12233/A New You

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A New You
Date of Scene: 07 August 2022
Location: Bushwick <Mutant Town>
Synopsis: The JLD hunt down clues about The Body Shop and find that it's being run by Lydia, who had lied about accepting power from Viscera. What they find has some disturbing implications.
Cast of Characters: Lydia Dietrich, Gabby Kinney, Cael Becker, Chas Chandler, Mercy Thompson, Jonathan Sims

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    There have been rumors circulating around Brooklyn and the surrounding areas that there's a new shop in town. The Body Shoppe. It only opens at midnight, and it's invite only, but it could completely reimagine your body. Its location is a secret but the rumors have narrowed it down to being somewhere in Bushwick.

    These kinds of rumors have a way of trickling up to the JLD. Usually it's easy to dismiss this kind of thing, but there seems to be some corroborating evidence to lend it credence. After all, it's hard to ignore it when somebody has regrown an entire limb. Add that with Lydia's absence most nights and the questionable relationship with Viscera points to her involvement.

    The JLD find themselves on the streets of Mutanttown. It's a busy summer afternoon. There seems to be a block party going on off on one corner of the neighborhood, with grills going and a fire hydrant cracked open for the children to play in to beat off the sweltering summer heat. There's a variety of shops that line the streets. Bodegas, diners, specialty shops, as well as the famous Mootant Town Milkshakes, which sees visitors from /all/ sections of new York.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
With the news that had trickled in for others, Gabby had managed to hear as well. Something going on in her part of town? Well then. It was honestly an opportunity she jumped on to help with after her own incident with the nightmares had left her feeling antsy to say the least. Though overall she seemed to be doing well--She was just more... mellow. Quiet. Reserved. There would be flashes of her old self of course, but she seemed older somehow. Just a bit.

Though in the instance of this fine Summer day that she heads into Mutant town with the others she finds herself grinning warmly at the block party going on. "Buster probably has something to do with this," she reasons as she glances around watching some kids run toward the fire hydrant spewing cooling water with a fond look. "He likes his parties and wants to help out the neighborhood. If I find Gino I could ask if he's heard anything about this shop. He's from Brooklyn but hears a lot. Everyone talks around him." He was a likeable guy for someone that resembled a huge version of the Geico gecko with a deep Brooklyn accent.

Inhaling deeply she tries to get the mix of smells... but it's a little too much for her at the moment so she can only shake her head. "Sniffer's not working. I just get sweat, barbecue and whatever they put in the water around here right now."

Cael Becker has posed:
    Cael has one of the milkshakes in her hand, and she sips from it occasionally as the group walk the streets. (What? She's heard about the place! She wanted to try it out.) A smile crosses her features at the kids playing in the fire hydrant's spray, but she steers clear of it herself, having no real desire to get wet.
    "I'll go talk to a few folks," she offers in a quiet voice, giving the person beside her a nudge before she moves away from them, towards a group of teens of mixed appreance. Some look perfectly normal - but one of them has a strange, scaley skin, and another has a spikey appearance to his hair that Cael doesn't think was made with hair gel.
    "Hey guys." She talks to them in a quiet voice, flashing - and then offering over some cash if they can point her over to folks 'in the know' in the neighborhood. She's got a sob story in place about a friend hurt in a car accident - broken back, paralyzed - and how she's heard there's a miracle worker in these parts....

Chas Chandler has posed:
    Chas is doing his best not to stand out too much. It's hard, even among mutants he's taller and larger than most and his weather beaten and scarred face and unconsciously dangerous demeanor makes it unlikely that he's doing much approaching of those around. Instead he lets his feet and his heart guide him. He's managed to grab up a milkshake from the shop as well, if for no other reason than to try and blend in and he's taking tentative, but absent sips from it on occasion as he stands nearby to Cael.

    He lets his angelic senses seep out of him, searching for their most hated and feared enemy. Usually with the Old Gods, the contact of that filth that they leave on anything they touch sends him into combat readiness at an instant, but he's managed to hold reign today. Even so, he can't help when his eyes fill with the blue light of ancient stars--that's what the dark bomber glasses over his face are for.

    Even with his impromptu disguise trickles of the blue plasma seep from around the edges. Maybe it'll help him blend in around the mutants? Maybe? But he's not counting on it. He turns his nose to the air and inhales deeply, trying to get ahold of any lingering taint that this Viscera that has attached itself to his old friend.

Mercy Thompson has posed:
    Mercy likes the heat, and she's happy to help out someone in need. Good people have to look out for each other. She's got a backpack on one shoulder, wearing jeans, and made sure to bring her pistol with her. Just in case. Also in the bag is a change of clothes. The one odd thing she is wearing is a purple collar with yellow flowers on it and a simple tag on it that has her address on the back and 'Athena' on the front. "If we need a sniffer. I'm here. Someone can carry my stuff and I have a breakaway leash with me as well," her words coming behind Gabby's.
    She hasn't heard any news about this so much. But once she was brought up on things she got concerned. She is watching Cael a bit more then the others, just because she knows her and Gabby best. She is sans milkshake herself just not wanting to fill up until after she shifts if need be.
    Since this seems to be a bit more Chas' show she will look up at the tall man. "You want me to swap out and you can carry my stuff for me," looking up at Chas. Who she hasn't really formerly met in any sort of way. "You're clearly trying to track something. If you got any pointers I may be able to help. Not sure fully what is going on, but Lydia seemed nice when I met her. She liked my cookies."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon has a milkshake, and sips from it as he walks with the group. He's wearing an ankle-length green skirt and purple t-shirt, and appears to have just adopted a wide-brimmed straw hat to wear, at least in the summer. His eyes no longer glow weirdly, but he's still got the emerald-colored right arm. Of course, around here that doesn't stand out so much. He smiles at Cael as she moves away, but it's brief. A glance to Gabby, and a nod; he's been keeping an eye on her, too.

    "Lydia's a good person," they say softly in response to Mercy. "She's... she's a good friend." Chas is taking point on this in large part because Jon just feels too close to it; even now he's holding back a desire to cry. "Whatever's going on, I'm sure we can handle it." A glance to Chas. "Might be a good idea, though. Her swapping."

    For his part, Jon is scanning the street with his mystical senses open, trying to see if he can sense... well, anything, really. Traces of magic, of the Old Ones, even just particular lines of fate that might scream "Lydia!" to him. That last bit's harder to notice in the city, full of webs of interconnecting relationships, so he focuses more on more general traces of magic.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    The teens that Cael approaches give her something of a stinkeye. Despite the milkshake (thank you for supporting local businesses) there's something about the woman that just screams 'cop'. Their suspicion grows even more when she flashes cash.

    But one of them takes it. "What?" she says defensively, when the others groan and call her a snitch. "It's not like she's ever gonna find it. 'Sides, this'll pay for my brother's insulin this month." She points up the street. "Couplea blocks up that way is a corner store. Talk to Joey. He was a customer, but good luck getting anything outta him."

    So far, those with mystical senses have come up with nothing. As far as paranormal things are concerned they're the only ones on the street.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney opens her mouth a moment to call out to Cael when she starts over... Only for her head to shake as the kids clue in to exactly what she is. It wasn't that Cael was doing anything wrong, really, it was just that she was using such... such POLICE methods. It does cause her to grin a little bit however over the interaction when one of them decides to take the money.

"Hey, go see Buster if you got issues getting insulin," she calls out with one hand cupping around her mouth. "Over by the construction area. Tell him Gabby sent you, he'll help out."

With that the scar-faced girl turns back toward Mercy, Jon and Chas considering the best option here. While she HAD a milkshake in hand she hadn't really been sipping from it. Just holding onto it. Very unusual for her. "Anyone want the rest of mine? It's ... too sweet right now," she mumbles glowering at the milkshak as if it had disappointed her personally.

"I can hold onto it if need be, Mercy. You're better at sniffing than me. I can track by other means of course, but since we don't know what we're looking for, I don't know where to start." A pause before she adds, "Other than checking with this 'Joey' for now," she reasons while starting in that direction.

Cael Becker has posed:
    "Here," Cael remarks, pulling out another bill, and offering it to the kid. "Keep some of it for yourself." Did he just sucker her with the insulin line? She doesn't know - and she doesn't particularly care. He clearly needs the cash more than she does, anyways.
    With the name 'Joey' in hand, she stays apart from her group, and moves towards the corner shop, a faint frown on her features. Maybe Joey won't say anything to her. Maybe he will - but what the kids //don't// know is she has someone with her that could get that information out of him, regardless.
    ...but is that how they want to play this? Far better to try to get it out of him willingly first. Right?
    "Hey Gab!" she calls over to the teen, waiting for her to join her as she remarks in a dry voice, "We're looking for a guy named Joey in the corner bodega. Did //you// want to take point on talking to him?" If Gabby's a known quantity around here - maybe she'll get an answer, and they won't have to resort to any coersion.

Chas Chandler has posed:
    Chas hasn't met Mercy but she's a known quantity to him. He nods to her and says, "Since my own senses aren't picking up anything. Might be good." He pauses and frowns. "As long as you're okay being on a leash. I know that wolves and their ilk are not keen on being leashed so I don't want to cause you discomfort."

    For his own part, he only seems minorly uncomfortable with the concept. Those Brits can get into some weird stuff after all. "I can carry the bag and have you leading the way." He pauses and adds. "About this I can only say..."

    He thinks back to the handful of times he's been around Lydia since her "change" and tries to extrapolate what his angelic senses turned her smell and feel into. "Rotting meat. That's the only thing I can think to ascribe what I feel around her. Maybe not even rotting, but just an overabundance of meat. The blood was always there, but the meat scent it was... disquieting."

    He watches as Gabby and Cael head off and nods. "Best we follow, even if we hang back some, just in case any of us can pick something off of this... Joey" he adds, offering his hands for Mercy to hand over her things. He's never assisted a theriomorph before (aside from Cael and she's never wolfed out around him) so he's not entirely sure what the protocol is around them.

Mercy Thompson has posed:
    Jon's support of Mercy's suggestion makes Mercy smile a bit and she gives him a small nod in greeting. She's not met the man a lot but knows he's important to Cael and Cael seems like 'good people' and that speaks well of Jon to Mercy. She of course listens to the kids and wishes she could help, but she is not much above living hand to mouth herself.
    Gabby's comment about the food too sweet makes her a bit worried and Mercy watches her just a moment, but turns her eyes away before it may become uncomfortable. Hopefully.
    Chas' words makes Mercy laughs a bit, "I'm not a wolf. The leash is a breakaway, I learned that lesson painfully. I may be a bit hungry but I'm always me. I was born to this." She will offer her bag to Gabby, "Thanks. It should be too heavy. Just be mindful of everything within it." With that she takes a breath and from one step to the next Mercy changes. The coyote has to wiggle out of her clothing. Then paws at her nose to chase the last tingle of her magic. Possible a magic some of the more mystic sensitive felt.
     The coyote does a full body shake to fix her fur and then will start to move over everyone's feet. Sniffing as she looks to get THEIR scents firmly in her nose. This should give others time to get the leash and her clothes put away. That said the coyote, who's maybe 30 or 40 pounds and normal sized is ready to get going with the others to this shop. Just a group of people with a Coyote. Normal right? Mercy's ears are turning and twisting to sounds her nose searching as Mercy goes full tilt tracker to try and find this vampire or shop.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon hides a smirk in his milkshake as Cael gets a relatively predictable reaction, but keeps scanning the street. The only mystical thing is Mercy changing form--which earns a curious blink from Jon and a murmur of, "Huh. Fascinating." Then they follow along after Gabby and Cael, leaving the leash to Chas.

    "Meat," he murmurs, frowning as they head for Joey's. "She said something about... effecting the /meat/ of the walls like ectoplasm. She emphasized that, I remember." It all feels so long ago, now. Weird to think it's only been a couple of weeks for everyone else.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    The corner store is just like any other corner store in New York. It's got a few aisles stocked with a variety of canned and boxed goods. It's no substitute for a good grocery store, but if you need to pick up a box of Mac 'n' Cheese at three o'clock in the morning, this place has your back.

    The only person in the bodega is a young man, barely old enough to drink manning the counter. He's got long blonde hair tied back into a ponytail and piercing blue eyes. That's not the only thing pierced about him. There's an eyebrow ring, his septum has been pierced and he's got plugs in his ears.

    When the door chime ding-a-ling-a-lings to announce a customer he starts to say, "Can I help you.....?" but trails off when he looks up from his comic book to see the motley crew. Gabby he's seen around, but the others not so much. His eyes flick to Chas and his 'pet' coyote rather nervously.

    He clears his throat, looking anxious. "I... uh... don't have a lot of cash. All the money is in the safe and is time locked. Just.... don't hurt me, okay? I'll cooperate."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney pauses to sling the bag Mercy had with her over her shoulder keeping it slung to her front for now. The clothes that were left behind are snagged up to be crumpled into a ball which she then stuffs into the bag before she zips it up again, and shrugs it back over both her shoulders. Instinctively she reaches up to give the trailing straps a tug ensuring a tight fight. Both hands lift but only the right grasps and tugs. Then with her left hand still upraised, twitching at the wrist, she reaches over to the left with her right hand to tug as well. The hand drops back again to her side as does her left which she flexes the fingers of in a quick clench-release a few times.

Satisfied with that she heads to the bodega only to grin faintly at the boy there. "Relax, they're with me. Showing them around," she explains with a little wave of her hand to the others. "I know Chas is a big guy but he's a softie. Real angel of a guy." Well she wasn't lying.

With a little sigh she glances back over her shoulder before looking back. "Sorry to freak you out. Our friend got kind of... stuck... in that form," she explains with a hand sweeping to the coyote-Mercy. "And we heard about that body shop. Heard you might know a thing or two where to find it." Looking back to him she drops her voice a little, "I totally get if you can't share anything. But if you could even just like, pass word on or something? They're kinda in a pinch."

Cael Becker has posed:
    Cael gives the man a nod, trying to look both friendly and concerned. "Look, any help - you know?" she offers, glancing around the shop before she adds, "And, uh- I'll have one of these," she adds - taking an egg and cheese sandwich out of the warming tray. "You know, for your time and all." She glances towards the others, to encourage them all to grab //something// for taking up the man's time.

Chas Chandler has posed:
    With Mercy on the breakaway leash, Chas lets her lead the way, not resisting any tugs or pulls she may give to indicate something being picked up. "I'm not here to knock you over or anything, mate" he says to the young man though something tingles on him and he stiffens at the lingering echo of what he's after.

    Turning away from the man behind the counter he snatches up a bottle of hand sanitizer and hands it to Jon. He leans in to the man and whispers, though those with animal senses probably pick up on the sounds. "He's been near it... his leg feels... strange. It's not on him, but he was close. Might be worth prying a bit if he resists."

    He turns and lets Mercy go where she will for a time. He doesn't want to go too near the man for fear of the lingering essense sending him into fight mode--there would be no 'flight' for this angel--but if she needs to get a sniff, he'll gladly let her if allowed.

Mercy Thompson has posed:
    Mercy can't help but turn to look at Jon when he says 'meat' and it pulled her focus just for a moment. Shaking her head she turns to walk with her group. THhe shop keep's fear stings the nose some and she does her bet to wag her tail a bit as Gabby offers a cover and a single little yip. Coyote's don't bark. They howl, yip, awoo-woo but no barking.
    As Gabby is talking, Mercy is nose down and sniffing. Moving around and doing her best to get the feel or scent of vampire or magic or something. Some way to lead the others once she gets the trail. She pauses near Cael and 'steps' on her foot to try and get her attention. Head then points at some chicken sandwich or something she smells up there. That tail gives a quick wigwag as well. Hardest part of being a coyote, inability to talk. And getting stepped on potentially. Maybe being shot by rude farmers is harder.
    Post shift snackage taken care of she returns to sniffer and detector duty. Here ears lift to eavesdrop on whispers and so she figures this is her cue to go toward the guy and play 'cute harmless' as she sniffs around him more carefully. If SHE can get what Chas smells it will be easier to track down.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon was already peering at the man's leg, and nods idly to Chas, murmuring, "Lingering sense of magic there." But he's more interested in tracking down whatever feline may be employed by the bodega for pest control; if there is one it's going to get a coo and maybe a scritch from the Archivist, while he picks up some cat food for his own furry creature back home.

    The highest-end stuff he can find there, of course. Jon's going to pamper the damn cat.

    He smiles at the guy as he puts the cans on the counter, half-hoping he isn't recognized. He's grown out his hair and shaved his beard since the angel invasion, so--hopefully not? His tone is casual. "Honestly we're just about out of cat food. /Someone/ forgot to stock up before vacation." A beat. "And that someone is me."

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    Joey relaxes when Gabby takes point and asks about the shop. "It's for your friends?" he asks looking between Jon's missing arm and the coyote. He looks like he's about to say something, but the stops, his brows furrow in frustration. "I don't know if they can do something about the dog, but they can grow your arm back," he says. "I lost my leg in a car accident when I was twelve, and they were able to grow that back."

    He looks uncertainly at Mercy as she wanders around and catches scents, but he doesn't seem all that surprised at the intelligence she seems to exhibit. "Look," he says, as he starts ringing people up. "I'd like to be able to tell you more about it but I can't. They-" he suddenly stops and frowns. "You can-" Another aborted attempt. His frustration seems to turn palpable. "I just /can't/."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney chews on the inside of her cheek while others start to stack things up as she listens. A little nod is given when he catches on that it's for her friends. Casting a look back at them when he mentions Mercy might not be able to be helped, she lets out a long sigh. "Yeah, we weren't sure if it would or not for her but figured it'd be worth a shot to check, y'know? Johnny could use help with the arm though," she reasons with a thoughtful tone as her head tilts to the side.

Her attention shifts back to Joey at the stumbling attempt, and apology, for being unable to give out information. She just watches him for a moment. Then her fingers snap with a grin, "Ah, something to keep people from talking about it much? See that's what I'd do if I were running something that needed to be kept secret. I mean it sucks for us," she adds with a shrug. "But it's still cool. Least we know they're like, professional about security." Holding out a fist toward Joey in a fist-bump gesture she says, "No sweat, I get it. It's early yet so maybe we can wander around and figure out how this place works on our own, yeah? Thanks for trying man."

Cael Becker has posed:
    "Which one? This one?" Cael asks Mercy - picking up one wrapped sandwich after another until she gets some sort of affirmative response. She adds the sandwich to the counter, and pays for it - while she gives a faint frown at the man's inability to talk. "If you can tell us... would you be able to show one of us later?" she asks. "I mean - can you imagine being stuck like-" she gestures to the coyote. "We gotta try something."
    Her gaze goes from Joey, towards Jon, her expression questioning. Could the Archivist's compulsion break through the gaes? She has no idea how magic works, after all.

Chas Chandler has posed:
    Chas frowns as the young man falls under a compulsion to not speak of his visit. He sighs and his expression turns grave. "Gabby, Mercy, let's go outside. We need to let our friends have a word with the young man for a moment. Shouldn't take too long." He gives Mercy's leash a tug and, once her chicken sandwich is paid for her grabs it and the hand sanitizer from the counter.

    Before leaving he looks hard at Jon and nods, letting the Archivist know that they -have- to get results and a wild goose chase isn't going to do the trick. Once he's outside and out of sight from the bodega's windows he opens the chicken sandwich and offers it to Mercy while he ask the pair. "Did either of you get any scents from the man?" his voice is low to not draw too much attention to their conversation.

    "Specifically, his leg" he adds for clarity. "I felt that he had an encounter with what we're after, but he isn't corrupted himself... yet. I know if it -is- her, she thinks she's in the right but... these gifts aren't good, regardless of the optics. They can't last and they give Viscera more access to our world. We can't afford to let her open every window and door in her ill conscieved salvation mission."

Mercy Thompson has posed:
    Mercy of course gives Cael the confirmed yip needed. Getting near the guy's leg she gets a scent but it just fades away, that's annoying! She hate that stuff. She has a few ideas how one may be able to beat the magic but she can't change or share them like this.
    There's a quick yip and then Mercy pads her way to be outside with Chas and the others who are leaving, ears turning to try and listen into the store. She paws at her nose and give Chas a nod then a tail wag. Yep she got the scent. Just... no trail yet. She does her best to lay on her side real quick and stick her fore legs one way and back legs and tail another to make the best "Vee" shape a Coyote has ever done in the history of man since Noah's days. Then she sits up and curls her lips to show fangs. Best way she can think to see of saying 'vampire' as she is.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon gives Gabby a /flat/ stare at 'Johnny.' Really? /Really/? He sighs and shakes his head, rolling his eyes. But he lingers, standing there at the counter, making sure to pay for everything as the others go outside. "Go on and try to find the place, we'll catch you up," he calls over his shoulder.

    Then there's a brief glow in his eyes, green and teal swirling and mixing together. He pins Joey with that gaze. "Where was the shop? I know you want to tell us." There's a thread of compulsion in the words, borne on the soft resonance of the power of the goddess backing them up. A compulsion to /talk/, to tell the /truth/. He didn't need Chas' warning to know they need to get results.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    Joey gives Gabby an apologetic smile and returns the fistbump. "Thanks for understanding. This kind of thing... probably isn't legal. It's..." he pauses, trying to weigh whether or not he can say what he wants. "It's /weird/. Flatscans don't handle weird well, you know?"

    He's caught off-guard when Jon meets his eyes, and he winces almost in pain as the warring compulsions fight for dominance. "I... I can't!" he says desperately. "She did something... It was...." but the strong compulsion of a fledgling vampire isn't enough to withstand that of a goddess. "Nell's diner!" he says with a desperate gasp. "She's in the back of Nell's diner. Michelle is on shift tonight. She'll show it to you."

    "Please," he says, his eyebrows creasing in worry. "Don't do anything to her, okay? I know it looks back making me not be able to say anything but it's for her protection." He looks back outside in time to catch Marcy trying to reenact the letter V. Shaking his head he says, "I agreed to ... whatever it was she did to me. It was voluntary! She's doing good work here. Helping a lot of people."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney smiles back at Joey with a sort of tired look. Not at him of course, just... "Yeah, I get it." With that assurance given she turns to follow the others out.


There's a moment she stops by the door reaching for the lock as if to lock both herself and Jon inside. They needed answers. They needed them one way or another. The mission had to be completed---A firm shake of her head comes, her left hand twitching forcefully before clenching into a fist. Her hand moves from the lock to the door to push it open and pointedly follow the others out letting it swing shut behind her.

Ramming both her hands into her pockets she approaches with lips pursed tight as she watches Mercy do her little Coyote yoga pose and teeth flash. All she does is glance aside at that point staring down the street without really seeing what was there.

Cael Becker has posed:
    Cael watches as Jon compells the man to speak - keeping as neutral expression on her features as she studies Jon's expression, and the man they've compelled to speak. Sure - Jon had told her recently that they've come to terms with their gift, and feel fewer compunctions about it. But was that a good thing? Simply adjusting to and accepting who and what they are now? Or... was Jon really becoming //less human// as they become more- Godly as well?
    After studying Jon's expression, her attention shifts to Joey next, her smile apologetic. "I promise you - we don't mean her any harm. I'm sorry if this was painful or uncomfortable for you - we're really trying to protect everyone involved."
    She links arms with Jon, bringing her sandwich with her as she murmurs softly, "You're okay?"

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    "She's one of my best friends," Jon replies quietly, tone heavy and eyes sad. "Whatever's going on--we're going to help her, okay?" A pause. "If it's all voluntary, well--no problem then, right?" He smiles, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes. He doesn't believe it'll be that simple--when is it?--but he certainly hopes so.

    He fishes out his wallet from the pocket of his skirt and offers out a business card. 'Jonathan Sims, the Archivist,' is all it says, with a number. "If your leg keeps bothering you--feel free to give me a call. I'm a doctor." A more genuine smile, then they leave the card on the counter and turn to go back outside with Cael.

    "Nell's diner," he says simply to the others as he steps back outside, arm-in-arm with Cael. "Michelle should be able to show us where to go." A glance to Cael, and a murmur of, "I'm fine. He wanted to tell us anyway."

Chas Chandler has posed:
    They have a where, it's a start. He nods and looks at Gabby. "You know the place?" he asks. If she starts to lead them he follows. "Mercy, as we get close, keep your nose open" as if she could close it. "I don't want to get blindsided by a territorial vampire hopped up on the power of an Old God."

    His own defenses start to grow and a faint blue aura--only the tiniest sliver of his power--coalesces around him. Hopefully it won't draw too many eyes in the densely mutant populated neighborhood. He -does- want to help Lydia, but he also understands that she might need some hard knocks to save her from herself in this.

Mercy Thompson has posed:
    Mercy's antics were noticed!?! She will have to come back here later and lace the boy's shoes backwards. Actually she won't do anything or stress it. She looks up at the tall guy, harder in this form, before pawing her nose and mock sneeze. Yeah she's ready to keep her nose open. She's worried about this 'Old God' talk but vampires are somewhat less scary. Vampires who write romance novels even less so. So she focuses on that falling into step behind Gabby. Assuming they're going for a bit, Mercy keeps forgetting she's not in run or travel mode. The loping stride she takes often tugging at the collar and leash until she's reminded to slow down.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    Nell's Diner is about half a mile north, near the edge of Bushwick. It's the kind of dive that looks like it's been open since the 40s and probably hasn't changed much since then, kind of a local fixture. Gabby would know the way.

    Inside, the smell of old grease, sizzling beef and hot apple pie permeate the establishment, but those with sensitive noses who know the smell of vampires can detect that one frequents this place. Likewise Viscera's corruption can be felt to those who are sensitive to it, emanating from the back. It hasn't permeated the place, though. Not yet.

    There's a couple off in a booth sharing a meal and making doe eyes at each other. A rumpled looking man sits in one of the counter seats, and a woman with two children, a boy around five, and a baby girl resting on her hip, are at the cash register paying for their meal. The woman manning the register, presumably Michelle, is something in her thirties with her hair cut in an undercut.

    "Hey, Gabby," she says, briefly looking up from ringing up the single mom. "Find yourselves a seat, I'll be with you in a minute." Over the counter and in the back is an older Latino man watching something on an old television as he waits for an order to be passed to him. The notable thing about him is that underneath his right arm, is a third, long and skinny, ending in three clawed fingers.

Cael Becker has posed:
    Cael nods to Jon's words, keeping her arm looped with theirs. She walks along beside them, their strides matching automatically as the group travels together, her gaze locking onto Mercy as the group moves. They were less than a week away from the next full moon. She still needs to talk to Marc about the other werejackals, and decide what she would do, and where she would be that night. Did she dare trust herself in the city? But did she dare let those creatures continue to prey on the city streets? A frown pulls at her lips, though she draws her thoughts back to the present as they get closer to the diner.
    She studies Michelle for a moment, as the group moves towards seats. She idly amused that no protest is raised about the 'dog' in their midst. "Are we ordering dinner?" she asks. "Could be a long night."

Mercy Thompson has posed:
    That smell of old grease is way worse if you're a coyote. The meat smells nice to Mercy's empty tummy. Just about everything else threatens to empty it further. It may take the Walker a few snorts and huffs out her nose to get through the strong scents to the vampire sent that is below. She's on high alert as they go in and she's not sure how long she has before the kids notice her.
    Because of that Mercy will crouch low and tug at the leash a bit her fangs twice. Trying to get Chas to let go, so it's less obvious then the click of the leash dropping or falling. She wants to sniff around. Also if anyone looks at her she'll silently lift her lips to show her fang, then will pin her ears and paw her nose as if something is really bothering her. She quickly then turns and will put her back to Chas and the others. The coyote's tail goes HARD to the right as she can and stays there. Look it's an "L" everybody. Thank god Lydia's name didn't start with something like 'M' or a 'Q' because Mercy has no idea how to mime that one.
    Message attempted in delivery to all she HOPES she can hold her own leash in her mouth after Chas lets her have it and go sniffing for WHERE the Vampire may be resting or hiding out. Long as people are eating and food is cooking, the faint 'click' of canine claws on hard floors might got unnoticed.

Chas Chandler has posed:
    Chas makes a slight show of stretching one arm up over his head, hoping to draw eyes to that and not his free hand dropping the leash that holds the canine to him, freeing Mercy to go on walk. That done he nods. "Might be a good idea" he says, "Even if just to give us a way to blend in."

    He kneels down and pets Mercy's head for a moment before whispering something her ears can pick up. "I'm sorry about the petting show but I need something to explain why I am kneeling." Apology conveyed he adds. "Scout only. I know you can handle yourself but these things are extremely dangerous even for the strongest among us, if you smell trouble... book it, we won't be far behind if it comes to it."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon watches Gabby slip off away from the others with a concerned frown, then shakes his head. Leave that for later. He glances toward the back as Mercy makes her indications, but stills himself. Lydia won't be awake at this time anyway. "Dinner sounds good," he murmurs quietly as he settles down. "So long as we haven't walked into an interactive production of Sweeny Todd." He says it absolutely deadpan.

    He glances around for a moment, looking for traces of magic, then shrugs and settles in. He'll keep a mental ear out for any trouble, but otherwise Mercy might well be the best choice for scouting.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    The JLD gets themselves situated in a booth, and Michelle comes around to hand them a menu each. It's pretty standard diner food. Burgers, fries, some breakfast items that they'll serve all day long if you wish. She gets their drink order and comes around again with their drinks to get their food.

    Once done, she sends the order back, and another couple comes in and gets seated. This is a prime opportunity for Mercy to sneak away. The waitress is busy with new customers and the cook is busy preparing the team's meal.

    Ninja Coyote follows the trail back behind the counter and into the kitchen where she's assaulted by /all sorts/ of smells, especially since the three-armed cook is busy, you know, cooking. It may take her a bit to reacquire Lydia's scent but once she does, it takes her out back, up a flight of stairs to a hallway that seems to house small apartments or offices, and to one door in particular. She comes here if not nightly, pretty darn close to it. There's also that off smell of corruption that lingers.

Mercy Thompson has posed:
    Still holding her leash in her mouth Mercy stays low to the ground and out of the ways. Trusting her ears to keep her of who is where. The strong smells of the kitchen call to her, especially that slightly unattended hotdog near a counter, but she has a job to do. Fortunately she's faster then she looks! Able to dash between the gaps of awareness to get to that back door and out it with ease. Fortunately for her the doors 'out' always open away so she doesn't have to fight it much. Then she just follows her nose!
    She doesn't like the 'feel' of that magic at all. She goes up to sniff around some, seeing what other scents may or may not stand out. Keeping them all her mind as best she can. Then it's time to get BACK to the others.
    Rather then go THROUGH the building again, she hurries around it. going quick and waiting to get at the front. Her bag with clothes is with those inside. So Mercy swallows any pride, drops the leash and gets to the diner front door. There she tires to jump up and stands with paws against the door hoping someone in her group notices her. She doesn't bark, can't really, and thinks yipping or howling may be pushing it. So she does her best to look like a stay dog. See she has the collar! Complete with a leash. Just a canine looking for her (shudder) owner.

Cael Becker has posed:
    Cael places an order for a rare hamburger for herself and - after a moment's thought, a rare steak for Mercy.
    If she doesn't like it, she can always take it home and feed it to Bear and Lady.
    She leans back into the beat-up booth, with its faded and at some points turn apolstry on the seats. She frowns at it as she asks quietly, "Is all of Bushwick like this?" She keeps one arm around Jon as they wait for the food, which arrives at just about the same time as she spots Mercy making her antics outside the door. She nods towards it, adding hopefully for Chas, "She came back." After all, she's trapped in the booth by Jon.

Chas Chandler has posed:
    Chas' orders a coffee and chicken strips. "I wouldn't know... but I can't imagine what's set up shop has made it any better." As Cael points out the were-coyote at the door he looks up. "So she did..." he says as he slides out, her bag in hand, and goes to the door. "There you are," he says, giving the coyote an apologetic look at the pantomime. "I thought we'd lost you." Just a man and his dog, nothing to see here, move along.

    He bends down to take up the leash offering a, "You need a change to tell us what you saw right?" He makes his way toward the restroom hall and giving a glace to make sure eyes aren't watching too closely, he nudges the door to the ladies' room open with his boot and slides the bag inside while blocking the view so Mercy can sneak in after it.

    He enters the men's room. Washes his hands, and comes back out to sit at his spot at the booth. "Shouldn't be too long" he says, shifting in a bit to give the woman space when she comes back. "Hopefully we're not too much longer here..." even though he does want to get a chance to try the chicken strips.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon orders a burger with fries, /and/ a breakfast plate, and a root beer, and yes he's going to eat all of it, because he can eat large quantities of normal food without really getting full, where a single tiny astral cherry presented properly will sustain him all day. Being a demigod is weird. But, hey, if you /can/ eat all the food and not get sick, why not enjoy it? Not to mention it's been ten years since he's had diner food.

    "Hmm? Like what, love?" He blinks at Cael, then at the diner seat. "Oh. Well." A sigh. "It's a working-class neighborhood, and full of mutants besides. But the people are happy--didn't you see it outside? All that joy, and life, and community?" He ruffles Cael's hair. "You live uptown now, and it's showing. This place could use some repair, sure, but there's deep roots here. Don't judge it by its looks." He smiles, and picks up his burger.

    By the time Chas gets back from helping Mercy to the bathroom, he's about halfway through the burger. "Wonder if we should get her a service vest, like Bear wears. Undercover camoflage, sort of?"

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    The food is... not half bad, actually. There's a reason the diner has stood the test of time. The place is clean, if not a bit run down, has the kind of aura that only something that's been around for a while can pick up, and they seem to use fresh ingredients. Not half bad at all.

    When they're done with the meal, it's not hard for Mercy to lead them all behind the building and up the staircase into that small hallway. When she points out the door, anybody with mystical senses can detect it now. To Chas the stench of corruption definitely permeates the place. It's not too bad to be sure, but it's most definitely /there/.

    The door is locked, of course, and there seems to be some kind of magic on the other side of the door, though from this side it's impossible to tell its nature.

Mercy Thompson has posed:
    Mercy is eyeing all the food with a hungry eye. She tries to not get waylaid by any of the children either. She gives a quick yip of thanks at Chas and follows him to the bathrooms. Though the smell makes it maybe not the favorite place to suddenly be naked in. Still it is better then jail. She thinks about her form but just gives a shake of her head and uses her head to push the bag to him and will follow after him back to the dinner area. This way also she can chow down on that steak Cael got her.
    Mercy knows her friends are smart. The coyote walked in with them, snuck off from inside, and then was outside again. Clearly she got out somehow to be able to come back in. So there's a way for the canine to lead them around after the meal and they paid. Though she'll give a soft growl at the bad feel of magic when she gets the group back there.

Cael Becker has posed:
    Cael enjoys her burger - and enjoys stealing things off Jon's plate, as if she doesn't have plenty of food right there in front of her. She even steals Jon's fries, when she has identical fries on her own plate.
    "Got you a steak," she remarks to Mercy. "Hope that's alright." She even obligingly cuts it into more manageable strips to make it easier to eat. Sure, she might be stereotyping - but at least she thought of the other woman.
    Glancing over towards Jon she adds, "Just thinking about that kid, you know? I offered him money - and first thing he says is 'for my brother's insulin.' Things shouldn't have to... be like that, you know? He should be able to blow it on comic books or video games or something."
    She'll follow the others out back once the food is finished off and paid for - a thoughtful expression on her features. "So we stake it out until midnight?" she muses. She nods to Mercy. "She'd be the most... inconspicuous." Could she do the same - if she really tried? There's an uncertain expression on her featurs at the thought.

Chas Chandler has posed:
    Chas looks at the door with a frown. He doesn't like the feel of the place -at all- and his glowing eyes narrow as the corrupted stench of the place grows as he gets closer. He frowns. The timing of this whole thing, losing Lydia, waiting for the Old Gods to taint his friends, it's too much, and he's an impatient sort.

    He slides the glasses off his face and tucks them in a pocket as he lets go of the energy holding back his angelic power. The blue aura grows and shifts so that the fires of the stars are literally pouring off of him. "Step back" he says. "I'm tired of waiting on them to make the first move." Without allowing for much protest he moves forward and forces the lock to give way with sheer brutish strength. Is it the most discrete method of entry, no. But it gets them in the door.

    There is a blindingly bright flash as he pulls it open, it leaves him disoriented for a moment as a negative imprint floats in his vision and the distinct smell of ozone fills his nostrils. "I'll keep an eye out here. You three go in" he says stepping away from the door to allow the others passage. "If there's trouble, you'll know" he says nodding to Jon. "Get it, get what we need, and get out."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon finishes off all of the food, stealing some of Cael's fries right back, helps pay, and then follows Mercy out back. He watchs Chas just brute-force the door open and shakes his head, muttering something under his breath about teaching subtlety.

    "Looks like we go in now," he says to Cael in an amused tone. "I don't think we want to wait around for her, though. Not yet. We need to know what we're dealing with, first." A pause. "Let me go first. Just in case. I'm more durable than either of you." Technically true. Anything that hits him will hurt, but he'll likely regenerate.

    Keeping his senses open, he reaches out his left hand and makes a sort of twisting motion as he pulls up a shimmering blue shield around himself, Cael, and Mercy. It's a feeling like running into a sheet of cool water on a hot day, refreshing and invigorating. Then he steps in through the door.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    Opening the door reveals a small studio apartment. Pushed up against a wall is a desk that has a couple of bound journals on it and what looks to be like several photo albums, with a Kodak instant camera resting on top. There's a table in the kitchenette that's loaded with snacks of all types, and on the kitchen counter is an electric kettle and a coffee maker. Two comfortable looking, albeit cheap, chairs face the desk.

    Off in a corner there's a twin sized bed. It's got a simple white fitted sheet encompassing the mattress and a couple of clean white pillows. It looks more like what you'd find in a hospital than an apartment. There's a black puddle sleeping on the mattress, which only resolves itself to be a big black cat when it opens its yellow eyes to stare at you.

    On the floor of the entranceway there's half a magic circle, and should you close the door, the other half is on the bottom. When the door is shut, the circle is complete, but whatever magic powered it is gone now.

Cael Becker has posed:
    Cael's hand goes briefly to Jon's shoulder as they insist on going first - giving a brief squeeze before dropping the touch. She hangs back, letting them go first - her hand going under the light, short-sleeved cardigan she wears today. It's job is to conceal the pistols she's carrying with her. A quick flick of her finger frees the snaps securing one of her pistols into place. The appearance of the shimmering water-like shield causes her to breathe deeply, then briefly smile. If it's //Jon's// magic - she's much less tetchy - though she is giving Chas side-glances for his open display of Angelic might.
    Let it go, Cael. Get over it.
    She moves in with the others - moving towards the desk automatically. She pulls on a light pair of gloves before she picks anything up - and pick things up she does, after snapping a photo with her phone. You have to remember where to put things back, after all.
    She starts flipping through the journals and albums, her gaze flicking over the contents, and occasionally capturing more photos.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon steps in and lets the door close behind them, paces to the middle of the room and turns around in a slow circle. "No obvious magic besides the cat and the door," he murmurs, frowning slightly. "Hmm." Cael's looking over the photo album, so rather than bother the cat, he goes to look at the circle by the door. He's probably the only one of the three who can work out what it does, anyway.

    He crouches down, not touching anything, but reaching out his right hand to help feel the magical residue coming off the circle. He also looks over the sigils and symbols; he's seen quite a bit of Lydia's ritual magic, so he /should/ be able to work out what it does. Hopefully.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    The first journal that Cael picks up have nothing but anatomical studies in them. They all start out benignly enough, like something Leonardo DiVinci would draw. A study of a shoulder, here. A hip, there. That kind of thing.

    The second one is mostly the same, but for a cat and some kind of winged dinosaur. A microraptor to be precise. Then, about halfway through the book, it looks like Lydia starts trying to figure out how to fit the microraptor's wings on the cat. She tries out various configurations, obviously trying to suss out how a body can handle an extra set of shoulders and arms without interfering with the rest. On the last page with drawings there seems to be a promising image with the words, "This is it!" underlined.

    Opening the photo albums reveal before and after shots of Lydia's work. At first it's minor things like, repairing breaks that have healed badly, removing scars and unfortunate tattoos, cleaning away acne scars. Each are labeled with initials and a date. Towards the end of the first album, more drastic changes are being made. Limbs regrown. Mutant deformities normalized, or at the very least, made so they're no longer a disability. Perhaps the most striking is the large number of transgender people that have been seen. It starts off as a trickle, but more and more of her clientele come to her for affirming changes, until the photos run out in the first third of the third photo album. The only consistent thing is that in the after photos, when you can see a face, the people are /happy/.

    Studying the circle takes a bit to work out. It's in Lydia's classic mix of Kabalistic script and arcane symbology. Basically the two halves of the circle, one powered, are held in tension. Opening the door will break the circle, and cause the inscribed spell to go off. It's a sending spell of sorts. An image of whoever opened the door will be sent somewhere... or to someone.

    The pool of almost cat-shaped black just watches the intruders with the kind of casual disinterest that only a cat can muster.

Cael Becker has posed:
    "She'd said she was interested in anatomical art," Cael remarks in a distracted tone as she frowns at the various drawings. "...is that a fucking dinosaur?" she asks in bafflement, before moving on. "She's trying to put wings on a cat. I mean - yeah, sure, that'd be cool, but-" Seriously? This is what Lydia does with her time?
    She looks through the various photos before adding, "Huh. Looks like she's specializing in gender reassignment? I mean, there's missing limbs, deformities, tattoo removal and what not but- a lot of gender reassignment." She keeps flipping pages. "A lot." She snaps a few pictures of some of the pages, before putting the books back on the desk, carefully rearranging them to look undisturbed.
    "What does the circle do?" she asks Jon, glancing towards them for a moment. Then she starts looking, and feeling under the desk to see if there's anything taped under there - and she moves towards the bed to check under it as well. "Hey kitty," she says in a distracted tone.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    "It's an alarm," Jon says, straightening. "It went off as soon as the door opened." A beat. "We need to go, I think. Now. Even if--even if this is all perfectly voluntary and good, at its heart, Chas is right. The underlying magic is... /wrong/." He sighs, glancing over toward the book Cael was looking through. "Does that /matter/...? I don't know. I think we need to /talk/ to her about it, though. You know?"

    He rubs at his face, and shakes his head. "Come on," he says, opening the door again to let the others out. "She'll know we were here--or, well, she'll know /Chas/ was here, since he opened the door, but it doesn't take much to put two and two together. Nothing for it now, I suppose."

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
    When greeted the cat lets out a curious little "Mrrp?" and gets to its feet, stretching out all six of its limbs from front to back before padding to the edge of the bed to watch as Cael checks underneath it, it's tail quirked into a question mark of curiosity. Cael doesn't find anything under the bed. Not even dust, really. It looks like the group has found the only interesting things in the apartment.

Cael Becker has posed:
    "Aaaand her cat has wings," Cael remarks. She snaps a picture of //that// - before following Jon out the door. "She's not allowed near Bear," she announces in a firm tone. "I will fucking stake her if she does anything to him." So why give her the chance?
    She looks towards Jon once they're outside, asking, "So we confront her together? Intervention style, or...? I mean, you're the psychologist, Oh Royal Godliness - what's our next move?"

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    "The sort of interventions you see on television often don't work. It's good to let someone know you know they have a problem, and good to get the family and community involved in helping them, but I don't think we want to bring a whole group to confront her." Jon makes sure the door is closed, then creates a portal to Manhattan in the wall, ushering everyone through so they don't run into Lydia. He'll call Gabby and let her know where they are.

    "Chas shouldn't be there if we're trying to keep it from being violent," he says bluntly. "I think I can probably get her to listen to reason--and if I can't, I've got the power of Ma'at to call on, you know? And I don't know if... I mean, if she /does/ get violent, what might she do to anyone /else/? My body isn't even /real/ anymore. I regenerated from being almost entirely eaten. I think I'll be alright."

    Deep breath in, deep breath out. "So. I think I go in and talk to her, and get the hell out if she turns violent on me. And if I'm not back within a certain amount of time... you come in after me. Alright?"

Cael Becker has posed:
    Cael turns directly towards Jon, studying their features - and offering an uncertain nod of her head. "If I don't hear from you - I will definitely come in guns-blazing," she agrees. "...do we switch phones? Mine has the panic button programmed in," she offers, moving closer to Jon, to wrap her arms around them.
    God, they're that couple, now. The constant PDA couple.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    "Cael," Jon says gently, "I lost my phone in Hell. I need a new one anyway. I'll requisition one and have it in a couple days, and then we can see about doing this." He looks around at Mercy and Chas, and says, "All of you... stay on guard, okay? If you run into Lydia, don't tip her off or anything. Just..." He sighs. "Just let me /try/ to do this without fighting our friend."

    He squeezes Cael tight, then says to Chas, "Good work today, too. Though we /do/ need to work on the glowing. Good lord, man, anywhere but Bushwick you'd stand out like a sore thumb."

    Then he looks to Cael. "I think we need to take a look at that photo album, see what we're dealing with."