Leggo My Eggo

March 16, 2018:

Now with less breakfast food and more demon. The Magdalena and The Rapture run into each other.

Random New York Street

Any street in Brooklyn, New York; anywhere that's a bit down market. Later, the office of Judge, Inc. and the apartment above. Also low-rent.

Characters

NPCs: unnamed Demon

Mentions: Josef Durant (NPC)

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The worst part of spending most of one's night in a dingy bar in Brooklyn is the moment you stumble outside, and the fresh, cold air hits home, waking you back to reality from whatever dream you were intent on indulging in. It's enough to make a former priest, now professional drunk, empty out the entirety of his guts.

Which he does — half on the sidewalk, half in the gutter — to the disgust of others walking nearby. Wiping his mouth, Tom Judge straightens, digs around in the pocket of his leather jacket, and pulls on his sunglasses. It might be night, but those street lights are bright.

He stumbles on down the near-empty street. A car horn blares as he stumbles into the street — he makes a gesture and unevenly pushes on, into a suburban street that seems eerily dark — like every second street light's just died — or the city just can't afford to fix it.

It's late, and only those with nefarious business, the unfortunates, and the just plain gluttons for punishment are out this late. Hard to say which category the drunken man fits into. Maybe all three.

High above the streets, moving from rooftop to rooftop, it might almost be possible to forget where you are. To pretend that the sight of the river, glimmering off in the long distance was something warmer, welcome, more inviting. And then, a gust of wind, a blare of a horn, and you know precisely where you are.

And so she moves, but she doesn't pretend. Can't. Not with the occasional waft of sulfur that stings her nose. So very much like the smell of the steam the rises from the city's grates, and yet…subtly different. A beacon, that marks a presence, even if it doesn't spotlight a location. But those glimpses of darkness? As tThe Magdalena moved along the rooftops, no parkour dazzle but simple, efficient movements using hand and footholds, timed jumps, and enough practice not to tangle herself in the cloak that went with the costume she still thought of as ludicrous, she tracked her prey, hands wrapped around a pair of slender swords. No bright silver gleam here, but each sword coated with a rich, deep bluing that dulled the steel to nearly black and reduced visibility.

It's all fun and games until you find yourself in a jail cell you can't pray your way out of.

And on, stumbles the oblivious former priest. Around his neck, even with the low light, the ancient artifact that is the Rapture glimmers, its power otherworldly — and a beacon to the legions of Hell that want to claim its power for their own.

It starts as a scrap of claws from within one of those pools of darkness; a hiss of breath torn from a mouth formed differently than a humans, unmistakably not mortal: "Thomas Judge. Give us what is rightfully ours." The shades of its form can't be fully grasped within the darkness, but it is misshapen, over seven foot tall, looking down at the puny mortal in front of it.

Here's his moment to be a hero. To turn into his other form, to tear the creature apart for the very insolence of daring to challenge his ownership of the artifact that is now his.

But instead, Tom Judge turns, mutters, "For fuck's sake," and then drops to the pavement to spill up more of his guts.

The demon steps forward with another scraping of claw.

Again, that waft of sulfur, but stronger now, as though the creature had stopped. And something else. Something imminently more human. The Magdalena slowed her steps, moving nearly silently, as she approached the edge of the roof, moving to a suitable vantage point to observe the scene as it unfolded.

One demon, that she could see, that she could feel, in the heat of the blade at her back. And a human, sick, on the ground. And yet…it was toying with him. But then, they did enjoy playing with their food, though, given the man's sickness. Well, it was a demon. No accounting for taste.

A practiced movement exchanged one of the swords for the weapon at her back, the Spear, looking for all the world at the moment like a simple handspear, felt heavy in her hand, the wood of the haft soft as silk, a sharp contrast to the callouses of her own hands.

One last movement to get into position, and she stepped off of the roof, shooting like an arrow towards the pavement.

The problem with demons — when you're a human anyway — isn't necessarily that they're trying to kill you — at least for Tom it isn't. It's that they really all just look alike, and Tom is sure this is the same one as last time. I mean, seen one mouthful of solid, sharp teeth, seen 'em all, right?

"Told you last time," Tom says, wiping his mouth again, "It's fucking mine. I'm the—"

And then, suddenly, there's a woman on the pavement in front of him, moreover, between him and the demon. It makes him huff a breath — some combination of frustration and resignation, as he half stumbles to his feet, looking to grab her by the arm and pull her away. Chivalry is—

"Hey, that's my fucking demon, lady!"

—dead, clearly.

The demon regards this new arrival — more specifically — the spear she holds. A noise comes from the thing — whether interest or fear or something else entirely isn't obvious. It lunges forward to snap its jaw where the Magdalena's head is.

There's something about grabbing someone in the middle of what looks to be the start of a fight, especially one dressed in, well, full-ish battle armor that probably screams 'Not a good idea'. But it might well be that good ideas are not what led to the situation she finds herself in right now.

"Just the one?" The woman twists her arm away, the movement swinging the sword around as well, the motion a familiar one, 'clearing the blade', before she lunges to the side. And just for the moment, as she darts around to flank the thing, her sword slicing at it's side, the man does get, well, precisely what he wanted. The demon is all his, or at least is lunging now in his direction.

At least at this angle, it's easier to see the cross emblazoned on the chestplate of the black armor, bright gold against dark crimson.

Bad ideas are the things Tom Judge's life is made of, these days. Also, bad decisions. In fact, there's one happening right now: after she twists away from his grasp he teeters unevenly for a moment, before he makes to lunge after her.

Unfortunately, with her moving away, that puts Tom right in the midst of the demons sudden attack.

In his other form, his skin turns impervious to the weapons of demons, but in his human form — he may be strong, but he's still human. Claws tear into his stomach, and teeth are at neck, biting deeply. He screams.

Two things happen at once: the Magdelena's sword slices into the demon's side, causing it to twist briefly in her direction; and Tom Judge puts his fist through the middle of the demon, tearing through its chest. The demon throws its head back and howls an unearthly, chilling sound, seconds before it collapses.

The silence is abrupt, broken by the rasping breath of a probably dying man. But, you know, he looks kind of fucking satisfied, go figure.

Never trust a demon to actually be dead, when you think it is. The next thing you know, it's re-formed in Hell and looking for payback. But not today. As the demon collapses, the woman switches to her strong left hand, the spear erupting in a radiant gold light, as she sinks it into the demon's body, the creature's flesh sizzling around it. The decay, sparked by contact with the spear, seems to be working at an accelerated rate, as the creature begins to collapse in on itself, powder and sludge, always with that wondrously foul smell soon spreading out in a pool around the remains of the body.

It's quick, dirty work, but no less so than the woman's next movement, as she rises, pulling the spear, miraculously clean of any ichor, from the remnants of the creature. The sword she tucks away with its mate, a hand rising to her mouth. Not to scream, alas, but to bite the finger of her glove and tug it off of her hand, leaving her skin exposed.

"Hold on. I'm here." It doesn't matter that she doesn't know who he is. That he doesn't know who she is. She can see his wounds, and she's already sliding the blade of the spear across the palm of her right hand, bright blood and a white incandescence leaking out.

Tom's fingers — shaking — reaching up to clasp at the old-looking silver necklace resting on his chest. He breathes out — breathes a little easier, even if it does nothing. A placebo, but one borne of clarity — as gaze settles on the woman hovering over him. Whatever he sees makes him suck in a sharp breath — something that costs him a great deal, if the gargled noise and rigid tension that echoes through his body is anything to go by.

Blood gargles in his torn throat. It is nearly impossible for him to speak — agonizing — but he tries. "Hide," he rasps, bloodied fingers lifting the artifact at his neck, "…far …away."

For wonder, he doesn't try and pull away from that hand. Whatever he sees — saw — gives him peace, at least momentarily. And then her hand makes contact with him. His eyes close, his face relaxes — not in death, though it might be easy to mistake it for that.

For the first time in a long time — years — he just… lets… go.

"Hush."

Hide the necklace? is that what he's asking? There's a part of the woman's mind that is asking the question. There are other parts that are asking about half a hundred more. But what she thinks and what she does, are two entirely different things.

What she does, is settle onto her knees beside him, allowing the spear to rest between them, its radiance remaining unabated, as she uses her whole, uncut hand to attempt to settle him with something closer to ease on the ground, rather than crumpled in a heap. But perhaps that will have to do, as she settles that bleeding palm against his throat, not knowing how it feels to him, only that, to her, it feels like a warm effervescence, the way bubbles of carbonation feel in the mouth.

She seems not to mind the blood, only to mark the flesh and muscle reknitting itself under her hand, her fingertips gentle, for all the roughness of callous on skin.

Only once she's certain that his neck is healed, does she move down to his stomach, putting the demon's handwork to good use as she rips the clawed cloth apart to expose his belly. That, too, is shredded. And that too, begins to heal, once she sets her hand, her blood now mingled with his, on his torn flesh.

The command, instinctively, makes him want to balk. You can't tell me to hush!, but the words don't make it past his torn throat, perhaps mercifully — that'd be a shitty use of his last words. An altruistic bid to make the artifact safe, followed up by a teenage-inspired instinctual rebellion against authority.

One moment he's rasping, struggling for breath, dying on a dirty sidewalk in Brooklyn. The next moment, he can breathe again.

Clearly, this is a momentous occasion, one that he should put to good use. Certainly, people have turned their lives around after a near-death event like this, made major life changes, become better people.

Tom, now eminently, horrifyingly sober, does none of that. He burps — a really satisfying one — and then squints up at the Magdalena. "So… want to come back to my place?"

As soon as he's healed enough that she needs only keep a single hand on his abdomen, the woman reclaims the spear, the light of it winking out, before she reaches back to secure it back into place beneath her cloak. And by this time, it would seem all is both perfectly, and terribly, well.

The woman, still kneeling, but perhaps, in the loss of that radiance seeming much more…human, releases the man entirely, and though there's not much that can be done for his shirt, she does move to attempt to cover him with the lapels of his coat.

"If you require assistance, I can certainly provide it. Of a sort…but I think not the sort you were implying." There's rather a good bit of humour in her voice, as she rises, curling up from her knees, to low standing, and then reaching out her hands, one still gloved, the other sporting a line of bright red which seems itself to be healing, "Up you come. Let's test you out a bit."

Well, he's made worse propositions, and had worse rejections; he takes both in his stride. "I bet I can change your mind after a drink or two." Tom seems pretty sure of that, maybe because she's fussing with his clothing and he totally misreads what's going on in that moment. When she offers her hands, he grins even wider — taking them and using her weight as counter to haul himself to his feet, albeit with a groan that has more to do with the state of his body pre-demon than any lingering ailments.

The silvered artifact hanging around his neck now rests against his bare skin, standing out all the more for it as he shifts his shoulders.

The weird thing is — the tall man — looking taller now he's not hunched over drunk — just doesn't look that surprised that she just brought him back from the brink of death. He seems, in fact, oddly accepting of it.

"Oh, I have no doubt that you could change many a girl's minds with less than that." The Lord may work in mysterious ways, but men…not so much.

She's strong, and bracing herself against his weight, she manages to bring him to his feet with ease, before she attempts to extract her hands. And now standing face to face, she's barely an inch shorter than he is, though the boots she's wearing might have some small amount to do with that. Suffice to say, she's at least tall enough to look him in the eyes without needing to look up. Though what she seems to be looking at, is the double-barred cross resting against his chest. She makes no attempt to touch it at all, nor him, now that he's on his feet.

Odd that he took the healing in stride? Perhaps so. But much more odd than a literal demon, a glowing spear, and a woman dressed in quasi-medieval armor? That could be up for debate.

"Vivienne." Her accent is, by all accounts, generally European, but difficult to place its exact point of origin.

He lets her pull free, though there's a quirk to his lips as she does so. Or maybe that's for her words.

"Tom," he says, briefly. And then he jerks his head down the street, and begins walking, like he expects her to keep up. "Come on. Owe you a drink, at the least, for that." Probably more. It was his life. But then again, he doesn't have much to give, even if he were so inclined.

If he's aware of her staring at his chest — well, more specifically, at the Rapture — it doesn't bother him. It's a weird looking thing, after all. But then so is her spear and armor and glowing hands, truthfully.

It takes a moment, though a practiced one, to put herself back to rights. The cloak she twitches around herself, hiding sight of most of the armor she's wearing, the cut and weight of the cloak doing most of the work. "My apologies about your demon." Though the quirk of her lips and the tone of humour in her voice add a lightness to that statement.

She does indeed fall into step, her attention darting between the man and the streets around them as she goes, as though this was still a place full of wonderful new impressions to be made, and secrets to discover.

Magdalena says, "Good to meet you, Tom."

"Don't worry; plenty more where that one came from." Tom says it matter-of-factly, not in the least bit joking — more kind of resigned, truth be told.

He's used to his own long stride, and it's good that he doesn't have to moderate it for her, since he doesn't seem inclined to stop. He's sober, about the worst condition that a man like him could be in. Still, he has company to distract him — and it makes him glance sidelong at her — taking note of her fascinated interest in their surroundings. "Not in Kansas anymore, huh?"

The streets are just as empty as before. They pass under street lamps, the thin man squinting away through habit rather than actual need. Her last earns a little smirking smile. "I'll let you retract that statement, sooner or later," he says, blandly.

"Yes, that seems to have been the singular refrain that has followed me through most of my life." It's not ease, not really, that is in her voice, but more a familiar sort of acceptance. Life is…life, as strange and unpleasant as it might be.

When he calls her out on her looking around, she doesn't look in the least embarrassed. Rather, she actually brightens, as if someone noticing, and perhaps not judging, was welcome, "Yes, and no. I have, of course, seen other cities before. But this one is new to me. So much is new, and yet, so much is almost familiar, so much reminds me of the cities I have seen before."

Although she's allowed the man to lead, there's a sense of…readiness in how she handles herself, how close she keeps her hands to her blades. For the sake of anonymity, she does not walk with them out, but uses her cloak to mask her armaments. It cannot, of course, wholly mask the sound of leather on forged steel as she moves, but the armor seems to have been worn enough and fitted well enough that the sound doesn't reach far beyond the man she's walking with.

The tall man's brow quirks, briefly — certainly he seems surprised that the casual comment earns such an explanation. Or maybe Tom's just surprised by how much she explains. "Yeah, I wouldn't go holding it up on a pedestal just yet. You clearly haven't been to the worst parts yet — not that I suggest you go," he adds, blandly, despite whether she looks like she can handle herself or not. Perhaps because of it.

It soon becomes obvious that the place he's leading her is not to a local bar. Indeed, it's a small strip of local shops, all dark and closed this time of night. The place he stops in front of is dingy and worn-looking; it has a A-4 hand-written 'Judge INC' taped to the window. Not exactly confidence inspiring. It takes him a few minutes to jiggle the lock sufficiently to get the key to turn, and he steps inside, flicking on the overhead light. The pale wash spills out over a spartan looking room — little more than a desk and chair, filing cabinet, and a kitchenette.

He walks past all of that, heading for the gloom-shrouded back stairs.

"No city is ever as beautiful as you think it is at first blush. But I think that, in order to survive anywhere, you need to be able to see something beautiful in where you are." There's something genuine and earnest in her words. As though the conversation had, at least for her, no goal or intended purpose, but was, instead, simply a way to pass the time and acquaint herself with her companion.

Vivienne's eyes, her mind, her senses, all take in the areas as they move. Not only searching for additional targets, but also searching for clues about the man walking beside her. The place he's leading her to. Once they do arrive at the storefront, with the rest of the strip wholly deserted, she does, finally, retrieve one of the swords she'd set aside some time earlier. It's held in her likely dominant left hand, her right, still gloveless, but now healed, loose and ready at her side, "This seems rather a clandestine bar, Tom. Are there prohibitions laws in place in this city?" Once again, that thread of humour, as she watches him walk ahead of her.

The man shoots a rather baffled look at Magdalena over his shoulder — at least, it's baffled until he sees she has her sword out. It makes his brow draw down into a furrow as he pushes sunglasses onto the top of his head. "Man, I thought I had some issues." With a shrug, he turns and begins to climb the stairs.

"Never said we were going to a bar. I've got private stock."

The stairs creak noticeably as they climb. Bonus: it'd be difficult to sneak up from this direction, at least.

The upstairs looks just as dingy as the below — a small combination lounge and kitchen area, with little more than sofa and TV to make it seem homey — a door, left ajar, leading through to an unmade bed. The little table in front of the sofa is full of seeming junk — pill bottles, empty beer bottles, empty chip packets. There's even a bong sitting there in the open amongst the rubbish. He doesn't seem ashamed of any of it — just waves towards it with a oh-so-casual, "Help yourself," as he opens the fridge and leans in to examine the contents with a frown.

"Oh, don't let me dissuade you. You very likely still do. I just have an entirely different assortment." She does not, however, put away the weapon, not moving in unfamiliar territory, nor walking with someone who had already been attacked once tonight.

She does, at least, allow him to lead the way, and clear the door before she steps inside, "That's very kind of you to offer." She does not, though, take him up on it, though she seems to at least take some interest in it, reaching out to flick the chip packets around, turning each to see what flavours seem to be favourites. "So what sort of business man are you, Tom? When you're not putting your fists through demons or bleeding out on the street?"

Finally, he emerges from the fridge, with two bottles of generic looking beer — the cheap sort. He hands her one, before twisting the top off his own and and taking a deep draught before sinking down onto the sofa with a careless flop. The question earns a snort of amusement. "Business man?" Tom echoes, amused.

With a shake of his head, he leans forward to pick through the rubbish on the table until he finds a cigarette pack, shaking one of them out. "I do a bit of PI work here and there. You know, finding cats and the like." He eyes her sidelong, as he lights up. "You?"

The beer, she accepts with a soft, "Thank you," though she doesn't immediately open it, or even bring it up for inspection. Instead, she commits true blasphemy, simply holding it in her hand, allowing it to slowly warm against her skin and in the open. If it's some comfort, she does, at least, put the sword away, switching off hands so that she can tuck the second of her gloves into one of the belts that wrap her waist. "An investigator for hire sound as though it might be quite a useful tool to have in any arsenal. Especially one as…skilled as yourself."

Warm, rich laughter escapes her lips, the humour lightening her expression, making her look even younger than she clearly still is, "I do…very often precisely what you saw me do today. I hunt demons and other supernatural threats, I protect the interests of the Church. I intercede when a strong hand is required. It all sounds a bit ponce, I suppose. But I am also not Vivienne then. In service of my duties, I am The Magdalena."

He can't help it: he gives a bark of laughter when she describes him as 'skilled'. "You just made my daily rate go up. But if you can afford it…" he gives a shrug, as he exhales smoke towards the ceiling, at least somewhat mindful of his guest not to exhale towards her when he glances her way, a furrow of brow appearing when he notices she's not drinking.

In contrast, Tom appears to be set on working his way back towards that drunken state he was in when she first encountered him. His reaction is pretty immediate, and obvious — if unusual for the fact that he reacts far more strongly to her saying she's with the Church than that she hunts demons, like that's the night's takeaway. The tension and sudden, rigid anger is obvious in his posture, as he rocks to his feet, leaning over to pull the unopened beer from her hand.

"Actually, you know what? You need to leave. Thanks for…" he doesn't even finish it, just grimaces and waves dismissively down the stairs, before he takes both beers — his and hers now, too — before going into the bedroom and slamming the door. Doesn't even bother to see her out.

Ah. This. This she's accustomed to. When his attitude moves from generally lackadaisical to outright hostile, she simply releases the beer, having, perhaps, only held it long enough that, should times prove desperate and he doesn't mind a mildly warm beer, he might still be able to make short work of it. Of course, what he does eventually do with it, she doesn't bother to find out. Instead, once he's thrown the door closed behind him, she simply takes some time to commit the room to memory, and most likely the office below, before she lets herself out, locking the door on her way through.

A few moments later, she's back on the dark streets, a cellphone at her ear, her words now in a lilting French, "Josef? Yes, I'm finished. Meet you in ten?" A turn of the corner and she's off.

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