when she sees it. He just smirks, that rakish twisting of the corner of his lips as she appreciates what he knows should be appreciated.

Namely himself.

"You know if you take a picture I'll sign it for ya." So no…no he can't Rocket.

Finally though Quill seems to realize that being stuck in one position till the cops show up isn't how he wants to spend his vacation. So…a different track. "Anyway look. I'm pretty sure this is all just a big misunderstanding. That's sure what it looks like to me. I just got in here to find my friend Rocket there and then…" He would shrug. But you know. Frozen.

"…so if you just unfreeze us, I'm sure that we can be out of your hair in no time."

—-

"If I had my gun right now, I'd shoot you," Rocket spits. "Just so you know."

—-

"See," Peter deadpans. "Best friends."

—-

Rocket's sudden defensiveness causes Zatanna to balk slightly. "What? No! I— " And then she remembers that seeing Lucky's jacket on the raccoon means, quite irrevocably, that he has been /through her closet/, and any stranger who rifles through a woman's belongings can't possibly be up to anything upstanding. "That jacket belongs to my rabbit," she explains with a sigh. "Though I suppose it would also fit a raccoon."

At Peter's rakish grin, the young woman can't help but return it. "I don't need a picture, but I suppose I could do you a favor and wrap you up in ribbon before depositing you on Maybelline's front por—" Suddenly remembering herself, she /groans/ inwardly, shaking her head.

Always, /always/ the ones that are clearly bad for her.

"/Nevermind/! Anyway, you couldn't have rang the doorbell or something? You broke my glass dome!" She points at the scattered glass on the floor. "And I'd ask how you're not freaked out by a severed head, a mummy and a stuffed dodo chasing you but considering you have a talking raccoon, you've probably seen weirder stuff."

"We tried to stop them, Zee," Abelard protests. "But they—"

"Ezeerfnu."

Time resumes again, Quill and Rocket dropping in mid-run. Sasha shakes her head, the tiger emitting another growl.

"Sasha, behave!"

The tiger grumbles in protest.

"I mean it. Chauncey, Abelard, Hassan, go back to the library."

The others shuffle off; Zatanna pulls her fingers through her hair as she exhales a breath, turning to Quill. "I didn't know he was anyone's," she tells Star-Lord. "He was pitching a fit at the zoo and he was talking, so I took him with me because I thought he was magic…I didn't mean to kidnap him, I swear." She squints at Rocket. "/Are/ you magic? You're not the first talking animal I've come across and usually the ones that do, are."

—-

"I'm not a raccoon!" the raccoon huffs, and suddenly he finds himself able to flail with that as Zatanna unfreezes them then. Unfortunately it also catches him unprepared, so he lands flat on the floor with a very audible 'whuff.' Grumbling, he shoves himself to his knees and then gets to his feet, side-eyeing the stuffed dead things as they make way out of the area.

"Hey!" he snaps, glaring over at Zatanna before he stomps over. "I ain't no one's! And the name's Rocket!" He folds his arms as he stops in front of her, not seeming at all put off by the fact that she's taller than him for the whole intimidation thing to really work. "…and no, I'm not magic. I'm just…" Trailing off a moment, he shakes his head, snorting as he turns away to stomp over towards Quill. "Ain't no thing like me but me. No magic, just science. -hey Quill, where's Groot?"

—-

Quill just drops to the floor, stumbling forwards several paces before coming face-to-furface with Sasha. He slooowly backs up, standing up and peering at the giant tiger as he mutters something about 'Good kitty' under his breath.

He dusts himself off, pulling the scraps of cloth that remain on his bare torso. "Ribbons? Kinky." He drawls. "I like it." He smirks just slightly as he glances towards the procession of…strange…things. This place /is/ wierd."

"Well lady," He adds as he looks back up towards Zatanna. "When you've seen as much as I have in this galaxy, those three arn't that odd. I mean your not batting one pretty eyelash…and they are just as pretty as the rest of you…at a talking critter like Rocket here either.

"He's just Rocket, thats all most people need to know." A pause. "Wait wait wait. Hold on. Magic? Like actual magic and not asgardian 'I name my science pretentious things' magic? Rocket did you know magic was a thi—" A pause. "…I left him in the park! He'll be fine!"

—-

The young woman blinks as Rocket unleashes a small tirade about what he's not, and who he is, her black-haired head canting slightly to one side as she observes the fiesty talking animal. Amusement is one that she manages to temper, though it is presently overwhelming, her hands coming up in a show of mock-surrender. "Alright, I get it. But I'm not apologizing. You /did/ try to steal my things." She glances /pointedly/ at a jeweled Faberge egg poking from one of Rocket's pockets. "If you would drop what you tried to steal, I'd appreciate it."

Sasha narrows her eyes at Peter as they stare face to face for a moment, before she slowly sits on her haunches, licking one of her massive paws, claws flexed outward - the sheer length of the things could easily eviscerate someone.

The comment about the ribbons earns Peter an exasperated, but appreciative smile - that and he called her pretty, though his later explanations draw a furrowed brow from the young woman. "Zee," she offers. "Not 'lady'. I'm too young for that." Though she doesn't say how much younger. "And you can say I've been around - not in a galactic scale as you guys, like…I've never been to Asgard."

The word leaves her mouth. "Wait, like Norse Mythology Asgard? Odin, Loki, Ragnarok, that sort of thing? Wow…and it's in /space/?" Well, she learns something new every day.

"And yeah, actual magic. Spells, voodoo dolls, circles, wiggle my fingers, say a few words and things happen. Yeah, it's real. Out there, it's real…it's just that not a lot of people associate it with me. Look, obviously the cat's out of the bag as far as I'm concerned so if the two of you could keep it under your hats, the better. I have enough to worry about."

She holds up her hands, her fingers spreading.

"Tsercwodahs morf gnihtyna laets yeht fi slians ot owt eseht nrut," she murmurs - a spell that barely stirs the air around them. Whatever she had just done, it isn't apparent.

"So….what, aliens? That's one for the books, I don't think I've met an alien before. So if he's Rocket, who are you, handsome?"

—-

"Ugh, don't encourage him," Rocket mutters, but he won't challenge the lack of apology since, well, apparently she /did/ get him out of doing zoo time, and he did kinda take some stuff. He sighs and begins to remove the things he's stashed in pockets and such, creating a small pile on the floor in front of him. Lastly he shrugs out of the jacket, giving it a look before he tossed it on top. Sequins aren't really his thing.

"-you left him." This is leveled at Quill regarding the subject of Groot, the look on the raccoon's face one of 'are you an idiot?' They are talking about someone with the attention span of a three year old.

His ear twitches, tail lifting slightly at that odd…well, he's not sure what sort of sensation that was, but something made him shiver, and after hearing that gibberish come out of Zatanna's mouth the first two times, Rocket's not so sure he trusts anything else she might say in such a fashion. Which is why he turns to look at her suspiciously.

—-

"He's fiiiine…people think he's a tree, the worst that'll happen is that someone will have a picnic near him. Or dress him up with lights. I've seen them doing that on the way here. Its a terran thing, Christmas and all." Peter replies first towards Rocket before swiveling his gaze back towards Zee.

"Yup. That Asgard. They throw a good party, but man they get touchy when you break statues round their place." A pause. "And no before you say anything it wasn't because I was trying to get them to dance!" This aimed towards Rocket with a slight glower.

"Anyway. Its in space, and I guess I'm technicly not ENTIRELY an alien. Born in the USA." A pause. "Damn good song that."

"As for recomendations, I'm Peter Quill. But /you/ can call me Star-lord." Again that grin. "And I don't really have a hat. Or a shirt. Though thats not bothering either of us much." He leans towards Zee just slightly. "Rocket is kinda a prude so he might be uncomfortable." Stage whispered of course.

"And I've never met a witch…er…wizard or…sorcerer? What do I call you anyway?" A pause. "And do all of you just keep tigers around your dining rooms?"

Again that grin. "Or just the pretty ones like you?"

—-

At the suspicious look Rocket shoots her, Zatanna flashes him a smile - and one that would uneasily remind him of Peter Quill's own expressions when he is clearly up to no good. She doesn't bother to explain herself, however. Instead, she focuses on the man known as Star-Lord. "So is that a codename or are you actually space nobility?" she wonders, gesturing for the Guardians to follow her as she exits the atrium, pointing her fingers to the scattered glass, uttering a few words to repair her skylight. Like witnessing Time go on reverse, the glass panel reacquires its former shape, floating up in the air to fasten itself from where it had been originally.

"Well, hopefully you find your friend soon," she says. "I'm assuming you guys are marooned on Earth for some good reasons. Still, I wouldn't be surprised - if they inspired Norse Mythology and everything. I mean, I read vikings throw some really serious keggers. I'm surprised you managed to get out of one without missing an eye and a few fingers."

She really only has history to go on; maybe space-vikings party differently.

"Anyway, I'll have Kasim get you a shirt and a jacket, as much as I'm enjoying the show…" She winks over her shoulder at that. "It's cold in Gotham this time of year. Zee is fine, by the way….just call me Zee. Sasha normally has free reign of the mansion but now that I'm obviously cool with your presence, if not just to make up for my…uh…" She glances at Rocket. "Accidental kidnapping, you're welcome to spend the night or two. I have another friend staying here for the time being anyway. Just don't steal anything."

Or else.

Admittedly now that she's cast the spell, she almost wishes they would try. She's never actually turned anyone into a snail before.

She reaches up, pinching Peter's cheek lightly as he leans towards her. "Flattery will get you….slightly somewhere," she says with a laugh. She can't help it, Star-Lord appears to be cut out of the same, shameless mold she was. "But I mean it, if you're going to stay, try and behave. And I use the term loosely, because I'm not exactly a bastion of perfect behavior, either, just don't wreck or steal my shit. Okay?"

—-

"It is not fine! He's unsupervised! You think he's going to stay put in some dumb park?" Rocket forced a laugh. The grin he shoots back at Quill is all teeth and no humor after the mention of the Asgard incident, and when the self-proclaimed Star-Lord's back is turned, the raccoon flips him off. He heard that.

Moving to catch up with the two, he all but wedges himself between Zatanna and Quill after the former's beckoning for them to follow. "Eh, I've been taken to worse places. Sorry about the mess." You know. Raccoon barf in the living room. Oh, you don't.

Partially distracted by the self-repairing skylight, he is quick to catch up, if only to jab a finger at Peter Quill's leg. "Hey, how /did/ you find me so fast anyway?"

—-

The sudden cheek pinch causes him to playfully bite at her hand. Cause you know, reasons. Good reasons.

"What we do is almost always for good reasons," Peter replies lightly as he waves it off. "And we arn't marooned! We are…on protective detail. We were sent to guard something very secret. Like secret agents." He side-eyes towards Rocket a moment before back towards the hostess. "Zee then, well thats easy to remember. Er…you mind if we invite someone else over? Our friend Groot. He'll fit right in! All he needs is somewhere to stay and plenty of sunli—HEY!"

Since Rocket just stomped on his foot in his wedging himself between them.

A glower at the raccoon before he snorts. "He'll be fine! We just have to find him s'all and it shouldn't be that hard! Its not like I could carry him here anyway!"

When her back is turned he just glowers towards Rocket. "Step off!" He hisses towards the tiny explosives expert. "She's too tall for you anyway!"

Totally ignoring Rocket's question. Nope nope nope. Thats not important anyway.

A slight cough then before he nods. "Yeah. No stealing shit, deal. Never steal from the place your staying at. Espicially when the owner can cast actual magic."

A pause. "And Star-lord isn't a codename. Its a /moniker/." A pause. "And I'm guess we could be nobility. We saved a planet didn't we?" He nudges Rocket.

He does watch the skylight mend itself before he whistles softly and nods. "So is this shirt and jacket gonna be magical?" A longer pause. "And I /did/ bring you your clothes too Rocket. Just…they were in my jacket…" A glance at the scrap pile. "…so…you know…"

—-

She shifts slightly to one side when Rocket wedges himself between them, grinning impishly down at the raccoon. "So what are your ground rules?" Zatanna wonders as she walks. "No touching your tail, yeah? That's pretty universal. What about the ears? Do you let people scritch you?" Her tone remains mild, but the two of them are savvy enough to catch the very distinct spark of mischief in her ice blue stare.

She's clearly teasing her newly acquired house guest.

To Peter's request, she furrows her brows, recalling the two's earlier banter about their friend who other people thinks is a tree, and now he needs a place to stay and plenty of sunlight. "So….he's an /actual/ tree. Or a tree thing. Well, there's plenty of room, if it helps that the three of you stay in the same place, especially if you're guarding something top secret. I won't even ask what it is, you know. Plausible deniability and everything."

Because that works out /so well/ for everyone.

"Anyway, it's no problem. Same rules apply to him - just so you know, I also have a friend that's staying with me at the moment, looking into something for me. Her name's Jessica, so be nice to her, okay? She's….a little difficult to get to know, but hey, if the two of you get along, then interacting with her should be a snap for a couple of charming fellows such as the two of you."

The young magician continues leading them further into her mansion at that, to see them to their rooms. It has been a long time since Shadowcrest has been occupied by more than just her and her father, and now with some additional bodies, she feels a certain weight lift - and one that she doesn't realize she is carrying.

If anything, it'll be less quiet and boring around here.

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