AKA Arrow to the Knee

November 29, 2017:

They used to be bad guys once. Then they took Bishop's arrow to the knee, Constantine and Ravensdale's magic to the gut and Jones' fury in the face.

The Checkerbrick, Hell's Kitchen, NY

The most troublesome building on the block.

Characters

NPCs: Checkerbrick Bad Guys, emitted by Clint Barton

Mentions: Matt Murdock

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

For a closed building, the Checkerbrick has sure seen a lot of activity lately. SHIELD hasn't been watching it because there didn't seem to be a reason to. The building is locked up tight. The only one who presumably has the key is the landlord. Well, and SHIELD, so Kate has a way in that is a hundred percent legitimate. Thanks to said SHIELD contacts, anyone without a natural immunity to Jessica's so-dubbed 'Checkerbrick Effect' has a way to shield themselves. However, they are just earplugs. They're not exactly superglued in there.

Four people have gone into the building just ten minutes ago. No lights go on in the upper levels, which suggests they've gone to the basement. The entrance to said basement is not obvious. It's through the door at the rear, between the two loading docks for Espresso Express and Melody fur Elise. That's the access door for the tenants. Instead of going up, you go down. it looks at that point that it's a dead end with a few things that belong to the super. But a closer look reveals a metal door. It's the kind of thing that shouldn't have been opened in a long time, but there's fresh scratch marks across the concrete. It's also narrow, which is not exactly the best for sneaking up on people unannounced. The good news? The bad guys will be trapped in there. Bad news? They have no idea what abilities these people have, if any.

*

Kate has found a personal solution to this whole earplugs don't stay in ears very securely proper. Hufflepuff earmuffs*. She has the earmuffs currently slung around her neck as she stands with her crew, and a matching scarf has been loosened from around her neck. She's decked out in her Hawkeye get-up, including a bow and quiver slung across her back with a variety of arrow choices. She's gone without the mask, and her black hair is drawn up into a high ponytail.

She considers the door with a bemused expression. "I think I saw this in a movie once." She pops the bit of gum in her mouth with a flick of her tongue. "I can't remember which one…" She draws her fingertips across her jaw, looking thoughtful as she glances around toward Jess and the others.

*Okay, the Harry Potter part was not required for the solution, but she found the whole thing deeply amusing because, well, John Constantine is the Minister of Magic — and there's nothing Clint Barton can say to stop that from being the magician's codename.

*

Jess Jones is a woman with a lot on her mind. Comparing notes she'd had a damn hard time concentrating. She had sort of stared at it all, rubbing her head as if she'd never seen the case before. She has, she's dug into it extensively, but a lot has happened, and she's feeling guilty that her insistence on closing the building has made so many problems for so many people.

She's annoyed with herself for not just checking the basement in the first place, but even so she wouldn't have done it without John. When polled on strategy her contribution was, "We go at asshole o'clock, whenever they're inside." She's not herself; it didn't take a Checkerbrick Effect to do it. But she's ready to get this done.

She is of course immune to this at least, so no earmuffs required. Jess, who has come to admit she's probably a Hufflepuff too and yes she read it shut up…is content in the knowledge that nobody will ever find out she is a closet honey badger in anything other than the 'don't care, don't give a shit' fashion, in continued denial about just how far that ship has sailed.

Dressed in full bulletproof clothing complete with fingerless gloves and don't fuck with me scarf,' she considers this door.

"Unless there's no reason why I shouldn't just kick that fucker down, John, I'm ready to do that."

Sometimes she has the patience for puzzles. Sometimes? She's Miss Gordian Knot Solution. Guess which day this is?

*

John, it must be said, doesn't look much like the kind of character one's likely to find in the pages of a Harry Potter story, and in spite of the fact that he's British to his core, it's Liverpudlian Brit — a bizarre, working-class variety of Englishman with a healthy heaping dose of Irish scrappiness somewhere in the background of it all. Certainly he doesn't sound like a Harry Potter character, gruff and sardonic, every inch of him reflecting the streets on which he grew up. (If he were, though, nobody gets any bonus points for guessing what House he'd be in. Sorry.)

Hands in his pockets, trenchcoat pushed back, he waits alongside the others in what is for him considerable silence, pale blue eyes locked to the building across the street. He remembers what it felt like the last time he was in there, on the night Jessica Jones called him to rope him in. Not great. The dangers of going in there with people he doesn't know haven't escaped him; the dangers of them going in there with him haven't, either. God forbid those earplugs fail to do the job they were intended to do. Nobody — John least of all — wants to see what would happen if he loses touch with reality. It's a risk even at the best of times, anyway.

Jones' voice draws his eyes, and with a thin quirk of the lips he lifts his chin in an up-nod of accord. "There are plenty of reasons not to," he says, wry, "But we're not going to heed any of them, obviously. After you, maestro."

*

Elinor has a name that would fit right in with the rest of Harry Potter, but with her luck, she'd be that odd Slytherin girl that everyone avoids and expects to turn into a Death Eater by the end of the series. She probably would have been blamed for the Chamber of Secrets. Thankfully, this isn't Harry Potter, it's just another night in New York City, dealing with people who want to tamper with things they should not be touching.

Lingering at the back of the group, Elinor has her hands in her own pockets of her black jacket. She might not have the fancy duds that Jessica and Kate have, but she at least opted for dark colored clothing. Also, she has no desire to feel this Checkerbrick effect, and not sure if she's immune or not, has opted for the fasionable earplugg accessory. It's the hight of fashion.

She tilts her head at the building and frowns. "One moment Jess." She focuses, pulling one of her ghostly companions to her side and murmers a few quick words to her. She just wants to know what's on the otherside, how many people they're dealing with, and if there doing anything that they're not expecting. "They're being very careful about how they're chopping pieces off of that crystal." She reports when her ghostly friend returns. "Perhaps we shouldn't jostle the crystal itself? Maybe you should break the doorknob instead of blowing the whole thing away."

*

Whether Jess chooses to kick it down in a mess of folded metal or simply open it, they'll be greeted with the same scene. The basement room is not overly large and it's dotted with pillars that makes line of sight difficult. However, it is not dark. The whole room takes on an intense yellow glow like a club's dance floor with only one set of lights working.

As Elinor's ghost friend said, they've been carefully cutting off the pieces of crystals with small hand saws, careful not to shatter it. A few pieces have been shattered, which seems to release the energy. The floor is littered with inert crystals. There's four of them, and the intrepid heroes get a chance to get a shot off before anyone can draw a weapon. However, these aren't ordinary thugs, as the first blow will attest. They're tough and strong, and they can hit.

*

Jessica Jones shoots John a look that's a trifle unreadable. A furrow appears between her brows, as if she's trying to decide if he's having her on or really feels that way. She finally just says the same thing she'd have said either way.

"I have always heeded everything you tell me, John Constantine. It's why I ask. Do you really think that thing in Switzerland would have been my first guess if I hadn't listened to the lecture? No. I did. I listened the lecture."

But he says have at, and she listens to him yet again, raising one booted foot and just … Shit. She can't let loose. There may be people behind the door, it may crush them, they may get hurt. But isn't that what they want?

No. There may be people behind the door, she may crush them, they may get dead. This is is not a dead situation yet.

And then Elinor tells her to hold and gives her another great reason. "On it," she says. She gives the door what would be, for anyone else, a superhuman thwak and what is, for her, still a lovetap, but reaches out to snag it and pull it back and out so she can throw it down without it hitting anybody. "Hi, dipshits," she says. Apparently she's not feeling the clever one-liners tonight either.

The first blow is not from her. She has to deal with this door issue, and bruiser though she may be it does take her a moment. And she also has a nutty notion they might be inspired to talk rather than fight…if shots or fists start flying it's not cause she's the one that's going to be actually attacking first. She does say, "Heads up, they're all wearing one too."

*

Kate snaps her fingers abruptly. "Home Alone. The dumber Wet Bandit went through the basement." Which has zero in common with what is current happening except for it being a basement. Bishop hasn't been getting a lot of sleep lately, let it be known.

As Jess considers busting in the door, Kate carefully pops her earmuffs into place over her earbuds, which only deafens her a bit more. She speaks a bit too loud when she regards John and then Elinor, both with thoughtful looks, and then back to Jess… as she kicks down the door. In one smooth motion, she unslings her bow and draws up her first arrow. She waits for Jess to take a step forward so she can shimmy to the side. This gives her a clean-shot of Goon #1, and she drops her aim to his kneecap.

Her hindbrain twitches at the luminous yellow glow, and every part of her becomes extremely sensitive to any change of her thoughts or moods. She is becoming paranoid about becoming paranoid. That's a really great place to be…

*

Kate snaps her fingers abruptly. "Home Alone. The dumber Wet Bandit went through the basement." Which has zero in common with what is current happening except for it being a basement. Bishop hasn't been getting a lot of sleep lately, let it be known.

As Jess considers busting in the door, Kate carefully pops her earmuffs into place over her earbuds, which only deafens her a bit more. She regards John and then Elinor, both with thoughtful looks, and then back to Jess… as she kicks down the door. In one smooth motion, she unslings her bow and draws up her first arrow. She waits for Jess to take a step forward so she can shimmy to the side. This gives her a clean-shot of Goon #1, and she drops her aim to his kneecap.

Her hindbrain twitches at the luminous yellow glow, and every part of her becomes extremely sensitive to any change of her thoughts or moods. She is becoming paranoid about becoming paranoid. That's a really great place to be…

*

The riposte from Jessica earns a short, sharp flash of a smile from John, and the slight upward rise of his shoulders, ever-so-slow, into a barely perceptible shrug. "Jones, if I hesitated to do things because there were good reasons not to, I'd never get anything done, luv."

It's the last thing he has to offer before the door gets dealt with in the usual fashion and thing will inevitably begin to happen quickly. Elinor and Kate get glances — the former a nod alongside her advice, the latter a knit-browed look of 'what?' — but he holds his tongue, standing toward the back of the group — possibly with the exception of Elinor, the furthest toward the back. For all his magical acumen, John's not on equal footing in physical combat with the likes of Jones or Bishop.

Above and beyond that, there's really no telling what would happen if he started throwing spells around above a ruined intersection of ley lines, either.

*

While Elinor did get a heads up at what the people were doing in the room, she didn't know everything that was going on. She remembers seeing the ghosts around this building covered in that yellow ickor, but now that she's seeing the crystal first hand, she is really glad that she wore protection. The yellow glow in the room makes her shadow magic difficult, but something has to be giving off some sort of shadow. If there is any, she's going to feed it, trying to gain some footing in the room in hoping to trap one of the goons in a shadowy web, should they walk in that direction.

She also stays back with John, knowing full well that going in there is likely to get something broken, and while Jess can handle it, Elinor is paling at the thought of how expensive the hospital bill would be.

*

The goon furthest to the back is the first to come at Jess, and she does so by…shooting at her. The pillars make aiming a little tricky, but she seems to be a pretty good shot. Luckily for them all, no more guns come out, so the one at the back seems to be the only one that's got one.

Arrow to the knee! That's gotta hurt. Kate's shot flies true, but it seems to just annoy the guy. He grabs a piece of inert crystal and lunges towards Kate, aiming to stab her with the shard. He's walking a little funny, but otherwise doesn't seem to feel the pain.

Constantine also gets shot at, and also lunged at by another goon wielding a strange knife that they were using the cleave the crystal.

Elinor can only shape her shadows around the edge of the room, but it's enough that she can grab hold of the gun-wielding lady's arm at the rear, stilling the bullets for a moment.

The light itself does have a quality of certain madness. It's no wonder the whole building has been a hub of paranoia and anger. But these crystals are even more saturated than when John first got wind of them. Their SHIELD earplugs are just barely holding back the tide.

*

Jessica is a little worried about headshots. Not much else. She's wearing a bulletproof jacket over a bulletproof shirt over bulletproof jeans over a bulletproof bodystocking. Unless those things are vibranium they just lodge in her jacket.

They do piss her right off though. She looks up to calculate. She times her leap, puts just enough strength into it that she can come down behind the shooter woman. She tries to wrap one arm around the woman's chest to crush the stone, even as she tries to take control of her gun hand, point it down and at the floor, and crush her wrist with a simple squeeze.

"You guys were being awfully careful with your harvesting," she points out, as if she were suggesting a new show on Netflix. "Now you're going to start firing bullets in here? Someone didn't go to villian school."

*

Kate ducks sharply, dropping into a low squat so that the crystal slams into the wall behind her. She looks up with a whip of her hair, blinking at the limp-but-no-pain goon. She grimaces. "Great." She reaches for another arrow, this time grabbing two between her first three fingers. She adjusts them along the bowstring, and then stands up in a sharp motion as she draws the arrows back, following the line of her jaw to her ear. She narrows a glare, and then fires in a smooth move, this time going for the gut.

When Jessica goads, Kate feels a twinge of uncertainty — a little nub of paranoid that is straining against the earbuds and her carefully puffed earmuffs. She flashes her a wary glance, but then advances forward toward her goon — particularly because she has this sneaky suspicion close range is going to be required.

*

It's a known fact that John Constantine is almost impossible to kill — amongst certain circles of his peers, at any rate. He should have been dead ten times over by now, at least, but here he stands toward the back of the class, eyes tightening as he steps inside the corridor and feels the waves of nausea-inducing energy roll over him. In fact, his continued existence is so improbable after everything he's been through that there are rumors he's something other than a man. A boogeyman, a phantom, a magical construct. A bad omen in the flesh.

…it's all rubbish. He's just as mortal as any other man, and that's amply demonstrated when he gets shot in the shoulder the moment he's inside.

"OW FUCK," is his eloquent announcement as he turns to plant his back against the interior wall, face screwed up into a tight grimace and gaze angled momentarily upward. He puts a hand out to try to keep Eleanor behind him, a gesture more selfless than most he's inclined toward — probably because she's friends with jones, and for no other reason. Certainly it's not chivalry, or any inclination toward self-sacrifice.

Only quick reflexes save him from being skewered by that bad-news-blade. He gets one hand around the incoming wrist, though his strength is compromised on account of the brand new hole in his shoulder, so he's forced to take a risk: one of the sigils stitched into the lining of the coat, within which is kept enough mana to fuel the spell it describes, suddenly flares bright gold, the shape visible momentarily on the shoulder of the garment. A shock of hostile energy passes through him and into anybody unwise enough to be touching him at the time — and anyone unlucky enough to be getting grappled with.

*

"You might have warned me that they had guns!" Elinor exclaims to the ghost she sent in. Granted, she didn't ask the ghost if they had any, but she had hoped that was implied. Still she does her best to hold the one person she can who is close enough to the shadows that she is able to reach them. Hopefully either Kate or Jessica can relieve the woman of her crystal.

"Shit, are you okay?" She asks John when he gets shot, but soon she finds herself behind a human shield and she shakes her head. She does her best to keep her one goon at bay, while keeping an eye out for Jess who is neck deep in the fight.

*

It should be noted that bang bang lady was shooting towards the door and away from the crystals, and it also might explain why she's the only one firing. The other three goons seem committed to fighting with their hands and whatever improvised weapons they can get their hands on.

She's held tight by Elinor's shadows, which allows Jess to get the jump on her. Before Jess crushes the crystal around the woman's neck, crushing her wrist would be nearly impossible. The woman feels like she's made of stone, and only Jess' speed and element of surprise allowed her to get a grip on her at all. After the crystal is reduced to a fine powder however, her wrist crumples under the force. She drops to the ground and screams in pain. And then…she looks around, wide-eyed and paranoid. And then her face contorts in mad anger and she screams like a banshee. She grabs a piece of crystal from the ground and tries to jam it hard and wildly into Jess' leg.

It seems that crushing the crystals takes away their abilities, but also protection from the mass of crystals surrounding them. It's like standing right next to a madness furnace.

The arrow-to-the-knee goon takes the two in the gut. They sink in like they've been shot into a sand dummy. He pulls them out one at a time, leaving no visible marks behind. His own crystal bounces fairly obviously around his neck. It's difficult to see with the whole basement awash in a yellow glow, but the ones they're wearing seem to be a slightly different colour.

It's definitely a risk for John to power up anything magical in the room of amplifying crystals. But in this case, the risk pays off. The energy slides up and into the thug's body. The shock is mitigated by the fact that the crystal around the guy's neck sucks up the energy and pulls it into itself. The bad news is, that little crystal is not enough to hold all that energy. It glows, then explodes like water splashing on a hot lightbulb. The guy suddenly changes from a big, tall goon to a skinny, wiry guy who looks like he's a hundred pounds soaking wet. He too crumples to the floor and starts to tear his hair out as the madness of the checkerbrick starts to seep in. He's not attacking yet, but give him a moment.

One of the thugs seems to have decided it's not worth the fight. He's moving along the periphery, trying to dart past the heroes and out past the crumpled door. Seeing one of his compatriots reduced to wild madness has knocked some sense into him. That, and that one lady just lept across the room.

*

Yeah okay. You can shoot at Jessica all you want, and you get mildly irritated snarky Jess.

You perforate one of her friends? You get the really pissed off version. She can hear for herself John is alive, so she just gets to the business of dealing with these asshats.

Rabid woman tries to stab her, but Jessica has fast reflexes and no patience. She snaps a kick hard towards the woman's head, getting her leg out of the way in the process, and tries to put it down. By hard, here, we mean about as hard as your average Marine who wanted to render someone unconscious with a vicious and unkind kick.

Second guy starts going nuts. Jessica Jones is going to walk up and basically give him the same sort of treatment. These guys need to testify at Ralphie's trial.

*

Kate is about to go for her tonfas when she spots the work that Jess just did with the crystal around gun-wielding lady. There's a splint second decision there, and she grabs for another arrow as she knocks back up her bow. She draws it sharply back, settling into her stance as the limping sandbag comes her way. She breathes out once, and on that exhale, releases her arrow.

It had been carefully aimed at the man's chest. Well, at something on his chest. The arrow flies with a whistle and then slams into her mark. The precision is perfect, and the crystal shatters on its way to burrowing the tip of the arrow into the man's chest.

*

And so, Gentle Reader, the end of this adventure moved thusly:

Curbstomping. Lots.

Sleep spells from Elinor. Just in case.

A spiteful kick to the knocked-down guy from one John Constantine, who is pissed off about being shot.

A partridge in a … no.

But some follow-up to be done…spellcasters who need to safely drain weird crystal things and fix themselves a ley line among them.

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