Hollow Arguments, Hollowpoint Bullets

February 18, 2018:

Miss Moreau declares a war against corrupt businesses involved in human trafficking and slavery, Rusalka Stojespal finds herself in the crossfire, and soon in Moreau's crosshairs.

A party of sorts, held in a hotel ballroom in Manhattan

Your typical open space for a hotel, stocked with hypocrites and two-faced business and civic leaders celebrating money

Characters

NPCs: Scummy business leaders, henchmen, Freezer McSemiTruck

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's just not a party until someone is drowned in a punch bowl.

That's what Miss Moreau thinks, anyway. We'll get to that part though! The setting is a posh ballroom in New York easily rentable for all sorts of high society gatherings. Wood floors, long tables with fingerfoods, an open as heck bar, and only two enter-exit doors in vast defiance of safety concerns.

Tonight, it's a charity gala. White tie type affair, bring your best, even if the company is decidedly mid-tier at best. Mid size corps that want to give money to the Society for Betterment of Children. Curious thing about this society and those currently chatting it up or getting drunk? The leader is one Alicia Crowley, a rather unknown and private woman, owner of a mid-sized fashion company. They're trying to make their name as a philanthropist. As are most of the people attending. Funny thing is, she's also unknowingly on both SHIELD and perhaps Stark Industries' watch lists. What for? The little sweatshop over in India currently working kids to death, while she's up on a podium giving a speech about giving to children. In fact, most of the people here have little connections, skeletons in their closet. Either directly contributing, knowingly, to this atrocity. Or worse. More personal ones.

People are here to assauge their sins.

Did we mention the band? There's a lovely trio playing. The first two players are big men in white suits and black ties. Not your typical musicians, they look to be the size of your average linebacker. One of them has a big ol' burn scarr on his forehead. Bouncers turned musicians, maybe? They know how to play.

They pale next to the pure skill of the woman. Beautiful brown hair, she plays a bit of Bach with grace and a smile. She's been at it for the last hour or so, and finally it's time to take a break. Standing, the woman gives a curtsey to the clapping crowd of sinners. A few have tears in their eyes, or lust.

'Sophia Crowley', no relation to Alicia, is wearing a long charcoal grey dress that ends at the ankles. It's struck through with white ruffles and fur, drowning the somewhat slight woman. It's a daring one, actually, strapless corset-like in front accenting modest, fit curves, absolutely plunging backline, and proper lolita kneesocks and cute heels showing off dainty feet and well pedicured toes that wiggle every now and again.

There's also a scarf wrapped around her forehead, oddly. Did she bump her head? That scarr is pretty huge too, though it looks old. It's her back that gets way too much attention. Beautiful body art in violet of entwining serpents plays out again and again in patterns that might seem random from far away. As she fans out to stop near the punch bowl, a cane in one hand and feeling about with it, whispers follow her.

Those aren't patterns, per se. The tattoos are cleverly laid over a mass of old scarrs and signs of having been cut. It's like someone went at this beautiful person's back with a razor or a box cutter, and she's rolled with it.

She's ignoring the whispers. Having a bit of trouble finding the cups though as she feels around. Some nice person might want to give her a hand. Like, say, an Intern.

Meanwhile, more white suits and black ties, 'servants' at the event, crowd near where Alicia is. Also one or two of them click locks closed, quietly. There's now a captive audience, and they dont' know it.

There's also lumps to their clothes, for the sharp eyed. Suspicious ones. Alicia is laughing right now, unaware.

"Stocks are through the roof! With our new labor force, we could become the Stark Industries of fashion! You should visit James. I know you'd…like it." Says Alicia. James, another dirty horror like her, gives a dark chuckle.

'You know me too well, Miss Crowley."

At the rate these charity galas have been going, they're entirely all parties by that definition. Perhaps not all of them, but a running average of Rusalka Stojespal's tally certainly has enough overflow to cover the whole list. Hopefully this one will finally put something on the positive side, Sally hopes.

Not that she makes a habit of attending such events; the Stark Gala was something that her teacher and boss had organized - certainly no way out of that. Lady Frost's much more private party had extended an invitation by way of Obadiah Stane, both a thanks for her saving his life as well as the chance to do her duty of watching Mr. Stark.

This time? It's SHIELD. Partly training, all she's learned for infiltration and observation, and partly an actual intelligence gathering trip to see more about just who this Society for Betterment of Children is really connected with. She'd posed as a serving girl, providing drinks she's too young to partake of herself while piling on the demure, polite servant attitude. It's not that hard; she's trained from birth to recieve such honors as well as deliver them to those of much higher station. Circulating in a uniform of sorts just like the rest, and tall enough to mostly ignore the heels that a few of the other serving girls wear, she does her best to simply…blend, quietly.

Knowing who these people really are, and what they actually do, well…that rankles the blueblooded noble-born. Noblesse oblige cuts both ways, and these people have a duty that they ignore - yet they certainly take up all the benefits.

The musical trio does get her attention, though. Not the kinds of folks she'd expect to see wearing the fine attire of classical musicians, but then again some people can be surprising. Like…that one actor, the giant muscle-man, Lundgren. Wasn't he also a professor of chemical engineering? Or Sloane, for that matter; maybe not quite the same as the apparent bodybuilders but…certainly as distinctive as the young lady plays out her Bach. The tattoo work, the scars…

And with that she's back to circulating, glancing at faces and trying to remember the details the way she'd been trained. Little details, faces reminiscent of more famous folks, easy to spot differences. Listening as she goes, doing her best to keep the liquor flowing. In vino veritas goes the old Latin saying…

Ah, the musician - blind? The cane identifies her more than anything else, and as she'd been close to the drink table she'll step in quickly to help. "Ma'am?" The voice is accented, Sokovian; a musical history of Ukrainian dialects present in Sally's speech. "Next to your hand, three inches. There you go." Oddly precise, but she's a born engineer. Some things just slip anyway. And as soon as conversation starts Sally will take a step back - giving the chatters an obvious, if false, privacy.

The two bodybuilders have stopped their playing too. Right on time, just as planned. Alicia and her comrades have moved on closer to the center of the charity gala's floor. There's plenty of people for Saly to circle back around to while she's serving, nevermind the stop to help out Moreau.

Speaking of, the woman beams a genuine smile to the young 'serving girl'. She's not on /their/ list, after all. Moreau and company had done a good job of faking names and otherwise sneaking into the catering and entertainment company. That last little addition would mean that Sally is the odd duck on the guest list, as it were.

"Ah, such a helpful soul, little cub! Oh bless you! I do hope your duties tonight are not so tiring." Her voice is faux-noble, with a very clear Gotham accent to her that ruins much of it. At least she dresses the part. Up she takes a glass, and motions vaguely towards a chair.

"What is your name, hmm? I think my friends can handle the drinks." Moreau seems to actually be following Sally now, seeking to get slightly out of the way of the groups of hobnobbers. Her goal tonight is far less investigative than the SHIELD agent's after all.

Siiiip. She whispers in Sally's periphery, cane tucked under one arm. "Mmm. Can you smell it on them, Miss? Their debauchery. How they so thoughtlessly take from the vulnerable? All of that money, that power, and what do they do with it? Tut!" Her voice is disdainful in the extreme. Her tongue licks her lips, looking somewhat like a snake flicking it's tongue.

One of the huge musicians has joined Moreau's side, and has helpfully taken her arm. All at the exits, there's at least two 'servants' of various sizes now not bothering to hide the fact they're blocking the doors. A few gala goers are looking oddly at the help now.

Something in the air is off. A calm before a storm.

Circle she does, though keeping an eye on the blind musician - respect for both her talent and her disability, just in case she needs help. Though it seems those two football players seem to have her needs taken care of at the moment, while she maintains her cover and continues her distant mingling. When the smile comes, she's sure to return it. Whether or not Alicia can see her, she can very likely hear it in her voice.

"Oh yes ma'am, absolutely it is fine. I just needed a little extra part-time work, you see…" A temp agency, of course; one specializing in social events. More than a few of those in the New York area. Certainly easy enough to insert an agent that way, especially one as young and clearly collegiate material looking for a few bucks on the side like her. Five feet seven, curiously deep blue eyes, and short brown hair; slim and on the way to being a few inches taller still. And apparently with all the self-confidence of a mousy, over-intelligent perpetual student type.

"Sally, ma'am. Sally Stepanic," giving her cover identity. It explains the accent as well. "If you would prefer, I could…ah, I see." She'll give in and let this musician dictate things. "You play very beautifully, I am glad I was able to listen."

And then things take just a small step sideways, as Alicia whispers to her. Maybe it's just the private opinions of a professional musician inured to the attitudes of those around her; someone who can take enough money for their skill that worrying about angering their employer is pointless. The disdain in her voice is almost thick enough to cut with a chainsaw, and Sally can't help but hold the serving tray - empty, fortunately - closer to her chest. Maybe it's an affectation of her college student persona, or maybe there's something a little more true there, responding to the blind woman's quiet vitriol.

"But…is it not true, that this charity is helping others? That at least, some money goes to them?" It's whispered as well, even as there's the slightest warmth from the little leather pouch around her neck, tucked invisibly below the blouse and jacket she wears. Her words are true, but incomplete, little fangs. There is more here than meets anyone's eyes…except hers.

It's a rare appearance, and one that causes her to unintentionally stiffen in nervousness. What is she doing here, now?

Focus. Roles. "Ah, I mean, with so many businesses, these leaders, are they not helping in some way?" Even as she asks, trying to draw out the moment - and the woman's intent - she can't help but notice Khoro was right. What hadn't met her eyes yet was that the various rest of the wait staff was…waiting. In tactically significant places.

Moreau chuckles, and actually curtseys at the comment. She has enough ruffles on that dress to do it. As Sally introduces herself, Moreau gives a bright little nod, so far removed from her hatred of those here. She…actually nudges up against the woman, a hand dusting a hip 'accidentally'. There's no hiding how she actually sniffs the younger woman though. Yup, this is a weird one.

"It is an honor, Miss Stepanic. Perhaps you shall hear it again. Mmm. Yes yes yes, that should be fine. You do not have their scent. Though…little cub. Have you a spark about you? Or…no, no, that is not your Talent. Well, whatever you have found, treasure it." Wink.

And then she seems to be about to depart Sally's side, only to pause for a moment. And laugh, loudly. By now the crowd has learned to just ignore the eccentric musicians and their ways.

"Anyone who gives a charity a name like that, is a grandstanding sinner, Sally. What little funds actually go to keep up appearances are just that. No, they are rotten to the core. Modern day slavery at it's worse. No loyalty to the pack, this is a room of lone wolves. But not to worry. This ends tonight." There's a snarl to her voice, and then she's over to get a second drink.

Moreau finds one, and a fork. Clink clink clink until she has everyone's attention. She raises it in a toast.

"A toast, everyone! To the great charity you all contribute to!" Her voice carries.

The woman leading this whole thing gives an annoyed, but indulgant smile. A few here here's can be heard.

"To, for instance, your dear leader's lovely textile factory in India!" On a few monitors about the place, they click on, showing photographs of said factory: children, some missing body parts from accidents, horrible conditions all around.

"To Mister Busey's greed, and using his funds give to the charity to launder money for underage girls trafficked into the US!' She points out vaguely another member of the crowd. There's whispers, more photos on screen. Some of the security detail here walks over to Moreau, who puts down her glass after draining it. The party is abuzz, denials and secrets being aired out. Some move to leave. The doors are locked from the other side, and only those big guys have the keys.

Two men in black suits go for Moreau. The body builder near her pulls out a big handcannon, and clocks the first one with it. Moreau herself, a book in one hand drawn from her dress, opens it to a page. She ducks a meaty hand, knees him in the groin, and then mounts the man's shoulders as she deftly hops up onto the table where he fell. She holds the security guard's face in the punch, slowly drowning him.

The various non-Rusa servants have guns out by now, and there's two shots into the ceiling.

"You all have been very /naughty/! Hurting children, from sweatshops, to your own sons and daughters, to countless other little cubs abused for profit. Let me introduce myself. My name is Miss Moreau. Mother wolf and Alpha, I will not let a single one of you live. Roses! Kill them all!"

Snap.

That's when the eight armed White Roses begin to shoot. Handguns, some compact automatics, these goons have good aim. Many guests are gunned down immediately, a few find cover.

So far, no one's shooting at Sally. There /is/ one of those fallen security guards whose gun skittered her way before Moreau started to make him drink punch though. What's a SHIELD agent to do?

The curtsey is returned, though it's a little less impressive wearing the outfit of a serving girl - at least the skirt's loose enough to let her draw it sideways a moment. Well, a typical reaction, and one she can cover as being similar enough to Alicia's own that it's more like a proper salute being returned…just one that, very clearly, the tattooed woman can't see so clearly.erThere's a slight yeep of surprise when Moreau rubs up against her, the hand on her hip a surprise - but she doesn't do anything more than jump slightly at the unexpected contact and sniff. It's just a way for her companion to 'see' who she's talking to, right? And it isn't as if she has anything in particular to hide; no ICER tucked against a thigh or stungun on the small of her back. Perhaps it's a little affectionate, the musician's bubbly personality suggesting that…but it doesn't seem so offputting.erHer best friend is a dragon-fish-girl after all. A rub and a sniff, that's nothing.

"A..spark?" There's confusion in the word, wondering what the musician means. Talent? Spark? "I…will do so," she adds to the declaration and wink. Instead of returning it, her eyebrows furrow a little more when Talent is brought up with such odd emphasis.

And then everything goes completely sideways when the musician steps forward and addresses the crowd - listing off the kinds of things that SHIELD knew and was investigating directly, the crimes that she'd heard previously. Faces in shock, as they're listed off; it's all she can do to remember her mission and watch the connections - remember the faces, who responds to what!

Or who ends up facedown in the punchbowl, in this case. When the gunfire starts, there's a stampede, and - she can't let someone simply get murdered like that, new friend or no. The burst of confusion makes it easier, as she kicks the pistol aside and then tries to grab one of the running businessmen to protect him…

…accidentally knocking him into the table Moreau is standing on and doing her best to free the man under it. Maybe, if she can, spoil the aim of some of the shooters, but meanwhile she's got to escape - her hand clawing at the delicate watch on her left, hammering out a signal for a panic button for SHIELD. Whatever quick response teams they have, they'll be here momentarily. Bless you, Tony, she thinks, for that gift of the watch. Never can I repay it.

Now, if only the doors will open…

That little 'yeep' is just /adorable/, and really it makes Moreau flush that much more in a friendly manner. The girl is interesting. Some composure to her! Moreau decides she likes it.

"Perhaps one day your eyes will open, little cub." It's as much a lingering pat and there's that little narrow to her eyes that just can't be a good sign, but this is a villainess with /manners/. She's not like the Joker.

There's murder to do though, murder that Sally tries to lessen. One businessman back into the table, Miss Moreau is toppled over. She's not a big woman, so it's taken quite a bit to drown a guy in punch that's much bigger. She tumbles off, butt in the air for a moment as she sputters and gets to her feet. She almost loses her Tome in the process. That stampede is a problem, too. More than one person gets trampled, and the doors are very much locked, probably some kind of bar laid over them to keep them shut.

Moreau, meanwhile, gets to her feet. Gripping her cane with her teeth, she pulls out the concealed sword as she's joined by two goons. They're busy on phones with their comrades running overwatch and surveilance. Mostly police scanners and a bit of hacking into cell signals by the techie amongst them.

"Hey Boss? Got some weird stuff, Hack isn't sure what it is, but it ain't police or FBI."

Moreau's lips purses as she spins, and casually slices out a dirty corporation owner's throat. Blood splatters onto her cheeks, the woman licking some of it off languidly.

A sniff. Moreau, it seems, hasn't forgotten the girl. "There are a dozen agencies in this city at the command of those who would chain us. We don't have long. Boris. Bring me the girl! I should hate to have the single decent lamb amongst them all to be accidentally slaughtered."

The big bald, vaguely russian looking man is now actively hunting for Sally. Sally might want to find an escape, or at least a place to hide. The group doesn't have long, but it seems they're intent on maximizing the amount of death at large here.

She won't see it of course, but there was just a little bit of a matching blush from Sally's cheeks as that hand lingered against her leg a moment. There's something she actually kind of likes about this woman, the effervescent cheer - what some might consider manic insanity - but there's…almost an honesty there.

A homicidal honesty, to be true, but in some ways the speech she'd given certainly showed which side of the line she was on. Juist…not an ally to trust, Sally decides, as the table goes over. Now - the pistol, where did the pistol go - there! Diving for it, she comes up against one of the doors with several people pounding. The lock…the latch, there. Not shooting the lock directly, but jamming the pistol into the frame of the door and unloading the whole magazine, Sally manages to weaken the thing long enough for a particularly desperate overweight man - Mr. Busey, the trafficker - to slam through the thing.

The gunfire at the door, simultaneous with the gunfire around the rest of the room and the screams of the wounded, turn into a deafening chorus that makes the devil's own counterpoint to the Bach earlier. And the one lone opening turns into a funnel as those still able stampede for the door.

Her watch is still sending out its distress signal, encrypted SHIELD frequencies active with radio traffic. Maybe they were staking out planning to make some arrests, or else they'd expected something of this, but there's a breaching team moving fast past the fleeing and bleeding crowd. Moreau's madness won't last much longer if she doesn't want a straight up firefight…

…but it'll last long enough for, at least, her goons to recover the semi-trampled and battered serving girl who'd been nice enough to the musician.

One of the goons considers shooting Sally as she quite effectively opens the door. Busey busts through, and with only a few more minor cases of trampling, a small stream of people are making their way out.

Moreau prepared for this, of course. For all her bubbly, murderous cheer, she and her pack are good at their jobs. Websites, blogs, and other less reliable media sites will get hit with stories about those attending. Most of it no doubt all known by SHIELD, maybe a few that they've yet to ensure the truth of. But all out in the public. Even if many here escape death and prosecution?

There's going to be many ruined lives.

Hack, the group's hacker, can't get through that encryption of course. But he knows something is coming, and so when those teams start to beach? A building away, a woman with slick-backed hair and tanned skin calls Moreau.

"Hey Boss, got company! That stampede's gonna slow 'em down, but you got three minutes tops. Might want to get going. Want me to kill a few of 'em? Shit, I think that's SHIELD!"

"No, no, dear Snipe. Keep tabs on everything, a clever little fox here is far more interesting than that scum."

Click. Dragged over by the bald man, arm firmly holding Sally's, Moreau gives this small little /pout/. "Miss Sally. Most interns would hide under a table, not go grabbing a gun and shooting out a lock. What a clever little vulpine you are! Small claws, yet ones that can still tear out throats besides. Mmm!" She starts to giggle, tone switching from murderess to a proud momma wolf peering upon a freshly bloodied cub.

"Well done! Brave, smart, oh Miss Sally! I think tonight was fate. Mmm. I wonder whoooo it could have been that called the authorities, I wonder I wonder!" She'll reach, book put away, and tries to feel Sally's face. That might be a good time to make a move!

"Naughty naughty! Cutting my fun short. But I think I like you. We should do dinner some time, dancing! Tea!" The goons, meanwhile, have moved to a far more defensive position while they indulge their Boss' whims.

Even if he'd fired, it'd likely have not hit the mark - as soon as Busey's weight hit the door, open it went and down she went. And with the kinds of pseudopatrician dilletantes and low-level oligarchs seeking their own escape, none of them give a thought to the girl getting knocked aside. Well, she is trying to save their lives, but they could at least be thinkful about it!

Once things go public…it isn't as if SHIELD is going to have much to do to shut it down. Perhaps there'll be some attempts, attorneys general trying to keep various criminal cases from coming apart too much with all the public information. But for the most part, in a way, both SHIELD and Moreau are at least on the same side of the enemy…just nowhere near being friends or allies.

The stampede of wounded does slow the responders down, as the various medics in the team try to triage folks as they run. It buys time for Moreau to finish whatever she might be doing…which in this case is retrieving a certain once-friendly wine server. "I…just wanted to escape," Sally offers…then stiffens when Moreau implies it was her actions that called the response.

"Perhaps…someone had, ah, that…life-alarm, and pressed their button," she adds. It's a lame defense, but maybe there'd been a few people at the party worth enough. Possibly the man whose throat Moreau had neatly bisected; she can't help but stare at the blood pooled around him. It's all too reminiscent of the gala bombing, and the wounds to Stane.

Then those hands find her face. Slavic features, delicate, young. Not even twenty years old, and even as she tries to flinch away from the other woman's touch the wrench of the arm at her back keeps that from happening anytime soon. It's a little…a lot…like trying to escape from one of Captain Rogers' close combat training seminars. That face looking up at her, eyes seeing nothing, the brutality of the scar saying a lot.

A long, deep breath as those fingers seek their details. Her bangs, hairband shaken loose from the stampede at the door, drape down gently over Moreau's fingers instead of being held back like usual. A young, noble-born face, clearly well taken care of. "I do not…this was not necessary, if you had such information…"

Referring to the massacre. Perhaps they did deserve it, certainly some punishment for their crimes, but. Not like this. And yet there's a voice that speaks up, wondering. Did not her own family seek the same punishments for similar crimes against their own people? The Stojespal partisans of Sokovia, the Midnight Wolf Packs that slipped from trees to garishly slaughter the iron-eagled invader? Her own baba spoke of her scarecrows…who is she to judge such people?

"…And summoned armed officers that my best information specialist can't uncover within a handful of minutes, without any noise over police scanners? Treat me like a fool little one and I may just have to punish you, do you understand me?" There's a slight snarl to her voice her, and worst of all? She has a knack for playing the denmom and aunt, this slight frown that may be even worse than the snarl.

This woman has her pride, it seems. Still, she finally lets go. Such pretty noble features. Moreau even adjusts the hairband, brushes Sally's hair back into place. The goon holding her doesn't let go.

The taller young woman though has her laughing, good cheer returning. "Right. Because I am sure all of those meeting their end tonight would not have been able to weasel their way out of the 'justice' in this country. No no no, this ensures that they will not hurt any innocent soul ever again. It is much like Gotham. The high and powerful chain the lost, sick, and broken. Devouring anything and anyone that will let them hold onto that power. While throwing aside beastly hearts like us to live in squalor, scrounge for enough scraps to live in the darkest corners. It is time to change that. In Gotham. Perhaps the entire country. This class system that allows disgusting abusers to thrive…hunting it down and ripping out it's heart will be the highest pleasure."

"Three incoming boss!"

"HANDS IN THE…" Two goons are firing at the armed shield agents, making them back off. Moreau lets go of Sally, and out comes that tome. Time to leave.

But not before a card is tucked into Rusalka's pocket. It has a number on it to a burner phone. And, a tiny micro usb wrapped up by a rubber band.

Everything they had on this scum. Moreau is convinced Sally's more than she seems.

One goon snaps Sally's picture, and then the girl is forcably shoved towards a corner seat out of the way of the back and forth gun battle.

"Thank you for the entertainment little Fox! Sharpen those claws for me, sweetling! I do so /love/ to see a hunter grow into a fine beast! We shall meet again!"

Then, the entire room drops three degrees, and a shiver runs down spines.

Flip flip flip. "Come to your Mistress, oh loyal servant! Shirohebi!" Commands Moreau aloud. Violet and black magical shadows fill the room, and out slithers a gargantuan serpent. It's sheer length and mass crushes the many tables, devouring space as it can barely fit in the auditorium due to it's size. Beautiful white scales cover it, and the same tattoo burns on it's forehead as does Moreau's. It's large enough to swallow several men all at once. That gigantic tail first lashes out, smashing against the wall where the SHIELD operatives are using as cover, sending them flying or outright shattering their bones. It's mouth opens, and Moreau and her crew fearlessly enter. Then the serpent raises up on it's coils, and thousands of pounds of snake shatters the floor repeatedly, until it opens up a hold in the ground towards the sewers. Slithering off, destruction, blood, and shellcasings everywhere, SHIELD is left with one heck of a mess to clean up.

And chances are? It's Rusalka that's going to have to file this cluster-truck of a report.

To Moreau's threat of punishment, there's nothing but silence. Sally doesn't admit to being the one, but she can tell that the other woman already knows. By what means remain a mystery, but the explanation had perhaps been a little too lame. The frown of disappointment, the snarl of anger, they're both two sides of the same coin - and very definitely a crazy one at that.

Instead there's a mere whispered 'thank you' as Moreau sets her hair back to where it should be and tucks the hairband back in place. Even if she can't move yet with her arms still pinned by Freezer McSemiTruck behind her, she can at least nod to Moreau, the gesture felt through the other woman's fingers.

"There are things bigger than that. Bigger than Gotham, even. Change like that…will come. But…" Not like this dies on her tongue, and Sally shakes her head. "This is not the fields of war. It does not have to be," she insists, seeing her way through finally. But her words are interrupted - first by the SHIELD operations team coming through the doorway, then the sensation of things stuffed into her pockets.

At least they're kind enough to keep her safe, at least from the gunfire - magic, true magic suddenly explodes into the room as a malevolent violet aura whiplashes around, forming into the giant white snake. Moreau herself would not see it, but she'd sense it…another presence, that same prickle as before only this time much more massive and much more powerful. Deus ex Lupina, as a faint vision of a wolf's head the size of a truck appears, scarlet eyes the color of spilled blood staring hungrily at that departing snake. The wolf's snarl sounds like the snapping and rattling of bones and boulders, promising death should that serpent stray too close…but it does not.

As soon as it appears, it's gone, but the voice that only Rusalka of the Stojespal hears remains. I hate the taste of snake. You noticed, little fangs?

"Yes. That pattern, her scars. And Gotham again. I must speak to…allies, I suppose." And it's how the SHIELD team finds her, somewhat in shock at everything that had happened, retrieving their asset still - thankfully - unharmed. But very, very deep in thought.

"There is too much pain and suffering, too much hate and resentment for war to /not/ come, little Fox. I would prefer to march out to it on my own terms, as my hungers and fury guides me." Offers Moreau in a lower voice, sweet, eager yet slightly melancholy. It's a war no one will escape from, or so she thinks. Many of her friends will die. A tear drips down her cheek before they're gone.

~Elsewhere, NYC Sewers~

The serpent Shirohebi moves at it's master's insistance, but only just. The snake reeks of pure terror, primal and very real. Not even Moreau's best urgings, magical changes in chemistry and other attempts to calm the beast work. No, it's serpentine instincts shaped by powerful magic know what that vision was, what it represented. Death. Hunger. Far greater than it, and the wary serpent is right to fear.

Inside the mouth of the snake, a combination of flashlights and fireflies provide light for the goons, absorbed in various cleanup tasks. Burners to destroy. Media accounts to cut or activate. Places to stash guns for eventual transport back to the Library in Gotham. Vehicles and plane tickets and false identities to kill or gain.

Moreau lets her trusted Roses handle it. Her hands, laid upon the braille of her spellbook with it's twisting magical words, tremble. Not in fear as the serpent does.

But in pure, unadulterated lust and excitement. The sensations of such an old, powerful animal spirit has her cheeks burning bright. Her chest heaving and tears falling down from soaking in that brief contact with Khoro's presence. Shellshocked from beauty.

"Freezer…" The big man that had been holding Sally turns.

"Yeah Boss?"

"I want to know everything about that young woman. Where she is from, anyone she might work for. Spare no expense or resource. The Fox has something powerful at her side. Maybe even stronger than my Power."

Her laugh echoes in the wet maw of Shirohebi.

"That glorious presence, that beastly savagery! It will be MINE!"

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