On the Black Trail

June 08, 2019:

After a few months of silence Magdalena has stumbled on the trail of the sinister Cyrus Black, and brings a fragment of a Wand of Watoomb to the Sanctum.

Strange Sanctum


NPCs: C.C. the cybercat, Wong

Mentions: Ripclaw


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It was the middle of the night. It was always in the middle of the night. A bang came at the door, loud and insistent, one rap of a fist, or something else heavy and then another. No shouting, no doing anything polite like ringing the doorbell. Just that insistent and impolite request for attention.

Should one of the two who lived at the Sanctum come to the door, they would find the Magdelena there, armor torn and bloody, hands holding the spear in a death grip, the woman having fallen to one knee as she'd made it close enough to the building to come within its wards and make it to the door. Of course, she had no idea of what magical security the sanctum had, so the occupants might have known well ahead of time that they had a guest on their doorstep.

Many years ago Stephen Strange was a morning person. He woke up at six every day. Drank his coffee (black, Kenyan). Skimmed over the newspaper. Drove to the hospital and did his super-surgeon stuff.

Now he… sometimes sleeps. But usually just meditates a few hours here and there. Odd schedules that would make very sick in a few weeks anyone without a superb control of body and mind. And it is always night somewhere I the world. Usually half of it. And if it is not night in half the world, it is almost sure -also- a problem for Doctor Strange.

So yes, the door opens quickly. And although it is Wong who helps Vivienne into the living room, it is Strange who is there to check her for injuries, physical and mystical. "I'll check the wards," states Wong, perhaps fearing the young woman was followed.

"Don't close the door," Vivienne managed, as Wong helped her inside the Sanctum. She did not go much beyond the foyer, "Or he'll just come in a window." Vivienne allowed herself to be checked over, as Wong departed the small group to do what needed to be done. She did not seem to mind the examination, offering only, "My backup. He was supposed to be right behind me."

"Is that so?" Comments Strange, "it is sometimes difficult to see this house for certain kinds of people. Who is your backup?" A few more seconds and odd glyphs draw in the air, and he adds, "your armor took most of the physical damage and you have only scratches, nothing broken, no serious bleeding. But it looks as if you have been fighting a supernatural being able to cause psychic damage."

"He doesn't need to see me. He can smell my perfume." Or just her, who knows, "Not a demon. I don't know what it was." Vivienne looked down at herself, as Strange listed off her injuries, "My body I can heal, but I'd rather wait until I know the danger has passed." She straightened, as well as she could, using the Spear to hold herself up, eyes looking away in the way of someone listening to something only they could hear, "I'm coming." Vivienne stepped away, moving towards one of the windows that looked out into the side alley between the Sanctum and the house beside it, where a bright orange housecat now sat on the ledge. Well, more clinging to the ledge than anything else, for it was not a wide ledge. Only his paws and his oversized head were visible. "He's here."

The house can be hidden from technological means, but it is difficult. It is actually not something the house does by its own nature; those are spells Strange has developed in response to the technological times. Still need work, and used better in emergencies.

So yes, that odd cat had little trouble finding the window despite odd angles and impossible geometrics. "I don't think I have opened that window in decades," comments Strange, looking thoughtful. "I suppose it might still work, lets us see," he needs to maneuver around the corner table, and add some telekinetic pressure to the ancient bronze lock. Then the window reluctantly creaks open.

"Legs," came the immediate response from the cat, who began scrabbling at the now wider ledge, before Vivienne reached out to pluck him up by the top handle of the backpack he was wearing and deposit him on the floor of the foyer, the animal such as it was standing perfectly contentedly on his back legs. "I got it!" Only once he had delivered this news, did he look up at the tall, cloaked man who was now towering over him, "He with you?" Vivienne almost snorted, "Yes. Dr. Strange, this is C.C. C.C., Doctor Strange. We're his guests."

Strange nods to the talking cat, "pleased to meet you," offers, trying to get the window closed. Mental note: change this window. "Magdalena and me, ah… we often move in the same circles of interests." Semi-explains the sorcerer, trying to figure out the nature of the cat. Which is not really a cat, and it might not even be alive as his spells understand it.

"Is that what she's calling it?" C.C. flashed a grin in Vivienne's direction, the woman looking more amused than anything else. "Strange, do you mind if we raid your refrigerator? C.C. will be much more amiable to handing things over if he has some food in him." Vivienne seemed to pay no attention at all to the fact that she was still covered in blood and ragged armor. "There's no one else coming that's with me." Just in case Strange and Wong might want to, well, magic the defenses. "And possibly your drinks cabinet." C.C. chimed in, "He better not have that peety shit."

"Of course," replies Strange. "Food and…" he eyes the cat-like person-thing. "Drink, if you consider it necessary," which tend to be expensive drinks in his cabinet, but money is not a concern for a master sorcerer. Those bottles are there to be used in good causes. Or cat-causes.

Wong returns, to shakes his head. Nothing to report. Although C.C. gets a long glance. Wong is not a cat person. Not that normal animals fare well in the Sanctum or he would have a dog or three around.

"You don't?" Perhaps thankfully for Wong, C.C. is at least not acting like a cat, so does not attempt to trip him, bite him, or meow at him in that grating way that scrapes on every last one of one's nerve-endings. Instead, he simply tightens the straps on his backpack and pads off, still walking upright, in Vivienne's wake, as she makes her way back towards the kitchen, taking, of course, the safest route. "And don't touch anything, or you'll be the first hairless cybernetic cat." Vivienne managed a smile for Wong, her old pastry nemesis, though they might well have called a truce in that regard, before she looked to Strange, "C.C. is a member of Cyberforce." The group to which Ripclaw also belongs. "He's been sharing my condo in exchange for doing tracking work for me."

The tea incident is long forgotten, and Wong smiles back at the young woman, following the pair to the kitchen to prevent cat-astrophes. After some consideration, Strange decides to join them there. The kitchen is usually Wong's domain, but it is large (at least today it is large) enough for the four of them to be comfortable. "Please, sit down. Some of those scratches will be best cleaned and bandaged," he offers, "what happened to you two?"

If only Wong hadn't had to follow them. Such was the look on C.C.'s cat face as he eyed everything as they walked through the mansion, avarice bright in his eyes, despite Vivienne's warning. He did not, however, attempt to steal or touch anything, making it into the kitchen without incident and climbing up into one of the chairs at the kitchen table, while Vivienne went, first, to the drinks cabinet and removed a bottle of whiskey, which she carried over to the cat, who set about removing the top and chugging delightedly, the bottle nimbly grasped in his cat paws, and then to the refrigerator, to see what might be available. "C.C.'s skill with computers and security systems is exceptional. I have asked him to monitor news and other outlets for any signs of the Artifacts," for many of the wielders seemed to have disappeared, "Or anything else that might be interesting, in the wake of the events of last fall and summer. I also asked him to look for anything which might be related to Black." C.C. plunked down the bottle, "Got some chatter about a black market sale going down, tipped off Legs that she might want to look into it."

"Black market for genuine mystical items in the Internet already?" Strange is not too shocked, but in truth mystics have been very slow at getting hold and use new technologies. Some of the old lineages have a shaky relationship with electronics. Strange is not 'homo magi' though, and never had any problem with technology. Except for a lack of time to master it. "I suppose they were selling a genuine item and there were some problems in the transaction, right?"

"Black market for money. Who cares what it's for?" That from the cyber-cat. Vivienne pulled out what looked to be some quite nicely poached salmon, not bothering to heat it, only bringing it to a plate and setting it out before she set the fish down by C.C.'s whiskey, at which point the cat-thing began picking it apart with his fingers and popping bits into his mouth. Vivienne took nothing for herself, only made her way back towards the table to take a seat as she had been instructed, and stripping off her armor. "From what we've been able to track, most of the people doing the smuggling and selling have no idea what it is they're actually working with. At any rate, we tracked the sale to a building under construction in the financial district. We managed to grab the artifact, I kept them distracted while C.C. ran off with the goods and we headed back here."

Strange leaves Wong to deal with Vivienne's injuries, since there is a mystical artifact about to be shown. In fact, he sensed it on the backpack, but it wasn't one he would recognize. Not exactly. And not dark magic either. "Show me, please."

He needs to find a good technomage (who is not Dr. Doom or related to him in any way) to keep tabs on these things. But getting sorcerers to work with each other is like herding cats.

"No one ever suspects the cat," was C.C.'s salmon muffled response, before he licked his paws and shrugged off his backpack, setting it down on the table with a surprisingly loud clang, before he unzipped it and pulled out a slim rectangular black box which he pushed over in Strange's direction, before going back to his dinner, "Couldn't crack it. Legs said not to bother."

Indeed the box was physically open, or should have been, but its lid remained firmly pressed to the body, but it was mystically warded, something only Strange or Wong would have noticed or been able to see. Within the box, should it be opened, was the end of wand, a cap, if you will, carved in the likeness of a snarling demon.

"It has a simple ward," explains Strange. "Too strong for a mere human to open without some mechanical help, but…" he concentrates, and tips it with a finger. It opens to reveal the demon-craved piece. Strange frowns deeply.

"It is Watoomb's craft," he says. Wong peers in. "So there are other wands ON Earth," murmurs the Tibetan man unhappily. "Yes. Of all the multiverse… but we already suspected Cyrus Black had one piece. This is a second, and it might not even be of the same wand Black obtained."

C.C. growled, as much as one could growl with a mouth stuffed with salmon, his fur bristling, "Did he just call me a human?" Vivienne, sensing danger, set down the armor she was pulling over her head, "I'm sure that he wasn't." She offered the cat-bot a pacifying look, which C.C. promptly ignored in favour of more whiskey. "A simple ward for a warlock, I imagine. I did not have a chance to examine it, but I would have avoided it regardless, as I had no idea what damage it would have caused." She leaned over to look at the fragment, so much like the one she had seen whole in the basement, one of the basements, of the mansion, "Does he still have the piece he was using when we last encountered him?" Vivienne had no idea what Strange had been doing with his time.

"I never found him," replies Strange. And the search was abandoned when demons invaded New York. Whatever trail there was afterwards was long cold. "As far as I know Black has not been seen after the Gotham incident. I did some inquires among the supernatural community and all I found was he had been imprisoned by Stormwatch for decades. And after the D.E.O. absorbed Stormwatch assets, Black was nowhere to be found. He must be over 90 years old now."

C.C. having finished his salmon and most of the bottle of whiskey, picked up his backpack and slid from the chair, padding over towards the wall heater and doing the most cat-like thing he had done so far, which was to curl up next to the heat and seemingly go to sleep, though his ears twitched occasionally. Vivienne watched him go, before she finished removing her armor and settled into her seat, "So…about your age, then? Older, younger?" She had no idea how old Strange actually was, but she knew it was well older than he appeared. "So what do we do to either find him, or the rest of this wand?"

"About my age, but…" but Strange is unaging now. Black wasn't. Still, there are many ways to prolong life with magic. If most of them are dark magic. "Age might not be important. Particularly if Cyrus Black is Old Blood. Whatever he did in Stormwatch jail might be important. As far as I know there was never a trial. I was naive back then and trusted Stormwatch to deal with captured supernatural criminals." It turned to be a bad idea. SHIELD is better, but not that much.

Vivienne actually managed a grin, at Strange's comment about Black age, "I was only teasing you, Strange. You're always so close with secrets about yourself." She did not press that, only turned to Wong, "Do you have a first aid kit I can borrow?" With the request passed on, Vivienne returned to Strange. "Is this jail still standing? Would it be possible or important for us to go there and see what you can find?" She had an idea that if there were traces of something, it would require a warlock to find them.

@emit Strange offers Vivienne a lopsided smile, briefly. He is preoccupied and missing some clues in the conversation. “I don’t know about the jail. But I think we should track the potential buyers of this device. Perhaps even use it as bait, depending on how that meeting went and who was selling. We are going through a lull of supernatural activity, and those never last. Ah, it looks like the vampire cultists ended up crossing in the path of the old guard, so I don’t think Chernoborg is going to be a problem after all.”

"C.C. can handle that. It was what he was built for, unless you have another computer expert you would prefer to use." Vivienne glanced over towards the nominally sleeping cat-bot, her expression both sympathetic and affectionate, "I think he's enjoyed feeling useful, rather than being regarded as an occasional inconvenience." She glanced back to the table, accepting the kit that Wong brought with him, and, opening it, prepared to tend to her own injuries. "And can you tell what it was that attacked me? Something supernatural, but not demonic, I would have felt that."

Strange would prefer a mystic, but given the circumstances he will accept any help, so he nods to Magdalena. "I can try. Perhaps an undead creature. Something in the way Black used the Wand creates particularly aggressive undead, and this could be one of those. I will know for sure after I consult the Orb. And I am also going to scry on this artifact. I will talk to you later, you should rest; it will be dawning in two hours."

"I'm happy to take any help I can get." Vivienne nodded, closing the kit as she tucked the few items she had pulled out into it and rose, leaving her armor on the floor as she went to retrieve her cat, who, it would be noted, she picked up as one would any cat with a backpack, and cradled him in her arms, "I'll use my usual guest room, if you don't mind." And with that, she would make her way further into the mansion, hoping, no doubt, that it would not make it difficult to find the room in question.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License