To Live Another Day

May 12, 2017:

The finale to Himmel und Hölle in Bewegung Setzen. The rest of the Berlin team race to Brandenburg to stop Hermann Steinschneider from obtaining the Spear of Destiny, and the Cult of the Cold Flame's mysterious ritual. Many die.

Characters

NPCs: Giovanni Zatara, Reiner Steinschneider, Hermann Steinschneider

Mentions: Batman, Matt Murdock

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

By the time Jessica Jones, Bucky Barnes, Dr. Jane Foster and John Constantine return to the penthouse in Berlin, it is on fire.

What's worse, Berlin's fire department and polizei are already in the scene.

The entire perimeter is corded off with yellow tape, wooden barricades erected to prevent rubberneckers from getting too close to the blaze. A quick sweep of the area would reveal no familiar faces; either Reiner Steinschneider, Red Robin and Adelaide Weir had gone up with the flames or they managed to escape. Either way, spectators in the crowd would not be familiar. Some are, of course, taking pictures of the inferno. Should John Constantine take a magical whiff of the proceedings, he would strangely not find any signatures lurking around the building itself, but there is a lingering miasma just down the street, where a portal had been opened and shut.

Everything else inside of the topmost flat is gone. The fire is so massive that there's barely anything left of it; miraculously, it has not managed to leap on the other properties surrounding it, concentrated on the place that has functioned as their lavish headquarters for the last several days. Clothes, notes, personal belongings and the like have all been fed to the sudden pyre that erupted in this part of Berlin.

Hopefully, someone is around to explain what happened.

—-

Bucky did not let Jane and Jessica even get close to the penthouse before steering them away. He has a keen sense for when and where to avoid A Scene, and he's pretty sure by now where the penthouse used to be is a gigantic swarm of firefighters and policemen he has no interest in getting anywhere near.

He herded them some blocks away, and immediately started making calls to the others. John, Zatanna, Tim.

"We can get closer once we know what's going on," he says. "If it's even worth it to."

—-

Jessica had been a half step away from leaping up to some other building to look for Red when Bucky had firmly steered them away. She certainly agrees with not getting involved with the police, however. Her relationship with them is spotty, at best, back home. She can't imagine it would be much different here, as the one wearing her own face when they'd messed about with that dragon.

Distantly she's really glad that it is now seriously her habit to stow EVERYTHING she owns back in her phone when she's done with it, but this is hardly at the forefront of her mind. Bucky is already dialing Red, but she wants to look for him. From this vantage, she can't, so she just paces, pretty blue skirts fluttering about her knees as she begins moving in a fashion more normal-Jess stompy, less the feminine-carefree Jess that appeared at the club. For her, the need to DO useful things in the face of trouble is paramount. Then, she realizes, she can. She grabs Dunce from her phone and says, "Okay little guy, help like you've never helped before. Go find Red."

—-

While John may have returned to the penthouse in Zatanna's absence — and been, on the record, more or less his usual self with the exception of seeming tired — there was still work to do, and tonight he was abroad and doing it, leaving the guests of the penthouse in Red's very capable care. Had the assault been magical in nature he'd have felt something on this scale even at that distance, but it hadn't been…so the first he learns of it is through his phone, from James Barnes.

He turns up with all of the swiftness available to anyone capable of folding time and space in an emergency, passing through a door up the block and observing the chaos from a distance.

John Constantine does take a whiff of the proceedings, and he does find it surprising that there isn't any magic in the area — until he senses the portal some distance away, anyway. After all, their motley little crew had come to Berlin in full expectation of exploiting Jane and Bucky's proficiency with mundane advantages, knowing it would be less likely to tip off the mages they were hunting. And they, in turn, are being hunted in their own way — or at least interfered with on that hunt.

When he rendezvoused with the rest, he says as much.

"No magic hanging about. Someone opened a portal down the street. Closed now. Whoever was here, they're gone." He has his phone in his hand, and he keeps glancing down at the screen, the square of pale light reflected in calm but focused blue eyes. It's probably not difficult to guess who it is that he's waiting to hear back from.

—-

"Oh my god," is all Jane has time to utter, low and under her breath, the first chance she sees the penthouse swathed in fire.

Still clad in her red dress from the swing hall, she doesn't protest against Bucky's better sense, trusting it beyond her own panic — who was home? Red? Anyone else going there? — she hugs herself wearily as those phone calls are made.

Surrepititiously, Jane remembers she has her laptop with her. Packed to go dancing because work never stops. It's a small, strange salve against her background of worry —

When John shows up with zero preamble, she turns a look on him that's transparent relief. Another person to add to her mental tally of 'not currently on fire and/or dead'. Zatanna mentioned a trip to Brandenburg, so the rest is — Red.

—-

The penthouse atop the rest of the luxury building is little more than a skeleton, now; the rest of the building is, somehow, all but untouched, whatever destroyed those upper two levels having been extremely well-controlled, precise. The explosion itself was pretty impressive, but then it needed to be. It needed to be as much show as actual effect, if not moreso. It wasn't good enough to actually scrub the site, it had to look bigger. It had to look apocalyptic, like something nobody could possibly survive.

The theatrics are important.

In the short time since the explosion, since he sent that text message to Zatanna in Brandenburg, Red Robin has been engaged in subtle observation. He also had to grab a few things, since he was understandably light on equipment, or other things like a jacket, and shoes. That shapeshifter is still potentially out there somewhere, and while he hadn't been willing to die for the sake of his mission, that didn't mean he wouldn't approach again, make another attempt.

He wouldn't want to risk being killed by his employer either, right? But if the shapeshifter is around, there's no immediate sign as of yet. That does leave the problem of how they might tell the difference in the first place, too.

When Bucky attempts to call Red Robin's phone, he does get an answer, just… Probably not precisely the one he was expecting.

"We need to move quickly," says a patch of shadow about halfway up the wall, before the young man drops down to land lightly among the others. He looks a bit worse for the wear, with dried blood covering his upper lip and chin, from a split lip and a bloodied nose, though there's no sign of the bruising that would usually indicate a break. "Armand Steinschneider's journal contained… Well, Armand Steinschneider. That's why the book was sealed to his own bloodline, so he could jump into their body and take it over. Right now, he's walking around in Reiner's body, working with the Cult of the Cold Flame and Mammon, and he said he was headed to Brandenburg."

No seriously, the young man just drops in and starts briefing everyone, as though this were the sort of thing that happened every day.

Which, well, maybe it does, to him.

"Adelaide Weir is safe in the panic room, it was designed to withstand pretty much anything except for something that would destroy the building itself. The only person who can open the lock right now is Miss Jones. We might have to worry about that later, though… There's food and water, and an air supply for about a week."

He frowns, faintly. Should he even bother? Might as well.

"There was some kind of shapeshifter, too. Professional merc. Hired by that copy of Miss Zatara's father, or whatever he is. They were going to kill and replace me and then use the fake to mislead or kill the rest of you."

He looks up at where the penthouse used to be.

"Didn't work."

—-

There is no text back from Zatanna.

But John would feel those echoes from the distance through their link - and he knows those reactions are delayed; argent droplets of fear and confusion, though there is no hint of pain. Her fuzzy image, as if interfered with by lag spikes in the more modern vernacular, blossoms somewhere at the back of his head. He cannot see her clearly, but she is at least intact. Her words carry quickly and quietly, but jumbled and fragmented - they haven't had a lot of time to practice this method of communication, and Giovanni Zatara had indicated that it would take some time to perfect. Wherever she is now, he would at least be able to discern that she's in a safe place enough that she can concentrate on sending these little pieces of her across the tether that binds them, as rough as they are.

"…ley lines…agents…locking down….church is….Muller and the prie- priest and….spear…phone not work…bluetooth device can't…"

She hasn't received Red Robin's texts.

She does not know about Armand Steinschneider.

But something is clearly happening in Brandenburg and even from Berlin, the Englishman would be able to taste it in the air, ephemeral tendrils of something spreading from the north.

There's nothing else from Zatanna - either she's had to move, or she has decided to go for it, whatever reckless plan she has in her head. With the raven-haired magician, there's always equal odds of one or the other.

—-

Jane's relieved look gets a silent wink from John, affixed to a threadbare scrap of his more characteristic acerbic wryness. It's all he can manage when not every last one of them has been accounted for, but good news arrives momentarily in the form of Red Robin, peeling off of a building and dropping into their midst in what appears to be one piece, scuffed and banged up but mobile and breathing…and he has more good news mixed in with the bad: that Adelaide is safe. Things might have been so much worse, all things considered, and John exhales a slow, quiet breath through the nose, the only indication of his relief he'll permit himself.

"Alright then?" That's for Red, John studying out of the corners of his eyes the blood congealing on his face. It's not the wounds that he's evaluating, though: he's probing the fabric of the magical signatures on the young man's body. A mimic wouldn't have them. This Red passes the test.

Just in time, too, because immediately after satisfying himself to Red's authenticity he's thoroughly distracted by a transmission riddled in astral static. He pivots abruptly whether his solicitous question was answered or not, stalking away several feet and bringing his palms up to cover his ears as though that might help him to hear her internal voice better. It won't…but habits die hard.

Brows knit in concentration shot through with mounting frustration, both subtle. "'tanna's trying to get in touch. She says her phone doesn't work, something about bluetooth, then…'agents locking down.' 'Muller and the priest.' Something about the spear." Phone confirmed as useless, he drops it into his pocket and turns back to the group. "We need to go to Brandenburg."

—-

James takes in the information as it comes — from John and Tim alike — with a silent sort of dispassion. His gaze flickers to the distant rising smoke of the penthouse, and then in the direction of where the portal used to be.

Tim's news that the book contained a surprise dead man, who has now taken over his own grandson and run off to Brandenburg, provokes a sigh. "Yeah, we found out that whole 'don't let him touch the goddamned book' thing, though obviously that was already in motion before we could relay the news."

He falls back into silence as John relays something else, apparently from Zatanna, already in Brandenburg. His mouth thins. Whatever's up his ass, though, he keeps to himself.

"Well there's sure as shit no point to us remaining here," he says bluntly, taking out his phone. Thank God everything important was in it. "Let's go."

—-

Dunce burbles happily at Jessica when Red just drops right down beside them.

Jessica pats the little droid-drone on the head, dryly. "Yes, Dunce, you found Red," she agrees, sarcasm dripping from her tone. "Great job, buddy."

Dunce burbles all the more happily, because Jessica-sarcasm rolls right off him.

The news that he chose to key the panic button lock to her of all people causes a weird look to cross her expressive face. It's one of those 'why the Hell would you trust that to me?' looks that she gets sometimes, the ones that manage to express that in a lot of ways she still sees herself as Walking Dumpster Fire Jones, who probably shouldn't be trusted with a potted plant. She gives a worried look back in the direction of a penthouse, feeling a bit vicariously claustrophobic to think about the old woman's plight, but she makes no move to go free her yet either. And beyond that, she addresses the matter not at all.

"Can you teleport us there?" she asks John. She doesn't have a real good grasp on Germany geography; she has no idea where Bradenburg even is.

—-

And Jane's relief makes two sequels, the first being when Red shows up with all his usual Batmanian fanfare, and then when Constantine announces Zatanna is, while out of range, safe and accounted-for. Even their hostage has escaped being collateral damage.

While information is relayed back and forth, the scientist digs through her handbag. No great invention by Dr. Foster comes out, only a handkerchief, which she proffers to Red wordlessly to help with the blood drying on his face. The look on her face does not brook argument.

"If you can't open a bridge," Jane meanwhile offers, "I can drive."

—-

"Always," is Red Robin's response to Constantine's query. He could be bleeding all over the place from multiple bullet wounds and he'd probably still insist he was fine: In fact he has done exactly that, after the escape from Lernaea. Of course, he knows that any scrutiny he's under now is less about his current health than the possibility that he might be the shapeshifter engaged in some kind of elaborate gambit. A certain degree of paranoia is a survival adaptation, in the sorts of lives they lead.

He doesn't bother saying that it would've been nice to have gotten that information about the book sooner, because obviously, and there's no point in causing undue antagonism; what catches his focus more directly is Constantine's sudden bit of unusual behaviour, and the relayed information about Zatanna, though he takes the handkerchief offered by Jane in the process. Her phone doesn't work. Which means she didn't get the text. She doesn't know about Armand.

Immediately, Red Robin starts rolling up the left sleeve of his jacket, until his forearm is bared, and then he lifts his right hand to his mouth, biting into the fleshy part of his thumb until the skin breaks, and his blood starts to flow, creeping lines of dark red running down that digit, over the heel of his palm.

"I can go directly to where she is," the vigilante says, bringing his bloodied thumb towards his bared forearm. "I can at least give her some backup and let her know what's happened here." He'd been tempted to do it already, thought about using that method to escape the penthouse rather than the one he did. Even thought about using the spell carved into his arm afterwards, instead of the dead-end text… But in either case, that would've left the rest of the team in the lurch.

Now though, the landscape has changed a little.

Also he doesn't want to be in any vehicle driven by Jane ever again.

—-

Can you teleport us there?

John's nod is minute, almost curt. He's opening his mouth to say something else when Tim begins to bite the ever-living hell out of himself. The explanation arrives, absorbed by the Englishman without any change in expression whatsoever, though it's certainly a new piece of information.

"I can bring us to where she is, but if you want to go your way I'll not stop you." Anything, ultimately, to get people to Zatanna as quickly as possible.

Long strides take him to the nearest wall, and he dips a hand into one of his coat pockets — he's in the trench coat, having changed once he came back to the penthouse Tuesday, and a damn good thing, too; there's no telling what would've happened if some of the things in that coat were set on fire or blown to pieces — to retrieve the magician's best friend: chalk. With it he scrawls a fast and artless rectangle on the brick, an outline so imperfect, so jank, that it seems almost offensive that it should be sufficient to a working of magic, even if it's only a placeholder or focus for the way he suggests to reality that this place and the place they want to go occupy the same space.

It does work, though. With a hand placed on the stone wall within the boundary scrawled there, it proceeds to reduce itself to a fine, semi-transparent mist, though there's nothing visible through the haze of brick red and grout grey.

"No telling what's on the other side of this. Be careful."

Barnes is probably the best person to pass through the door first. His reflexes, his durability, his speed, his ability to shoot people with very little notice of the need to do that in advance — there are a lot of reasons he probably should spearhead their trip.

Underneath John's collected exterior, though, is a man with a vested interest in the welfare of the young woman on the other side, and it's that guy who gets to call the shots on this one. He ducks through.

—-

When Constantine's portal cuts a shortcut from Berlin to Brandenburg, whatever is happening in the area is slowly being simmered in magic so potent that even those who don't have the senses for it could feel it, pricking over their skin and making hairs stand on end. It spits them out in the small cemetery just outside of St. Bernard Church. In John's supernatural senses, he'd find webs of power inching upwards the top of their head, weaving into what looks like a dome with a hole in the middle, centered on the building before them. It would remind him of a similar configuration in the bowels of Ozone Park, though at least in this instance, it doesn't nullify any attempts at magic. If anything, whatever is happening only seems to amplify it. These points are equidistant, emanating from five points from the whole city, with the final one resting in the belly of the Church.

And it is crawling with Cultists.

They appear to be everywhere, though at the moment, they haven't noticed the arrival of the newcomers yet. Whatever has caught their attention is occurring inside of the building, where a light show appears to be happening, shafts of bright magic puncturing the foundations of the building from the inside. Spells echo in the air as yet another magical battle commences, and what is lying in front of them is nothing short of a mess. The heart of the conflict rests inside the bowels of the church and Zatanna Zatara is nowhere to be seen.

But her magic can be glimpsed coming from the church, strains of pure, white-blue light exploding and refracting from various stained glass windows, her backwards speech echoing and garbled from all the other noises occurring within. Windows suddenly shatter as several dark-suited bodies are expelled violently outward, sprawling into the cemetery, smoke rising from their bodies.

They are still alive, somehow.

One of them manages to look up, and espying the Berlin team, his lips part to bark out a warning in German, magic amplifying his voice - an improvised early warning system.

The shadows suddenly come alive as more agents slip out from the darkness. It doesn't take long for the cemetery to become yet another epicenter of a massive firefight as a few cultists are dispatched to embark on the attempt to eradicate these interlopers quickly. Lightning arcs from outstretched fingers, dancing in zig-zagging patterns before it attempts to blast Jessica off her feet. A fireball arcs dangerously towards Jane and Red. The ground splits, the very earth rumbling underneath them, a sudden crack appearing and widening quickly underneath Bucky and John.

—-

"You're not driving," Bucky says to Jane, almost automatically. He has no objection in particular to Tim's suggestion he go directly to Zatanna, though his frown deepens.

John gets to business soon enough, doing a swift and rather awful rectangle on the wall in chalk. Bucky's hands itch a little just looking at it. While he does that, the ex-soldier is fishing through his phone app, eventually selecting and pulling out the M4A1. When you don't know what's on the other side, best to go with something versatile to start. He fishes through the phone some more, and finds his Glock 19, which he passes to Jane along with a few mags and a quiet reminder, "As I taught you."

He gets Tim's reticence about him killing, but honestly he's not about to have himself and Jane walk in unarmed either. He glances briefly at Jessica as well, a check-up glance that says, 'as I taught you, too.'

This decision is somewhat vindicated at the sight of the church as they arrive. He is unable to feel or see the configuration of the magic around them, so he doesn't bother trying. Instead he just lifts his weapon and lunges into movement as the ground splits underneath him, moving to intercept the fireball hurled at Jane — and to deflect it right off his metal left arm. He returns fire immediately afterwards with his usual precision.

—-

Lightning arcs towards Jessica Jones, but she is not the same woman who went to Switzerland. She dove into the portal after Bucky Barnes expecting some manner of attack just like that. She has been practicing daily situational awareness under the tuteledge of one Bucky Barnes. She has also been practicing fighting maneuvers under the same tuteledge. 'As I taught you,' he had said, and she had in those few seconds before entering the portal given him a salute that was nothing but solemn, nothing but respectful. 'Yessir,' she mouths back, giving him the respect that she's always given him in the salle.

This, she combines with the verbal tuteledge she in turn once gave to the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. When it comes to magi, you strike fast, you strike hard, and you don't leave them too much in the way of chances to get a spell off.

She leaps gracefully into the air, above the lightning well before it can strike her. She lashes out with a front kick to catch him hard beneath the chin. She doesn't give him all of her strength, but neither is she bothering to be particularly careful. She's not going out of her way to kill him, but neither is she going out of her way to spare him. This is self-defense now…and really, these people…

Are monsters. They can't be put in any prison that can hold them. Ripping their magic out seems to be a whole production, not something that could be safely and humanely done on the fly. As it is, she thinks she recognizes this very one as the one who tortured Matt Murdock in an alley back in January.

So if his neck snaps tonight, she just doesn't care.

As he taught her.

She lets the momentum carry her behind still another cultist, one who has raised his burning hands, who is drawing a bead on John Constantine's head. She brings knife-fisted hands down hard and sharp on the soft-portions of his neck from behind, right in that zone where neck meets shoulders, disrupting the spell before she grabs him, spins him around, and punches him right into the wall of the church, again caring little about alive or dead now.

Only down.

—-

"Worth a shot," Jane says breezily. She thinks she's a fantastic driver.

In the spare moments left before John uses his magic to tunnel them to Brandenburg, she uses her phone to deposit both handbag and precious laptop to STUFF's safe-keeping, freeing her hands to receive the weapon Bucky passes over.

It might be a strange sight, for the disarmingly-civilian Dr. Foster to take up and check her firearm with a deftness that suggests a building expertise. But, honestly, would anyone expect less of the woman shacking up with James Barnes? He's probably had her on the range for months now.

There is nothing cavalier about the way she answers her boyfriend, only a rote seriousness in Jane's quiet nod. This is her first time using a gun in anything save for precisely-controlled conditions, and the woman ventilates out a low, centering breath. The prospect of firing it to defend herself or others is daunting enough; accidents are simply unacceptable.

Then they all go through — and into immediate calamity. So much at once, and from everywhere, when the cultists notice; Jane wants to cry a warning to the group but cannot even find time to speak the words. Almost immediately, Bucky covers her, and his metal arm shields her from fire. Jane thanks him the best way she can, by moving a step closer and bracing her own two outstretched arms over his cooling left, using its machine stillneess to better line a shot of her own. Her mouth tightens. Aiming for chests, and providing cover fire on anyone trying to close on Jessica playing vanguard.

—-

The open question, of course, is whether or not Red Robin would really care if anyone had raised an objection.

He knows the tactical reasons why they should stick together, he knows the advantages that come in working collaboratively as a unit, and currently all those extremely sensible concerns are completely outweighed by the fact that Zatanna is probably in terrible danger, and is almost certainly doing something ridiculous and reckless.

So it only seems fair that he does something ridiculous and reckless: He's injured, he has virtually no equipment beyond his damaged flight pack. And, even as Constantine moves to the wall with the intent of tracing out some kind of doorway, the vigilante draws his bloodied thumb down the inside of his left forearm, just so.

He vanishes.

The awkward problem is that this doesn't give him much more than a head start of a few seconds, as he appears in the same cemetary the others will soon emerge into.

"Apparently this is the closest safe spot to where she is," Red Robin says when the others emerge from Constantine's portal, with barely-controlled frustration in his voice; he's got Jane's handkerchief tied around his thumb, and has not even bothered to wipe the congealing blood off of his face. Or his arm. The 'closest safe spot' doesn't stay safe for very long, as they're quickly noticed by the cultists, of course.

Lightning, fire, the earth beneath them buckling and rending, the whole nine yards, but Barnes moves with alacrity to keep himself from falling into a sinkhole in a cemetary (probably extra unpleasant) and to basically punch the fireball that would otherwise have gone right for Jane, and coincidentally Red Robin, out of the way. Which is, admittedly, pretty cool.

The vigilante breaks into a forward run into the oncoming cultists, careful of Bucky's lines of fire, as he slips off the jacket he's wearing and hurls it at the first cultist he sees, aimed with alarming precision at the man's face. It won't hurt much, it's just a jacket… But it will keep him from seeing anything, at least until the young man collides with him, his fist lashing out with nose-crushing force, and then he just keeps going, moving over intervening headstones and monuments with the deft agility of someone who's spent years speedily navigating the rooftops of a city whose ornamentation is all ominously cemetery-like.

—-

Passing through the portal is an almost physical sensation for John, who enters that new space feeling like a man being buffeted by gale-force winds. Magic rolls in thunderous waves around the interior of the beams of energy that arc high upward and then coalesce to thrust downward into the church, and looking at that doesn't even require that one be a mage to hazard a guess as to what's happening — some kind of convergence of power, with something momentous and probably undesirable at the very vortex of the middle.

Tightened against the leaden, electric weight of so much free-burning mana, John sweeps blue eyes across the immediately visible battlefield, but he hasn't got time to find Zatanna amidst the rest of the chaos before the ground beneath he and Bucky splits, a seam of yawning darkness widening beneath their feet. Barnes is able to evade, of course, because that is what Winter Soldiers do, but John is no supersoldier, and there's enough bidding for his attention in those first few moments — particularly after Red appears, putting an end to the thought that maybe one of them got closer to the epicenter of it all — that what modest athletic ability he has isn't the equal to the task of keeping him from falling into it. So he does. He falls into the bottomless ravine in the ground only seconds after Jessica Jones spares him a possible scorching.

Ten yards down, a pale gold light kindles in the depths. Should anyone care to look, there John will be, clinging to an outcropping of the shredded interior of the ground, dangling, emanating light enough by which to see. Hardly passive, he keeps tight hold with one hand and searches desperately for another higher angle to grasp. Why he doesn't reproduce his Sudden Avatar of Formidable English Displeasure act in the way he did at the Union Jack is an open question that there simply isn't time to ask.

He can feel Zatanna's magic radiating outward from the church, faint waves of familiarity, and he tightens his focus on using the tether in the way they've had so little time to practice doing. The message is very simple, very clear.

WE'RE HERE.

—-

The fireball explodes on impact on Bucky's arm, with enough force to push him back and skid dangerously close to the hole on the earth that he had just avoided; the bullets he fires cuts into the night - two go down with well-placed shots to the chest, though one manages to disappear, phasing through a patch of darkness only to appear on the other side of the cemetery. It coincides with how Jessica avoids the first attack set off in her direction, when she manages to land in front of the caster and kick him in the chin, before barreling off for another cultist set to blow a hole at the back of John Constantine's skull. As she twists around and punches him right into the wall of St. Bernard Church, the shot of purple-tinged darkness moves to slam into her side, leaving webs of white-hot pain scrambling her senses should she not move fast enough to avoid it.

Jane manages to shoot a few, blood spraying on grass. One manages to go down - her first kill of the evening, and between her and Bucky, they manage to cut down a good amount of them from where they're standing in a kind of Phalanx position where Bucky functions as the shield-and-spear and she functions as the back-up spear.

Red, as always, tries to take on an entire group of cultists by himself; spears of ice cut dangerously close to him as he manages to blind one agent and punch him in the face. The fabric blunts the way bone cracks underneath his fist, and he finds himself getting chased by two bodies that seamlessly appear and vanish in the shadows - tech ninja versus a couple of magical ninjas. Shadows splinter apart with the occasional shard of light, attempting to shoot him down as he hurdles over headstones and other obstacles. One explodes into chunks at impact, a half-second after he leaps from it.

Another couple of fireballs arc into the air - magical mortars promising dismemberment at best and death at the very worst should they impact someone made out of flesh and bone. Their trajectory is unmistakeable; towards the golden light emanating from the depths of the sudden ravine in which John Constantine has fallen even as he sends out that tether-message to Zatanna. He receives nothing in response but an outpouring of both trepidation and relief.

That body that Jessica has punched goes flying, and the sorceror is not idle. He manages to fire off another spell to save his life, to prevent his bones from shattering into a million pieces inside his body. The wall explodes, letting him pass through safely, to land in a heap on the other side.

The hole gives them a good view as to what's happening inside.

Father Heinrich Weber is dead, his black-clothed form sprawled face-down in the center of the room, a single visible eye staring sightlessly out into the cemetery, hand outstretched and half his skull gone, bone fragments hopelessly charred and half his brain visible. Flanked by a protective wall of three agents of the Cult, Reinhard Steinschneider's possessed body is barking orders as a few more bodies cascade forward in attack formations. On the other end of the room is a face familiar to the rest, but one that hasn't been seen in quite some time:

Hermann Steinschneider, dressed in surprisingly casual but fashionable clothes. The immortal Nazi sorceror is there, and he is furious, visage twisted in apoplectic rage as angry spells hurl at not just the incoming wave of bodies, but someone else on the western part of the room, who presently has her own problems. Pinned down by spells hurled at her in all directions, a bubble of powerful protection shielding her from harm is Zatanna's form, clutching a large metallic object against her. Long…and bladed.

"GIVE IT TO ME!!!" roars the immortal and clairvoyant alike, their tenors so similar they could be one voice.

The following surges of power prove too much for Zatanna's obelisk to handle. Fissures of glowing white spread over the stone surface in her grip before they eventually crack, and shatter. Her shield goes down, but she isn't idle - intangible pieces of magic break apart around her like glass as she throws herself to the side, but another magical missile explodes where she intends to land and sends her in a sharp angle, landing hard on the ground and sprawling.

The Spear of Destiny skitters past corpses, point aimed towards the outside.

The two opposing forces move immediately once it comes loose. Longinus' lance goes flying towards Muller, only for a Cold Flame agent to materialize out of the shadows in an attempt to snatch it.

"YAWA!" Zatanna cries out of desperation, and it's flung backwards away, landing in a clatter in a pile of debris. Magical battle-football has begun, and it's only going to get deadlier from here.

—-

Yessir, Jessica returns. The word sends memory flickering across Bucky's blue eyes, before he turns away with an urgency borne of 'someone is firing at Jane.'

The fireball explodes off the Winter Soldier's arm as he interposes and throws it up in a guard, heating the metal rapidly — though it cools rapidly as well. The heat disperses rapidly enough for Jane to use his arm as a rudimentary bipod a moment later, steadying her aim so she can pop off a few shots. She scores a kill, something that briefly draws Bucky's eyes, though he says nothing at the moment. No time.

He just looks back in time to realize that John didn't get clear as quickly as he did. A muffled curse escapes him as he glances between the chaotic scene within the church, then the hole, then immediately turns and rushes back for that fissure, vaulting in and literally sliding straight down those ten yards, his left arm throwing sparks and debris as he uses it for an anchor.

He grinds to a halt beside the mage. "Can you only do the floating Jedi thing once a month or what?!" he inquires, in an apparent demonstration that his cultural education has not been overlooked, before he grabs John by the back of the coat — "Watch your ass!" — and moves to FLING him the ten yards straight back up out of the crevasse, where he hopefully cannons into a bunch of cultists and eradicates them all with magic. Or at least, doesn't die.

Bucky is quick to haul himself back up out of the hole afterwards, because last he saw there was a really urgent game of hot potato going on.

—-

Jessica Jones avoids that agony spell mostly because she's already moving, leaping, not-flying towards another target. She is dimly aware that Jane is keeping her covered; she trusts in that absolutely, and so doesn't look around for individuals who might aim at her six. In many ways she still thinks support, and now there's a perfect target for that kind of work.

Victory rolls unravel into a tangled mess of darkling hair as her dress flies like a flag. She's leaping again, this time inside of the church. She nails the cultist going for the spear with a right cross as she passes…and snatches the spear with her left hand. She's a blur as she bounces off the rubble and leaps again. She's not keeping this prize, but if this works they won't know it right away, just…like a real game of football. She sails towards Bucky and Jane, dropping it near them as she passes. They're the pair best suited to protect it.

And if this goes well, they'll focus on her. She snaps a vaguely spear shaped tree branch as she finishes her arc in one well past super-soldier and scientist. "HEY ASSHOLES, LOOK WHAT I GOT!"

This is gonna hurt, probably.

She can take pain though.

—-

Neither does Jane Foster miss her first kill in the grips of war. From his close proximity and with his turned eyes, Bucky Barnes will see it best: the moment guts her. She does not know who it is, and she does not regret doing so in the defence of another, but even —

— her eyes are stricken.

But there is no time, and the woman visibly forces the emotion down, not ignored, not dismissed, and never forgotten: only put aside. Something to confront later.

Ultimately, Bucky leaves her side to go for Constantine; Jane's eyes slant to watch him go, almost in silent prayer for his well-being, before her stance squares and she assumes for that moment, the entirety of ranged cover for Jessica and Red. Unlike her hands on the wheel of a car, the woman is patient when aiming a gun, lining the pistol up to take careful, single, clear shots, focusing on whatever aggressors crop up beyond their reach — or past their lines of sight. The cultist lobbing that unnatural lightning at Jones gains her particular attention, and the scientist holds her breath as she lines another shot.

Steinschneider's familiar voice resonates among their war. Jane's fingers tighten down around her gun in quiet fury. She hasn't forgotten —

That's about when a John probably appears, not unlike a bag of potatoes. And a Bucky Barnes shortly after. And among all that: /a delivered spear/, care of JessEx.

"James!" Jane calls, a warning that she's moving from cover. He's the far superior shot. It's her job to do this. She lowers her gun and dashes forward, the coveted Spear in sight. There's only one idea she has, and it might work.

Jane's free hand goes for her phone and hits STUFF. If she can: The Spear of Destiny is going in.

—-

John's made only about a meter of progress when James Barnes realizes the magus is missing from the field of action, and joins him in the depths in efficient, still rather theatrical fashion, fantailing sparks that way. John hears him hit the wall and looks up, then flinches as pebbles and dirt come pouring down, clawed out of the wall by Barnes' fingers. He turns his face away until the sound of gritting metal on earth stops, then glances back over. The quip shot at him gets an immediate response, or at least the beginning of one:

"IT'S — "

Complicated.

And it is. He remembers the way it felt. Remembers the way he had not felt, more to the point, when all of that high-voltage power had been running through him.

But there's no time for the short explanation, let alone a more long-winded one, because Bucky scruffs him like a badly-behaved puppy and hurls him up and over the edge. A whispered word activates one of the sigils applied to the inner lining of his coat, a brief but sufficient bubble belling into shape around his soaring form. What impact it doesn't cushion is soaked by two cultists who probably didn't expect that to be their first official contact with John Constantine, and if they were surprised by that, they're probably twice as surprised when instead of turning on them with whatever nasty bag of magical tricks he has at his disposal he throws a hard, vicious right hook at the first one and drives his elbow backward into the groin of the second. The blows that fall after that are few in number. The bubble gradually fades, but not before John has time to push himself around the back of a small crypt of a grave. In the lee side of it from the fighting, he produces from the depths of his coat two things: one, the lighter Zatanna gave him, etched with all of its beautiful engravings, and two, a small jar with something difficult to identify in it, a brownish-black lump. Barnes might have been able to hazard a guess at what it was, though, if he'd seen it.

It's the chunk of Steinschneider's leg that he removed when they tried to kill him the first time, and in the shadows of the grave monument offering him cover he flips the lighter open and with great interest in his experiment holds the bottle just a little distance above the naked flame.

—-

All things considered, it wasn't really a great plan that Red Robin settled on.

He's unarmed, with almost none of his habitual equipment. It's only pure paranoid caution that led to him wearing the protective gear Jane had provided in the first place, and other than that he's left with what he could quickly grab on the way out of the doomed penthouse. His flight pack, though it's currently useless for flight, and he's already used the last-ditch grapple gun. His heavily modified 'work phone'. The jagged-design domino mask he's wearing, that lets him control the flight pack, and the geckskin gloves he's wearing.

And now he has to deal with what seems to be a different caliber of Cold Flame cultist. The ones at the Union Jack and at Adelaide's apartment were by and large goons, powerful but straightforward. The foot soldiers of the magical mafia. These guys have some new tricks up their sleeves.

He's aware of the other things going on, of Zatanna's desperate fight to keep the Spear of Destiny out of the hands of either Steinschneider. Of Jessica's own gambit, using herself as a distraction to draw the cultists' attention away from the Spear, depositing the real deal with Bucky and Jane.

In his head, he does the math. Counts the steps. Pulls his work phone out of his pocket.

He'd been doing some tinkering with it, you see, ever since his conversation with Zatanna after they'd gotten settled in at the penthouse in Berlin. A lot of talk about lights.

Those ninjas are phasing in and out in the shadows of the cemetery. But to phase in and out of shadows, there needs to be shadows.

Twisting around in mid-vault, Red Robin lifts his blocky-looking black smartphone, closing his eyes and averting his face as he taps a button on the screen, and turns on what would, on a sensible human being's normal and unmodified phone, be the flash.

There's a distinctive sound, a building *bweeeeEEEE* as suddenly the lichyard is filled with pure white light, like someone turned on the Sun.

It lasts for a few seconds, a few bare heartbeats of terrifying brilliance, before an audible *POP* announces the destruction of the flash, but that's more than enough time for Red Robin to fire the jets on his pack, reversing his direction, hurling himself at the mystical ninjas with a heart full of anger and a mind to break some limbs.

They're also probably blind.

Maybe permanently.

—-

The fireballs descend into the cemetery's new ravine a half-second after Bucky clears it, causing an explosion that billows outwards, generating shockwaves strong enough to flatten those in the blast radius. It fades quickly enough that Jessica manages to avoid it when she leaps for the spear, snatching it up where Zatanna has banished it to drop it where Bucky and Jane are; its wicked edge catches the light - a copy, yes, from what Maria had told them, but clearly still important, this very thing that could end the immortal once and for all.

Probably why he wants it.

A few of the Cold Flame 'thugs', as Red Robin called them in the past, are easily fooled by Jessica's Stick of Destiny. It automatically calls for a bombardment of attack spells that would put anything from a fighter jet to shame. The ground explodes underneath the private investigator as three of the Cultists break away in an attempt to retrieve the valuable object from her person. Should she attempt to leap away, an unseen force drives into her chest, sending her plowing through several gravestones.

Red Robin's technological know-how gives him an advantage again, having been informed about the nature of the Rising Darkness and Zatanna's own countermeasures to at the very least delay its effects. This is not the purpose the device is designed for, but it works in obliterating the blurring means of ingress and egress the mages after him are using. The shot of intense bright light sears through the deep dark of the evening, stopping his pursuers in their tracks as they claw at their eyes. They have no hope of seeing what's coming when the vigilante uses his jet pack to blast towards them in full speed, the snap and twist of bone echoing in the night like dry twigs.

Agents can be fooled…but Hermann Steinschneider is not. He is the product of the Spear, were it not for its cursed touch, he would have remained a clairvoyant and not what he is. With a roaring command and an outstretched arm, ripples of power coruscate from him and as Jane manages to slip the only thing that could kill him into her phone…

…her slender body will suddenly lurch upwards into the air, to be sent in a rocketing course towards Steinschneider and his greedy, desperate, immortal Nazi grip. He doesn't appear to recognize her just yet.

She would have continued flying through the air and straight for the Nazi sorceror were it not for John Constantine's experiment with the piece of his leg that he managed to acquire so many months ago. As blood fountains from the cracked jaw of one cultist, and one doubles over by that shot to the groin, the magic-imbued flame licking from John's lighter heats up the piece of Muller in the jar. There is a scream from the Church, the associated heat burning up the immortal's leg; it cuts enough of his concentration to drop Jane right in the middle of the dangerous firefight between three camps within the Church.

Zatanna is there, though, picking herself up from her eaals. As Armand's trio of agents and Muller himself close in from different directions, the raven-haired witch launches herself off the ground, skidding through debris and dirt and hurling herself towards the physicist. But she is far away and…

Her fingers extend forward, barking out a spell. A white-blue shield encompasses Jane just before several spells converge in her direction, repelled by the hastily erected magical barrier and keeping Jane, and her precious bundle, momentarily safe. Wisps of her sorcery escape her in silver threads, blanketing her in a faint aura, before it's brutally seared through by arcs of lightning as one of Armand's magical bodyguards descends on her. Pain explodes through her senses as she's engulfed with it….

…joined by Steinschneider as his fury coalesces in the form of a black bolt of dark, ugly magic, crashing towards the raven-haired magician.

She screams. Black creeps in the corners of her vision, her limbs locking. The pain is indescribable, no matter that she has been in a position like this before. But trembling fingers keep her grip on the barrier over Jane, ice-blue eyes brimming with moisture. She grits her teeth, blood rilling from the inside of her mouth as she hangs on to keep Jane in that bubble.

Armand Steinchneider's lip curls faintly as he examines the proceedings from his protective circle. Blue eyes slide to the side, a half-second before another portal opens up, and a long, lean form clad in formal magician's dress steps out from it, emerging from somewhere behind.

"Well," the false Zatara murmurs. "This could have gone better."

"Much," the clairvoyant agrees. Wordlessly, he hands over his journal, which Zatara takes between his gloved fingers.

"It's time to begin."

—-

Bucky sees the kill reflect in Jane's eyes. He meets hers briefly, assuring her he's there, that it will be okay. He just has to go for a moment —

And go he does, to fetch John, who is going to be pretty damned necessary for all this. It's a quick job, and he's just re-emerging from the fissure when Jane calls his attention again to cover her as she goes for the Spear and — shoves it into her phone —

Which Steinschneider really doesn't like. So he goes ahead and yanks Jane around, again.

Bucky has HAD IT with Steinschneider's shit when it comes to yanking Jane around and dropping her in dangerous places. He practically throws his M4 back into his phone, because it's really not going to kill any faster than his bare hands will at this point, and rushes to her side. He moves to clear her immediate area, killing liberally with his left arm, trying to usher Jane to safety…

And then the false Zatara shows up.

Now Bucky needs to get distance. He tries to drag Jane along with him, unless she'd really be safer in the bubble. "I have to prep for the shot," he explains.

—-

Jessica Jones did, in fact, attempt to leap away from the ground falling at her feet. It's certainly her go-to strategy. She plows through ancient gravestones, a full row of ten of them, shattering them with her back and her hands, which she's flung back to protect herself. She keeps her chin tucked forward, though this only does so much in a flying shrapnel storm of stone. Even her cries of pain are lost in the sheer noise of the attack and its resulting aftermath. At the end of the chain, she falls into the back end of the pit anyway.

For a good thirty seconds the cultists who chased her might even believe she's down for the count. One wonders what they think might have happened if the 'spear' broke, but the decoy is long gone, dropped somewhere in this panapoly of pain.

But Jessica Jones is not down.

When she rises from the pit it's not in a leap, though later she might well remember it that way. The failure to remember correctly may well be the result of the head injury which has coated half her face in a mask of blood. The same blood runs dirty rivers down her arms, hands, and legs, and she's probably suffering from internal injuries aplenty. She'd worn Jane's ballistic under clothes beneath her dress, a fact which has probably combined with her own natural endurance to keep her moving in spite of it, along with one more important factor.

The deep, wide well of rage that churns like an ever-shifting, inorexible whirlpool inside of her soul.

Covered in grey gravestone dust, eyes and hair wild, dress now tattered to ruin, and rising in a slow, controlled levitation, the cultists might well be forgiven for thinking their spells had roused an infuriated banshee from her slumber.

As the air rings with the screams and shouts of her friends, Jessica Jones is of a mind to make them wish they had. She surges forward in a vertical swoop without bouncing off anything at all, seizing the first of those who thought to put her in the ground. She swings him in a wide arc as she lands, using them to knock over the other two. She hurls him into the pit he created, curb-stomps the one on the left to knock him out, and executes a side-kick and backfist maneuver into the third as he dares to get up. It's not all her strength, but they could easily be facing an Olympian heavyweight for the percentage she does give them.

—-

Blackened, dried blood bubbles inside of the small glass vial in John's hand, even held at a slight distance from the flame, and he can see it spark…but it doesn't catch flame, doesn't char. The effects do transfer, passing through the vial and into Steinschneider himself, and John's tight expression almost permits a flicker of something wicked…

…when he's suddenly eviscerated by a bolt of agony that travels across the wide-open line of the astral tether linking him to Zatanna. It hits him like a sledgehammer even through the filter of their connection. His heels dig dark grooves in the ground as his back arches into the crypt wall, the back of his head connecting with stone, jaw locked tight and eyes half-rolled back. For those first few unexpected, shocking moments, broadsided, all he can do is fight back against blinding pain, cobbling together fragments of his blown-apart thoughts.

The one that he ultimately assembles is the right one: that this is coming from Zatanna.

He knows that he shouldn't use that mote of her soul to fuel his own magical workings. There's no existing theory on the consequences — for him, or for her — and he's not spent any time at all testing it more carefully, examining those capabilities and boundaries. He knows that there is always a cost in its use, whether it comes from the use of magic itself or snap-back from reality once it catches up to realizing what's been done. Magic is not — he learned the hard way as a teenager, carrying a little girl's severed arm out of hell, thinking she was still attached to it — the way to solve most problems. Injudicious use of it is lazy, dangerous, selfish. And he knows, more than anything else, that he's not a good enough man to grow comfortable with using that kind of power. That his reluctance to use it makes him a better person than he would be otherwise.

All of that goes out of the fucking window the moment he gathers enough of his wits to peel himself up off of the ground. The light show begins: gold and silver ribbons of it spool from his mouth as he begins to incant in some gutteral, dead language, glyphs not unlike those on the inside of one of his wrists emerging from the broad stroke of revolving wheels of luminous mist. They wind around him, endless chains of text in hovering, shifting spirals, as he stalks toward the church, eyes blank fields of nothing at all.

They are an injunction to catatonia, and as they gain critical mass sections of them begin to flit away from the whirling mass, mystical cables that slither through the mana-saturated air in search of cultists to bind.

—-

Someday that isn't today, Jane is going to look back and laugh — with a fair amount of awkwardness — that the Spear of Destiny was, for a brief moment, in her goddamned phone.

The blood of Christ was in her phone. Her old teacher from Hebrew School would be pinching the bridge of her nose and wincing.

It's a thought that waits for a time that isn't now, because now only has room for the triumphant way she turns toward James, phone upraised to show him what she's got —

— and she snaps away with a sudden cry, pulled, phone and all, by an invisible force and dragged into the middle of the fray. Stopped before she can pay audience to Steinschneider himself, nontheless Jane finds her consolation prize being surrounded by enraged magicians, and fallen to the ground, looks up in time to witness her own unravelling fate. She turns her head against what is going to be agony…

And glances up, instead, when there is no pain. Only a domed shield, what looks like light and yet is not, forged by Zatanna and shielding Jane safely therein. The scientist pulls up to her feet, shocked and stricken, because she /knows/ what she's doing, knows she's doing it /for her/.

Her heart rips apart when they turn on her, and she gets a front seat witness to Zatanna screaming in agony. "Zee!" she calls hoarsely, helpless, no, no, no, don't do this for her —

Then James comes in, bringing a fatal swath of murder with him, using his bare hands — flesh and steel — to cull the battleground, so that Zatanna does not need to hold that shielding any longer. They need to go to her. They need to go to —

So much happens. Giovanni on the scene. And still Muller to contend with. And now moving /things/ going for the cultists. Jane tries to keep up with it all, until James eclipses it all, coming in to try to herd her off. "Wait," she tries to urge him, through all the calamity, "what about —"

—-

Blood rains inside of St. Bernard Church.

Bucky scythes in as if a blur, embracing the instrument of death he has been made into when his first leap into the church breaks the spine of a cultist that has insinuated himself as part of the triangle that is trying to get to Jane with spells. He moves onto the next and the next, each too preoccupied with the present objectives to do much else, rag dolls tossed aside once their necks are broken and their chests punched in. He's able to reach Jane once he has managed to clear the area around her, though Zatanna's barrier is still holding - it fritzes and shatters, however, at the punishment the teenaged witch is sponging into herself, but with Bucky's assistance, she's able to let go of the shield around Jane in an effort to protect herself.

Zatanna's barrier is shaky, but it will hold.

From the Winter Soldier's vantage point, there are several positions in which he could take the shot he needs to line up - from the ground, or up above. The church itself has a second level that opens up into the main atrium below, but it is teeming with dark-suited bodies and there doesn't seem to be much of an end to them, with agents slipping in and out of shadows as if they're doorways. With Bucky establishing himself as a serious threat after all the death he has dispensed on the marble floors, efforts redouble into taking him out - three more bodies attempt to engage him in close quarters, armed with spells meant to electrocute, stab or fry him, ice and fire and earth wielded against him, and the woman he is protecting - spears made out of crystalline water, fireballs, lightning. Debris rises up from the ground, hurled towards them in an effort to crush them like ants.

Jessica takes out a few more when she executes her phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes moment, bloodied but not broken and looking to break some heads. She manages to grab one of the cultists that just attempted to kill her, and she receives a palm to her face for her trouble, more black-and-purple magic winding around the side of her head in an effort to deliver more blistering pain before he's flung into the ravine, two of his other compatriots knocked down by superhuman strength. Bones snap, tendons and ligaments torn, and those who manage to keep their wits sink into the shadows, beating a hasty retreat.

They would have menaced Constantine, if they were given a chance, but the private investigator manages to clear the path for the British magus as he taps into that small bit of power stitched into his own soul. Magic twists around him when he walks, enterting the church, the ephemeral twines he is manipulating surging forward in all directions. If Bucky finds it a daunting prospect to clear the upper levels of the church of cultists - though this is doubtful - John makes the work easier for him. They remain alive, still, but whatever he does enables him to punch holes into walls, chaining up Cold Flame agents emerging from the shadows. While rendered immobile, however, they are able to fling some long distance attacks towards the next level threat in the field; unlike Bucky, who can surprise them with his analogue methods of homicide, John registers like a flare in their magical senses. The waves of sorcerous power that direct every cell of energy available at snuffing the Englishman out are legion.

Muller has not given up on Jane; she has the thing he wants and he has come too far to be deterred by some infant trickster. With the barrier shattered around the physicist, he roars something furious and unintelligible, and with good reason - these are the same people who got in his way the last time. The urge for revenge only fuels his rage and hate. Pale fingers basket before him, ominous incantations spilling in a dead language, spooled from his tongue as a black and violet miasma swirls between his palms. Circles inscribed with runes appear under his feet, coalescing in front of him before he shoves his hands forward into the opening before him, meant to amplify.

Meant to kill.

It's like a laser, like a bolt of something that charges the air around the church with potent killing intent as it cuts through the half-dark and spears into James Buchanan Barnes, attempting to blow a hole into his side before the threads unravel and wrap around him, to lift him up…and inevitably tear him apart before Jane's eyes.

Zatanna manages to get up on her knees, ice-blue eyes on Muller. She knows the false Zatara is in the room, but she has promises to keep - she is keeping a wide berth from her father's copy. Instead, she pushes herself off the ground, blood in her mouth. Her obelisk is gone and as she charges forward, pure, white-blue smoke curls from her skin, growing in luminescence the closer she gets to the immortal sorceror. Those blues slowly recede into the whites of her eyes.

The sorceror is able to give her some of his attention just as she suddenly unleashes a wave of pure-white magic, with enough force behind it that the entire back end of the church blows wide open in an explosion that rocks the ground and the ceiling above them. The older, more experienced magician is able to resist some of it, just enough, with his extended palm, having to divide his attention now.

"You infant," he spits, glowing green eyes focused on the younger Zatara. "I'm going to tear you apart."

Armand Steinschneider remains on the other side, with his protective circle of agents. Behind him in the shadows, the false Zatara whispers, reading from the open journal before him. As each syllable spills from his lips, the air around them thickens and changes in preparation for what he's about to do, and the locked down leyline sites react. With half the ceiling gone from their heads, they'll be able to see the effects of his ritual clearly - the skies above them shift, taking on the color of black and lavender. The full moon seems to glow brighter.

Motes of green light suddenly starts spilling from Steinschneider's body, drifting upward and trickling towards the glowing sphere above them. Green eyes widen in astonishment. "What is…what are you doing?!"

He isn't addressing Zatanna anymore. His eyes are fixed past the rest, over the battlefield, to the calmly smiling face of the false Zatara.

The moon starts to bleed red.

—-

It is moments like this which show that the Winter Soldier, despite his name, was not really a soldier. Not in the way Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes was a soldier. The Winter Soldier was a living weapon, an instrument of death refined by cruel hands into something surpassingly lethal, and nothing displays that more keenly than the fact he kills faster with his own body and his own bare hands than he did with his guns.

Men break and fling aside in his path. The downside of attracting such attention, however, is that he starts to get focus fired. He speeds up, leveraging every bit of his superhuman agility and grace, but even then he starts to get hit. Shocks of electricity, spears of ice, blasts of fire… they start to take their toll, cutting into even his resilient body, slowing him down from a blur to something more readily perceptible.

Perceptible to the man who called himself Muller.

They are too close to Muller for him to readily dodge. The black-and-violet bolt slams into his side and pierces him through. For how calm and silent he typically is when working, the strangled cry that escapes him is likely a rude shock to anyone within hearing. Even so, he still tries to stagger to stand in front of Jane — and still tries to fumble for the weapon he needs to blow a magic-canceling hole in the false Zatara in the distance.

Muller isn't having that, though. The tethers wind about him, tangling him, trying to tear him apart, and only his strength and unnatural resilience, forced upon him so many decades ago, keep him in one piece now.

—-

The black-lightning agony spell staggers Jess for a moment as it hits her face, leaving deep burn scores along with everything else. She's already in worlds of it; the blurry song of it damn near the whole of her reality right now. She doesn't scream so much as she inhales and grits her teeth. She puts out a bloodied hand to leave a garish red palm print streaking across a splintered and shattered tree.

Then? The moon itself becomes the same color in a moment that is Biblical, apocalyptic, even. She looks up to see its fell light streaking across her face, and knows that falling now is not an option.

I'm weary with hunting and fain would lie down, flits across her brain, apropos of nothing, but since good old Lord Randall ended up dead, she chooses not to give in to his impulses.

Besides, there's this fascinating sight of Constantine vomiting magical words, as if he were the angel who ate the scroll; and here she is beside him. She looks around, tries to get a sense of where she can do the most good, even as blood rain splatters onto her face, turning it into even more of a grisly wreck.

Blearily, she realizes they are targeting him. Well. That won't do. Booted feet pound on stone as she pushes herself to her full speed to close the distance between them; arms link hard under his, criss crossing across his chest, holding him firmly. Her leap is high, fast, and precise. The moment where she holds him above the fray in a wobbly hover produces rough, exhausted breaths in his ear.

She coughs a little blood. "Point. Landing. Where." It's all she's got for him; she needs to know where he feels he can do the most good, but he'd better decide fast. She's slipping, gravity trying to tug her down, bobbing impossibly up. If her head weren't so on fire she'd question how this is even happening, but she can't make sense of it. Nothing makes sense. She's up here, so is John, and he probably needs to be delivered somewhere intelligent.

Her head snaps to Bucky, a situation she can't touch right now, and she grits her teeth. Deep down the woman believes it's her job to defend everyone here personally, but she can't be everywhere at once. And moreover, just in general, this is not going well. She can't even see Red anymore; she hopes if he's down he's only unconscious somewhere in the fray.

—-

They are targeting John.

The accumulated mana stored in the sigil in his coat has already been expended, used to cushion his landing when Bucky threw him clear of the sudden crevasse; he used everything he'd stored there, and it won't work again until it recharges, accumulating latent mana from the atmosphere the way a rain barrel collects rain. It can offer him no defense against the countless spells being winged toward the lighthouse beacon he's suddenly become.

He will bleed.

It's that inevitability that he chooses to weaponize. As the gilded phrases in Enochian printed on the air begin to run low, the spool of them unwinding as each finds another body and slips away from him, the words coming out of his mouth change. What was strange and beautiful becomes dark and anything but that, a gutteral, snarling chant that varnishes the air around him with red and black. Appropriate to the blood magic he's working: when the first spells punch into him, opening weals in him, puncturing flesh, the blood that leaks out of him fails to adhere to his skin or run over and downward in a well-behaved slick. It bubbles away from him like liquid garnets, wobbling spheres of semi-luminous liquid shot through with black webs edged in green. Each contains a piece of the magic inflicted on him, the spell that caused the wound, and each remembers the soul that flung it outward. They fly from him like swarms of zero-gravity insects, caustic, toxic. Poisoned.

But it's mages they're seeking: when Jones races up behind him and practically collides with his back, the baroque spheres of his blood that she passes through roll harmlessly off and away from her, leaving not so much as a stain behind.

It shocks him. He didn't sense her coming, focused almost entirely on signatures of magic around him, and his first instinct is to struggle — something that quells quickly enough, mercifully, as she coughs blood on the back of his neck.

Point, she says. Landing. Where.

He points at Giovanni Zatara.

—-

That strangled cry is a dagger through Jane's heart.

Her insides twist and her stomach drops out. She goes cold, colder than a hypothermic dunk, to witness /something/ not natural pierce Bucky Barnes through. Her own cry, dismayed and furious, rhymes with his.

Muller puts Bucky on the rack among so many magical tethers: his enhanced body, flesh and steel, holds, but it might not be long she watches him /die/ before her eyes. Die to the hands of a man who cannot, and —

Jane Foster sees red. There's only one thing she can do.

She cuts through swaths of magic on a furious dash, her blood beating in her ears. She races recklessly through the remaining cultists, all the magic traded between what John Constantine has wrought, coming so close to being rendered collateral damage of her own — but she doesn't /care/. She doesn't CARE.

Zatanna has Muller distracted. The explosion nearly shakes Jane off her feet, and her hearing pops to a dull ringing, and her shaking hands frantically jab fingers on the screen of her phone, trading the gun in her hand for…

If he wants it so badly, Muller is going to fucking GET IT.

Jane Foster, the Spear of Destiny white-knuckled in her hands, snarls with fury and twists to punch it into the immortal sorcerer's back.

—-

One by one, the mages die at Constantine's blood magic - poison thickens their veins, reducing their complexions slate-gray visages with black veins pulsing underneath layers of epidermis. Bound as they are, they can do nothing but claw at their throats, saliva bubbling from their lips as life leaves their eyes. Jessica manages to snatch Constantine even when this happens, to clear him from the wild, magical backlash occurring all around them from the site in which Zatanna has engaged Muller, directing them to the protective circle of Armand Steinschneider and the agents surrounding him - and Zatara, beyond that circle.

They see him coming - they can't not. He registers like a supernova in magical senses and the moment the private investigator turns their trajectory towards them, the spells start flying. The clairvoyant starts shrinking back, using the agents as convenient magical shields, already attempting to slip close to where the false Zatara is doing his work. Constantine registers to him too, and like, ice-blue eyes lift to regard him amidst the flashing lights of slung spells.

He can multitask, despite his mouth presently being occupied by whatever fell incantations he is attempting. A gloved hand lifts to point towards Constantine and Jessica, and through the haze of sorcery his other underlings are already throwing at them, he unleashes an unforgiving bolt of searing, red-and-black energy that splits in the middle and pounds missile after missile after missile into them - liable to reduce them to ground, burning chunks if they aren't careful.

Zatanna, tired and smoking, nerves screaming in agony, nearly falters in the middle of her duel with Muller when she feels the wounds open on John, feeling her knees fill with water at the burning apprehension and white-knuckled fear that inspires in her; worse than the pain that threatens to send her to her knees, worse than everything else they've endured in this last week. Ever the emotional mirror, she expends those hurts into the spells she weaves, practically shrieking as her eyes burn with unshed tears of desperation. She can hear Bucky, sees him being racked in a savagely magical way that has her heart threatening to burst from her chest, and John flying with Jessica's help to engage the powerful facsimile of her father.

No. NO. He needs Bucky. He needs…

And through the haze of white-heat and panic, Jane is suddenly there.

The spear plunges into Muller's back, ripping into him a new opening that has more of those motes spilling out of him, drifting upwards as if magnetized by the light of the moon. Green eyes widen as blood leaves his mouth in a crimson froth, staggering forward and dropping on his knees. The blessing and curse that had him in their throes suddenly reverses, the metal heating up in Jane's palms, running the risk of forever marking her with the Spear of Destiny's etchings should she hang on for too long. Light pours out all around her, engulfing Muller and both women with such a searing aura that for the moment, they aren't visible.

But Muller is now human. And mortal.

A mortal who has lived on well beyond his time.

He suddenly whirls around, fingers clutching around Jane's throat. He screams something unintelligible and German as flesh melts off his bones, leaving the red-and-white striations of muscles and exposed blood vessels before his very rapid dessication continues. Bones become visible before long, crumbling to dust, and it would have continued were it not for Zatanna reaching for Jane in an effort to pull her away from the death grip of those rattling bones.

This drops Bucky almost immediately on the ground, smoke rising from his skin, his magically-inflicted wounds slowly closing as Muller's long, endless life drains, literally, towards the sky, and deepens the ruddy color of the moon overhead.

—-

Coughing, bleeding, but alive, Bucky hits the ground on hands and knees, shuddering both from the unnatural sensation of his wounds closing, and from the uncomfortably-close sight of a man who has lived FAR beyond his appointed time… suddenly succumbing, all at once, to the accumulated years.

It's not pretty. "Holy shit," Bucky says, to Jane if to anyone, thinking about his own hundred years of life. "Never let that happen to ME."

Thanks, his eyes say.

"I have to…" he continues, struggling back to his feet. He casts about, staggering a bit, though steadily regaining his legs, fishing through his phone to retrieve the specific gun for which he and Jane ultimately decided to cast those custom magical bullets. Soon enough he produces an M40. The venerable bolt-action rifle is deadly-familiar, in hands which fought in Vietnam.

He starts moving, trying to gain the high ground as it clears out, keeping an eye open for the first opening he has to get a clear shot in case he gets one early. He's loading the M40 as he goes with two very special rounds. Jacketed hollow-point, 7.62 NATO, specially engineered by himself and Jane for the necessary performance parameters, carved with incantations and infused with seals.

He sure hopes this works.

—-

Red-hot magic missiles are coming their way, a deadly rain of them designed to end them for good. Jessica had planned to set Constantine down at his destination gently, but now that's not an option. Searing heat burns the dress and a fair amount of Jane's handiwork away from her back, peeling at her flesh like a cheese grater as she ducks low and tight, shielding the wizard with her body. She basically drops him as safely as she can, then drops herself, rolling and panting.

Last time she got anywhere near Evil Gi she spent 5 days in a SHIELD facility in shock.

Not today.

NOT today.

Armand/Reiner Steinschneider has a protective circle of cultists around him?

Well. Let's see what she can do about that.

She pushes herself to her knees, then to her feet.

Just a little farther, Jones. Just a little more. Hard and fast. Hit them hard and fast.

'As I taught you.'

Fresh blood coats her back, weakens her. She ignores it.

Its not rage that fuels her now.

It's her heart's vision of the people she loves: 5 in this room, a handful more left behind in New York City, held tight in her mind, harmed or standing to be harmed by the horrible designs of these monstrous individuals. Their lives are threatened by these monsters, monsters who received power unspeakable but did not receive a matching measure of empathy or restraint.

In one deep breath she draws deeply upon all those moments where people have fed her soul with kindnesses, with their words, their deeds, their care and concern, all those moments when they gave her a vision of someone she wanted to be. She decides she can be that person now. She doesn't have to wait.

Its very like a prayer, a prayer for their protection, a prayer that she might be one of the instruments of that protection.

And then she runs, launching herself at that ring of cultists in a more traditional way. A high wheel kick whips out towards the head of one; it propels her to offer a solar plexus strike at another; this carries her to step forward with an elbow strike towards the head of the third, so on and so forth, no strength spared now. If they live it will be because God spares them, if they die, because the Devil takes them, for there is no room for error here. She is a dervish in the night, attempting to clear a path to poor, possessed Reiner, who is now experiencing a fate that places him firmly in The Club, firmly deserving of the rescue she hopes to execute on his behalf.

—-

All of the time that John is suspended in the air and being hoisted and manipulated bodily by Jessica Jones, he's doing two unfortunate things, though they have positive side-effects: the first is continuing to bleed, though the upshot is that he's guaranteed that anyone to try to take a piece out of his hide is going to pay for the privilege; the second thing is gradually hemorrhaging the rage that fueled his sudden transition into a compact reactor of mystical energy. By the time he hits the ground in the place he needs to be his eyes are no longer blank, white-gold coals, and uncomfortable thoughts are beginning to encroach on what was moments ago a blind, empty impulse to murder everything containing magic that was not either himself or Zatanna. He returns to himself by degrees.

The silver lining to losing that mindless state of emotionless, raw destructive urge and once more being expected to think is that in thinking, in assessing, he can generate ideas, do the thing that John Constantine has always done, relying as he usually chooses to on what's between his ears to overcome the obstacles in front of him.

The journal in Giovanni's hands reeks of Mammon. It's a demonic signature he is intimately familiar with; more intimately, probably, than he will ever care to share with anyone, after that period of captivity in the depths of Hell. But John saw Mammon brought low once before, by the raven-haired witch even now engulfed in blazing white light in the bonfire of Muller's disintegration. He'd been proud of her gambit. Impressed with her creativity in using what few materials they had at hand to accomplish something of that magnitude.

He borrows from that now. Leaking blood from countless places he has the liquid he needs, and in short order he has the silver lighter with its complex engravings and its ability to purify, make holy, whatever its flame touches.

Flecks of red coagulate in the air in front of him at the behest of a tired chant. The lighter lid clinks open, the wheel flicked with a quiet, gritting sound beneath the growing sphere of blood, and as he touches the surface of the lighter to the surface of the sphere, certain of the engraved lines light up, blue-white. He once used these to blow a solid, locked door off of its hinges into a room containing Zatanna, The Winter Soldier, Avram Golubev and the Tarnhelm. That door had buckled almost in half with the force of it.

He applies that blast to the sanctified blood now.

—-

It's not pretty at all.

The spear burns too hot for her hands, and Jane lets go reflexively before it can brand her, trying to step back —

— frozen by the wretched sight of Muller, racked by the Spear of Destiny impaled through his body. Light heralds free, too bright to even see, and she turns her head away as it sears her eyes.

And doesn't have a chance when Muller's rotting hand swallows her throat. Jane gasps, trying to claw herself free, but her fingers are just pulling away his flesh like old clay, and it's terrifying, TERRIFYING — and she goes bone-white, staring, forced to witness from inches away a man forced into a hundred years' decomposition over the span of seconds.

With Zatanna's help, she tears free and backs off, raising a protective arm in front of the young woman as Muller wastes to dust before their eyes. Jane, with a dusting swipe of blood left to her throat from his hand, only glances away from the morbid display to the sound of Bucky's voice. He's /OK/.

"James!" she hitches out in relief, one hand reaching to touch his healed side, surprised and relieved to find no wound. He says something about not letting Muller's end happen to /him/ —

— and Jane glances back on the dusted flesh and bone of once was an immortal sorcerer. Her eyes slant with quiet revulsion, and she remembers that thing he said to her, back at the Gala, just before he threw her into —

She kicks the pile of dust and lets it scatter. "May /YOUR/ beauty be preserved, you Nazi piece of shit."

Her eyes are between Bucky and Zatanna. "Are you —" Jane starts to ask, but Bucky, already in recovery, has his attention focused on Giovanni Zatara, who is now engaged with — oh shit.

He's already loading the bullets of hers and Zatanna's design. Jane gives Bucky a glance; she has his back, is that promise, as she phones up retrieval of her gun.

—-

"I'm okay," Zatanna breathes, limbs shaking and body smoking from everything else she's just endured. Eyes flick from Bucky and Jane. "Are you??"

But they're off again to do what needs to be done - Giovanni Zatara is left and as she struggles to get back up, her step freezes when she takes it forward. Her jaw clenched tight.

She can't.

"What the—" The rest of the epithet is drowned out by the ambient noise as Armand Steinschneider staggers backwards when Jessica just leaps like an attack dog on the rest of the circle protecting him and attempting to fry Constantine while his mind is blank save for everything that needs to be done. The solar plexus strike to one sends a cultist flying far and wide from the group, breastbone broken beyond repair. The elbow strike is momentarily blocked by a well-placed magical barrier that the mage calls up in a split-second, before attempting to reverse his fortune by palming Jessica's own chest, ripples of power emanating from the strike, in an attempt to send her flying unless she acts fast enough.

Armand continues backing up, though considering who the Englishman's target is, he doesn't head for his direction either. The possessed body attempts to move further between the columns, before he gets caught by any backlash. With wide eyes, and panic clearly writ on his expression, he turns to Zatara.

"It's too risky!" he cries over the din. "You won't be able to deliver on the Cult's promises to me if we both die here!"

The false Zatara doesn't pay him any heed. As Bucky tries to gain higher ground, with so much activity suddenly erupting in that side of the room, he wouldn't get a clear shot…save for the briefest open window…

…that is suddenly engulfed in blood.

The sphere that John Constantine manipulates with his own blood explodes, purified by the flame erupting from the lighter gifted to him by Zatanna. It explodes outward, washing that entire part of the church in red, coating the elderly magician with his elegant dress. But the gambit works; Armand's journal, saturated with Mammon's magic, reacts to the sanctified blood - the pages and leather cover starts disintegrating, obliterating the ritual that the false Zatara is reading from.

The moment it hits, Reiner Steinschneider screams. The clairvoyant drops on his knees as another image blurs and tears out of him by an unseen force - the spirit's screams echo in the decimated church as ghostly flames erupt all over its body. The dead clairvoyant's essence dissipates in the air as the pages melt, useless globs of stuff on the ruined ground.

The false Zatara's expression twists in one that the real one would never exhibit. It is pure, potent fury, icy stare fixing on John and promising reprisals that he doesn't have the room to verbally communicate. The urge to lash out at the Englishman is there, but practicality wins out in the end; without the journal, there's no hope completing what needs to be done. With a hiss, reality tears open behind him and he falls back into it, leaving the rest of his minions to suffer the brunt of the Berlin team's wrath, and seals up once he's through.

The ritual truncated, the leylines extending and webbing around Brandenburg still thrum with power, but the red of the moon slowly recedes, motes from Hermann Steinschneider's body fading away. The blazing white light vanishes - Jane and Zatanna are visible again, with the copy of the Spear of Destiny lying on the ground, shattered into five pieces.

For the first time since they arrived, the church is deathly silent. The moon hangs over their heads, white-blue light spilling into the building's decimated innards and bleeds all over the corpses left behind.

—-

James exchanges a look with Jane. The glance says, without words, that he's fine, and that they still have something to finish here.

The reason he's not talking much becomes evident in the intent way he preps his rifle, the fixed way he stares at Zatara as he starts moving to try to gain a clear shot. He's most of the way back to being in Winter Soldier mode, focused wholly on a target that needs killing, and when he's in this mood he's practically single-minded.

Even so, no amount of focus or force of will can manufacture the conditions necessary for a good shot.

The one opportunity he has is snuffed out by a sudden, violent explosion that gouts blood all over the interior of the church. The mess obscures his vision — and then the spectacle of a revenant erupting and burning away into nothing clouds the entire scene even more.

In that time, of course, the false Zatara runs for it.

James Barnes has an odd reaction that can only be explained by an assumption that he is not, currently, James Barnes. The Winter Soldier snarls in spited frustration, a greyhound that came within inches of a rabbit only to have it yanked away, and turns on his heel to lapse into a furious, distracted, back and forth stalk to shave off the pent restlessness.

He hates to lose his target once locked on. Hates it.

—-

Jessica catches the palm coming towards her chest. It's instinctive. Her wrist closes to squeeze, though his protections may keep her from shattering his bones, even as she's moving up and under him to check her shoulder into his body. It's a throw, one of the first Bucky ever taught her. She sends him into one of the church's soaring, beautiful stone columns, and looks around for another target. But by then, Steinschneider is screaming. She sprints towards him, only to watch Armand's spirit flowing out of him.

She flips the ghost of Armand Steinschneider the finger as his spirit is apparently torn apart. He probably has bigger problems, but it makes her feel better.

Are there more enemies?

She sees none. She hears none. She drops to her knees beside Reiner. She gives him a gentle there-there sort of pat.

Then she slumps against another one of those columns, leaving a bloody smear. The bones are visible through her back. Her breathing is labored, ragged, and now that the adrenaline is gone the pain assaults her in dizzying waves that leave her panting and shaking. Her teeth start to chatter.

She wants to ask: Is it over? Can we go home now?

She hasn't the strength.

She casts her eyes about, taking stock. Everyone seems to be okay, even if Grandpa seems to need a Snickers. The whole commercial plays out in her mind; she offers the Winter Soldier a snickers, asks him if he's better, and he becomes Bucky again and goes on and on about how in his day Snickers cost a quarter of a cent and a handshake…

It's safe to say she's a little delirious now, but she's being very quiet about it.

—-

The blessed blood detonates explosively, coating every forward surface in the church in a fine mist of sanctified particles, crimson like a paint bomb. It covers Giovanni in his formal attire, slicks across the book, and…

It's everything that John had hoped it would be, and more.

It would have been enough, maybe, just to disrupt the ritual, but he can hear Armand Steinschneider's spirit howling as it's torn from his grandson's body, hear the pain in that sound. The linkages between journal and spirit remained intact even after he escaped from its confines to claim his victim: the best result.

Well…

Almost.

As Giovanni Zatara's alternate-universe self watches his objective literally fall apart in his hands, John's posture shifts, one shoulder forward, one hand out, knees slightly bent. Preparing. Readying himself for the monstrous fight to come. Hoping that Zatanna's plan — whatever it is — works, but ready to throw himself into the crucible even if it doesn't.

It doesn't happen that way. Zatara retreats, doing the tactical acumen of his superior namesake proud, no doubt, and leaves John standing there, hands curling into fists, adrenaline suddenly falling out from underneath him. He feels it all rushing back in: the cuts, the blood, the latter no longer cursed, thickly coagulating on his skin and staining his clothes, as it's supposed to.

That's when he finally turns to look at the others behind him, fully aware of himself, and of them, for the first time since he felt Zatanna being shredded across the tether. What he sees stops him dead.

Witness it from John's perspective: before he was reduced to a bundle of violent magical instincts, the Church was still intact save for the window three cultists had been forcefully ejected from. The graveyard was also more or less intact, barring the crevasse into which he'd been dumped. It had all been swarming with countless bodies garbed in black, flitting in and out of shadows like starlings.

Standing near the pulpit he has an astonishing view: there are crumpled heaps of black-clad bodies littered across the floor like grisly confetti, motionless in puddles of their own blood. He can see them clearly because the entire rear half of the church no longer exists, allowing for liberal amounts of silver-blue moonlight to spill in from overhead, glinting on the shattered fragments of the spear — oh, hey, there's the spear — and beyond that, through the lack of walls, he can see countless rows of graves broken into stone fragments like shattered teeth in the world's least fortunate mouth. Everywhere, the air shimmers with phantoms of spent magic.

He blinks.

The others are…there. James and Jane seem whole; Jones is visibly suffering. Zatanna is —

He looks at her as he descends toward Jessica, tearing his eyes away as he sinks down into a half-crouch. "Jones. You look like shite."

—-

The clear shock on Jane's face, seeing the discoloured moon coagulate its gouting blood-red glow, seeing the arrested spell stopped, seeing the Spear of Destiny shattered into improbable pieces —

— is still there in her, leading into this sudden and unexpected denouement. She stands there, more than a little unceremoniously, gun still forgotten in hand, as her eyes do a visual count of everyone left standing.

All is silent. All seems… sane. No one is —

— she pauses when her attention turns entirely on Bucky Barnes. Checking the safety quietly on her weapon, Jane excuses herself in her own way, yet without a word, without anything so official or transparent. As Constantine sees to Jessica, the scientist is enroute to her own first priority, that being what she recognizes well, unsheathed across Bucky's face. Unholstered across every syllable of his body language.

It's so quiet as not to draw attention, the way she quietly and calmly goes to him, with the trusting fearlessness of a woman knowing she is crossing hurricane winds to venture into the eye of the storm. She slips in to arrest him amidst his restless pacing, gentle and patient, hoping to intercept him with her hand on his, her eyes up on his face, and a few distant, softly-murmured words.

—-

Ice-blue eyes find John's pale own across the distance, relief stamped on every nuance of the raven-haired magician's pale face - and concern, at the sight of his visible injuries. He never needed the tether to know what she was feeling at any given time, though it exists to make those transmissions even more crystal clear. Most of the time, her face betrays her emotions.

There's a glance at everything around her before shaking steps take her across the marble floors. She finds Red, dazed but alive, having cleared out most of the perimeter to guarantee them a safe egrees, at least, from the ruined church. She hears the snarling frustration of James Barnes, instincts taking over. Jane seems alright, and there's a tired smile towards the brunette when she kicks at the pile of ash that Muller used to be. Jessica, Red and John seem to have suffered the most injuries, so she administers some healing magic towards the crimefighting vigilante first before moving across towards the private investigator and John.

She takes a knee on the other side of Jessica, her hand already out to try and repair what she can of the woman's damaged state. "We should get out of here as soon as we can," Zatanna murmurs. They definitely can't be caught here. Too much damage. Too many bodies.

Once everyone else is accounted for, once everyone is ready, she rips another tear in reality, to take them safely away from Brandenburg.

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