Folklore is not an exact science

August 20, 2014:

Hellboy shows up to assist with a case Paul is involved in. Their meeting is less than friendly.

Truck yard.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Really, there's nothing left to do. SHIELD's taken care of the truck and its cargo and the official story for the public (and NYPD) is just homegrown terrorist activity. Paul knows the real story, of course. A god. As if demons aren't enough, right? Still, he's curious enough about just what the point was to return to the truck yard and look around. Maybe there'll be something SHIELD overlooked since the supernatural really isn't their thing. Wandering around, he pokes around here and there but is mostly just waiting to see if anything screams supernatural to him.

-

A black truck, similar in construction to a paddy wagon but more sturdily armored, pulls up next to the bright yellow tape marking off the area under investigation. The side is marked with a logo: an art deco illustration of a fist clutching the hilt of a sword, and the letters B.P.R.D. It's not a particularly well-known spoonful of alphabet soup, but to those who deal in occult investigation and enforcement, it's the reputable branch of Stormwatch that staves off paranormal threats to civilization.

Of course, the logo is going to be the least interesting thing about the truck the second Hellboy steps out of the driver's seat and clops — yes, clops — to the pavement. There's something that screams supernatural: non-threatening posture doesn't quite make up for being an eight-foot demon with bright red skin. But knowing the kind of reception he's likely to get, HB is already holding up a passport case containing his credentials. "Hellboy, Paranormal Research and Defense, here to help," he says to Paul, his deep voice hushed so as to minimize alarm. "Hear you may be dealing with a major mythological figure. Mind if I smoke?"

-

Paul turns at the sound of the truck approaching. The lettering means nothing to him. He might be with EI but they're not really geared to the supernatural, just anything and everything weird and bizarre. As it draws closer, the feeling coming from it causes him to put his hand on his gun though he doesn't draw it. When… it gets out of the truck, he steps back. His eyes flick to the ID but it could just as easily have been made in a university print shop. "You're a demon." Like Hellboy didn't know that. "And what the hell is Paranormal Research and Defense?"

-

Hellboy already has the end of a cigar clamped between his teeth and a Zippo in his hand by the time Paul completely ignores his question. So he returns the favor, lighting up and taking a relaxed puff before working the cigar to the side of his wide mouth and answering.

"It means we research and defend against the paranormal," he answers unhelpfully. "And that's a pretty rude thing to say. Maybe I think your shirt is ugly. Doesn't mean I bring it up." His gigantic stone hand, which appears to be made out of brick, rises to scratch at his bare chest.

-

"Who's we?" It doesn't take an expert in body language to see that Paul's ready to draw and fire at the first sign the demon's about to spring at him. "What's your name?" He's not close enough to have actually read anything on that ID.

-

Hellboy glances down at Paul's service pistol, then back up at the man's eyes, looking resigned but not the slightest bit fearful. On the plus side, he's displayed not a hint of aggression. "Told you — the name's Hellboy. 'We' is the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense." he replies in the same quiet voice. "I guess you didn't get briefed that I was coming. Typical." He lets his right hand dangle and points with his left at the truck he drove in. "I got a packet back in the truck for guys like you. My history, the Bureau's history. Even got a photo with President Eisenhower and a letter of recommendation from my parish priest. You gonna shoot me if I go get it?"

-

Paul's hand that's not resting on his holster motions to the truck. "Go ahead." After a moment, he moves his hand from his gun though he's no more relaxed than a moment ago. "It probably wouldn't do anything anyway, would it?" The guy's got a brick hand. "No, I wasn't told you were coming. Probably because this isn't my investigation. But I was here during the incident."

-

"It would hurt," Hellboy answers in a wounded tone, turning and taking the few steps back to the truck on cloven hooves. He pops open the door and lies across the seat to fish in the glove box for the bulky packet that serves as his ward against skeptics. "It would also be a crap start to our working relationship," he adds, his voice a little bit muffled by the cab of the truck.

In just a couple of seconds, he returns, holding out the thick accordion folder with his stone hand. Despite their appearance, the digits hold the packet gently, denting it no more than a human hand would. "I hear someone thinks it's Norse. Those guys are tough," he says, doing his best at offering sympathetic chitchat.

-

"Loki." Paul answers as he steps closer to take the file. And then steps back again. "Or so they said." About to flip through the papers, he glances at Hellboy then takes a few more steps back before looking down to skim the papers. Once he's done he studies Hellboy a moment then offers the file back. "All right, I guess these are in order." Though he's certainly going to be checking up on him later. "So why exactly are you here? You hunt gods?"

-

Big Red takes the folder with a terse grunt and goes to put it back in the glove box. "No, but most gods have the sense to keep to themselves," he answers without looking back. "I've been known to beat the crap out of the ones that don't, though." He returns and crouches steeply to duck under the police line, keeping a wary distance from Paul so as not to spook him. "I'm a troubleshooter. Crap gets out of hand, I get it back under control. Ghosts, vampires, monsters, whatever."

-

"Yeah, good luck with that." Paul murmurs with a snort. "Well, it's not my crime scene so I have no authority to stop you." Technically anyway. "But if you're going to beat on Loki, I want tickets." And enough to sell too. There's probably a high demand for that.

-

"Better make sure it's actually Loki first," Hellboy answers with the first hint of a smile. "If I pounded on a regular guy who was just faking people out, I'd feel bad."

"Well, a little."

He pops open one of the large pouches on his belt and rummages around in it for a minute. Seriously, a minute. It's worse than a packrat's purse in there. Eventually, he retrieves a white flower that looks sort of like a bulbous daisy and holds it up to the light. "Baldr's brow. Supposed to wilt if it gets too close to Loki," the demon explains. "Can you point me toward where our candidate spent most of his time?"

-

"No." Paul answers simply. "I never actually saw him. The trucks came from here and tried to get across the bridge. But I don't know where he was during it all. He created some kind of hurricane too."

-

"Hurricane? That's more of a Thor thing," Hellboy answers with a frown. Well, more of a frown than usual. "Guess I'll just sort of wave it around, then." He wanders away from Paul through the truck yard, looking down at the tiny daisy clutched in his left hand and occasionally touching it to stuff. It's an odd image. But eventually he reaches a platform where Loki had seated himself before the fracas began, and when touched to it, all of the petals immediately turn dark red. "Bingo."

-

Paul just shrugs. Norse gods aren't his specialty. He's more a Sumerian kind of guy. Not. He stays where he is, just watching Hellboy do his thing. Or pretending to, who knows. And then… "I thought it was supposed to wilt. What does turning red tell you?"

-

"That somebody got mixed up," Hellboy answers, tucking the flower gently into one of the interior pockets of his coat. "Folklore's not an exact science. Or I guess maybe it means something, but I don't know what. I'll have Kate look into it, but we're either dealing with Loki or Hodur, and Hodur's dead." He approaches Paul, his hands in his pockets. "I ordered — well, Kate ordered a couple of pots of this stuff when I heard we might be dealing with Loki. If you give me your card, I'll have one delivered to your office. Get flowers to anyone who might see this guy. He's a trickster, so he might not look like you expect."

-

"Give me two pots." Paul suggests. "I'll take one to SHIELD as well." Digging in a pocket, he pulls out a card and offers it. "So what's a demon doing working with the government to fight demons? Doesn't that get you kicked out of the union?" The words might be flippant but there's still some wariness there.

-

"Yeah, it does," Hellboy answers, chewing thoughtfully on the end of his cigar. "That's sorta the point." He's not glaring — not really. he takes the card with his smaller left hand, glances at it, and pockets it along with the flower. "SHIELD's in on this, huh? Guess I should talk to them, too. I don't suppose you have a phone number or something?"

-

The image of Hellboy walking into Hill's office can't help but make Paul smile. What a shame it can't possibly be a surprise. "Oh, yes. I can give you a number to call and set up an appointment. You'll want to speak to Deputy Director Hill. She has a special interest in the supernatural. You have a contact number?"

-

"Yeah, sure." Hellboy hands over a pair of BPRD business cards that go to great pains to look professional and ordinary. They may deal with the supernatural but they themselves are just reliable people doing a difficult job. "And you should call if you hear more about this Loki guy, too. I don't want a bunch of guys getting squashed because they ran in after him unprepared."

-

Paul takes the cards then pats his pockets till he finds the pen. He writes down the number for SHIELD and Hill's name before handing it back. "Call that number, ask to speak to Hill. Tell them I gave you that number." While it's not her direct line, it's not the public one found in the phone book either.

-

"Thanks," Hellboy says in a friendlier tone as he accepts the card. "I bet she's losing her mind about all this ghosts and goblins crap. It's not the sort of thing SHIELD is equipped for. I bet she'll be really happy to see me." Oh, Hellboy, you naïve thing. You are really in for a surprise. "So, your guy made a hurricane. Any other weird god stuff I should know about or keep an eye out for?"

-

Paul's smile turns into a broad grin. If only he were a fly on that wall. "Oh, demons and Elder Gods and lots and lots of stuff. Loki is just the icing on the cake. And not very tasty icing either."

-

"Yeah, I hear New York is kinda starting to look like a hell mouth, these days," Hellboy agrees, puffing away at the half a cigar he has left. He's careful to blow the smoke away from Paul, as a concession to his merely mortal lungs. "Anything I can help with? I can deal with demons and Elder Gods."

-

Paul looks dubious at that claim. Definitely not till he makes some phone calls and checks the guy's credentials. "Maybe. Just what is it you do? Besides hit things. I take it you're good at that." The brick fist is kind of a giveaway.

-

"Depends on the case," Hellboy answers, sounding irked by the slight on his skills. "I've been dealing with demons, ghosts, vampires, and monsters since the fifties." As his folder attested. "Sometimes that means beating the crap out of something. Sometimes it means throwing the right magic coin or relic or whatever. Sometimes you just kinda have to ride it out to the finish."

-

Paul nods at that. "Well, I'll definitely give you a call if we run into something we need a hand with. Like I said, Loki isn't on my dance card so that's something you can talk to SHIELD about. Do you have a stone, charm, gem or crystal that can be used to summon you in case of emergencies?" He can add it to the collection. "For those times there's just no bars."

-

"Do you?" Hellboy asks Paul with a touch of annoyance. "Just because I've got the tail and the hand and these things" — he points up to the unidentified bony discs on his forehead — "doesn't mean I'm a friggin' magical goblin. I drive a truck and I live in an apartment and I listen to oldies. I may have a weird job but I'm pretty good at it and if you need me you can call me on the phone like a normal person." He looks away, straightens his ragged-looking coat, and mutters, "Summon me with a crystal, my ass."

-

Right. Not a wizard. And bad tempered. Not really a surprise given he's a demon. "Okay, we'll hope there's reception then." Paul says with a shrug. "You have my number if you need to get in contact with me. I'd suggest not coming to Headquarters if you need to talk to me. They really wouldn't understand things." The Captain likes things with mundane explanations and that's what they give him if at all possible."

-

"Yeah, I know the drill," Hellboy mutters darkly. He's accustomed to doing his work without getting a lot of facetime or credit for it. Which is not to say that it doesn't rankle, but he understands the rules of the game. After a few deep, smoky breaths to calm down, he sighs and continues, "Sorry I blew up at you. I just get that crap a lot. Stereotypes." He turns to Paul, his bright yellow eyes slanted downward in a hangdog expression.

-

"Most people have had bad experiences with demons." Paul points out. "Assuming they've had any. Or even believe in them." Hellboy's definitely going to take some getting used to. At least Illyana's demons are real demons, just under her control. A 'good' demon? Yeah, that's going to take time.

-

"I've had bad experiences with demons!" Hellboy protests, his voice bouncing upward an octave as he puts a stone palm to his chest defensively. "I get that! But most people have had bad experiences with cops, too." He points at Paul with his left hand. "Doesn't bother you when they assume you're a racist or a jerk or something?"

-

"Point." Paul concedes. "But the proportion of bad demons to good demons vastly exceeds the number of bad cops to good ones." he also points out. Like almost infinite to… 1? "Forget about reputation, you'll just shatter belief systems." Oh for the good old days when he could not believe in demons.

-

Hellboy nods. It's not exactly a ringing endorsement of him, but it's all the concession he really wanted from Paul. "Well, there you go. You don't assume I'll start doing a bunch of weird magic crap, and I won't assume you only eat donuts and let girls flirt their way out of parking tickets. Deal?"

-

"Weird magic crap like flowers that change color when it's near a place a norse god was almost a week ago?" Paul asks dryly. "I don't see how a summoning stone is any more weird. But whatever doesn't turn you on." He probably owes the guy for sicing him on Hill anyway.

-

"They're just flowers," Hellboy says, sounding a tiny bit petulant at being caught on that. "It's not like I put a spell on them or something." He pops open another of the bewildering array of pouches on his belt and starts pulling out occult knicknacks. "I just like to keep a collection of useful stuff around. Here's one of St. Osgyth's finger bones. Here's a coin minted by Agathodaimon out of transmuted silver. This is a tooth from a statue of the Inca god Supay. This is… this is glowing."

Befuddled, he pulls a pebble out of the pouch and holds it out toward Paul. It is indeed pulsing with a dim green glow. "You're not seven ancient, world-eating dragons, are you?" Hellboy asks suspiciously.

-

"Not even one of them." Paul assures Hellboy, eying the glowing pebble curiously. "Why? Does it only glow when a dragon has been nearby on a Wednesday between the hours of noon and midnight?"

-

"Nah, it's supposed to be tuned to creations of the old gods. I've only seen it pulse once, when the sorceror Rasputin was possessed by some stupid dragon thing," Hellboy answers, as though this explains everything. He's also diminishing the threat value of the story a bit. "Maybe it's broken," he says skeptically. Amusingly, he doesn't seem to notice anything silly about Paul's hypothesis. He probably has something in a pouch somewhere that does exactly that.

-

"Old gods?" Paul asks with a frown. Norse gods, Elder Gods and now old gods? How many sets of damn gods are there? "What's an old god? Are they trying to escape a prison and destroy the world too?"

-

"The stories are screwy," Hellboy answers as he pockets the glowing pebble. "And everybody's got like a dozen damn names, depending on who you ask. But supposedly, the freaky things you're thinking of were created by some slightly less freaky things who made a lot of other stuff. Most of that stuff isn't around anymore. My stupid rock is trying to tell me that you're some of that other stuff."

-

"I lost you at freaky." Paul says with a shrug. "But I assure you, to the best of my knowledge, my parents made me." He's certainly not going to mention anything else to an unknown quantity.

-

"Yeah, well, that thing's always been a little flaky. You should see what happens when I grab it with the wrong hand," Hellboy answers, his mouth a thin line. No, his expression seems to say, he won't be demonstrating. "Don't worry about it. The myths are my department." He runs one hand along his belly and asks, "Is there anything else you need? Otherwise, I'm gonna go have a beer."

-

"Have fun." Paul says, shaking his head. "Let me know when you figure out what red means." He should be getting home anyway since this was on his own time. And stop and get some donuts since the demon mentioned them. And pizza.

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