Every Story

November 20, 2017:

Jessica Jones consults with a professor to try to get more insight into the problem of the demon bear.

//A bar in Westchester //

The beers are super cold.

Characters

NPCs: Professor Emily Weathers, emitted by Moonstar

Mentions: John Constantine, Zatanna Zatara, Dr. Strange, Dani Moonstar

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Cases. Sometimes they're easy and sometimes they're not.

The case of the Demon Bear is turning into one that's likely heading into the 'not' category.

Nonetheless, Jessica Jones has a job to do and so, she goes on doing it.

Researching into Native American legends, specifically bears, resulted in a variety of hits, but it's not until she stumbles upon one particular legend that it might tug at a sense of deja vu.

Mockwamosa. The Legend of the Bear-Walkers.

What can be found upon the internet is very brief; just a general description stating some men and women of the tribes could take the shape of a bear.

It's only with further digging and many inquiries later that *finally* a response is received. It's from a tenured professor at one of the smaller colleges and she pings back with a simple message - I might have some information for you. - then a time and place was specified.

That place is a small hole in the wall bar outside of New York City and the time is right now.

The Professor in question sits at one of the small booths tucked away in a dark corner. She's restlessly watching the door, even as she idly peels the wrapper off of her half-drunk bottle of beer.

*

The Professor's choice of seating is interesting. She's watching the door like one of Jessica's spy friends might. She's restless, which might mean something has her nervous.

Jessica Jones can relate. She's nervous too. For example, after the latest encounter even Shadowcrest feels subtly wrong to her. She ended up sleeping in her car last night. Not because she couldn't find one of a dozen other places to stay, but because it was the place that felt safe. The car was a gift from Trish. Whatever else has been damaged, her connection to Trish hasn't. But she can't call Trish, can't tell her how fucked up she is. Trish is working on the biggest opportunity of her life. She can't blow it coming home to take care of her basketcase sister. But sleeping in the back seat made Jess feel like she was all wrapped up in a warm Trish hug.

It was good enough. And if she had to buy a daypass to a gym to get a shower this morning, it was worth it.

Right now, the PI doesn't know how much of this is just her being crazy and weak, how much of it is legitimate spiritual wounding, or what. She's just pressing forward and coping as best as she can, glad that people mostly tend to assume she's fine, glad that her life is set up in such a way that it's almost compartmentalized, with no one person seeing the total picture of it. It makes it easier to hide just how badly she's spiraling.

In the meantime, there's work to be done. She makes her way to the back of the room, and says quietly, "Professor?" Cognizant of those apparent nerves, she keeps her hands by her side and open, she keeps her body language relaxed, and she makes sure she's in plain sight of the woman well before she gets there.

*

Even with the Professor waiting for Jessica to arrive the woman still startles slightly, then she's rising from her seat and extending her hand. "Jessica Jones?" She automatically asks, even if it's rather redundant at this stage of the game. "Emily. Emily Weathers." She continues with, offering her name, even though that too is redundant. After all, her e-mail had her name plain as Jane on it.

"Thanks for meeting me here. I guess I could have invited you to the school, but -" She shrugs, trailing off a little. "Please, sit. And you're welcome to order what you want, my treat."

And then Emily waits for Jess to sit down and order. It's only after that order is in place that the Professor of History segues into more of what brought the two here tonight. "The video you posted - I just can't believe you caught footage like that. It's unbelievable."

*

Jessica shakes her hand. She had steeled herself for this. Touching a stranger's hand. Shaking it. Emily is a Professor. Emily is probably very nice. Emily is harmless. You can have her touch your gloved hand for the 45 seconds it takes to do that. Her skin is crawling when it's done, but she managed. And none of the very real internal struggle over something that should be so simple shows on her face at all. Indeed, she offers a smile. Which isn't easy either, but she gets the expression onto her face like a pro. Her pretext today is that she's Jessica Jones, well-adjusted investigator.

To that end? She orders a light beer. She can have whiskey later, but she's not going to sit here and be the hard-drinking version of herself either. Not to mention the beer is like $3 and the whiskey would be like $10, so there's that to consider as well.

"I'm happy to talk to you where ever you're comfortable, you're doing me the favor."

The footage though, makes the side of her mouth quirk with real humor. "Well. I mean. Charlie's Pawn got the footage, I just went and collected it."

*

A well-worn waitress takes the order and then alights away. A few seconds later and the beer is set down with a thunk near Jessica's elbow. It's cold to the touch, chilly, and the barest hint of frost might be found upon the glass, but it's (light) beer, so there's that.

The Professor grins at the PI's last line, a hand waving that aside, "Whoever got it, I've just never expected to see such a thing. Oh, don't get me wrong, history has lots of stories and legends and tall-tales about ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night, but seeing actual footage of it?"

Well, that apparently made Emily's day and while that first part began as a slightly-hyper-babble, her next words pull her expression into something less open, more somber. "But, because there's always a but, right? What you saw on that video - it looks dangerous. I'm sure you already know this, but you need to be careful. So many people shrug aside the legends and myths that history has written about, but I've always held the belief that those stories hold some sort of truth to it. Even if it's only a grain, it's still truth."

Which brings her back to her own beer bottle, once more the woman idly begins to pick and pull at the wrapper. "The legend you mentioned in your initial e-mail, Mockwamosa, I can't say definitively if what's on that tape is really that, or something else, but it might be. There are several tries in Michigan that tell the tale of Mockwamosa - Bearwalkers. Some think they started out as guardians, but most attribute these men and women who can change into the bear as evil. Kind of like devil-worshippers, if you will. Anyway, what I can tell you is the power to change into the Bear typically runs in families. That power is held on by one member until their death and then another member takes the curse upon themselves. That person doesn't have to be willing either. It can just be handed right off to them."

*

Jessica takes a swig of the beer. Cold and clear and perfect. Just what she needs for this interview. Emily tells her to be careful; she contemplates sharing what's already happened. But decides, instead, to ask more questions.

"Any information about how that curse could be broken, or what weaknesses a Mockwamosa might have?" Going right to the heart of it, because for all she knows she's going to get 3 questions before Moonstar and Co. show up to attack again just because she's in here discussing this. Not exactly a cheerful thought, but one which does force her to make sure she's putting all her questions more or less in reverse-pyramid order so she can get the most important stuff out first.

*

Emily considers that question of Jessica Jones.

Weaknesses. It's enough to have her tapping her index finger against her beer bottle, an unconscious movement upon her part, "I think in the sense you're thinking of, probably not, but they do have one relatively big weakness. Once a year they have to kill another human. If they don't then the spirit of the Bear takes control of their body. Once that happens the person is usually lost to insanity."

A sympathetic expression crosses the other woman's features now, "I wish I had better news, but most of the tribes keep a very tight lid on this topic. I only heard the story from another colleague who heard it from another -" And so on, it seems. "I guess if you think about it you could say death is the only cure for this curse."

*

Well. Shit.

But it does say something about Dani Moonstar. It indicates she's worth saving.

But how?

"What if this person has already been taken by the curse, maybe because they haven't killed someone, and they manage to do it. Would that free them from the bear curse, at least for another year? And…do you know anything about other animals associated with it? Crows filled with maggots, or a giant wolf, or creepy song birds."

She is aware she is probably sounding more and more like someone who has gone for a round of square dancing with this thing. Of course, so far what she is hearing is not exactly really particularly very good news.

"And how does this curse even get started in a family line? I mean if you know, I totally get the tribes aren't offering a lot to work with."

*

Emily listens to Jessica's questions. Most of those questions cause the woman's expression to shift from concern, curiosity, disgust and finally consideration.

"No, I don't think it would make them revert. Not from all the stories I've heard. It seemed pretty finale when the person went into madness." Emily says, even as she tries to swiftly sift through the various legends she's aware of. "And you have to understand for crows and wolves and birds in general, they can all be powerful symbols for the People. I'd imagine it all means something, but what that might be I'm not altogether sure about." There's a second look of apology, even as she continues to speak, "It usually starts with a family member enslaving the spirit of the bear - which shows why this is considered such dark magic - rarely did their 'magic' go into the realm of enslaving the spirits of anything. Animals, people or higher beings. Once the person enslaved the bear spirit they gained all the bear's formable powers. Strength, shape-shifting, senses, all of that.

"I wish I had more I could tell you, but the majority of my associates I've reached out to, who might know more have shut me down pretty hard. The legend isn't something they typically talk about - kind of like you don't talk about your crazy Aunt Marie. Or nutty Cousin Eddie. It's all hush-hush."

*

If there's one thing Jessica understands, it's the concept of slavery.

If something's enslaved, it might make sense to un-enslave it, but she already understands Emily doesn't know how to do that.

But Strange might. John might. Zee might. It's probably in the spirit world, or the astral plane. There's a cord that could be cut, she's sure of it. And she could research Moonstar's family line, too, try to figure out when and where all this started. Which could be important.

"Despite all that, I think you've told me something pretty important," Jessica says at length, frowning thoughtfully. "I think you may have, at that."

A tilt of her head. "So that's the Algonquin legend. But I found a reference to another one. An Iroquios story called the Hunting of the Great Bear. Do you happen to know anything about that one?"

*

Emily's face lights up when Jessica lets her know how she may have just helped. "I'm glad."

The mention of Algonquin earns a rather quick nod from the woman, "Yes! It's their particular legend, though you can definitely find hints of it elsewhere -" And she'd have gone on, she really would have, except for Jessica's next question. About the story of The Great Bear. Her expression brights even more, as she begins to speak, "Oh that story - it's really a great one. Lengthy though, but a good one. Depending on the expert you're asking about that story can be traced back to a few different tribes, but mainly the Iroquios. There's some people who believe it's the tale of how the seasons came to be, but I think it's more than that. It's a tale of perseverance, of overcoming a great challenge, but also the stars since it's often told when teaching children about the different constellations that can be seen during the different seasons."

"I can definitely see parts that might be attributed to your bear, but Nyah-gwaheh typically doesn't have fur. It lost it when it ate the flesh of humans." One hand raises then and waggles, "So similar in some vein, but not exactly like the Bear we saw in the video, but then again you do have to take everything with a grain of salt -"

So, it seems Professor Emily really can't give a good yes or no answer to all of Jessica Jones' questions.

*

She listens closely, does Jessica Jones. "Constellations," she murmurs.

She's not good with constellations. All the stars just look like dots to her. She can't even find the common ones, like Orion, or the Big Dipper, or Ursa Major. But she makes a note to find out if there is a wolf constellation. There's the big bear— Ursa Major— and Dani-the-little-bear…Ursa Minor. Is there a wolf and a little bird?

But wait. They wouldn't be the same at all, necessarily.

"Were Native American constellations different? Specifically Iroquois ones, I guess. I guess that's something I could go look up but I just sort of thought of the question and." She flashes another quick smile. "I mean here you are, and I've found it's harder to find this stuff in the libraries I'm used to using than it is to ask you about it."

Maybe the star connection matters, too, though Jess can't quite piece together how or why it might, yet.

*

There's a light laugh from Emily when Jessica asks those questions and then she waves the justification aside. "It's okay. Seriously. It's nice having someone ask questions about the stories, most of the time students just sit there, pretending to be writing notes while they play on their phones -"

Which earns another hand-wave, no one needs to hear her complaints.

"Yes and no, there are or were definite differences, but surprisingly some of the same constellations 'we' know of can be found within their own. You can probably attribute it to -" And forcibly the Professor stops, because really, Jessica Jones does not need the explanation of the hows and the whys various cultures picked up on similar arrangement of stars.

"Anyway, what do you think you're going to do about the bear on your tape?" The professor finally asks, her question full of curosity and perhaps envy.

*

"So far, all I've done about it is get my ass kicked both physically and mentally," Jessica Jones says, with total, blunt honesty.

She doesn't want Emily hunting this bear herself, for example, for academic purposes. "I have it on good authority that it's munched on parts of the souls of me and some of my friends by this point. I think it's clear it can't be killed, and the woman it's taken shouldn't be killed, so what's left is to see if we can't free this bear spirit. So if there's any lore on how that might be accomplished…"

She spreads her hands with a hint of a grin. "Please share. I promise you, I'm very interested."

Truth be told the lecture on the stars would have fascinated her, but she doesn't press. There's a time to indulge her need to learn all the things, and a time to get right to the heart of matters.

*

Jessica's blunt honestly causes Emily Weathers to blink. Taken aback momentarily.

Then her eyebrows cinch together as she considers the other woman. "In all seriousness." She says, "If this bear is Mockwamosa, then you should find yourself a Shaman. Or some type of practitioner like that. They might be able to give you better advice than I can, but I'd be prepared for a fight - most of the time they don't like revealing their secrets. Especially with the darker side of this particular tale."

"Is there anything else I can answer for you tonight? Or, if you think of something later on just e-mail me. I'd be happy to research for you."

*

Jessica shakes her head. "Not unless you know the name of a shaman that might talk to me just because I have a whole host of spiritual damage from this bear that I could sure use a hand with," she says. Because that's going to have to be her in, and because it's terribly true. "Or someone who might know someone. Otherwise I'm just going to drive up to the nearest Algonquin reservation, stand at the gate, and look pathetic until someone asks the stupid white girl what the fuck she's doing."

She's only half joking. She will totally do that if that is what it it takes. She will totally go, and knock on every door until she gets a gun in her face if that is what it takes. But if she doesn't have to do something the hard way, she's not going to.

*

Concern tinges Emily's expression when Jessica reveals her own soul injuries. "That's terrible." She states and after a few minutes, the woman says, "I don't have a name on hand, but I can probably get you one. Give me a few days, but I'll see what I can do for you. I wish I could promise you something more, but -"

Secrets, they're terrible things.

"In the meantime you need to be careful. If it's had a taste of your soul it might return for you."

*

"Thanks. I really appreciate it, Emily," Jessica says, rather sincerely. "Whatever you can do."

As to this warning, this being careful warning? She just gives a wry, tired smile that probably says it all.

The smaller bear, all but grinning at her as it woke the maggot-birds to come after her once more. Jessica still isn't sure how or why they even survived last night's encounter. "I'll be careful, but…I gotta keep at it, too. I can't let it continue going around and hurting people. Stopping stuff like this is my job. Or helping to stop it, anyway." Ultimately she suspects this will be Constantine or Strange's job, but still.

She makes herself offer her hand again, figuring she'll let the good professor go. "Thanks for coming out tonight," she adds. "It meant a lot. And that you took me so seriously. That meant a lot too."

Jessica knows from experience that so many people wouldn't have, footage or no footage.

*

"You're welcome." Emily says, "If there's one thing history has taught me is that every story holds truth. No matter how fantastical it seems. There's always truth there in some form."

"I'll get you a name as soon as possible." Are her last words and true to her word, Emily fishes out a few fives to pay for both of their beers and a tip too.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License