Plant Food

September 10, 2018:

Demonic chomping plants arrive on earth and are thwarted by a ghost and a wtich.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's one of those days. The kind that just seems perfect. Where the birds chirp and sing, the sky is a bright blue, and the sun while warm isn't killing a person with sunburn or humidity.

When the breeze stirs there's a hint of autumn to it, telling those that are attune to such thing that summer is on the cusp of closing. Soon the land will lay dormant and asleep, while winter rolls on through.

With the nice weather a small sidewalk sale has aspired to pull in more than just their typical customers where local shops flourish. There's a few chain stores (which aren't participating) and then a lot of homegrown sorts - books, fabrics, gently-used clothing and so forth.

Already a nice plethora of people can be found mingling upon the sidewalk, while traffic rolls sluggishly on by.

The wind blows again, continuing to hold the quiet notes of fallen leaves, faded greenery and now something more. Something that tickles at a sixth sense that whispers a rumble of thunder from far away.


The turning of seasons, the normal draws for people of this day and age, they aren't things that hold much attraction for the departed. Well, no, that's not entirely true, for even in his current state, Jim Craddock still finds himself with a craving for the expensive, the shiny, and the antique, that he can never really justify but that he can never dismiss either.

This isn't particularly a place to find such things, at least not that he expects, but there had been a small antique shop down the way that he had thought to 'peruse', just in case something Victorian managed to slip through the cracks. He's since been distracted, and by a feeling he can't quite place, but he stands, unseen and untouched, an out of place figure on the sidewalk where people pass through him as though he does not exist, perhaps curious about the odd but passing chill, but nothing more. Never anything more.

The Gentleman Ghost watches them, so carefree, so ignorant. Have times really changed all that much, when one stripped away that infernal technology?


NICO MINORU kind of likes that it gets cold up here in the northeast.

Likes is the wrong word. She's had to adapt to not being able to beach it up freely - or at least, not being able to swim in the ocean basically whenev. The ocean is different here, too. Not bad. Just different.

However, here and now, she has a small pocketful of $5 and $10 acquired through various legal means (Etsy) and is in the process of thoughtfully fondling dresses that were made before her mother was born when she pauses. Her brow furrows and she looks up.

Then she looks at her phone to check the weather.


It's easy for that masses to ignore the telltale signs that can be found.

To ignore that feeling in their gut that says 'hey something ain't right'. Their minds are too steeped in in logic now, technology, and it's just so much easier to push aside those feelings of unease and anxiety.

Only a few, like Jim Craddock and Nico Minoru, sense that message upon the wind. The one that really does whisper a soft warning.

When Nico checks her phone she'll see the app offer a smiling cheery sun. No clouds here. No thunderstorms. No rain. No precipitation. It's a glorious glorious glo -

Until it's not. The not happens fast. Between one breath and the next the sky changes. It goes from blue to gray to black in under thirty seconds and for those with the sight the change isn't fueled by a strong wind current. Or weather.

It's some kind of magic. Or some kind of dimensional energy. Or perhaps a mixture of both.

Either way, with magic and reality combined, the sky above Nico and Jim (and the ignorant masses) opens. Literally. The heavens tear open with a slash of energy that could be lightening, if it weren't a dark purple in color.

When the zig-zag of energy disappears a similarly shaped hole can be seen and what comes through that opening is even crazier.

Two oblong pods drop from the sky. They resemble missiles, if missiles were made of a husk-like material, and while they are plant-based they still fall incredibly fast.

By this point the 'regular people' have finally realized something is wrong and when they turn their gazes upward the screams start.

Thankfully they also panic which starts the stampedes.

When the pods hit the ground they create a series of shockwaves -

BOOM BOOM BOOM

Enough to shake the ground and send a rush of heavy air at those nearby. One pod buries itself into the street (through a car that was moving) while the other finds itself burrowing into the cement of the sidewalk.


His attention finally drawn back to what had originally tickled his unearthly senses, Jim looks up, a gloved hand going to the brim of his tophat to hold it in place out of reflex, but there's nothing to come, no real shift in the weather. The atmosphere, yes, had he to decide on how to describe it, but even then he's not so certain.

"What's this…?" he murmurs to himself, watching and then flinching as energy sizzles and vanishes in the skies above, and unseen on his invisible features, brows furrow, a frown tugs at his lips.

The Ghost remains where he stands, even as the pods shoot down and make their landing, bracing himself as the gust of their arrival billows through his cloak. At least he can't be worried about being caught in a stampede of panicking people, so he hasn't much to distract him even as they pour past and through him as he continues to watch the pods, slowly even starting towards one.


Nico is starting to get incredibly uneasy and anxious herself over the near occasion of whatever… THIS is. She has her phone put away by the time the sky rips open and she says to herself, softly, "Shit."

Her voice raises up as she screams, "GET YOUR ASSES INSIDE! NOW! RUN! HUSTLE! GO!" even as she sidles to one of the racks. She wraps her hand around the top of it - and does a doubletake at the arrival of the Ghost. Her brow knits. He seems unrelated.

A car is ripped apart by impact. Nico grits her teeth as she ducks down low. As she does so she reaches into her boot heel and wiggles loose half of the blade of a safety knife.

From beneath the view of mortal man comes a sudden voice. "When blood is shed, let the Staff of One come forth!"

Nico emerges with her right hand stuck in her pocket and the left hand full of black magic stick. OK, she tells herself: I saw this, now what. Her fingers tighten on the staff as her eyes turn up towards that arcing discharge in the sky.

"… You know what's up with that?" she asks the Ghost.


Oh yeah. Once those pods hit the ground the screaming and running around gets worse. Even with Nico's shouted instructions, it still gets worse.

Not to mention the sound of cars squealing to sudden stops. Then the added noise of hefty kerthunks as one car rear-ends another and then another and a domino effect happens.

Surprisingly (thankfully!) beyond that initial car and driver, the majority of people aren't yet hurt.

Yet.

As Jim Craddock gets closer to the pods he might feel the sense of banked energy from them. The kind of dormancy one might feel when a spell hasn't yet triggered. That it's on standby while it waits to become active.

Not that it has to wait long.

Not when Jim Craddock steps closer and Nico Minoru calls forth the Staff of One.

The energy behind both Jim's ghostly form and the staff itself is enough to cause a reaction from the nearest pod. The seam that runs along the edge of the husk cracks with the sound of thunder, and when the interior is revealed they'll find filaments of silk within. Perhaps (suspiciously) they look basically like seeds. The silk there to puff up and pull the seeds away with a stiff breeze -

And when the wind picks up that's just what happens. A half a dozen seeds pull free from the shell and puff upward and outward. Two seeds zig and zag toward Jim, two purposely float over to Nico and her staff and the last two seeds float to a pair of women just standing there.

Those last seeds hit first. Perhaps if the two women were smart enough they would have moved, but they don't see the danger fast enough when it's wrapped up in such a pretty package. As such, when the two puffballs are within a foot of the two women they move with a predatory speed. Both seedlings affix themselves upon the woman; one to the face and the other to the neck. As soon as the seedlings are attached the woman scream. They claw at their face and neck, but the seedlings don't budge. Instead they seem to get fluffier and their fluff begins to turn red.

Soon enough the two husks of the two women fall to the ground. Desiccated.


A voice that doesn't sound a part of the chaos surging around him. Craddock lifts his head again, glancing towards the young woman as she conjures her staff. Well, that's interesting. Even more so her inquiry directed at him as he'd fully stepped out from the 'in-between', an obvious anomaly on the modern streets for his way of dress and overall appearance.

"I do not," he replies, even as he turns his attention back towards the pod he'd neared, that pulse of energy having him pause. The tip of his cane is inches from tapping at the pod when it begins to rumble and open, and he quickly draws back with a gasp. It's fascinating, and yet he's not so sure what he's witnessing, and has no intention of finding out firsthand, noting as the seeds erupt and fly from their pods.

So innocent, and yet not so in their arrival. In particular he eyes the ones that move towards him, uncertain if they can even affect him, but cautious all the same.

His eyes go towards the two who are struck, their reaction concerning enough to justify his earlier thoughts. The result is horrifying, and not just for the physically resulting. Not just sucked dry externally, but even their souls. Devoured. His grasp on his cane tightens, and he looks up at the seeds yet approaching before holding its top end out.

"I know not where ye came from, but this'll not be the way for me!" The orb of his cane glows violet before hurling a blast of the same color out towards the floating fluffs.


Things just keep going from worse to 'somehow even worse in a horrible way'. Nico Minoru stares at the women who are grasped and sucked and killed in such brutal and causal forms right before her eyes.

Why, she thinks. Why does this have to happen in front of me? Why does it have to be on me? Why not Raven, or Zatanna? Why not Spider-Man or, like, Superman, or the Avengers, or something. All she has…

Are, in a sense, ghosts.

The gentleman ghost attempts to blast the fluffs. Nico grips the Staff of One with both hands and thinks to herself in an obscure way of Spider-Man. What would he do if he was here? There is no clear image on what he would do in her mind, no inspirational message, so instead Nico says:

"UPDRAFT."

The spell makes the wind in the area change direction underneath the guidance of the Staff of One - a sudden vortex. An impossible dust devil. A spiralling upswell directly in front of Nico. Her hair ruffles for the tornado-like atmospheric distortion is drawing air in from all directions. Drawing in air…

And the light, fluffy, horribly lethal puffs.

As she does this she moves towards the ghost. He may be dead and dapper, but he's got some kind of a stick that fires bzowts. In this moment Nico finds that real valuable. She does not have many bzowts.


Several things happen at once -

Craddock's blast of energy zings out and zaps the pufflings headed in his direction. The good news here is the blast of magical energy does incinerate them. Most likely a comforting thought. However, with that release of magical energy the second seed shivers. Its seam begins to part, though it doesn't quite open completely - only enough to see a glimpse of the pufflings hidden within its protective exterior.

And then Nico calls forth her own magic with a single word.

UPDRAFT.

The wind whirls and upward the puffs go; the two that drained the women and the two that went for Nico. They spin upward caught by the dervish the Staff of One created. Again with the release of magic the second seed cracks more, enough that half a dozen pufflings are ruffled by the now windy conditions.

It likely won't take long for those seeds to escape and go hunting.

And WHILE the threat of puffling-doom is there, the four pufflings that are high in the sky shouldn't be forgotten either.

Especially as the ones that have fed are changing. In fact, if one could see them they would see the seedlings furiously germinating. Curling shoots crack through the shell of the puffling and down they grow. Quickly seeking some type of earth to root within. It doesn't matter that the earth it finds is covered in asphalt. Those roots burrow through the tar and rock to find the crumbly earth below.

Then, like one of those educational videos that show a plant sprouting and growing at ten times the speed, Nico, Craddock and those terrified people around them suddenly finds a large plant before them.

It's definitely alien. Definitely not something from around this particular world. It's definitely crazy.

Let's face it, the best way to describe it is a plant with giant pointy teeth. Think Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors, or those Piranha plants from Mario Brothers.

It's. Just. Like. That.

And now one is on ground and it's hungry. Greedily the plant turns its 'head', 'bloom' - whatever you want to call it - toward a young man. A young man who's running, but not quick enough. With a shark-like strike, the plant chomps down on the man. The poor man has enough time to offer a short, terrified scream, before he's engulfed by the mouth of the plant. Now only his legs can be seen as the plant strives to devour this tasty morsel.


Wind whips through his cloak, but the floating monocle balanced in front of the equally seeming-to-float tophat doesn't turn to look as Nico casts and sweeps away her own immediate threats. The Gentleman Ghost remains with his cane raised, only lowering it once he sees that it's been effective, but the danger has only begun to show itself. He's inclined to step back and slip away, but the things he's seen these strange seeds do aren't merely a threat to the living, or at least what they can potentially do to him and the like are more than a little concerning.

It seems that he's gained some unusual company as the young woman who'd called out to him earlier has now repositioned herself closer. He finds that he can't blame her for that sort of mindset, even in only seeing the half of what those puffs could do.

"Careful girl, it's not only flesh and blood sucked dry," he warns, even as his monocle tilts upwards, his invisible head craning to track the seedlings that had been carried by the winds. With a spin of his cane he lifts it yet again, taking aim, but he stops when he notices the reaction from the seed bearers on the ground.

"Best these other pods be destroyed b'fore they release more'uv these accursed things!"

Again any plans to follow through are interrupted as the red puffs that had fed now take root somehow to grow, and it's unlike anything he's seen before, certainly not in 19th century London but even here in this bizarre day and age… But it can't possibly be good.

He hisses as the newly grown plant chomps down upon an unfortunate bystander. Too late to save anyone, but Craddock turns his cane towards the plant, hoping to incinerate them it with another fell violet blast.


The pufflings are out of the area. Nico immediately starts thinking about how to throw them in the ocean. They'll probably die before they can cheese off Namor. She hopes. Then the plant erupts in hideous sped-up motion near her and Nico leaps backwards hard enough to bowl over that rack of clothes, barely managing not to topple over herself.

Her face burns as she sees - hears - that man die. No, she thinks, NO, not enough, not them, not like this, why is this happening.

The Ghost speaks to her. He speaks caution and calls her girl. Nico is too racked up by the bloody demise before her to take offense, though he is certainly going to be on notice in the future: no, he speaks wise counsel.

"The pods," Nico says. "The pods!" she says finally. Stamping the Staff of One on the ground, she sucks in another deep breath - and does nothing for like four seconds even as another lethal bzowt is unleashed.

She was thinking.

Nico speaks. This time it is not a pithy phrase.

"Every Plant Within One Hundred Yards That Didn't Originate From Plants That Evolved On Planet Earth," Nico says, /very quickly/ if a little redundantly, but why she is being redundant is clear now that she hits the verb:

"DIE!"

Her eyes flash and she stamps the Staff of One on the pavement, where crazy-quilt zigzag magenta energy earths itself, probably flowing into the soil of Manhattan, either to kill that plant's roots or just you know, because. After this Nico leans her head forwards and says to herself, "Shit—" because the Staff of One is tilting forwards and it seems to be /shoving/ itself back into her chest.

How horrible! If, like, significantly less horrible than the murders.


There might be the sick sound of crunching as the toothsome plant chews upon its meal.

It sort of goes chomp chomp crunch chomp.

For Craddock, like before he can see the life disappear from this particular plane. Gobbled up by the plant.

His violet blast hits the plant, but something within its leathery hide blunts the attack. Oh there's sizzling as it damages the outer layer, but it doesn't incinerate this time. In fact, his blast causes the plant to turn its 'attention' to the ghost and Nico. While it doesn't have a face, or facial expressions, the fury it currently feels can be seen in the snap of its maw, the twitch of its leafy and thorny vines.

It's those vines that lash out next as they uncurl and lash out at Craddock. While he might think himself safe, being an incorporeal being, he'll find that the vine doesn't pass through him. No, it wraps solidly around his foot and ankle and then it tightens. Trying to gouge those thirsty thorns into his ghostly form.

Then the Staff of One once more awakens with the words of its Mistress and with that magenta energy the spells shakes at the very make-up of the plant.

It pulls and tears, rends and rips and the Chomper wilts to a dry husk.

The same can be said for the pods that transported the seedlings. They shrink and wither and with one final pop! they release the last few pufflings.

As if sensing danger these little seedlings zig and zag away.


Good, the girl's got her priorities sorted out. While Craddock doesn't know for certain what the extent of her capabilities are, he's at least figured that she can wield some sort of magic. Which is more than most of the other people that run in panic, but potential fuel for more of these hideous plants.

Nico's words are a little strange for a spell, and although lacking the lilt and mystery of even a gypsy's proclamations, something obviously starts to happen, and if things work, then she'll not find any complaint from the Ghost!

Besides, he has his own hands full at the moment. He balks as it appears this particular plant form is immune to the ethereal flames of his cane. The moment he attempts to move is the moment the thing strikes, lashing out, and in that moment, yes, he does think that it might just grasp nothing but air as he wills himself incorporeal. Instead, he finds pressure around his leg as the thing successfully snags him- in afterthought perhaps not too surprising for the short work these things have made of the spiritual, but it drags him to the ground from his attempted leap.

He cries out in pain, a rare thing that only so many things of the world can yet bring him. He no longer has blood to bleed, but the thorny grasp of the vine still finds purchase, sinking into the pants leg of his white finery, forcing the ghost to remain on a knee as he pulls his hidden blade from its cane-sheath, his slashing lacking finesse, but this is more out of desperation than seeking style points.

The magical girl's spell takes hold, and suddenly that light is everywhere and the plant goes limp, its hold loosening around his leg. For one with no breath the Gentleman Ghost still seems to be trying to catch his as he remains on a knee, hat and monocle turned in the direction of the desicated husk. He lashes out with the thin blade to cut away the offending vine as he hauls himself to his feet again, sheathing the weapon in the same motion.


And so, perhaps, a tiny fragment of the horrid blood oceans wrought by the Staff of One are effaced. Two drops down, sixteen hundred thousand gallons to go, Nico! Hurray!

The sense of having the staff back IN here is disgusting. Painfully. The ghost-man is thrashing and Nico can't help him right away. Especially when he cries out in - pain? It must be like a disguise or something, Nico thinks. Maybe he's a villain who just got caught up in all of this. He's dressed like a villain.

(Nico assumes anyone in a business suit is, at best, morally neutral. She has rarely been too far wrong, thus far.)

But whover he is, he's on Nico's side, right now. Nico advances towards the vine, which is hopefully already dead, to give it a swift kick with one booted foot. "JESUS!" she exclaims.

To the Gentleman she says, "I'm Nico Minoru." A beat passes. "Hi." Another beat, as she slowly looks around.

"/Jesus/," Nico concludes, again.


And elsewhere two small puffballs plant themselves in secluded spots. A junkyard and atop an apartment complex and slowly they take root.

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