The Creature, The Gemstone and the Storage Closet

January 13, 2017:

Peter goes to investigate malicious aliens, Kitty explores Gotham and they somehow attract a scary magical creature after the gemstone. Constantine arrives in the nick of time to fix their mess as best he can.

Otisburg - Gotham

Otisburg was originally three separate locations but after the 09'
earthquake restructure it's grown in size and those residential, commercial
and industrial burroughs have all become a part of Otisburg. The Otisburg
section of Gotham City stretches Burnley and it's Bay Side harbors
overlooking the Gotham River and Arkham Asylum up northwards where it flows
in to Newtown, the Scituate, Bryanttown, Grant's sporting district, West
Village and Amusement Mile of North Point.

From residential, industrial, entertainment and commercial Otisburg is a hub
of activity with it's lionshare of opportunities to be had.

The direct portion of Otisburg is actually called Bryanttown and is
dominated by heavy industry and chemical factories. Ace Chemicals, Wayne
Chemicals and Brant Chemicals all host sizable complexes here that run off
along Sprang River through a very high-tech set up of water filtration
systems. It is in Otisburg that one can find the easiest access pints to the
very complex underground waterways and sewage tunnels of Gotham City.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Zatanna Zatara

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Peter Qulll has…had an eventful week. Attacked by Saskarians. Helping the blind. Meeting new mutants. Helping old friends. At loose ends though, Peter Quill found time to do something actually /useful/. To the suprise of most people he does do that on occasion. So he's gone to find those Saskarians. In order to 'ask' them politely for their technology.

By ask he means blow up of course.

Its what the Guardians do.

Of course this could also have been a reason for him to slip out and go to a bar. But looking for Saskarians sounds better. Of course where to start is a good question. He's searched East End for a bit, but now he felt drawn towads a different section of Gotham. Since he's into trusting his gut he's just gone with it. Wondering down some of the side streets, trying to cover the most ground he can so his little tracker can get to work.

This is just a little scouting mission after all. What could go wrong….

—-

What could go wrong? Well, what about a phasing mutant that's not too keen on the sight of one Peter Quill?

Because, that's about what he's going to get. Kitty Pryde has no real business being in Gotham. It's not usually a place that she goes, but ever since she started to stay at the Shadowcrest Mansion (and work to avoid the Star-Lord), she's found herself out in it far more often than she had before. There's no reason she finds herself on the street and even less of a reason she decides to turn down an alleyway out of nowhere. She's been sort of in her head the entire walk, not focusing on where she's going or why - a dangerous business in Gotham.

However, as she turns down the alleyway, she gets only a few steps in when she stops in her tracks. "Ow!" she hisses, hand immediately going to her pocket, where the gem she was trapped in for months is stored. She pulls it out into her gloved hand and it glows just faintly, hot to the touch even through her gloves. "What the hell?"

—-

Quill grumbles slightly as he slaps the side of the tracker. Looking up to peer at the massive chemical factories around him he glowers towards them. "This is your fault. Why do terrans have to use all this metalic frackin' materials! Why they can't use composites like civilised people!" He complains before he sighs. The tracker is shoved into one pocket and his hand shoved into the other.

"This is ridiculous. I'm gonna go find a damn ba—"

A voice from further down an alley draws his attention. His head snaps around to glance down the shadowy passage. Wait. Is that a familiar…

"Kitten?" Comes the disbelieving exclimation as he starts to stride towards her. Only seeing the glowing gem at the last moment and he narrows his eyes. "The hell you doing he" A pause. "thats not good is it." He adds as he eyes the glowing gem.

—-

Kitty, in turn, turns her head toward the familiar voice coming down from the alley. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me." This is the man she has been attempting to get away from and she suddenly finds him in an alley? This gem is the worst.

"This is your fault, I'm sure," she hisses, palm folding over the glowing gem, even though its heat is a little hard to take. It's preferable, though, to the alternative. "What am I doing here, what are you doing here? I don't think you own this creepy alleyway in Gotham." Whirling around, she starts to move away from him. The gem still can't go in her pocket yet, because of the glow and the heat, but she'll just hold onto it for now.

"And it's Kitty, not Kitten."

—-

"How is this my fault?! I didn't drag you out here! You did that all on your own." Star-lord fires back, arms crossing over his chest as he glowers towards her. "I'm doing something /very/ important. Looking for alien invaders. Bad guys. I know they are around somewhere, just gonna narrow it down. Then I can go have a chat with them."

But she's turning away. "Fine /Kitten/ don't listen to me!" He throws at her back. Because he knows its Kitty and he choses not to use it. He is tempted to let her go, just let her stalk right off.

It looks like she'll get away and leave Star-lord to his business.

At least until there is a. pounding of running footsteps from behind her. Should she turn? She would see Quill flinging himself at her in a tackle. A face full of Star-lord is likely not on the things she wanted out of today, but its what she gets.

The reason might not be obvious, at least not till there is a soft sound from the wall above. Clinging there is…a…creature. Humanoid with scraggly black hair, colorless eyes and clothes that are torn and shreaded. Its hands are deformed into long claws, bone showing under what meger skin remains and obviously sharp as razors from the damage thats been done to the shoulder of Quill's jacket with the swipe that was aimed for Kitty herself.

'Where is it? Give it to us?'

The thing's mouth doesn't move, but the voice seems to come from it as a blue glow comes from its fanged mouth.

…it…doesn't look friendly.

—-

It's the running footsteps that put Kitty on edge. She's trained for combat, so she knows the sound, knows what it means. Her automatic defense mechanism is to turn intangible. And so, when Peter dives fully to try and tackle her to the ground and to safety, what he actually does is ghost right through her, tumbling to the ground with nothing to show for it but a rip in his jacket.

Kitty, however, turns aroudn to see the large creature that just swiped through her and got to Peter. Her eyes widen, unsure of what to make of this development. "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?" It's not the most covert way of handling the situation, but she is incredibly surprised and she is going to assume that it is after the gem. Or something that Peter stole. It could be either really. So, she decides to blame Peter. It's the logical choice.

"What did you do to piss that thing off?!?!" Backpedaling - while still phased, she almost tumbles - which could make her fall into the ground itself. As she moves, though, the gem does not phase properly with Kitty. It's magic, and magic tends to do very strange things to her mutant abilities. Slowly, like molasses, it phases through her hand until it drops to the ground with a loud PING and an incandescent glow.

—-

Well that was unexpected.

Quill does indeed go through her. The look of suprise on his face is a comical one, something that Kitty could appriciate if she was paying attention. He hits on one shoulder and rolls to one knee before slamming against an alley wall with a grunt.

"Me?! Its talking to you!" He shouts back at her as he slams the activaction on his armor to slam the metal faceplate closed. One pistol is torn free of his holsters as he eyes the creature. His sensors are telling him this thing doesn't have bodyheat.

Thats likely bad too.

"Its not from anywhere I've been!" He adds before he notices the gem start to fall to the ground.

'THE HEART!'

The 'voice' echos though the alley as the creature fixates on the fallen item. It scuttles forwards, down the hall. Its movements unnatural as it skitters down the wall. Fixiated on the magic item as it reaches for it.

It should be noted that when that claw went though Kitty, she actually /felt/ something. Icy cold. Bone seeping cold. And a feeling of ancient hunger. Not exactly pleasent.

"Don't drop the damn thing!" Peter shouts to try to snap her back into the now as the pistol comes up. Bright red beams fly from the weapon, stitching across the floor and knocking the thing to the side just before its claws can touch the glowing surface of the gem.

—-

Kitty shivers. It's a feeling she is not used to while using her mutant powers. Sometimes things cross wires, sometimes her powers do not work, but to feel that cold rush through her is enough to break her concentration and drop her powers.

Luckily, it's also a stimulant as once she solid again, she dives for the gem. It's something she got trapped in and has to do with a powerful weapon, having it fall into the hands of a decidedly creepy creature is not on the agenda as far as she is concerned. Heart? Well, that's certainly something to file away for later.

Once her hand grasps onto the glowing gem, she quickly scrambles backwards. She's without her katana, but that doesn't mean she's exactly defenseless. "That wasn't my fault! It's magic! It—oh nevermind! Just keep shoot the thing and run!"

For what it's worth, she's taking her own advice, running forward, without only a few brief glances behind her.

—-

"Gee princess where did you come up with that idea?!" Peter calls back as he shoves himself to his feet. His second gun joins the first to spit fire at the creature as it rounds on them both. "Of course its magic! Its always magic!" He adds as he starts to back up. "Terra is freeking /wierd/!! I'm sending a complaint to Asgard!"

He keeps shooting though, blasts impacting the creatures as he slowly backs up. Doing his best to keep it off of her back.

It seems to be a difficult thing to do from what she can see.

The monster scampers up the wall again, parts of its body being blown apart by the space age blasters wielded by the Guardian. Bone gleams a stark white and strange blue energy can be seen streaming out from its wounds. Its still moving though, rushing high across the wall. Scuttling like a beatle as it attempts to get ahead of the fleeing mutant.

'Give it back give it back give it back master needs master hungers!'

Words run together as it gives chase.

—-

"Yeah, this isn't Star Wars and you're no Han Solo," Kitty snipes back over her shoulder as she runs. She's attempting to figure out exactly how much and long she can phase without the gem falling through her hand. So far, it's not incredibly long.

"It is not always magic! Sometimes it's mutants. Or aliens! Or Inhumans! Or—" there's a long list, she could keep going, but she doesn't. "Yeah, you do that. Aren't you on probation from them or something? I'm sure that'll go over real well."

While she can tell that Peter is actually doing damage and helping them as they run, it's very much not a good situation. "Okay, that is incredibly terrifying," she admits as she then turns her head forward and then straight on dashes. Bursting out of the alleyway, she banks left and tries to find an appropriate place to hide. Normally she would just phase into a building, but with how the gem reacts to her powers, she can't be sure it will come with her. This whole situation is really becoming a pain and it all is Peter Quill's fault, as far as she's concerned.

—-

"I am totally Han Solo, and Rocket and Groot together count as Chewie." His shots arn't having the effect he's wanting really and thats bad. They /are/ working a bit so thats good. Kitty looks nice as she's running so thats nice too. NOT THAT HE WOULD LOOK OR ANYTHING.

"Arn't aliens and Inhumans the same thing?!" What the hell kind of place is this that they have multiple names for the same thing. Once again Quill decides that Terra is a strange place. "I'll slow the thing down!" He finally decides as he aims just at one of the joints on its legs. Bursts of destructive energy blow the limb off compleatly and drop the thing to the ground.

At least until it starts to writhe and twist on the ground. Bones from the back and ribs shifting around to produce a new limb. One strangely jointed with a single large claw on the end.

"Ok. Yeah. Terrifying." Quill gives his opinion as he puts a few more bursts into the thing and…well…books it.

Maybe they can find a place to hide before it can reform.

Across the way is a set of abandoned warehouses, and a run down factory sits at the end of the mostly deserted street. Those who might be on the street at this point have fled the sound of blaster fire and shouting. No one wants a piece of that tonight it seems.

"Factory?" He points as he stops nearby the mutant, eyes scanning the street for some kind of hiding place or advantage.

Behind them in the alley there is a voiceless howl. The thing is apparently not willing to give up this easily.

—-

"What! No! They are not the same thing! Inhumans are a type of human, Aliens are aliens! It's in the name." Kitty keeps running. After the first time she looked over her shoulder and didn't like what she saw, she hasn't turned back sense. "Okay, yeah, you do that!"

Skidding to a stop in front of the factory, she starts when Peter comes up behind her after shooting. "Factory," she agrees. Looking down at her hand that still holds the thing attracting it, she sighs. She'll have to trust him for a moment. Holding out the gem, she hands to him. "Here, hold this real quick. I can short circuit the door, but I have to phase. I expect it back."

The howl behind them spurs her forward, practically shoving it at him before she runs over and punches right through the keypad of the door and then pulls at something inside the door. The door slowly starts to creak open.

"Go go!" she yells at him, hand still inside of the keypad. "I'm going to shut it and then short circuit it!"

She'll wait until Peter is safely inside before yanking again, causing the doors the slam shut. Then, she yanks, pulling out wires from inside the panel and phases through the full door. A little breathless, she says softly, "Hopefully that'll hold. It doesn't know we came in here."

—-

"Slowing down didn't go too well," Quill replies as he continues to snap off shots. Where is someone around with anti-magic bullets or something when you need them! He scans the street before putting two more rounds into the ground infront of the creature.

It skitters to a halt and growls before ducking behind an abandoned car on the side of the road. "Ha! Its hiding! Take that!"

He would say more but suddenly there is A Thing being shoved at him. He bobbles the bauble a moment before finally managing to grab hold of the chain. One pistol is shoved away as he holds the item in one suspicious hand. At near arms length.

Like a boyfriend asked to hold a purse.

When the door opens though he doesn't even hesitate, diving under the service door and rolling inside. "Oh yeah. So. She can shut down doors with weird teleporting powers. Great to know." He mutters as he scans the inside of the building.

The lights are dim, looks like the place hasn't been in use for awhile. Massive chemical tanks stand empty, looming in the shadows. Three stories, mostly empty, crisscrossed with catwalks and rust. Its typical of some of the older factory complexes in Gotham.

Quill slowly pulls himself back to his feet, the barrel of his weapon whipping this way and that as if looking for targets. Its blissfully quiet though.

Thankfully.

At least till Kitty phases though the door and the pilot swings back round to shove his pistol in the way of that noise and…

…and the weapon and his hand goes right though her chest.

Pause.

"That is so weird!" He hisses back as he slowly retracts his arm. There is a pause. "Totally going to get slapped again if I make the obvious comment arn't I?"

A wicked grin before he slowly starts to stalk further into the place. "I don't think that'll stop it from looking. But yeah. Maybe it'll miss us…" A pause. "…I should call Zee just in case…"

There is a long and angry howl from the street outside. A hunting howl.

"…and we might want to find some place more defensible?"

—-

If Kitty were around to hear him, she would correct him in his mislabeling of her powers, because correcting Peter Quill is apparently something she feels a need to do. The weapon and hand right through her chest is met with a roll of her eyes. Stepping away from her, she solidifies again and starts slapping at his arms for him to lower them. "Yes. You're lucky I'm not already slapping you. It's not weird it's just my mutation." She holds out her hand again for the gem. "Now give back the gem."

She walks further into the factory with a sigh and looks around. "I'd say we should phase into those tanks, but I can't be sure the gem will come with us." The fact that it makes her powers unpredictable with the thing that creature is hunting is quite a frustrating thing.

The hunting howl is met with a swing of her head back toward the door and a speed up of her prace"Let's see if there's an office or a place we can barricade. Then you can call Zee. Can she take something like that out?"

—-

Correcting Peter Quill is sort of like building a damn in front of a tidal wave. It'll make you feel better, but it really won't change much. The man smirks slightly as he lowers his arm. Handing back the gem the pilot eyes Kitty for a moment and…

…fine…

He can't really resist this.

"I was totally inside you though."

IF SHE SLAPS HIM THE THING MIGHT HEAR! ITS THE MOST SAFE HE CAN GET RIGHT NOW!!

Then he's turning away. "Couldn't get out of the tanks, if it could get in. Lets find an office or something. Second floor…" He angles the gun upwards to draw her attention to what must have once been a small manager's office. Still looks sturdy from the looks of it at least. Its got doors, windows. Methods of escape. "And maybe we can get on the roof and away…he adds. If we can get high enough."

And he's starting for the stairs.

"I hope someone can take the thing out. The only other option I got is call Rocket. And he might end up taking out a city block if he gets going." A pause. "Something that regenerates is like a personal challenge."

MEANWHILE….

Outside the abondoned Gotham factory where Kitty and Peter have taken refuge stalks something decidedly not of this world. It might have been a person at some point in time. Now though its twisted and warped. Scragly bits of hair and cloth cling to a thin and emiciated body. Where hands should be the bones have warped to something claw like, long and thin and gleaming wetly in the meger light of the streetlamps. Its white and sightless eyes seem to scan the street while whisps of blue energy stream from holes blown into its torso and shoulders, and from the open gaping maw of its mouth. Its left leg resembles nothing more than bone now. Rents in his skin show where spine and ribs created the new limb. It has a odd and uneven gait due to the massive claw that caps its new leg, sometimes going down on all fours to sniff at the street.

It howls again, the unnatural sound echoing though the factory district as he roots around for a hind. A taste of its prey.

…and it finds…something.

The two in the building know this because the door they just came though suddenly dents inward as the thing throws itself against the barrier.

—-

Kitty carefully takes the gem. It's still glowing and warm, so she is hesitant to keep it in her pocket. Instead, it remains clamped in her gloved hand. Strangely, there's a sense of relief to have it returned to her. A bit of a breath escapes as she relaxes just slightly. Then, her eyes narrow and her muscles tense. It's clear that it is taking all her energy to not slap him right now. She doesn't want to do anything that will draw the creature closer.

"I'd phase us back out," she tells him with a roll of her eyes, as if it was obvious. "Yeah, up is better. More options." Right by him, she moves for the stairs and starts to climb them in a careful manner. The worst thing would be to accidentally kick off a piece of pipe or stone that would alert whatever it is out there that there is something in the abandoned factory.

Then, however, there's a crash against the barrier and the shrieking of bending metal. Eyes widen and caution is tossed to the wind. "Go! Gogogogogo!!" Kitty shoves at Peter to run as she starts to take the stairs two at a time. "Let's get to that office!"

—-

A little bit less than a week ago, a blond Englishman with a penchant for taking on the forces of Heaven and Hell conscripted a young Italian woman to cut a home-grown design into the delicate, thin layer of flesh over the veins in his left wrist with a knife made of obsidian, and sprinkle into the bleeding channels splinters of…/something/…so dark blue they gleamed nearly black, shredded fragments of something that it shouldn't be possible to put in a jar in the first place. Something literally older than God.

It hadn't been /fun/. It had almost erased the young woman from existence, in fact. But it hadn't, and it had been effective, as is so amply demonstrated when he's sitting in a deli and his flesh begins to tingle, and the outlines of that symbol begin to fluoresce with deep indigo light through the thin white fabric of his shirtsleeve. It usually pulses in time with his heartbeat — still does, in fact — but that cadence is interrupted by something else, an outside force, an attractant. It stirs up the light and darkness in the glassy material preserved in the channels cut by that knife, and he abandons his sandwich, leaves more than enough money to pay for his meal.

Out into the cold, and the snow. Following the symbol and its guidance, which tugs on him like a lodestone, its properties getting their fingers into his sixth senses and opening up channels by which he follows his peculiar, unique connection with Fate. Synchronicity energy.

And that's how he arrives on the block with the factory just in time to see something hurtle itself at the door.

"Well hello," he murmurs under his breath, reaching into the interior pocket of his coat. He retrieves a small object, silver, engraved, glinting. Hangs back for now, if only to get a better sense of what this scrap of darkness actually /is/.

—-

"Thanks Star-lord," He says behind her. "Thats a good idea Star-lord. Oh you're welcome Kitten. I know it was a good idea. I have those on occasion." Yes. He is having a monologue as he races up the stairs behind her. Feet pound against metal as they both dash up the stairs. The office itself is old, the door hanging slightly ajar. There isn't much in the way of furniture. An old metal desk. Some filing cabinets. Rickety metal slat blinds on the windows. An old walk in supply closet in the corner. Options are limited.

…but at least there are options. A second door leads to the rest of the catwalk, and presumeabily the roof access.

Peter? He goes right to the blinds and closes them in a rush. Mostly because it makes him feel better. "Desk up against the door?" He asks as he pulls his second pistol.

Downstairs the snarls and the screach of protesting metal echos though the building. Claws punch though the thin restance of the material as its unatural strength, a gift from some dark power, drive it on. A howl again, this time one of triumph as it shoves its way into the hole.

The Englishman can see its hunting. The darkling power that drives it forward. Searching for something. Some ephemeral trail thats already starting to dissipate. Filiments of a ephemeral red energy that leans into the factory.

A factory that has gone horribily silent as the creature creaps inside.

—-

As Peter quips and follows her, Kitty tosses an annoyed reply over her shoulder in a hiss. "You know what! Fine! Once that thing finds us and tears you apart I'll make sure that your gravestone reads, 'Peter Quill, He Was Right Once, But Was Still An Insufferable Asshole!'"

As soon as they're in the office, they both seem to come to the same conclusion at roughly the same time. She bends to start shoving the desk against the door with his help. Unfortunately, she's more dexterous than strong - it will be mostly by Peter's strength that it makes it in front of the door. However, there's a window right there. She uses her hands to try and shove the metal blinds on the windows shut, cutting off most of their light. Luckily, they have that glowing crystal to give them some illumination.

Glancing around the room in the dim light, she comes to a conclusion almost immediately. There's only one place to hide. She groans. "You're going to take this the wrong way. I know it. But, I think we have to hide in the closet."

—-

Someone, John concludes, is messing about with something they shouldn't.

This is the easiest conclusion for him to come to. Most of his professional life is consumed with clearing up messes made by people who get their hands on things they shouldn't have, and it draws all manner of nasty thing out of the woodwork…though this /particular/ nasty thing has a signature that the symbol in his arm suggests is unrelated to the reddish energy said nasty thing is following.

Regardless, he can infer from that brief display two things: one, there are people, or perhaps things, inside of the building who are doing or in possession of something that this construct wants; two, that there's something unfortunate going on, and it's related to the rising tide of darkness he's in the tri-cities area to look into in the first place.

He waits until it disappears into the building before he begins to close the distance to the factory, himself. There are more obstacles in there, more places to find cover, more ways to surprise it. Less civilians, or at least he hopes so. A better place to engage the beast.

—-

"Well thank you for your consideration." Quill shoots back as he helps to shove the desk there. A glance around the poorly lit room brings him to the same conclusion. "Don't flatter yourself. Like I'd want to share a closet with you!" He returns before turning around and pushing the second door open just a bit wider. Enough to make it obvious.

Hopefully the thing will think they just ran down the catwalk to get away and wouldn't look inside anywhere else. He stalks over to the door to the closet before pulling it open. "After you then, princess."

Ain't he just a gentleman.

Down on the bottom floor the sickly illumiation provided by ancient lights is joined by the blue glare of the creatures own energies. It paces forwards and back, slowly and methodically looking for a trail. Every so often there are screaches of bone on metal as it brushes against one of the massive liquid holding tanks in the main floor.

Fustration tinges its growl as it starts up the first flight of steps, metal protesting as that one claw punches holes in a single step at a time.

Thankfully? No civilians. Lots of cover. Just what John wanted. It looks to have been abandoned for some time.

—-

"You're the one making sex jokes about my mutation," Kitty retorts as she tries to open the closet as softly as possible. The last thing she needs is to have a squeak alert the creature to their smaller hiding spot in the already narrowed area of one building among quite a long block.

The sound of frustration and metal crashing and clanging speeds Kitty's movement. Shoving herself into the closet, she shoves herself toward the back as best she can. "Come on, come on," she tells him impatiently. "Get in here before it finds us. Can you call Zee from in the closet? How fast can she get here?"

—-

The answer to Kitty's question about Zee is 'she can't,' because Zatanna is trapped in John's flat to avoid having her soul ripped out of her body by blood mages. That it would be John, and not Zatanna, who shows up to remedy the situation — rather than someone else altogether, or nobody at all — is just another expression of his connection with Synchronicity.

He pauses just inside the factory, giving his eyes a moment to adjust, pale blue irises swept across the interior and the dim, shadowy shapes in the dusty dimness. On a broken-down set of cabinets nearest him he spots a box filled with aerosol cans, and reaches out with his free hand to slowly slide one free of the others, gaze roving away in search of the thing.

He needn't look long. The first screeching scream of claw through metal tells him clearly enough where it is.

He uses his thumb to pop the cap off of the can of — whatever, he didn't even look — and set it to the side, rotating the can around to face the nozzle away from him entirely by feel while he crosses the factory floor, inserting cover between himself and the line of sight of the ragged, reanimated…thing.

His other thumb flips back the lid on the lighter in his hand. If it were visible, its etchings and engravings would catch the light like the strands of a spider's web, complex enough to leave the viewing eye dizzy. It was a Christmas gift from the aforementioned magical young woman, many of its symbols of her own design. A magical Swiss army knife. He has yet to tease out all of its purposes, but he knows at least a few, including the one she described to him when he opened the box containing it: 'It purifies everything its flame touches.'

John Constantine has a spraypaint flamethrower enemy of God to give whatever the hell that thing on the stairs is. He just needs to get…close…enough.

He's nearing the base of the stairs when he hears a desk scudding across the floor in the room at the top of the landing, and his eyes narrow.

—-

The noise of the thing approaching drives Peter on, and he dives inside the closet. Its…cosy to say the least. One arm sliding around Kitty's form as he smushes himself into the closet as best he can. Trying not to knock anything off the shelves.

"How do I know! I'm a pilot not a wizard!" He retorts as he starts feeling around in the dark for his phone. The red illumination of the odd gem gives him some light to work with. "Just gotta get my hand to my pock—"

He trails off, a bit of a shocked look on his face before raising the hand still in his pocket up. Kitty might just be able to make out the fact that his hand is poking /though/ his coat pocket.

Ripped cleanly where the creature had clawed at him earlier.

Look. Sometimes the 12 of a plan pays off, sometimes it doesn't!!

"Right. So." A pause. "You smell nice." Pause. "And I don't suppose you have a phone on you?" This is defintally not his best moment.

Defintally not, since the creature below heard the sound of the desk as well. It scrables at the stairs, clawing its way up with a renewed pulse of energy. Entirely unaware of the danger behind it. Focused on its goal.

It slams into the office door, shattering the hinges with a /bang/ as the door hits the desk. Roaring and slashing at this new and unexpected barrier.

…its very single minded.

—-

"Hey!" Kitty hisses as Peter snakes his hand around her once he shoves himself inside the closet. "Watch your hands." As he searches as best he can for the phone and comes up empty, she lets out a groan. "You have got to be kidding me. Yeah, I do, but it's in my back pocket. I can't reach it in here and I'm not letting you feel around to try and get it. Do you even have her number memorized or something? I certainly don't have it." Despite staying in Zatanna's house, she has only really met her that one night and after getting the gem.

The slam against the door with the desk shoved up against it makes Kitty jump. "Oh God, oh God, this is how I die. Trapped in a closet with a man from space who can't find his phone." Then, she gives a Peter a hard look. "Look, if I give you the gem, maybe I could lead it off. It thinks I have it. I'll phase through it, I don't think it can hit me." She doesn't mention the fact that she actually felt something when its claw passed her through her before. "Once it's gone, you get out of the closet and make a run for it. I'll meet you back at Shadowcrest."

—-

The side benefit of the monster's sudden and renewed interest in the door upstairs is that it makes an unholy amount of noise whilst trying to break in, and John is able to time his footsteps on the metal stairs to coincide with those strikes, taking them in sets of two.

There is a soft scritch as he flicks the flint wheel and strikes a flame.

"You know," he tells the monster conversationally, "I'm not sure what it is you're after, but I'm /pretty sure/ you're not supposed to have it. Or be here. At all. So, ta, mate."

He depresses the nozzle top of the aerosol can from behind the lighter flame, and it spews white-hot fire, globules of divine naphtha sizzling and spitting on the carpet, splattering the rotting hide in a relentless torrent.

—-

"Better idea, I'm armed and you're not. I jump out, distract it. You get away with the gem. Maybe if I shoot it enough it'll just far apart." Peter hisses back after he realises that A) He isn't going to get to go though her pockets and B) She's actually serious about being bait.

Urgh. Zee would be mad if he let a houseguest get hurt. So this is entirely out of self preservation for the rest of the Guardians. "Then once it gets tired of getting shot and runs off, I'll meet you back at Shadowcrest."

Its a good plan. And one that seems increasingly more and more desprite as the crashing gets louder.

Outside…well…things don't go quite as well for the monster.

At the sound of a voice its head snaps around and Constantine gets a very up close view of it. The skull is human-like but the jaws are three times too big. The eyes are glazed over and milky white. From the massive maw comes that eldrich blue glow and the twin feelings of horrifing cold and eternal hunger leak from the thing like a sieve.

'The Heart, we must have it! Do not get in our way mortal!'

The creatures mouth doesn't move but the voice comes from it none the less. Then it notices the flame. The can.

It obviously doesn't register the danger.

The torrent of purified flame washes over it in a roar and the monster screams. Flames chew though the corrupted flesh and bone as it struggles to get away, flopping onto the floor of the office as it lets out an unholy screach. More importantly those flames seem to consume whatever animating force had posessed the monster the blue energy evaporating like a morning mist with a pained wail.

John though can see. Its not being entirely destroyed. More as if its being reclaimed by something else.

…and that trail of red energy. Life energy. Soul energy. The color of blood. Its now slowly leaking from under the closet door.

—-

"Yeah, because shooting it was doing such a great job before?" Kitty hisses back, this time just a bit louder. "It can regenerate. Look, it can't touch me while I'm phased. This isn't difficult to understand! I'm a better person for bait. Stop fighting me and just take the gem." She starts to push the gem still in her hand toward him so she can try and phase through him and then through the creature.

Then, however, there is a wooshing sound and screaming. Kitty pauses. "Did you hear that?" It's enough to get her to stop fighting with Peter and pause in the middle of her argument. "I think—-it sounds like it's in pain. Either that or it's hungry. Or it's angry. I don't speak scary demon creature."

—-

The fact that the monstrosity is capable of speech gives John slight pause — that was unexpected — but not pause of the kind that would have him actually stop roasting the thing to…death? Re-death? Whatever. When it goes down on the floor he moves forward, cautious of the clawed and flailing limbs, but aiming the bulk of his assault at its head, until enough of it has disintegrated that he can see the blue darklight bleeding out of it. Not dissipating so much as being recalled to…elsewhere.

"Ah, bollocks," he says, frown a slash of shadow on the flame-lit contours of his angular face. That means there are more, probably. Or will be more.

It means nothing good, either way.

The can sputters as it nears the bottom of its contents. He shakes it, represses the nozzle, emptying every last bit of it through the lighter's flame, and then pitches the can over the railing to the floor below, flipping the lighter shut. He lingers just long enough to make sure it's not moving anymore, then turns to the door it had been trying so desperately to bash inward against the desk, glances down at the handle, and then turns the knob and pulls it open, /outward/. Because that's how earth doors work, for chrissakes. Always /out/, in case of fire.

"You'd think they'd figure that one out eventually," he says to himself dryly as he plants a foot on the top of the desk and vaults himself over the top of it, into the next room.

There is red light spilling out from beneath the bottom of the closet door.

John Constantine tilts his head over to the side, considering this newest development skeptically.

After some moments, he takes a few unhurried, strolling steps toward the door, tilts his head forward to listen. Hears nothing.

One hand comes up. He knocks.

"Room service."

—-

"Well maybe it can't just keep regenerating! Its gotta run outta parts sometime!" Peter retorts as he squints towards her. "Besides you said magic does weird stuff to your…" He vaguely waves a hand. "…ghost…phase…things. It might can still get you. At leas the guys slowed it down and.."

The flame blasts and the screaming do draw his attention though and the half-human turns his attention to the door. Flickering fire can be seen from under the door as it slowly gutters out. "…maybe both? Hangry." Peter's reply is hushed as he reaches out to put one gloved hand against the door and…

Then there is a knock.

Room service?

Confusion screws up his face as he glances back to Kitty and shrugs slightly. "…doesn't sound hungry or angry anymore…" He points out. "…it sound english now." A pause. "I'm gonna guess thats a good sign."

He hopes.

Espcially this is a pretty cozy closet and shooting in here is going to be problematic at best.

—-

"Hangry? Really?" Kitty glares at Peter as they attempt to figure out what exactly is going on outside the supply closet door. Instead of offering the gem over to Peter, she now clutches it in her gloved hand and pulls it close to her chest, worried that the demon creature turned British creature is still after it.

"If it can change into an Englishman, I'm not sure that qualifies as a good sign! That means we can't trust anyone with an English accent." Without her katana and with her phasing abilities all but impossible to use without the strange side effects brought about by the magical gem, she feels trapped - a thing she has never felt before being trapped inside that crystal. Her mutation made her uniquely free from restraint. To be left without it is a very scary prospect.

"Punch it," she hisses at Peter. "If it goes for the gem, just punch it in the face."

—-

"…is that seriously a thing on Terra?! Monsters that turn into people with english accents?!" Quill can't help but reply. "What if its just some english guy?!" A pause. "…with a flamethrower!"

—-

"You're the one that said it sounded English! I thought it was an alien thing!!" Kitty hisses back in response, nearly shoving him in frustration.

—-

"I mean whatever knocked sounded english! How can being english be an alien thing! England is on Terra!" Quill's words becoming increasingly heated.

—-

John stares at the door as the closet appears to have a hissing argument with itself.

This part is, technically, not his problem. It might not be his problem, anyway; he's done away with the thing that was making the symbol carved into his flesh throb so unpleasantly, and the throbbing has for the time-being stopped, or at least dwindled back to its mild default. So he could leave. He could rationalize that, and he is sorely tempted, listening to things progress.

There is the red light, though, and the fact that what he turned into shredded, rotting slop on the walkway outside was drawn to it, and the way its energizing force left it, implying there will be more. Which will also likely be drawn to whatever is emitting the red light. And then, he suspects, this will again actually be his problem.

He draws a long, long breath, exhales it in a rushing sigh, and pinches the bridge of his nose.

"I'm not an alien," he says, with the kind of patience that parents of four-year-olds summon in order to keep from going mad and choking themselves to death on detergent, or something.

Which is just the kind of thing an alien would say.

—-

"Look see! He says he's not an alien! I should know if he was since I grew up with them!" Peter's logic is…Peter Logic. Don't try to follow it you'll just end up getting hurt. "But fine. Fine. If he goes for the gem I'll punch him right in the face."

Don't take it personal John.

Now he's reaching for the door. The pilot has no clue just /why/ Kitty is so upset. He does know she's wound up tighter than a watch spring, but the reason behind it evades him. Once he figures it out he might feel bad for all this.

Or he might just forget about it.

Its hard to tell with him.

The door however slowly creeks open, revealing two oddly dressed twenty-somethings hiding in a closet. Peter might be somewhat familiar, if the englishman has gotten any descriptions from Zee.

What also might draw their attention is the fact that the glowing red(well might be fading now with the lack of monster) gem in Kitty's hand. To those trained magical senses of his? Its leaking a 'scent' of sorts. Something that those creatures could follow.

…there are also a lot of souls inside it…

…and its /very/ powerful…

…and at the moment that mark is all over the pair in the closet. Might not be good. Not to mention what looks like a magical teather of sorts attached from the gem to Kitty's wrist. A second slightly more faint thread of power is attached to Quill's arm, and several others lead off though the eather to who knows where.

…um. Merry Christmas?

Peter turns his attention from Kitty towards John. "Right. Um…not a weird demon undead monster thing are you?"

—-

"Yeah, but you're an alien that has an American accent and knows about Earth things. I thought you'd know about other aliens!" It's possible that she's either forgotten that Peter was born on Earth or she just assumed he's an alien that looks like a human. Kitty this time does shove a bit at Peter as they argue. This is not the best time to have this argument with a possible British Alien Magic Creature knocking on the door. There's a very strong urge to yell out, 'Occupied!' at the intruder, but that won't accomplish anything.

"That's just what a deceiving British alien would say!" Kitty tells him, possibly mirroring John's own thoughts. However, it's too late, Peter is cracking the door open. The mutant takes in the blonde occultist with suspicious eyes. While Peter is asking questions, she goes straight for threatening.

"If you're after something, he's going to punch you in the face and I'll kick you in the balls," she tells him, hands clasped tightly against her chest, not knowing that she is unable to hide the strange mystical red energy from John's magical sense. It might even be effective if the two people were not so awkwardly shoved into the closet they can both barely move, let alone fight.

—-

Which of these many things should John respond to first?

He supposes the woman's threat by way of the man she's stuck in the closet with ought to be first in line, violence being what it is, and so he blinks at her, shifts pale, blue eyes to Quill, and sloooowly cocks one brow. He does not look especially worried, it has to be said.

And then Quill asks him if he's a 'weird demon undead monster thing,' and John's brow stays just where it is, as he slooooowly looks down at himself, and then, without lifting his head, cuts his gaze back up again. The second brow joins the first.

'Do I look,' says his expression, 'like that thing that you just said?'

But what he actually says is, "I got rid of your tag-along, you're welcome." His head lifts to rights again, and his gaze flicks to the stone in Kitty's hands, clutched so protectively against her chest. He lifts a hand, palm upward.

"It was after whatever it is you've got that's pissing red energy everywhere. Do you mind?" There's a pause, and then he ticks his gaze up to find hers. "I'll give it back," he says. He's /pretty sure/ that isn't a lie.

—-

"Oh my god! He doesn't look like a demon monster undead whatever and I'm pretty sure from the scorch mark on the ground there he might have just roasted the thing!" John says as much and Quill flings out an arm. "See!! Cool your jets, girl!"

A pause.

"And I do know about other aliens! But most of the ones I'm really intrested him look way different than him!" He hooks a thumb at John. Then pauses. "No offence." That last towards John.

A deep breath before he turns his attention back towards Kitty. "Now do you want to get out of this closet or are you getting used to being this close to me?" A pause. "Who knows, you could grow to like it."

Quickest way to get her out he's sure.

"…wait hold on. What do you mean pissing red energy everywhere?" Now that important part of the statement is smattering into his ever distracting brain.

—-

Despite the somewhat reassuring eyebrow raise, Kitty remains suspicious for a moment. Then, there's a bit of an exhale, her muscles relaxing just slightly as she focuses on the scorched magical creature behind Constantine. "Red energy?" She looks down at her hands, still clenched so tightly around the gem and opens her hands just slightly. It is glowing, but pissing red energy? "You mean the glow?"

Just as Peter predicted, it's moments after his quip of getting used to being close to her that she shoves him with some strength in an attempt to get him to get out of the closet. Once she is able, she steps out, rolling her shoulders back into place from stress, fear and being pressed into a tight space with someone else.

Her eyes shift from John's outstretched hand to his eyes and then back down to his hand. "I'm not going to hand this over without knowing who you are. Thanks for taking care of whatever that is, but this thing is my responsibility." She decidedly skips over that technically it's Peter's. "Who are you? Were you just walking by and decided to barbecue something?"

—-

"I mean pissing red energy everywhere," John says, summoning up more of that dry, brittle patience of his. "Look, mate, I could see a trail of it coming in here from all the way up the block, and the thing — whatever the bloody hell that was, and I'm not sure yet to be honest but I did know it didn't properly die — could sniff it out, as well. That's how it knew to come inside the first place."

He steps back enough to allow them a comfortable amount of space in which to stand as they extricate themselves.

He's asked who he is, and that's no secret, so he's happy enough to elucidate, though one might fairly get the impression that he's impatient with all of the formalities. "My name is John Constantine," he says, "And finding things like that, and dealing with them, is sort of my /thing/. I'd say job, but I'm obviously not getting paid for this one. Consider it pro-bono monster hunting." He, too, rolls his shoulders, and snap-settles the lapels of his coat. "Like I said, it didn't properly die. Whatever was animating it went back to wherever it came from in the first place, so you can expect more of them, and it was /very/ interested in what you've got there. Called it 'The Heart.' Mean anything to you?"

The hand lifts again, palm up. /Still waiting./

—-

"Hey now, the Asgardians gave it to /me/ to protect! You just…I dunno userped protection duties." Peter points out. "…not that I mind. I mean I get time off and get to go to dinner with hot alien girls." A pause. "There are a /lot/ of aliens on Terra you know." As if thats secret information.

He would totally go on at this point but the man introduces himself and that name strikes a memory. "Wait wait, Constantine…" He does step out of the closet at this point, doing his best to entirely ignore the shove. One arm to stretched out as he thinks. "…AH! You're the one who has Zee stashed somewhere arn't ya?" A pause. "…if you are that Constintine. We are…kinda her houseguests?"

A pause.

"Housesitters?"

Longer pause.

"Something like that!" His head swivels towards Kitty to fix her with a smirk. "See. Told you wasn't an alien."

…yes John. They are five.

—-

"Yeah, and a real great job you've been doing with protecting it, letting it in Rocket's mouth, using it to warm up cocoa, generally being careless with its whereabouts." There's a reason Kitty decided to take up the protection duties for herself. "I was inside that thing for months without you realizing anything was wrong with it. I'm surprised you didn't just give it to one of those hot alien girls you've been going to dinner with to impress them." She'd be trapped inside of it still.

As Peter makes the connection that Constantine knows Zatanna and has her…stashed? Somewhere? She gives the blonde man a wary look. "Animating. So, it was being controlled by something else?" There's still some hesitation as she, again, looks to the hand waiting to be given the gem. Finally, after some deliberation, she holds it out to him. "Only if you give it back," she tells him before resting it gently in his hand.

—-

There's mild surprise in the faint movement of John's brows at Zee's name, but only faint. This is how his life works, a web of coincidences. He's had twenty-eight years to get accustomed to the fact. "Her houseguests. …right. The aliens. So you must be.."

He hesitates.

/The guy with the really bizarre tackle./

John almost, almost manages not to glance down at the crotch of Peter Quill's pants. He looks unnerved as he does it, as though he's heard something /terrible/ about what might be in there. Which, to be fair, is exactly right: he has. "…Peter Quill," he finishes, skepticism liberally wreathing the name. "Nice to, eh, meet you."

He listens to Kitty chastize Quill and tries to make sense of the words, but the only thing he understands, really, is that she was /inside/ the whatever-the-hell. It doesn't throw him for a loop because it's not the strangest thing in his life — not even /remotely/; two days from this point in time he will be throwing himself through a portal located in the shattered posterior orifice of a nightmare creature named Ashley, and that will only rate in his top twenty, and then only because it's named Ashley — but it does intrigue him.

He doesn't take it until she offers it voluntarily, at which point he lifts it up, passing sensitive fingertips over its exterior surface, to examine it. Whatever part of him it is that can sense the magic, he opens it up, lets it explore the stone ever-so-carefully, looking for meaning, information.

"How did you wind up inside of it? And how did you get out? What do you know about it?"

—-

"I bet she was punching it, or slapping it, or something like that. Its what she does." Peter grumbles as he glances as Kitty, not quite noticing the direction of Constantine's gaze. He might take it the wrong way if he did so it is likely better this way.

"I'm not an alien, just from space." Which might be confusing but that seems to be the man sort of dwells somewhere in the realm of confusing. "Rocket and Groot are aliens, I'm from the states." He adds as if that clears anything up.

"Zee helped get her out, used it to launch us into some nightmare realm of Jess'" Another name John might know. "And when we came back she came with us. Anyway you can put her back?"

The gem itself is a large ruby looking stone, in a simple setting and chain that looks silver. It likes quiet in John's hand, but there is power in it. Its a focus. Useless by itself, but with the right will impressed upon it…well…it can add a massive amount of power to something. There are souls inside it, hundreds of them.

…and not human ones.

Not from the realms of heaven or hell either, some other races magic users sacrificed themselves to make it. As he watches a thin red tendril of energy seeps out, starting to lazily encircle his wrist. Testing, probing, looking for…something.

There are runes worked into the surface, the meaning strange but the mystic energies are there.

—-

Kitty, however, does notice the fact that Constantine looks directly at Peter's crotch with an unnerved glint in his eye when he recognizes Peter. It causes the brunette mutant to first tilt her head curiously and then blink, eyes quickly moving between Peter and Constantine. What could that mean? Is there something wrong with his crotch region? Is it an alien thing? Ew, don't even go there.

Instead, she focuses on the actual story of the gem and how she got trapped there. "I was trying to help stop some sort of weapon. Usually, when I phase through things, it tends to short circuit any electronics involved. Instead, I wound up in that thing. Next thing I know there's the sound of glass shattering, some muscly god-guy, this jerk and Jessica Jones in the gem. They high tailed it out and I was able to get out with them."

Peter gets a distinct glare at the quip of if Constantine knows a way to put her back. "The states of space?" she asks him with in a fake innocent accent.

Then, a thought occurs to her, "That creature kept calling it the Heart. And that 'Master hungers'. I'm guessing it's not a friendly master." Looking back over at the smoking pile of charred creature, she frowns. "If that gem is like some sort of mystical trail marker, is there some way to, uh, turn it off? I'd like that - " she gestures in that direction " - to not be a daily thing."

—-

John traces the runes with his eyes, trying to commit as many of them to memory as possible. He doesn't recognize them, so they're probably not terrestrial — or celestial; as in Heaven and Hell.

"Huh," is what he says at first, of her story. The fact that she phases through things doesn't give him pause in the least. He's in…/something/…with a woman whose house fence turns people into molluscs. Phasing is just another Tuesday for John.

He watches the energy twist like a plant vine around the bones of his wrist, glad that it's in his right hand and not his left one, where the mark resides — a mark made of the distilled third-eye chakra energy and concentrated Primordial Darkness. He has no way of knowing what would happen if the two were to have contact, but his instinctual guess is that the consequences would range from 'bullshit' to 'extremely bad for everyone involved, and probably also most people who aren't involved.'

It is interesting, though. That it seems to be interacting with the world beyond itself. And what it contains? That unsettles him. Souls. Individual souls. Countless lives.

It's some time after Kitty stops speaking that he finally glances up at her, surfacing out of his own thoughts and replaying for himself what he heard her say, but wasn't listening to. "Yes. I think the safe money is on the Master not being friendly, luv. As for this," he says, lifting it in his fingertips before extending his hand and giving it back to her, "It contains a mass amount of souls. I could likely put a ward on you so that any magical emanations you create will be masked at a distance, but anything that can see magic will probably see it on you. I could see it through your hands. And to 'turn it off,' as you say.."

Blue eyes drop to the stone, lift again. "I'd have to know more before I'd even try, and that would mean studying the thing. It's /souls/. Yeah? Lives. I'd want to be sure of what I was doing before I messed with it."

/I've enough damned souls on my conscience already./

—-

"Oh my god, the state of /Colorado/. I was born if fracking Colorado. Get it though your head." Quill's words aimed towards Kitty as he glares at the woman. His arms cross before he draws a deep breath. "Eh whatever. I wasn't there for long anyway."

Leaning back against the wall Peter eyes the gem for a moment before he draws a deep breath. "So its like having a giant target on you then? Lovely." He's gone though that before. "Like I didn't have enough people after my head. You save /one/ planet, people hate you forever." A shake of his head before he seems to pause to think as his head rolls back to rest against the metal of the wall.

Look. /Sometimes/ he thinks.

"So best thing to do would be to get back to Shadowcrest and back under the wards there as soon as we can. After you apply those wards? And hopefully people stop trying to kill Zee and between the two of you something can be figured out. Cause I've been marked for death before. Let me tell you, not fun."

—-

The mention that there are souls in that gem is met with a bit of a wide eyed and sobering moment. When Constantine hands the gem back to her, Kitty carefully takes it and slides it back into her pocket, the warmth that was burning her before now dissipated. Maybe they were people like her, who were trapped there without a way out. Her brows knit as she thinks about that. There countless other souls in there while she was trapped. She doesn't remember that, doesn't remember encountering them.

"Yeah," she agrees to being sure of what they're doing before they mess with the gem too much. "Just…the minimum amount of warding to try and keep those things from finding it." If there are thousands of souls in there, she definitely doesn't want the creepy magic monsters to get it. "We can try and keep it in Shadowcrest. That place seems pretty protected. It's only when I started to wander around that they came after it." It's a solid plan.

Kitty raises an eyebrow at Peter, glad to finally have found something that seems to get under his skin just a little. "Planet Colorado?" She flutters her eyelashes at Peter.

Then, as if remembering something, she steps forward. "Oh! And now that noise won't attract a scary magic monster of death, this is for that 'inside you comment earlier." With that, she slaps him. It's not a full bodied slap that will turn his head. It won't leave a mark, but it will sting a little.

"Alright, now Let's get out of here before more of those things come back."

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