Jackie's Narco Playlist

September 15, 2018:

It's nothing close to a party, when the Angelus attacks The Darkness, The Rapture, The Magdalena, Doctor Strange, and Ripclaw. Except, you know, music.

Lower Manhattan, later, Vivienne's Loft

Characters

NPCs: Angelus Warriors, C.C., Random Terrified New Yorkers, and one seriously olfactorily assaulted cabdriver.

Mentions: Lara Croft

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

How long has it been since Jackie Estacado, the Darkness ended up on the 'radar' of the supernatural wavelengths… Possibly not long enough. Night creeping swiftly upon New York has shadows balling together in the heavens where clouds should have been smog, pollution, these things are normal. The wax and wane of the moon adding very little natural lighting to the world below, not quite like splattering of billboards, gaudy lights of either neon now going out of style and LED, far more popular, much less full of life. Robert Bearclaw himself finds the lack of spirit and craftsmanship put in to them… saddening. The world of the new, however.

Something tonight stirs, primal like the artifacts, ancient and full of a renewed vigor, it hunts and it's flap of powerful wings beat away currents, twist the skies to it's playground and give it a birds eye view of what lies below. Using that canopy high above as cover for it's game of stalking…

"I managed to get a text through to Lara, she wants to talk later." He informs Magdalena and Doctor Strange, a carry on from earlier concerns…

-

THINGS JACKIE ESTACADO HAS BEEN DOING WHILE NOT BEING HELPFUL TO THE COMMUNITY

- Posting superheroine street fights on WorldStarHipHop
- Selling 'second hand' new iPhones out of the back of a truck
- Getting wrecked in fantasy college football betting

But tonight, it's extra dark. Worse, the Darkness feels disturbances in the warp and woof of the city. Jackie can't just spend the night at a strip club to wash away his sorrows by firing the money gun on stage.

This is how Jackie ended up walking the streets of lower Manhattan. He's drinking a sophisticatedly assembled ten-dollar coffee from a penny paper cup, letting his feet carry him toward where he assumes the problems of the world will turn up. If the Sorcerer Supreme is mixed up in this business, it will probably be the problems of many worlds.

-

Something may be stirring, but Tom Judge is oblivious, almost deliberately so. He's gone far more mundane concerns to worry about, such as: what to do when your arms are full of groceries (or alcohol, in this case), but the bandage that's wound around your still injured shoulder is itching like crazy, and the only logical thing to do is stop and put down your bags? Almost probably not what he actually does, which is this: he juggles the bags onto one hip, awkwardly lifting one knee to help balance it as one hand slides under his coat, expression odd: results uncertain.

-

Vivienne walked, for the most part, in companionable silence with her companions, dressed in her usual 'going out' attire, her urban bodysuit of armor and her black duster. She at least had left off the gloves, so she wasn't completely a modern Morticia Addams, but it was probably a close thing. Still, helpful, when you ended up covered in effluence of the demonic nature so often. "I'm glad that you were able to reach her. I'll feel better knowing that you've spoken to her and been able to access how she's…handling herself." Despite her focus on the conversation, her eyes are scanning the city, the sky, as if she can feel the approach of something that is just not right.

-

Strange looks much better than he looked in the morning. Some healing draughts and a couple extra hours of meditation did some work. But it is mostly a cosmetic illusion. Just yesterday he got beaten blue and black by two angry Lilim demons. He was lucky they didn't break anything important.

Nothing like keep going on magical drugs and more magic. He will pay for it tomorrow. Oh, how he will pay.

But Robert mentioned artifact problem, and it is a concern so many of the 12 (or are there 13?) are active at the same time in the same place. He needs to know more, and Ripclaw knows more. So far he has been quiet, but when Vivienne begins looking up, he nods tiredly. "You feel it?"

-

While Tom Judge does his awkward juggle, one of the bags slips, falls. The clink and crack is unmistakable: whatever's inside is definitely leaking out onto the sidewalk now. It makes the ex-priest exhale, and send his gaze skyward: though probably not to thank God so much as curse Him. The clouds look darker than usual, but…

With a shift of shoulder, and a muted grimace, Tom keeps walking, at least until a familiar figure catches his gaze. "…Jackie?" He hasn't seen the man in some time. Since they were in Hell together, to be precise, which is probably why he's a little unsure.

-

Jackie acts oblivious to the looming doom somewhere in the heavens. He walks along the alleys without fear of street crime in his fine black Armani suit, drinking intermittently from his expensive coffee. As the moments pass, Jackie can't help but fish into his pocket and check his phone, texting back some of his assorted goons about wholly mundane matters. One of his enforcers has girl trouble, and so Jackie — the acknowledged expert — weighs in with something approximating paternal advice.

Jackie hears the crash of groceries. By sheer happenstance, Jackie looks over just as Tom looks over at him. Jackie's memory of that period in Hell is crystal clear. When you're the one escaping…

Seeing his comrade in distress, Jackie walks over with a purpose, moving to help him with his groceries.

"Hey, Tommy," he says, setting to work trying to help get things in order. "Shoulda called or something, I would have sent a kid to help you with that shit. Is that tomato sauce? You didn't get some shitty low-end stuff, right? I don't even wanna ''think'' about that…"

-

Vivienne nodded, at Strange;'s question, though her attention shifted to the rapidly populating sidewalk. One figure she knew, and it drew a frown. The other she had never seen before, but something about the man seemed to only deepen the frown, "Yes, I feel it. And I cannot seem to determine where it is coming from. Not from down here. I may need to move to a higher vantage point." She did not slow her steps, even after she saw one of Tom's bags take a nosedive, nor move to help him, as she might well have done for someone, anyone else.

-

Strange nods, considering early spells and defenses. But then his eyes follow Vivienne's frown. No, those are not the cause of alarm but there is something else… the sorcerer tenses. "Vivienne, do you know those men?" He looks at Robert, who wanted to update him on artifacts.

Seriously? Was Ripclaw expecting them or are they riding the synchronicity wave again Strange was too tired to notice. Fate is whimsical these days.

-

The presence of Tom and Jackie, coincidental, one could assume at least but being nudged and pulled by higher powers or things beyond human understanding tends towards the typical for this motley crew. Upon becoming a host, a decided upon warden and birthright these things fall as they do.

The sweep of wings again is flanked by more, the lead creature comes to a complete halt and orders the rest to do likewise, if one, sought out with the right sort of senses they would find things lurk above, things that, the Darkness is most sensitive to the presence of. A gathering, a flock…

Ripclaw's step aside to immerse in a phone call broke hmm rudely from Vivienne and Strange before conversation could get deeper, before he could open his own preternatural senses to what is about to transpire or even draw notice upon the other two men engaging one another right now.

A flash, a crack of light and something from above descends like a thunderstrike, an eruption in the middle of the streets blossoms in to carnage as two cars middle of the road are tossed like childrens toys in opposing directions…

-

The truth is, Tom wouldn't recognize Armani if he fell over it. Or in this case, glanced at it. All he knows is Jackie's looking a lot different than the last time he saw him, for perhaps understandable reasons. The address of 'Tommy' earns a brief grimace. "Uh… heh. You're looking… well." He shouldn't sound surprised, really, but he does, and there's an exhale of mute gratitude when Jackie helps him get his things in order.

"Well, you know. My… uh, other job doesn't exactly pay." There's something almost a little defensive in the ex-priest's tone, as he resettles his coat, the Rapture gleaming as he settles the bag back into the crook of his arm. Speaking of: "Holy shit!" is all he says as something descends onto the street, sending cars flying, the remaining — unbroken — bag falling uselessly from his hands.

-

Jackie was ready to believe that he was just out here because Tom was going to drop his groceries. Sometimes fate works that way for him. It could have just been innocuous, right?

Tom will come to learn that Jackie is the kind of guy that doesn't forget a favor. Tom did Jackie probably the largest favor anybody can do for anyone else, so now Tom is stuck with him and his unique brand of 'helping.' Forever.

Forever might be real short at this rate, though. Jackie starts looking up from picking up a box of Minute Rice when something smashes down in the street nearby! Reflexively, Jackie drops the groceries he'd collected and lunges at Tom, launching the two of them behind a stoop as a car skids their way.

Jackie rolls with Tom, cushioning his friend from the impact of the dive with supernatural ease. Placing Tom by cover, Jackie — already transforming into the Darkness' armor — rises up out of cover in preparation for a fight.

The grocery damage is now quite extensive. Jackie is doubly pissed: Not only is something horrible just ahead, but now Jackie is definitely going to need to call Instacart. On a Sunday!!

"What the FUCK?!" Jackie demands, the Darkness armor fully overtaking him. He starts walking toward the point of impact, deeply vexed. "What, you don't know how to land?! Do you know how long it takes to get the city to fix potholes in this neighborhood?! Fuck!"

-

"The thinner, more…scraggly man, is Thomas Judge, he bears one of the artifacts. That cross there, on his chest. The other, I have never met, but something about him, the Spear seems to intensely dislike." The way she spoke of it, as though it had a mind of its own. "Or perhaps it's just the suit." A beat, "No, definitely not the suit. It's fantastic." Trust a Frenchwoman. Vivienne glanced over at Robert as he wandered off, before she looked back, as though she actually were considering going to help Tom as well. But before she can do more than consider it, the street explodes ahead od them, and she moves into position to protect both of her companions, reaching back under her coat to retrieve the Spear, the wings opening enough to show that she is not, alas, wearing her swords. The hand not reaching for the spear slides over the spikes on her belt, blood pooling in the lines cut into her palms. "Never a moment's rest, Strange." She advances, to meet the threat and give herself a chance to take the measure of it. Because it's always a threat.

-

Strange had not forgotten the upcoming menace, he was just trying to figure out where the other two supernaturals fit in the picture. Whatever Tom and Jackie are they fired off the doctor finely attuned supernatural senses.

BOOM. Thunder strike. So much for finely attuned senses.

"By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth," he swears, gesticulating like a maniac when one of the cars comes flying his way. Most maniacs don't leave glyphs of light on the air when they gesticulate. And the flying car… slows… down. Air becomes too dense for it to advance fast, then it halts completely.

Strange mutters more words, the vehicle straightens, landing gently. "Indeed. And there are too many potential victims here. Be careful!"

-

The shaft of light an entry, one meant to wash the immediate vicinity in /Radiance/ and give the gaggle of armed floating androgynous bodies space to make a hovering landing. The Angelus Warriors, those present are very familiar with the creatures. Washed in their own nimbus like effects of outpowering energy and shimmering weapons…

The foremost one hefts up a spear, leveling it at Judge and Estacado, "We have you. All of you." The lead figure proclaims, it's platinum hair whipping with it's wings, "Surrender and this will be a painless ordeal."

"TOM!" Robert shouts past Vivienne and Strange while the cars are suspended in air, slowed by the Sorcerer's magicks. A narrowing of his eyes and he doesn't shout Jackie's name but recognition is there. Three artifacts in one place? It is only anticipated this attack came now. They have been overdue.

-

Tom has just about time to get out the first exhale of, "What—" when Jackie tackles him. He hasn't much weight to him, and he isn't fighting it — more surprised than anything — so he goes tumbling, coughing afterwards as he puts a hand against the concrete, squinting up at Jackie — no, the thing Jackie's become.

He really shouldn't be surprised. But also, it's the first time he's seen the Darkness in this form, and if nothing else, it's worthy of a long moment of silence even in the wake of being almost pancaked by a car. He's much, much slower in getting to his feet, gaze warily looking towards the figure Jackie's yelling at. "Shit," he mutters, fingers reaching up for the Rapture, though he remains where he is, gaze instead flickering to see if there's any nearby witnesses — just as he hears a familiar voice shouting his name — there. One, no, two familiar figures that make his brow draw downwards, of course, and one unfamiliar figure. While Jackie leaps into the fray, the ex-priest, bearer of Rapture, instead dives behind a car.

-

For crying in the rain, Jackie thinks as he sees the group of Angelus warriors appear. Is he going to be hunted by angels every day for the rest of his life??

Jackie answers the spear being leveled at him by bringing up his right hand, which already has one of his Darkness-customized semi-automatic pistols in it. He aims it right back at the foremost Angelus warrior, though his finger remains outside the weapon's guard. The Darkness howls obscenities in the back of Jackie's mind, but Jackie holds his composure for a little longer.

"You stay the fuck away from Tommy," he says, noticing the nearby car-stopping wizard with a winged person with something else the Darkness doesn't like.

Jackie is counting target markers in his mind's eye. This is real bad. Maybe he can fight his way out of this, but he believes Tom isn't built for a long scrap.

"I don't know what you want with me and Tommy or the City, but I ain't surrendering nothing to you or anybody else! I don't know what you want but I figure you're not gonna say anything so fuck that and —"

Jackie gets interrupted when one of the Angelus Warriors breaks formation to race in at him! Jackie dives away from Tom, which was probably the plan of the host all along, and gets smashed into the remaining non-ruined groceries on the sidewalk! The impact is hard enough to crack concrete. At least smashing into the produce means he smells like cilantro.

The warrior that charged Jackie pulls a spear off its back and strikes down at the Darkness! Jackie catches the spear just behind the head and holds it fast. The head of the spear trembles just over Jackie's collarbone as Jackie slowly pushes the spear back. His arm shakes. This is harder than Jackie thought it would be.

"You're supposed to wait until I finish threatening you," Jackie snarls behind his facemask, seemingly starting to slack on his grip. As the Angelus Warrior attempts to focus in and jam Jackie with its full strength, Jackie swings up his pistol and fires a burst into the warrior's face.

The dead Angelus Warrior on Jackie is abruptly hurled back at his friends as Jackie leaps up to his feet. He hurls the spear like a javelin into another warrior trying to reinforce his friend, and then starts firing Darkness-infused 9 millimeter slugs into whatever warrior crosses his sight-line.

"Like I was SAYING," Jackie shouts over the fray, "Fuck that and fuck you! I was WALKING here!"

-

"Because of course it is." Vivienne was beginning to lose count of the times she had encountered the Angelus warriors. She cast a brief glance towards Robert, Strange, and the armored ran now rising from behind the car. Tom, she did not see, though, perhaps to either her credit, or simply past experience with the man, she did not bother to look out for him. He always looked out for number one. Instead, she continued the press, moving into position to catch the attention of one of the warriors, a flick of her wrist extending to Spear to its full length, "Today I find myself not at all in the mood for painless." And then she charged, one of the warriors peeling off to intercept her. There was more than venom in its eyes. This was downright rage, as it flew to meet her. She, at least, had bee upgraded to the level of 'threat we well remember'. The blast of light it sent in her direction washed over Vivienne as though it were nothing more than the beam of a spotlight, before she left from the ground, twisting to avoid the strike of its sword, as she sought to drive the Spear into its heart. When they land, she twists the Spear, the flames that erupt from it eating the warrior like wildfire, the body disintegrating, though she's already turning away to face the next, whose voice rings out like bells, brilliant and beautiful, as the warriors themselves. Angelic in form, but Vivienne knew better. These were no angels. "Take the Nun!"

And if Vivienne could have spared the time or energy to stamp her foot, she might well have done, "I. Am. Not. A. Nun!"

Why did everyone keep saying that?

-

"We are being attacked by angels? This is a new one," yes, even for the Supreme Sorcerer. Said angels recklessly endangered human life, though. There are people inside the car he just levitated down. Terrified people. If the other vehicle that went flying also had New Yorkers inside they might have died.

Still, "perhaps we can reason with them," and Vivienne charges.

Oh, good to know she is not a nun. It probably had been mentioned before, but he has been distracted lately. And when the angels make the Spear-bearer the main target; he steps in. "I think no. Stand back of face me," he states, hovering a few yards up and blasting one of the 'angels' with a bolt of force, sending her crashing against a parked pickup truck.

The fan out and assault of the Angelus Warriors is sudden, breakneck speeds and vicious intent but these are not older spawn of Light, younger, less polished and the Bearers can tell as much from prior encounters. One would say they are soft. Save for that lead figure who throws itself at the Darkness without much in the way of a tactical approach or orders. They are working off violent intent and nothing more than, eager to appease their mistress, prove their worth.

-

Ripclaw has no ability to remain mindful of Tom Judge or Estacado as an Angelus tries to interrupt the closest fighters, Magdalena and her opponent, the biosynth claws attached to him extend, sword length each and hes hurling past her to collide with one winged attacker, they hit the asphalt and bounce once, rolling in to a thrashing tumble. If not for the feathers, flesh, meat and armor flying in all directions it is only lacking a dustcloud. It's blood soon covering the cyber-shaman along torso, jaw and forearms.

This hour the streets still host a considerable amount of denizens who, at the first attack began to run, many screaming 'Bomb!" not the case, as some lingering have realized, this is something far different.

The brutal skirmish at first met with so much gusto from the Angelus warriors is winding down fast, they are no match for the Darkness, Rapture, Magdalena and their non-bearer companions, this is hard learned right now, as another is spiraling upwards, careening in to the side of a brickhome and landing neck at an angle with Ripclaw upon it. Two for him… the others….

-

Beyond the car, Tom can hear Jackie challenging the Angelus, eyes closing. It'll be fine, he's got this—, and as he hears the others dive into the fray, they've got this and then he feels the ground shudder on his side of the car, as one of the Angelus lands right in front of him, sword held close to its side, advancing on him. "No!" Tom yells, forcefully, something fearful in his voice. Yes! the Rapture whispers back, as it senses his will wavering. Just a second, that's all it needs.

His form shimmers, becoming fire — growing. Like a creature stepping out of hell, the seven-foot-tall Brimstone monster radiates heat and sulphur, an antithesis to the Angelus, demon to his angel. Lumbering forward, an arm blocks the attempted strike, the metal of its sword clanging against his stone skin, ringing an odd, off-beat tone. He swings the arm back, sharply, sending the sword flying, and presses forward, hands digging into the shoulders of the Angelus, pulling, pulling — tearing.

It's a horrifying sight. A sight Tom, if he were fully in control, would be ill-pleased with. But the Brimstone Monster merely discards the remants of the now destroyed creature, and turns to the next, almost eagerly, as if welcoming the death and destruction that ensues.

-

Jackie doesn't like these big, showy fights in the city. He would much rather stab a guy in the neck in a dark alley or shoot somebody in Newark than bring war to a Manhattan neighborhood. But hey, they started it. Jackie was peacefully walking down the street, met an old friend, and was going to go on his way. Then there were Angelus warriors and, well.

Jackie focuses on keeping the Angelus warriors off Tom. He burns through round after round, sinking bullets into oncoming Angelus warriors. Jackie guns down two more before one manages to speed behind him and get to Tom.

"You stay the fuck," Jackie starts saying as he turns, but then Tom breaks out what is arguably one of the most impressive super-forms that Jackie has seen in person. Jackie allows himself a second to marvel at Tom tearing an Angelus warrior in half before shifting his priorities.

"Man I ain't letting you pop more of these things than me," Jackie says. "I owe you."

Jackie ejects the clip from his first gun before swiping his other arm down, producing another gun from nowhere. Clips materialize needlessly under both guns so that Jackie can slam the guns down, load them by indulgent sorcerous means, and then make a dire command.

"Siri! Play my shooting playlist!"

Jackie's armor has his phone embedded into his right arm. Through the fell power of magic, the Darkness starts playing cuts off a narco rap playlist by piezoelectric conductivity across Jackie's body. The horrific MP3s are barely audible over the hail of gunfire that Jackie unleashes on the Angelus warriors.

Jackie runs in at the central mass of Angelus warriors. Bullets race in at the super-powered fighters as they try to swarm over Jackie by sheer numbers. Jackie sinks another cluster of bullets into an oncoming warrior before two others manage to get behind him and jam their spears into his back. Gored, Jackie twists and fires another cluster of magical shots, tearing into one of them but missing the other.

Jackie manages to barely evade the other warrior's follow-up stab, blading around the spear but at the expense of dropping his guns. Jackie feigns weakness, kiting the attacking Angelus warrior to come in dangerously close to him. The warrior swings the butt of his spear in at Jackie's head, but Jackie manages to grab it and hold it fast. Jackie strikes up with his other hand, his hand transforming into a broad-headed axe that rips into the stomach of his attacker, punching up into its heart.

Jackie slings the Angelus warrior away, looking back at the others who have joined the fray. That not-a-nun gives him an uncomfortable feeling, but at least the wizard is famous from TV.

-

Before Vivienne could engage the warrior bearing down on her, Robert is there, crashing into it and making it look, she had time to think, a bit like a chicken plucking event gone haywire. A ridiculous thought, but such were the sorts of things that occurred to you at the strangest times. And speaking of Strange, as she saw the warrior impact the side of the truck, she dove that way, once again, to kill the thing before it could rise, sending it back, no, not to heaven, only to the Angelus who was still, as of yet, too cowardly to show herself.

Not that she had much time to think on that either, as she dove back in, once against running at speed, using her gifts to send her into the back of another warrior, all of her weight and strength hitting it between its wings, the Flame of the Spear erupting out of its chest. Another twist, and it exploded around her, surrounding her, for a moment, in a nimbus of light not so very different from her own radiance, when she called it forth, before she came back down to the ground, a grunt of pain escaping her lips at the impact as she landed on a knee.

-

Ripclaw's evading stray shots as the Angelus warriors begin to dwindle in numbers, from just over half a dozen to less than. One by one in colorful glowing streaks they begin to ascened, synchronized in rapid fire. The call for retreat? Very likely. Though constructs and infused beings they are not without the instinct for survival, fight another day… prove their worth in battles on down the line.

"We have to get off the streets." Robert says, stating the obvious as he remains in a low crouch, one knee up, the other down settled against the side of a mail box.

"They are fleeing! Ease off…. " His words climbing from near vicinity to another shout.

Not ordering, hes never one to give commands and it shows as he begins to retreat from the fight, thrusting aside a leaning lampost to run through a fence, slashing a gap in it and heading down the alleyway it opens to. —
Red and blue flashing lights down the street say he doesn't have a horrible idea in mind… those first responders lead to other sorts like the DEO's Black Room or SHIELD Containtment Units after all. If unlucky enough.

-

Certainly, Jackie does far more damage than the Brimstone monster, given it has to lumber over and grab its next victim, while Jackie's gun tears through far more. The Rapture-bearing monster pauses briefly as the Spear impacts one of the Angelus warriors it was reaching for. For a moment it looks at the Magdalena. It has fought with her before, it remembers. She offers it no threat.

It's probably just by proximity that it leaps up to snag the leg of one of the Angelus warriors seeking to land and take advantage of the Magdalena's sharp impact with the ground. Snatching it from the air, a quick movement sees the creature in pieces before the thud of it's return to the earth shudders the ground nearby. A moment later, it lumbers past her, into the wake of the carnage the Darkness has cut through the warriors, reaching for and tearing into anything that gets within range.

The Rapture does not understand logic such as 'don't get caught by the police'. It has enemies, and it must pursue them, running — then leaping — in vein to try and miss catching one of the ascending warriors. It lets out a bellow of rage and frustration as it is thwarted.

-

"They are quite single-minded, aren't they?" Comments Strange, sending more bolts of force to the Angelus warriors. "Hardly as sturdy as the real deal would be, though." Some of the warriors are turning in his direction. They are losing the numbers, but Strange lands between Magdalena and Ripclaw, making so it is more difficult to surround any of them.

But by then the fake angels have had enough and they are retiring. Strange frowns, considering options. Then looks startled. "I need to return to the Sanctum immediately. It is the League. Please, feel free to come in there if you can. I will be back later." And the sorcerer vanishes in a flash of light.

-

"Thanks!" Not that she though the Rapture would actually hear her, or if it did, acknowledge her, but she offered the word all the same. Vivienne seemed bound and determined to finish the fight. Perhaps the woman thought if she killed enough of the Angelus' constructs she could draw the thing out. Alas, though, they begin to rocket skyward and she hears the call from Robert, moving to depart the scene with him. She can't pass the Rapture though, without calling to it, "With me!" Whether it follows her or not, she doesn't wait to see, only glancing briefly at Strange, seeing him wink out abck to safety, before she too, is ducking through the broken fence to get out of the range of the police and the other, less sanctioned responders.

-

Jackie dismisses his weaponry as the Angelus warriors retreat. He's easily able to get off the street, though his concern is mainly for what Tom has turned into. A giant lava man is going to be a tough thing to stuff in a brownstone.

Jackie watches the Rapture jump. It gets much more airtime than Jackie anticipated, but it still misses that one last Angelus warrior. Bummer.

"What a bunch of pricks," Jackie says, turning back toward the Magdalena and Ripclaw. He finally gets a good look at the two of them. She says to follow her, so Jackie does just that. Maybe she can help explain to him what's going on.

"Hey Tom, c'mon," Jackie calls over his shoulder, but he's also on his way.

A few seconds later, the narco rap playlist finally gets paused. Not stopped. Paused. Nobody gets away from Jackie's Spotify playlist THAT easily.

-

Tom isn't really Tom anymore. Whether it reacts to Magdalena's call to follow her, or Jackie's encouraging call isn't clear. Maybe it just follows the others in the hopes that their presence will draw further engagement from the Angelus warriors, lumbering along behind them.

He will be really, really difficult to hide.

-

Vivienne paused, once she came inside the, not relative safety, but the shadow of the building that was just beyond the fence, waiting to make sure that both the armored man and the brimstone creature had come in behind her. "I'm not quite sure that they have pricks, unless she wants them to. Don't ask." She glances back towards where she can still see Robert moving, "But we can save the anatomy lessons a bit longer, I think." She isn't exactly comfortable with Jackie being so close, but she has more important considerations, as they continue into the darkness moving towards shadows and away from the increasingly glaring flashing lights. Tom, however, is not forgotten, despite the fact that she seemed to give absolutely no consideration for what would have been the contents of his fridge, "Tom, we need you back." Unless the thing tried to bat her away, in which case, she'd try to avoid its blow, she made the attempt to reach out and touch its stone skin. The movement slowed their progress, but they were still moving at a fair clip.

-

Jackie likes being in a shadow. He has questions, but he knows to wait until the immediate crisis is over before starting all that stuff. He is also apprehensive of Vivienne and is trying not to get too close to her. Jackie is not a psychopath, despite his killing efficiency, and does not want to start yet another fight unless he absolutely must.

Vivienne seems to know Tom, and care about him, so Jackie doesn't interfere with what she's doing. "Hey Tom," he says, casually, "I need to talk to you so I can put in an Instacart order, so… yeah. Like when you feel ready."

-

Gleaming red eyes, burning with the fires of Hell settle on the Magdalena as she addresses it, before it turns that same gaze on Jackie, no sense of recognition in its gaze. It snorts out a denial, moving to lumber past them, when Vivienne's hand touches its skin. It is hot — burning — to the touch, for a half a heartbeat. And then the Brimstone monster stops, abruptly, seeming to shimmer for a moment. It collapses down, onto its knees and then seems to shrink back into the naked, shuddering form of one Tom Judge. Who then, on cue, promptly procedes to empty his guts all over the street. Someone doesn't enjoy the ripping and tearing quite as much as his alter-ego.

The only thing he's left wearing is the Rapture, swinging from the silver chain around his neck. There goes another one of his favorite jackets. Also gone, most of the bandage that covered that still-healing tear in his shoulder, already trailing some blood down his back, though it's slow enough that it's apparent it's not anything vital.

-

"Agh, fuck," Jackie says, seeing Tom transform down. "THAT sucks. If every time I transformed I used up a suit I'd just live in my transformation."

Then Tom throws up. "Agh!" Jackie sighs. "You poor fuck!"

Jackie moves over to help Tom, crouching and putting his hand on his shoulder. "You're okay," he says, "you're OK now, I'm here. Ain't shit gonna happen to you. You took care of me, now I'm taking care of you, it's my turn."

Jackie concentrates. The Darkness weaves across Tom's body, putting Tom in one of Jackie's white Supreme t-shirts, some paint-spattered jeans that cost a hilarious amount of money and one of his pairs of investment basketball sneakers.

"You, uh," Jackie murmurs at Tom, "you try not to throw up again, okay?"

-

Vivienne seemed completely nonplussed, as she saw a: Tom most clearly and sincerely in the buff, and b: him puking his guts out. If she was surprised at anything at all, it was that the brimstone monster had not attempted to pull away from her. And that either it, or Tom, had returned at her and Jackie's request. Thankfully, she was tall, for a woman, and well-built enough that she was actually larger than Tom, so that he could fit the trenchcoat that she began to shrug off of her shoulders. She watched the darkness peeling off of Jackie and insinuating itself around Tom, the eddy of shadows bringing a tightness to her lips. But, even clothed, she offered the jacket anyway. Tom was rarely, if ever without his jacket. It was a part of his private eye appeal. "When you are ready, I will see to that shoulder." She allowed Jackie to provide the comfort. She knew, too well, it would not be much accepted by the man still on the ground. "Vivienne Benoit," she offered at least, in that mellifluous French accent, so that they would not be complete strangers.

-

Shuddering, Tom's soon done on the pavement — nothing too much that's solid coming up, to probably no one's surprise — before he manages to wipe a hand across his mouth. The hand on his shoulder makes him look up at Jackie, recognizing him — a moment before that Darkness spins over him, creating him an outfit. He blinks, flabbergasted into silence for a moment. "Fuck. Thanks," he says, hoarsely. "I think I'm—"

And then Tom spots Vivienne, offering that jacket. He looks surprised, taking it with a nod. "Thanks," he says, voice still hoarse, "For bringing me back." He seems glad the pair are taking care of introductions. He stands, shakily, and shrugs into that jacket, pulling it over the… clothes that came from nowhere. Well, he's seen — and done — stranger things.

-

Jackie is used to tall, powerfully built women with superpowers by now. Honestly, it seems like if a girl could be a center in the WNBA, Jackie ought to be aware she might also be a super. That's OK by him. He's a man of the modern era.

Jackie gives Vivienne room to offer the jacket to Tom. Clearly this lady is at least Tom's friend, so he should be all right. She makes him feel uneasy, but a lot of things make Jackie uncomfortable. Pineapple on pizza, for instance.

"I'm Jackie Estacado," he says to Vivienne with a nod. Tom needs a minute to get his wind back, so Jackie gives him space. To explain himself further: "Tommy did me a favor that I probably can't ever pay back. But I'm tryin'."

-

"You're welcome," Vivienne, as they finally paused, seemed tired, something in the battle, or its aftermath, having taken it out of her. Or perhaps, just a delayed reaction to the week she's been having. "He does that. Usually against his better judgment." On other lips, those words might have seemed caustic, but Vivienne's tone was only amused, as she stepped away from the puddle of sick that Tom had left in his wake. "Robert will be back, I'm sure, we should find a place to sit and rest, until we get ourselves back together. And I can put you to rights, Tom. Don't make me put the screws to you like last time." She glanced at Jackie, "This the first time you've run into the Angelus warriors?" She turned, gauging their surround and finding a set of crates that would do as well as anywhere else to recoup. "They still after that sword, Tom?"

-

Rolling his shoulders for a moment, Tom winces, and not just at the pain from that injury. He gives a sharp look at Jackie, visibly uncomfortable. He's not that humble — not anymore — that he tries to shake it off, at least. "I'd settle for a shower and something to drink," he says, blandly. He… yeah, he stinks, of sulphur. It isn't pleasant.

Tom grimaces against the sound of sirens, and gestures, "We should, uh," as if he wasn't the one holding them up. He falls into unsteady step with them, shooting Vivienne a look but not protesting her not-quite-threat. "Um. Yeah, about that…"

-

Jackie smiles shakily at Tom's sharp look. Despite his power, Jackie is vulnerable to a sense of obligation and duty. Omerta rules his life. Tom did him the greatest favor someone can do for a person, and Jackie's sense of honor is insistent. Tom, you're stuck with him. "I can make that happen," he says, "let's shake the tail first."

Jackie rapidly demorphs back into his black Armani suit. His powers treat him kindly. The voice in his head, well. But that's not your problem today.

Jackie follows Vivi (as he's already started thinking of her). He misses his coffee already, but sometimes there are casualties in war. "I haven't fought those guys much," he says. "But I keep encountering people who are like angels, but they don't like me. I got called a hellspawn the other day and I didn't know if that was supposed to hurt my feelings or not."

-

"If it's all the same, I think the loft is probably our best option at the moment." She glanced at Tom, "I've upgraded the security since you were last there." And with that she quickens her pace, the distance between where they are and Tribeca not entirely a short journey. And at this time of night, it would take a miracle to grab a cab. But they'd get there. "And Robert's used to the place. I'll give him a call, if he doesn't meet us on the way." Vivienne, with very rare exceptions, always went home to roost after a battle. "Still sitting in your umbrella stand, I take it?" Vivienne shook her head, as she walked, but gave no argument, instead, finding an answer for Jackie's commentary, "I don't doubt that they did." Vivienne, finally, as they walked, flicked her wrist, the Spear shrinking back to its more compact size, allowing her to replace it in the harness on her back. "You'll be seeing more of both, unless I miss my mark."

-

Tom moves kind of gingerly, maybe because of what just happened, maybe his injury, or maybe because he's not quite as blase about the idea of clothes spun of nothing as he'd like to pretend. He doesn't seem to object to their destination, at least. "Wouldn't take it personally," is Tom's thought on the matter of being called a hellspawn. "Bet that's thrown around this city far more than prudent or applicable."

-

Vivienne's query on the sword earns a rough laugh from the ex-priest. "Ahh, I shoved it back into the floor. I figure anyone strong enough to pull it free probably deserves whatever they get from taking it." He's got that cagey look about him that she's probably used to, like there's more, but he doesn't seem given to elaborate while they walk, arms wrapped around himself, pulled in, instinctively defensive.

-

Jackie makes a face at the spear transforming, but focuses mainly on keeping up with Vivi and making sure Tom doesn't fall behind. The clothes are very real (as they are, in truth, from Jackie's closet). Tom eventually picks up that the clothes smell like Jackie's cologne.

"Can I be real with you?" he says to Vivi. And then is just real with her. "I don't really know what the fuck is going on and anybody who seems to know wants to kill me. You seem like you at least don't hate me super hard. If you can get me caught up I can make it up to you."

Jackie thinks about this before saying it, which says something: "Like I got a real good connection on Gucci bags."

-

That muffled noise might just be Tom coughing. Or maybe covering a stifled laugh, who knows?

-

"She's a Chanel woman, isn't she," Jackie asides.

-

"Uh." Tom doesn't even try at that. He wouldn't know a Chanel from a Gucci.

-

Vivienne continued along, sticking out her arm every now and then, though none of the cabs either stopped, or slowed enough to allow them to jump in. Most simply seemed to pick up speed as they came close enough to have a gander at the three walking along the road. Or it was possibly the smell. Which was absolutely pungent. Thanks, Tom. The comment from Jackie turned Vivienne's head. "There are a number of items of power. Some say twelve, others thirteen. You carry the Darkness. That is one. I bear the Spear of Destiny, another. Tom, the Rapture. The warriors we fought are born of the Angelus, and are not true angels, though they wear the guise the western world is most familiar with for the creatures of that name. There are a number of others active within the city, as though something was drawing them all here. The Angelus have been attempting, for some time, to secure the Rapture. The first time we met, in fact, was fighting one of those warriors." A tip of head indicated Tom as the other half of the 'we'. "She never appears herself. Only sends the warriors she creates." After about the seventh or eighth cab, Vivienne frowned, lips moving in silence. The next cab actually stops, and she swings the door open for the two to go in ahead of her, as she pulls out a phone, quickly calling Robert and alerting him to their destination. "Tribeca, please." That, to the cab driver, who quickly shuts the Plexiglas and rolls down all of the windows to avoid the sulfur smell. "Chloe, actually." Because national pride.

-

Tom is silent while Vivienne gives Jackie the Artifacts 101 lecture. Other than a grimace when she mentions the Angelus, he seems intent on walking, not really helping with the hailing a cab thing with the occasional unsteady weave of his walk. When Vivienne secures one, he sounds relieved, piling in. He doesn't realize quite how bad he smells until that moment, grimacing and hunching down. Even Jackie's cologne isn't enough to offset it. He leans out the open window.

-

Jackie listens to Vivi. This information helps. Items of power he can understand. The Darkness isn't so much an object as an asshole, but Jackie can imagine it as a thing he carries around. Those other guys not being 'real' angels is reassuring to Jackie.

Jackie isn't pleased at people menacing Tom. This is the kind of thing that makes Jackie want to pop caps. He'll do more about this, Jackie resolves. Some mastermind is messing with Tom? Well, Jackie's good at finding bosses and killing them. Maybe Tom doesn't have the sand to do it, but Jackie sure as hell can.

Jackie sits in the cab. He looks Vivi dead in the eye when she mentions her brand. Jackie Estacado will remember that.

"We'll get you some Axe," Jackie asides to Tom.

-

The ride doesn't take all that long at all, to get them from Lower Manhattan to Upper. Possibly, in this instance, Tom's stank is actually a blessing in disguise, because the driver can't seem to slam his foot down on the gas quite hard enough. Eventually, though, they arrive, Vivienne having held off on the conversation for the duration of the ride. Her loft is in one of the more gentrified parts of Tribeca, one of those old warehouses that have been remodeled into artist's lofts and residences. She slips in a side door, pulling up one of those elevator gates that are wooden slatted and all the rage. "Just a while longer and you can rest, Tom." The ride's not that long at all, to get them to the top floor, and the walk to the door only a few steps.

Once inside, the place seems deserted. Until they hear the clink of ice on crystal, drawing the eye towards the kitchen. Where a bright, orange haired bipedal cat with a head twice as large as it should be for its body, sits on the counter, feet swinging, swigging what looks to be a shot of whiskey. "What the fuck is that smell, Legs?!" Though as soon as said cat catches sight of Vivienne's company, said cat promptly slams down the glass, hops off of the countertop, and fair runs back into the back of the loft, the door to what must be some closet or another slamming shut behind him.

"Don't mind him. He has a sensitive nose." Nothing could be more blase than Vivienne's voice. "You know where the shower is, Tom, clothes are in the usual place."

-

Jackie rides in the cab. When it stops in Tribeca, Jackie slides out and follows Vivi up to her loft.

Jackie sees a talking cat. He pauses as the cat finishes the whiskey and runs off. He isn't sure he saw that. Jackie interrogates himself as he walks over to where the cat was and inspects the vicinity.

"Huh," he says.

-

Tom can't help but laugh at Jackie's comment to him. "Don't suppose you can magic that from nothing, too," he suggests, lifting the t-shirt as if in evidence. He, too, is otherwise mostly quiet in the cab, bracing himself with the handle as the cabbie takes corners rather faster than he'd ordinarily like. In the lift, he leans against the wall, not bothering to summon up a response. Neither can he seem to find a suitable one for the reaction of the talking cat to him, just staring blankly. He's still awake, right? Yeah. Pinch of his arm says so. Leaden steps take him, as directed, to the shower, with the air of one who has done so many times in this place, comfortable enough to know where to go that he treats it like home.

-

Ripclaw lost them intentionally in the alleyway, having doubled around and set off a ton of alarms down an adjacent street just to keep any additional pursuit of the terrestrial variety clear. The result has him awaiting the loft's lift after they have all gone up, stamping his boots off outside before the door is tossed open and he joins behind them, slamming it to put shoulders to it. The shirt he wore earlier shredded, hanging off of him but at least the rest of his clothing is intact.

"Just starting to rain… " He mumbles, red eyes sweeping them over within. A form of a hello…

-

There is indeed a whiskey glass on the counter. And there are indeed, tiny cat paws on either side, immortalized in condensation. Vivienne, however, makes no more comment about the talking cat, instead, turning to watch Tom heading for the shower. Once he seems to be on his way, she too, turns to head to the kitchen, though it's not to inspect the glass, but to pull down four more, and a fresh bottle of whiskey, the one on the counter almost spent. French as she is, is Tullamore Dew that she pulls down. Not Jameson, because she's not a philistine. She turns, as she sees and hears Robert come in, something in the set of her shoulders relaxing at the sight of him, "Thank you for coming." There are probably half a hundred other words she could say, but she chooses those to stand in for the rest.

-

Jackie accepts any hospitality he's given as he is a man of honor. He looks to Robert, surprised that he's present, but only for a moment.

"Hey," he says, sticking with one word for now. There's whiskey coming, after all.

-

Scrubbing at his skin is easy: it's his hair that the sulphur smell tends to cling to, and the reason why it takes a little longer for Tom to finally emerge. He's wearing track suit pants, hanging on his thin frame, the Rapture resting on his bare, too-thin body. He's peeled off the remaining bandages from the wound on his shoulder — a demon bite, undoubtedly, maybe two weeks gone, but still not healed, as these things don't often do. Just in time to see Ripclaw arrive. "Hey, Robert," he says, tiredly, as he pads barefoot towards the kitchen counter, almost like he's making a beeline for the whiskey. At least he doesn't smell awful anymore, so there's that.

-

"Nowhere else to be at the moment." Robert admit and leaves the door away, giving Jackie a level gaze and nod, "Hey again. Darkness back in town… explains earlier."

The whiskey he'll accept this time, a light smile given Magdalena that fades upon Tom's voice.

"Judge, you're looking worse than last time."

-

"I'm starting to think that I'm a real trouble-maker," Jackie says to Robert with a self-effacing grin. "Maybe the nuns were right."

Jackie lifts his glass to Tom in a salute before taking a sip. Alcohol will likely help him understand what's coming next.

-

"Um. Yeah." Tom doesn't seem to know how to response to Robert's statement since, well, it's probably true. But still. He simply grimaces, and takes the final glass of whiskey, with a mute nod of thanks to Vivienne before he downs the entire contents in one hit.

-

"The nuns were likely right." Robert says with a feigned smile to Jackie before the man departs, the whiskey risen to swirl then drink at. Rare he partakes.

"A joke, you look about the same. Where you been?"

-

Vivienne seemed content to hand out the whiskey first, before she took a glass of her own, filling the one said cat left behind, and wandering off, back into the back of the loft while the men talked. She wasn't gone for long, though they could hear a door opening, and then closing again while she was gone. She's just coming back in to Robert's question, setting her own glass aside as she heads for Tom. Thoughtful of him to take the bandages off, so she can get a look at what she's working with. "Nasty." A soft sound, and then she simply laid a hand, palm cupped over the wound, that familiar soft radiance spilling onto Tom's skin.

-

It's true to say Tom's never fully comfortable with being healed. Hard to say whether it's because of the source of her power, or because of who she is, or because of the Rapture's intrinsic reaction to it. Either way, his fingers clench, knuckle-white against his empty glass while she works, exhaling. "It was healing okay," he says, kind of defensively, but then, "Thanks," with a grimace. For Robert's question, "Um. Same place as ever. Haven't seen you about lately, though."

He shifts his weight, uncomfortably. Maybe it's best Jackie's stepped out to the bathroom when he says this, since sicking the Darkness on a stranger — inadvertently or not — seems like a bad idea, "There was this woman, this red-head, who tried to get hold of the Rapture. Uh. Or, did, for a little bit. But it's fine, I'm uh, taking care of it."

-

Robert resigns himself to lean against the wall beside the cupboards, arms folding lazily across his chest with his drink in one synthlaced up hand as Vivienne begin to set upon Tom's injuries. Her /magic/ at work.
"A red-head? Got a name or more than that… we have an ever growing list of enemies, its … constant." A mutter in to his cup as it lifts up and he frowns at the question of where he was, "I'll accept that. I was in Oklahoma for a while, I lost Lara Croft to somewhere else… we got her back though. I'm back also."

"You should have called us about the woman… taking care of it?"

-

At this point, it seemed Vivienne had grown accustomed to ignoring Tom's precious feelings. He needed healing, ans she was providing it. They simply could not afford for him to be in pain or ineffective. Nor did she want him to be. And so she worked, holding her hand there until his skin began to tingle and spark with sensation. Only then, did she lift her hand away, the last of the wound healing neatly on its own. "Someone we've met before?"

-

"I've got someone on it," Tom says, with only a tiny grimace. He isn't the calling type, as is probably obvious by now. Especially when it comes to trouble. "No. I don't think she knows about any of you, best to keep it that way." His fingers flex, again, when that tingling washes over his shoulder, gaze cast downwards, jaw tightening against it, almost like he's fighting it.

-

Robert's head tips upwards, chin lifting as he narrows his eyes at Tom, "If you insist." He adds, the whiskey in hand getting slammed back and the cup set aside.

"Defeats the purpose of us being able to look out for one another but, you go that route. We'll still be somewhere around here, if we can be."

"I hope your person on this knows what they're doing"

He glances at Vivienne with a knowing look then returns his attention on Judge.

-

Vivienne, as soon as she had done what she could, healing Tom's flesh, and knowing she could do nothing for his soul or psyche, simply moved to retrieve her glass, to refill Robert's if he wanted it. She did not offer ice, but she did offer those metal cubes that could keep the liquid cold, but not dilute the flavour or potency of the alcohol. Vivienne returned the look Robert offered her with a slight grimace. But she also did not press. Let Tom have his secrets. And go his own way. She was done trying to force him, something they had shouted about a bit at each other the last tie they saw each other.

-

"As if you don't have enough trouble," Tom says, blandly. It'd be hard for him to miss the look Robert gives Vivienne, but he doesn't comment, instead interpreting it as a wish to speak with her in private. "I'm going to check on Jackie," is all he says, heading back to talk to the other man.

-

"Thanks…. " Robert doesn't say anything further just nodding as Tom goes to check on Jackie, "I guess we're back to square one with him. No wonder you find him insufferable… "

-

"He neither wants he, nor wants to be helped. And you can't lead a horse to water. No…that's not right. You can lead a horse to water. No. Damnit." Vivienne was, in many ways, a normal, well-adusted woman, but her grasp on some of the more old-fashioned american idioms soemtimes escaped her. "He hates me. But he hates himself more."

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