16191/Mysteries In The Desert

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Mysteries In The Desert
Date of Scene: 21 November 2023
Location: The Deserts of Egypt
Synopsis: The Titans, along with several allies, head to Egypt to begin searching for answers to what caused the explosion and where Crush's friend Mari might be.
Cast of Characters: Xiomara Rojas, Damian Wayne, Jinx, Belinda Gutierrez, Phoebe Beacon, Kate Bishop, Caitlin Fairchild, Michael Hannigan, Gar Logan

Xiomara Rojas has posed:
    For the past two weeks the number of missing persons have nearly tripled in the United States, in fact reports from around the world indicate the problem is not merely an American one. In spite of hundreds of detectives worldwide seeking clues and working cases diligently, there have been no leads as to where these people are going or being taken.
    A week ago news agencies around the world reported about a massive explosion in the deserts of Egypt. Close to two hundred miles south and west of Giza, and located at the edges of the Qattara Depression, no cause for the explosion has yet been revealed. Officials in Cairo put together a team of investigators, and announced they would be sending the team to the site of the explosion. Footage of the team boarding large helicopters and then taking off was shown over and over again as local news anchors reported the information they had and waited eagerly for anything new to be given.
    By the second day additional footage of the nearly mile wide crater began to surface on the internet, and eventually on the news as well. The images allowed some to speculate the depth around a hundred feet, the area filled with smooth stoned buildings that almost looked new, but other experts argued that the images had to be fake due to the measurements of the site and the appearance of the buildings.
    On the third day following the explosion, the only official information coming out of Cairo reported that the site was off limits to everyone not part of their military, and that the investigation was on going.
    Exactly four days post the big boom, a message marked 'URGENT' arrived at Titan's Tower via the internet. Everyone knows that Crush isn't much of a team player, though as of late she had been working on it. Most of the time she kept to herself and did her own thing... today was not one of those days.
    The message arrived in the form of a video. It starts with Crush standing in the desert holding her phone out to record herself.
    "I need ya all to watch this and then I'll get into some detail about why I'm in the desert."
    The video changes to a young tattooed man sitting next to a dark haired woman, between them a large boom style microphone. They both wear 'I Love New York' T-shirts, his is black with yellow lettering, hers is pink with rainbow lettering, on on their heads are matching headphones. After a moment of joking with each other they get serious and introduce themselves as Sal and Mari, and the topic for this weeks video was the homeless. They explain how they were once on the streets themselves, and it was only through help from others that they managed to get things together to start the video reports they now do. All donations go to help those still on the streets and they share a list of shelters looking for volunteers.
    At the eight minute mark the entire direction of the video takes a drastic turn as Mari seems to get extremely agitated, then after only a few seconds more she stars screaming in a strange language. With no further warning she yanks the headphones off her head, tosses them aside, and bolts for a window just barely in range of the camera. She opens the window and tries climb out of it, but Sal goes after her and barely manages to pull her back inside. As he does this, Mari's eyes begin to glow with a soft orange light that matches the color of the tiny hieroglyphs that spring into existence on her entire body.
    Sal is clearly having troubles as he wrestles her through the room towards a door at the back, and even among her screams he can be heard questioning how the hell she had gotten so strong. Once he has her locked in the back room, he begins to pace the main room in a panic, talking to himself. >>>

Xiomara Rojas has posed:
    Suddenly there is an eery silence and when he goes to check why Mari has stopped screaming, he can be heard shouting, "Mari, holy shit, where are you?!" Seconds later he bolts from the room to the desk with the camera on it, grabs his phone and the camera turns off.
    Crush reappears on the video, looking just as upset as she did before. "Sal called me over to his apartment right after that. We'd been on the streets together, and I've always helped them out when I could."
    "There wasn't another way out of the bathroom," she continued. "Window was too small to climb out, but I could see trances of that orange glow on a wall... Sal couldn't, and said he didn't see it on her or on the video."
    "That was a week ago, and I been in Cairo looking for a translation to what she was sayin and those glyphs on her body every since. I been coming up dry... until today." Turning slightly with the camera, it shows both her and in the distance a make-shift fence sticking up out of the sands.
    "I know ya'all have heard about the explosion, but there's /A LOT/ they ain't sayin about the investigation team. Sure, they flew out to the site, started taking samples of the sand, taking pictures, and poking around in the buildings... but the next day, they all went bat shit crazy." She shakes her head a little, then licks her lips before turning her head to look at the fence.
    "They all started screaming about aliens and trying to rip out their own eyes, then they started talking in the same language Mari was talking in," she pauses here, eyes still looking in the distance. "They all died yesterday, their brains turned to jello. The guards out there been talking about it with each other, their all pretty freaked out, and the officials ain't sayin shit about how dangerous it really is."
    Finally looking back to the camera, "I went out to the site, I'm /at/ the site now... no, I didn't break in, but this whole place is glowin orange like Mari did. Now the military is talkin about sending in another team and I really don't think that's a good idea."
    "I need your help. We gotta find out what the hell is going on before anyone else gets hurt, and I gotta find out what happened to Mari... so um... please come help?"
    The video ends there with a GPD location offered as a place to meet up.

Damian Wayne has posed:
"You're using too much almond."

Gotham City, Phoebe's home. Damian was critiquing Phoebe on her basbousa recipe and the amount of almond extract that was being used in it. And he was about to say more when his T-comm went off. Picking it up, he flipped it open to check out the message and look it over. Then he frowns, setting it to repeat and tossing it to Phoebe. "Turn off the oven, we're going to Egypt for some authentic busbousa."

A short time later, the Batwing launched from underneath Wayne Manor, Rook at the controls, Balm in the co-pilot's seat. "Can you translate those?" he asks about the heiroglyphics. "I can recognize a few, but they seem... off." he admits as the plane streaks towards the rendevouz point. "And I still haven't put my finger on what language that is."

And when they arrive on scene, he realizes something. "You packed your chute, right?" he asks as he looks around. "I don't see a good place to land. We may have to leave the 'wing in a holding pattern and drop in."

Jinx has posed:
Jinx has never ever seen Xio like this before. Looking concerned and asking for help. She's usually all big and strong and ready to thump things. A quick look at the clock in the corner of the desktop - this video is pretty fresh. Kicking her legs up off her table, she leaves her room in the Titan's Tower and glances around, "Anyone here?"

Fishing a piece of jewellery out of her pocket she slips it on to her hand over two of her fingers. Golden it has etchings marked in to it - this is a sling ring. She stole it. No one has come looking for it since so she figures by now it's simply hers.

"Anyone? I'm going to go to Egypt if anyone is interested..." She holds out her hand. This is not a magic she is good at. She warned Kate last time when they went to London but luckily no one lost any limbs.

Belinda Gutierrez has posed:
It had been a keepsake of that terrible time-- a small thing, a simple device, an earbead communicator that might be easily mistaken for a hearing aid or earphone. Utterly common. Yet something Belinda holds as a treasure, of briefly being a part of something much larger than herself.

Imagine surprise when it started /chiming/!

An emergency channel, one she listened into hesitantly to that familiar voice, with growing concern. Xioma-- Crush! And emergency, massive emergency! And before the communication had finished, she was up, moving. Hesitation-- get the Go Bag? Not restocked yet-- she grimaces again, shaking her head, up and out the door and running for the Candle.

It took longer than she liked, longer than she wanted; bursting in the (newly refurbished!) door, she took a moment to catch her breath--

--already seeing the Greywitch waiting patiently behind the counter, cigarette and half-smile on her features. "What kept you, duckie?"

Heart swelling with joy, pride-- apologizing in a babble! --she gestures outside, out and away. "Egypt!"

Gating, translocation-- as explained, each has its own.... oddities. With Corvax' guidance as a feathery, living touchstone... Smoke. Shadows. Shimmers. And a /spray/ of feathers!

And coughing. So much coughing.

"Just ring when ye be ready to leave, lass!" the Crow exclaims, taking wing after a few seconds' indignant ruffles.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "This extract is old. I have to use more to make up for the age. I've been baking since I was four, Little Brother~." Phoebe answers back, putting extra sarchinine tone on the end of her sentence when Damian's comms went off. She frowns and catches the comm, pursing her lips as she reads it. "... she's speaking some odd Dynastic Egyptian. Old stuff, I can't place the--" she starts herself.

    "I'll go with you." she announces.

    The Bats are incoming. Well. One was on Bat Duty, the other was wearing dark gray armor with a hood and a cloth over her shoulder that she can raise up to hide her face as appropriate, depending where in Egypt they were landing.

    Balm's voice is artificially changed as she sends out information, curtesy of being patched in through Rook.

    "So she's speaking a sort of Early-Middle Dynastic Egyptian usually reserved for special occasions and appellations to Old Gods. Stuff my ancestors would have spoken -- but it's a little garbled. I honestly can't place the dialect." she explains over the comms, working off a tablet with projections as she goes through the heiroglyphics. "There's a lot of information on it regarding being Chosen. She's saying she was called back. She has to get out of there and return to her masters. And the Heiroglyphs back it up -- but there's weird ones that I can't translate. Either very specific to the dialect, oooooor they're more recent additions to the lexicon." she states, turning and looking to Rook.

    "Also, I don't need a chute."

Kate Bishop has posed:
    Kate is checking and grabbing her gear, she pops the intercom for the Tower to life. "Hey, meet up in the main room if you are free for Egypt."

    To be fair she has a lot of worry about this orange glow and people's brains turning to goo. Also aliens. Why is it either magic or aliens all the time. Sigh. Why can't the bad guy be an archery competition. Never a Robin Hood or William Tell adventure I swear.

    Stepping into the main room geared up she catches the tail end of Jinx's offer. "Okay that will be much faster than dealing with the T-JEt and flight times.... not sure if it will be less disorientating than a Rabbit hole but you are on Jinxer." she steps closer to the other woman now, glancing to see who else shows up for the Portal Express.

    "I bet magic not aliens... but you never know." mostly just to place the marker with Jinx at least before they to the bottom of another fine mess.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
Caitlin watches the video with a horrified expression. "My goodness," she whispers, finally, and is already nodding vigorous concurrence with Jinx. "Give me like... /five/ minutes to get packed," she begs, and high-tails it to her room in the women's quarters. Punctual as ever, Caitlin's back in four-minutes-forty, with a heavy day back in one hand and her shield and weapons in the other. She's ditched the scrubs and rubber shoes for Amazon attire, a brief tunic with a split leather skirt and partially armored plates covering her shoulders and shins. "Ready to go," she nods at Jinx, and makes herself ready to leap through.

"Oh wait, one sec--" Caitlin runs back to the kitchen and digs out a two-pound container of SnackyShake(tm) powder concentrate. Just add water!

"Okay, ready now," she assures the others, and once Jinx indicates the portal is safe, Caitlin steps through it.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
There are several things great about a call for help sent to multiple people. The most likely one is that it gives you the chance to nope out at the prospect of having your brain getting jellified. But for those who do not have that sense of self preservation firmly locked into place, it does help you save in transportation expenses by traveling with others who are just as survival instinct challenged.

And that is how he ended up in the Batwing wearing his *ahem* costume.

Well, he wasn't going to burn through his powers for the flight over when a mask will do the same thing. Buuuut when Damian asks if they packed a chute, the hooded shadow where a face should be looks in Damian's direction. "Chute?"

There's a slight shift to his form as he nods his agreement to what Phoebe states regarding not needing one. "...same."

Gar Logan has posed:
"I'm in," Beast Boy says. He's not long at all in changing into his costume, taking advantage of the portal over by going small on the way through as a steppe eagle - the national bird of Egypt. "I'll help out and let you know if there's anything weird I can see from above. Once we save the day as usual, we gotta try some koshari and get some shwarma too."

Circling overhead, he aims to get a literal eagle eye on what they're looking at dealing with, looking every bit the part of a native bird - except for the whole being green thing.

Crush needed some help, and it wouldn't be a Titans thing to ignore that, especially if anyone's trying to help her feel more at home with the group.

Xiomara Rojas has posed:
The location of the gathering was less then a mile from the site of the explosion, it was as close as one could possibly get without upsetting the Egyptian Military patrolling the area. Crush had set up a large tent which she had apparently been living in, along with a couple of large containers of water that sat nearby... the desert was not a nice place to camp. Sure, she could have just gone into the site and started nosing around, but she was attempting to be politically correct and not start a war.

The Batwing is noticed in the air above her first, the sound it makes may be quiet by human hearing standards, but she wasn't human. Waving to the bat piloting, she points toward a large area with no plants, in other words the entire desert, then turns back toward the spot where those arriving through the portal begin to appear.

Reaching up she tapped the tiny comm in her ear, just to make sure that everyone could hear her. "Okay... wow, I totally didn't exp..." she begins, then straightens her spine. "Thanks for comin everyone. The military aren't too keen on letting me in, but I'm just one Titan, right? I thought maybe one of you could throw your weight around, or... we could just go in."

For the those in the Batwing the few of the site is amazing, and the reports and estimates of the size weren't far off. They could also see several spots around the outside edge that have had tents and water station set up, along with the military vehicles and personnel moving. There is one obvious area that is the command center, it has been fenced in, had numerous large tents, and even a massive communications antenna.

"I been good," she then adds the minute she sees Caitlin. "Didn't start no war, but I've asked a couple times to be let in and got told, in rather brash terms, hell no."

Damian Wayne has posed:
Opening the escape hatch of the Batwing, Rook gestures to his two passangers. "We're here, I assume you can see your way out. No complimentary snack." said dryly, he waves off landing the plane, not wanting to get sand in the engines of the Batwing and ruining the aeronautics.

After setting the plane on autopilot and steps up towards the opening. "I have my own way down." he says to the two. And lifting two fingers to his lips, he /whistles/ sharply. He waits. And waits some more. About thirty seconds later, a large shadow appears in the sky. It flaps it's wings and moves below the Batwing, a large red figure arrives. Flaring out his wings, the large half-bat-half-dragon's chains rattle against his leather armor over his chest and gauntlets. "There's my good boy!" Rook immediately offers in cheer. "Were you enjoying the sun? I bet you were." he murmurs quietly before he moves to climb on the Goliath's back and looks to Balm and Phantasm. "The Batwing will keep here. Coming?" he asks the pair.

Once they are on the ground, he'll give the bat-dragon a treat and an affectionate rufffle before straightening to join the Titans arriving on site via portal. "Caitlin, want me to help with clearing the military red tape?"

Jinx has posed:
"Hm. See I think aliens would be more interesting. Especially if they have glowing eyes like in Stargate. But melty brains suggests radiation. I guess we will see.. we'll make it interesting. I'll take aliens since you took magic." Jinx finger guns at Kate and then begins to swirl her hand through the air feeling the magical way.

This is not a magic she's _good_ at. It's not her usual kind of magic. It does take her several attempts to get the portal open. Once her team mates have jumped through she follows after in to the sands of Egypt.

"What is Shwarma? I keep hearing about it," she asks. Perhaps to Kate's surprise Gar and Jinx are on fairly easy speaking terms now. Also perhaps to Kate's surprise Jinx is wearing a flowing white gown of sorts with golden touches of armour that look vaguely Themysciran. Unfortunately there was no fantastic magical girl transformation. Hoodie and jeans one moment, magical garb the next.

The portal closes behind her with a *fwip* in the air. She pockets the sling ring once more and does a full 360 taking in the sights. Sand. Anakin would hate it here. "Of course," she adds to Kate, "A Brendan Fraser style Mummy would be pretty cool too."

Her eyes settle on the tent and then to Xio, "Oh good. You're alright." Her entire reason for coming was to make sure Xio's eyes weren't glowing orange with hieroglyphs. "Aaaand the Egyptian military don't really like me much since the thing in '15. Don't ask. I'm sure someone else will be more convincing."

Egypt is not one of the nations that recognises the agreement made by the US government and the Titans. Here she's still a fugitive Supervillain. "On the other hand that could work to our advantage if we want to scare them away."

She shades her eyes and looks up at the circling Batwing. "Wow you got Batman to come? That guy is..." she pauses. She's not meant to talk about her encounter with Batman.

Her eyes widen at.. is that a dragon???! "Hold up!" But then.. is that Rook riding it? "What the fuck..." She lowers her hands and looks about as confused as a person can. "Fuck the red tape.. what the fuckity fuck Rook?! You have a pet dragon??!" She walks closer but not too close as she stares in wonder at the red bat-dragon.

Belinda Gutierrez has posed:
Egypt! The desert. Hot, dry, but not windless. Not soundless.

Reformed en route, changed before completing trnasit-- Silverdane is the creature that emerges from the portal, pausing to breathe deep, to close her eyes and listen. To scent.

The dryness of the land-- so different than New York, from the forest. Even from her home in New Mexico.

The sounds of the sands-- different than the machines and distinctly human sounds,the winds move and set the dunes to softly whispering in their constant hushed voices. Singing.

The feeling. Finely dusted granules hot under bare feet-- they stir with a gentle grinding at Silverdane's step, a soft crunch as she walks towards Crush's tent. A quick trip, ground-eating pace. Short time, but a new place. Happiness of the explorer!

The sound of a rumble sound from the dune, a brief, quick howl of announcement for the gathering heroes. "Someone call?" Silverdane asks, trudging down with a tongue-lolling gri--



Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "... there are so few times I am truly jealous, and this is one of them." Balm states, and then she hops out the Batwing as well.

    She also leaps to Goliath's back, holding onto Rook's shoulder and the leather harness of Goliath's saddle, feeling her heart beat quick, looking out to the sky and the desert sands.

    Once they land, indoubtably kicking up sand, she slides off Goliath's back and to the desert sands. She feels her instant connection with the land below her, her boots sinking into the fine, wind-blown sand to the side of Rook and Goliath. And she reaches up, scritching on Goliath's cheek with a soft 'Who is a good dragon bat? You are.' in Arabic.

    She draws up her scarf a little to keep any of the airborne sand out of her mouth.

    "There's definitely a small chance of encountering mummies -- Europeans ate a lot of them." she comments with a slight smile in her voice. "Good to see everyone. Did my comm message with the translation of what was said come through?" she asks quietly, "I can repeat it if needed. As for the military, I could try talking to them -- still have my magic ID unless Beast Boy and Caitlin have enough clout to throw around and get us through."

    She looks around, and takes a deep breath.

    "Good to be home."

Kate Bishop has posed:
    Kate did select gear with sand in mind, not her usual costume but it would take a trained eye to see the subtle differences she has in the under armor layers.

    "I mean, gotta keep them guessing. Maybe we are both wrong with aliens or magic." she mmms to herself. "I think Mummy would be under magic. Probably magic curses. Though I suppose it could be interdimensional. Like a mummy dimension. Definitely a wee bit concerned about the orange glowing and people being covered with heiroglyphics." she kicks a bit of sand with her boot.

    "Oooh might be a reincarnation thing, which to be fair, probably magic."

    She peers up at the dragon, less what the fuck and speechless. Ah right. The dragon-thing. She smirks a bit at Jinx's reaction "First time seeing him?" teasing tone.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
First thing Caitlin does is approach Xiomara, sharing a quick wrist-shake and then a quick, familiar hug. "We're here for you," she promises Xiomara.

Jinx's question catches her ear, and she turns back to look at the other woman. "Lamb," Caitlin asides to Jinx's question. "It's a lot like a gyro. Just don't let the Greeks or the Egpytians hearing you call it that in earshot," she says, and lifts a shoulder in a shrug at the spellcaster.

Of course that's when the exclamations about Rook's dragon happens, and Caitlin winces repeatedly and ends up just covering her ears until everyone's done swearing.

"...what?" She looks at Damian, processes what he said. "Oh! Yeah, the... Army guys. I guess we should go talk to them," she concurs. "We don't exactly have UN authority to be here though, so /be nice/," she scolds Damian (though she says that last part so only Damian can hear it). Caitlin fishes a long piece of turqoise-colored silk out of her pack and wraps it around her head as an improved hijab. Not mandatory, but it never hurts in the Middle East.

"You might have to do the talking," she mutters at Damian. "The only way they're gonna listen to me is if I start bench pressing their trucks."

Michael Hannigan has posed:
From what vantage point Mike has, he does take note of the camp set up while the plane is shifted over to auto pilot. Glancing to the now opened hatch, Phantasm steps forward but pauses as Damian whistles. Glancing back, he looks to Damian, and then to the entrance way where a dragon-esque creature flies near. "Huh."

Buuuut he's already Phantasmed so-

With a leap and a flip, Phantasm's form shifts to the raven he's most known for. In the Egyptian sky, There's the faint hint of greens and blues amongst the mostly purplish black feathers. Even though ravens are reasonably large, he seems quite tiny alongside the dragon he loops around.

Maybe after all things are done. he'll see if he can get a ride back up to the batwing on the dragon.

Upon the group landing, the raven flips, elongating and shifting to the more humanoid shape of the costumed figure. There's another shift to his form and the figure is left feeling glad that the hooded costume covers his face from the sand.

Looking to the others gathered, he lifts up a gloved hand to wave to them.

Gar Logan has posed:
Circling around past Goliath, the green steppe eagle waves a wing. "S'up, dude?" Beast Boy calls out to the bat-dragon, whether it's understood or not. By now, there have been at least a few times the shifter has been around the creature, so he feels comfortable enough to act friendly toward something large enough to chomp him in many smaller forms.

He probably wouldn't have done that before he had a breakthrough with Damian.

Once he comes back around to the others gathered, both Titans and otherwise, he returns to normal and gestures toward the site in question. "I didn't see anything crazy up there with the setup, but I /did/ see that orange glow pretty clearly. Do we need to sweet-talk the troops or something?" There are worse to flash a big smile and put on an act than him.

Xiomara Rojas has posed:
A slight wind picks up for a moment, offering no relief from the heat, but is really successfully in spreading sand all over. The tent is more than large enough for eight people, or just plain cozy for one over sized Czarnian. It was a hasty purchase, something to for Crush to use to store supplies inside in preparation for her eventual sojourn into the site she wasn't supposed to enter.

The sound of something flapping in the air draws her attention, so she looks up too see the large... whatever that was... with Rook on the back. So, he'd come after all. A slight narrowing of her red eyes is the only reaction Rook and the "dragon" get. Phantasm she knows, and recognizes and is really glad to see. He gets a wave and a smile as she half expected him to land on her shoulder a a crow.

She swings her attention back to the others and offers Jinx a nod, "I'm not hurt, but I ain't alright. Got a friend in trouble, which means I'm all worked up."

As Phoebe arrives, Crush lifts one brow slightly before she also gets a nod, "I heard it, that was more than the experts in Cairo could say. They kept tellin me it was jibberish, but then... I couldn't get in to the really smart ones."

Another gust of wind moves the sand, and makes her mutters something about sand and places it shouldn't be, but as for her attire... it remained the same as usual, including Obelus around her waist. She returns the wrist shake, and even the hug (though truth be told the hug surprised her) "If ya intend to talk to the military, Colonel Salih is the one in charge. He don't like me," she offers to Caitlin, and and most likely to Damian as well, even if she doesn't look at him. "Every time he sees me he starts muttering in Arabic, then puts on a fake smile, shakes my hand an tells me no in English. Kinda fun really."

There is a pause here before she looks toward the explosion site. "They don't know we know about the jello brains," she states with a sigh. "Over heard it, just like I can over hear em talking now... most of the men ain't happy to still be here after that. They're plannin on sendin in another team tonight. So whatever ya plan ta do, let's go do it."

Damian Wayne has posed:
"This is Goliath. He is here because it is warmer than home." Rook explains, and he leaves it at that. There is another reason for Goliath's presence, but he's not sharing that with the other. He gives the bat-dragon a scruff and gives it a couple of quiet commands before his attention turns to the others. "I've had him since he was a cub." So he's had it hidden for a couple of years at least. Goliath watches the green bird flying around him and 'aroooos'. Apparently he can't speak, he does make noises, and seems to understand some basic speech.

Now with the situation explained on how Rook has a dragon (at least in his mind), the young Batling is turning his attention to the military situation. "You may still have to." he responds to Caitlin in a soto-soft voice as he moves forward towards the military officials, his arm hooking Balm's, "You can help me with translation."

With that, he is making his way forward to talk to the military officials. There's a glance towards Xiomara, but nothing said to her as he focuses on the task at hand.

What happens next is a man that knows how to speak his mind. He starts with the assistance of the Titans as a whole. The introduction of Caitlin and Phoebe. As he does so, he hypes up Caitlin's scientific genius - not her strength - her accolades and achievements. Phoebe, he focuses on her skills in Egyptology, that she's a native daughter, and does not quite drop how tight she is with the country - Phoebe can do that herself if she wishes.

Rook goes into the explanation that they are here to help, but with the situation as it is, and with the short time they have remaining - it would be better to allow the Titans a chance to investigate and share their findings with the Egyptian military, with he, Colonel Salih getting the credit for the cooperation and the findings.

If not? It's left unsaid, but Goliath comes closer and just glowers towards the military troops, as if waiting for a command from Rook to spring into action. It's a combonation of both Diplomacy and Intimidation, two skills taught to him by his father to try to find their way in...

And is helped when he reaches into one of his utility belt pouches, and sets a small stack of bills on the table. Bribery is a time honored tradition in Egypt, and Rook is not afraid to use it to get past this man and get the Titans moving if he has to.

Jinx has posed:
"Well I did plan to make sure you're okay," Jinx says, "And now I plan to get to pat a dragon..." She lets out a dramatic sigh, "But if you insist your friend needs help then I suppose that's the new plan. Plan C. C for Crush is making me do a good thing?"

Ptthba. Sand got on her face when the wind picked it up. She curls her toes in to the desert proper though and has a small smile of satisfaction on her face. "Okay. We're doing this. Military can either shoot us or get out of the way. We have a small army of.. some of you I recognise some of you I don't. Worst case scenario it's a magical pathogen from space constructed using machines. We've got this - no sweat."

"Because I have a bajillionty questions about your dragon Rook and they're all coming atcha once this mission is over and done with." She dusts her hands.

"So what'll it be. A little razzle dazzle. Recreate the start of the Mummy. I can toss some sand about with magic. Make it all scary like. Rough 'em up until they decide to retreat." She shadow boxes the air playfully and smiles. "I'm joking! I'd never do that.... again...." Another longer pause, "Unless that is our best option."

She throws up her arms, "Or Rook can just go talk to them I guess.." A huff and she trudges off after him but keeps a bit of distance as he gets in to words with them. Her eyes rest on some of the military men. They're not sure if they should be aiming guns at the dragon or if they should be aiming their guns at Jinx. Then again there's Silverdane.. and there's Crush.. this does look like a stereotypical weird superhero team. That lends some credibility to Rook's story.

She whispers to Kate, "Is it bad that I'm hoping this colonel goes wiht the 'or else' option?"

Belinda Gutierrez has posed:
Silverdane continues staring at Goliath for a few seconds more, finally tearing her eyes away with a jerk. She brushes her ear with a quick nod as she tries to affect non-chalance, finally not starting at the great scaly beast, gaze searching off towards the crater and military instead. Definitely not volunteering to speak. And most especially not smile. Not the time for being social ala the Florence Ambrose Diplomatic Academy.

Even if Goliath could probably pull it off better.

After a quick chuff for Crush, she falls into step behind Rook and Balm, sand crunching underfoot as she moves. Big silent bodyguard-- she sets her face into stony expression, casually surveying as she glances around with care. Acclimating to the different desert landscape, the wonder that breathes in her veins. Stifling a grin as sharp ears overhear Jinx' remarks. Absent thoughts-- quickly squashed. Emergency. Focus!

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "If it's Egyptian Magic you need to combat magical space pathogens, you *amazingly* have the right person guesting on your team -- medical magical specialist in fact, but I was born to the south of here. The remains of my home aren't too far from Lake Naser." Balm shares with Jinx as Rook begins to draw her to the military encampment. "I'm Balm. Phoebe happily translates, though her Egyptian Arabic is slightly old-fashioned and rustic sounding, she gets the gender tenses and happily explains she will translate for the good Colonel and the representatives of the Titans.

    She also explains that she is a medical specialist.

    And of course, there's cash involved, because bribery IS alive and well.

Kate Bishop has posed:
    At the first hint of wind Hawkeye pulls a half facemask on from a pouch in her gear. She makes sure it is without sand and then secures it into place to help filter her breathing from breathing sand. She also swaps her signature purple glasses out for purple tinted goggles. "Stupid sand." she mutters mostly to those Titans nearby.

    "Gods I hope it isn't a magical pathogen from space constructed usng machines from another dimension....but at least Balm is here..."

    She nods to Gar "Well... glow bad.. but glad things don't look too odd or like am obilizing invasionary force." bright side. That is the side Kate looks at. Small favors.

    Finally to Jinx when she whispers "A little bad. They didn't invite us here, so who knows what path they will take."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
Caitlin stands there mostly trying to look intimidating over Damian's shoulder. She doesn't pull it off very well; her earnest, plainspoken features don't really lend themselves to looking terribly formidable.

While Damian's busy negotiating with the colonel-- who sees American dollars and promptly starts trying to angle for more of them-- Caitlin's ears pick up some soldiers cursing around a tank. It looks like one of the treads has slipped and they're trying to put it back in place while the sands shift underfoot.

Caitlin walks over to them, watching their efforts, then walks to the front of the tank and kicks the sand around to find some good footing. Once her feet are on hard rock Caitlin puts her hands under the hull and starts walking the main battle tank backwards until it's half on her hands, and half on the sand. The soldiers gape at Caitlin.

"What's Arabic for 'hurry up?'" Caitlin calls back at Damian, and when he responds, she looks down at the soldiers holding the replacement tread.

"<Hurry up!>" she bids them.

Michael Hannigan has posed:
Phantasm takes a few steps to join in with the rest of the group. A nod is given to Crush, the hostess for the day's event. He'd ask how she was doing but it appears that's already been covered as he's hearing the answer as he stops. "Understandable." He responds, giving a nod. "We'll do what we can."

Annnnd what he can do is wait for the mad money carrying siblings to do the sales pitch for letting them go into the zone of sure death.

Is it Monday? Because it feels like a Monday.

Gar Logan has posed:
Beast Boy plays the part of the smiling one, for he /is/ famous around the world even if it's not to the extent he often makes it out to be. Still, there are a couple soldiers who speak in their native tongue but distinctly say 'Beast Boy' as they point at him, and he ends up taking a few pictures with them.

It looks like things are coming along with the glad-handing and whatnot, leading to Gar approaching Jinx and Crush. "You got any idea what we might really be dealing with here?" he wonders, hands at his hips.

Xiomara Rojas has posed:
The soldiers were not prepared for any kind of assistance. They were most definitely not prepared for assistance from a female, and to make the moment even more memorable when she lifted the tank, they screamed out in shock and amazement. That meant that they didn't immediately get to work on the treads, but had to collect themselves and get to work.

Crush shakes her head with a sigh, folding her arms over her chest as Beast Boy speaks. "This is way above my pay grade," she states. "I wish I had a clue, but I just know this happened an my friend is missing. The only other thing I could say is that whatever the orange is, they..." she gestures toward the soldiers. "don't see it. Ain't heard even one of em talk about it."

Xiomara Rojas has posed:
"Thanks Jinx," Crush offers in a sincere and almost touched tone. "That means a lot to me. I owe you one." She looks around at everyone. "I owe all of you one." She wanted to add something to that, that Damian wasn't included, but it would have come off badly so she just left it there.

Rook taking the lead ruffled feathers that Czarnian's do not have, but her eyes narrow one more time and once again she has to shove her anger down into the box she tries to keep it in. She knew the other reason for Goliath, and honestly it was stupid if he thought that would stop her, but now wasn't the time to plot the murder of the youngest Batling.

Approaching the military headquarters brought both fear and awe from the troops, some unslinging their weapons though no one aimed them. Someone called out an order in Arabic, "Oh hell, it is /her/ again, and she brought more! Let them in!" and the gates swung open, a few of the soldiers moving to escort them inside. There was no chaos or panic, but there was a deep sense of tension and dread from everyone around the group. These men were on the edge, some looked ready to bolt into the desert, but they stayed at their stations.

Colonel Rayan Salih was usually not an easy man to see, the procession of ranked men the Titans would have to go through to get to him were all on hand as the soldiers escorted them to the Colonel's Office, which really was just a nicer tent. A young Lieutenant stares at them as the approach, but he'd been ordered to let them pass, so that is what he does. Rather than entering the tent, he leads them around behind it to an open area with a table and numerous make shift chairs.

"What in the name of Allah do you want no..." Salih began in English, but he stopped when he realized it was more than that annoying white skinned woman. Gesturing to the seats around the table, most being empty ammo containers stacked up, he changes tone to say. "Alright, let's hear it."

He doesn't seem to mind that Balm is translating, in fact having someone explain in Arabic was rather helpful to the man. He sat back, listening to the Titan's offer, his eyes on Rook because that is the proper way to hold a conversation with someone, even with a translator. Clearly he'd heard of the Titans, his eyes showed the recognition as the conversation continued, and when Rook stopped his eyes shifted to Goliath for a moment, then return to the young man.

Looking to the Lieutenant he says in Arabic, "Get the tablet." before his eyes move back to Rook and he returns to speaking in English. "We are aware of the Titan's heroics. We know the many times you have helped save the day, but this situation is more delicate than you may realize."

The Lieutenant returns quickly with a military grade tablet, and Silah enters his password before turning it around so the Titan's could see. "This is top secret, so naturally everyone knows."

The video is horrific. It shows eight men, some in military garb, three in civilian clothing, and all are wrapped in straight jackets. A couple looks like their eyes have been attacked by some kind of animal, and one had a bandage over both eyes. They are all quite literally bouncing off the padded walls as they scream in the same strange dialect Mari had been speaking.

The next video shows all of them screaming one last thing before one by one, they collapse to the ground and a strange orange liquid begins oozing from their eyes, noses, ears and mouths. "This is what you are risking, this is what we are risking," Saliah states as he lays the tablet down. "If you want to go in, you can pay to go in... if you die, it is not the fault of the Egyptian government. If you succeed, everything you discover will be mine to share, agreed?" >>>

Damian Wayne has posed:
If Crush assumed Goliath was for /her/, she's sorely mistaken. It was a show of force. In case money could not clear the way. Rook listens impassively, and folds his arms over his chest, listening and then glancing at the tablet before he takes it up after watching the video. "Cait!" he calls over to her. "We're going to need to science up on this stuff!" he's seen enough chemical warfare to recognize what it is.

And as the offer is made, the pay to play, he nods. "We'll work with that." he responds, using near perfect Arabic, tipping his hand for the colonel to see as he waves off Goliath. "Home, boy!" And with that, the large Bat-Dragon rises in the air to depart the area. And his attention returns to the Colonel. "I believe that." A gesture to the stack of bills. "...will cover our cost of admission."

And then, he turns to the others. "Titans! And others, on me!" He gives the tablet to Jinx to start the passaround to assure the sharing of the video, and he then glances to Xiomara. "This is your show." he comments to her. "We're in, you pick the team."

He steps aside to let others take over, his influence and part done.

Jinx has posed:
Jinx double takes at Gar's question. "I've been here as long as you have. Not a clue. Besides, it's too early to give up the game to Kate. If it's magic it's magic but I can hold out for aliens." Gar probably missed the opening wagers being placed between the two. They did it so naturally it suggests they've done it before.

Accepting the tablet she looks over the video and makes sure everyone else can see too. A wince at the orange goo oozing out. "Yikes. Well. We tried out best. Time to pack up and go home."

Damian has taken command. "No? .... fiiine." She passes the tablet on to the next person who wants to see the gory details of what they're up against. She moves 'on' Rook and contemplates the mess they're walking in to. "I have a bad feeling about this one." Usually there's a big bad to deal with. Not an alien magical retroviral otherworldly infection. No, that explanation is getting a little long in the tooth.

"Magical pathogens. Curses. Hexes. Someone disturbed a tomb perhaps and now people are paying the price." She's not one to whip out her magical too early. Best to assess the situation first. The wrong magic can make a bad scenario even worse.

Belinda Gutierrez has posed:
Silverdane flicks an ear over to Xiomara's remarks, standing cross-armed and stoic meanwhile. And more than slightly curious-- are there werewolf stories in the Middle East? Or, perhaps, less scary when immediately compared to DRAGON. Rapt fascination! Stored for future thought, she hums to herself in soft cheer, focusing anew on the matter at hand.

"Should explore what has been found so far?" she suggests gruffly, throaty rumble lilted with her murmur. "Might not affect me," she admits, gesturing over herself. "...as much, if does. Experiment? Am willing to try."

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Balm interjects with 'Yallah' to answer Cait's question, of what 'Hurry Up' is in Arabic, to save the fact that Damian is pretending to not know Arabic. She does take the tablet and reviews the footage. She purses her lips a moment, and then switches back to English.

    "That looks... unpleasant." she grimaces. "If I were to unbind my aura and this is magic, I'd be a target, but my aura could potentially protect everyone. I'd definitely recommend if you have rebreathers with pathogen filters as part of your kit that you use 'em... and don't *touch* anything." she states to the Titans, and gives a wary look to Damian.

    "If I have to unbind and people stay within thirty feet of me, the aura of healing *may* keep them safe. At least everyone who doesn't have a healing factor to concern with. And Phantasm's probably fine as long as he stays incorporeal."

    And she leans back, looking to Silverdane.

    "I'm not sure if I want you under the influence of whatever is causing this, Silverdane. You're intimidating enough." she replies, and looks around to everyone.

Kate Bishop has posed:
    Kate takes the tablet for a view and then passes it along as well. She sighs at Jinx and Gar. "Okay. I have a question.... are we close enough to see the orange glow people mentioned yet?" peering out past the table and chairs out there behind the command tent. "Like, how far is it to the blast site?"

    Clearly Kate for some reason can't see shit yet.

    "Also J, Gar did ask you and Caitlin, Magic and Science. So he isn't tilting the bet to you or me yet. Also don't forget reincarnation.. I did throw that out before we got the whole translation and it seems increasingly likely with it right? Right?" she fishes out a rebreather and slips it up under her mask. "Though we need to know more about it before I feel comfortable having anyone go in there. We should scope it for mmagic or science causes as much as we can first..."

Michael Hannigan has posed:
When the tablet's passed to him, Phantasm watches the scene play out. here's a bit of a pause as he considers matters. Glances to the area beyond and then looks over to Crush, the teammates going in and then Phoebe stating that her aura 'MIGHT' protect. That's...a bit concerning.

"Another option is that I could do Raphael's Flask on whoever's going in to increase their protection against something physical or mental illness related. Like added protection in case the thirty feet thing isn't doable." Phantasm passes the tablet along, "But if I do that for that many people, it will tap me out to where I shouldn't go in."

Gar Logan has posed:
"...gross," is Beast Boy's simple, to the point assessment of the video once it comes around to him to view.

Clearing his throat after passing the tablet 'pon the left hand side, he adds, "I've seen enough movies to vote 'curse,' but you can't rule out 'aliens' since some people think they helped with the pyramids. My dark horse is 'alien curse.' Worst of both worlds." This is what he does, try to find humor in everything, even this.

Running a hand through his hair, he adds, "We can't just turn back now and leave this for someone else. I also heal pretty fast, but I don't know if that would matter here. I don't really have a mask or rebreather kit I bring with me, though."

Xiomara Rojas has posed:
The money is apparently more than enough as Silah accepts it and it disappears into his pants pocket. He gestures to the Lieutenant before saying in Arabic, "Let the Major know, they can go in." Looking back to the group assembled he just nods and says in English, "I would wish you luck, you will need some, but I do not believe it would do any good. Our team was lowered in via helicopter at ground zero, lasted twenty-four hours." With that said, he turns and walks away with the other soldiers.

Crush stares at Damian as if his head just exploded. Working with a team was a new concept to her, and leading one was so not something she believed herself capable of. She'd never once thought that someone would try to put her in charge. She thought she'd done her part, gathered the information, called out for help and not the micro-Bat was trying to embarrass her by putting her in charge? Nope, not happening.

"Nope," she states bluntly, shaking her head. "I don't know shit about this sort of thing, an I /just/ got a handle on working with a team, so no way am I choosin shit." She looks around at everyone present, keeping her calm as best she could then something seems to shift inside her brain as her eyes focus on each person present. It may not be something she's done before, but there was parts she could help with.

"Okay, I can do this much." She then says firmly with a nod. "I know what ya all can do, cept Balm here, never worked with her. You want me in charge, I say we just go in an see what we can see. We start at ground zero and work our way out, spending only twelve hours at the task to avoid brain jello." She looks around again, red eyes pausing on people as she does. "We always work in groups of at least two, pair off to ensure we can keep an eye on each other as well as ourselves. If we need teams after that, I can assign em, but I think it'd be better is someone with leadership experience, other than Rook, took lead."

No Crush doesn't realize she just took lead, that she actually showed leadership skills, she still believes she was just offering information for someone else to work with. "Phantasm, if you can offer protection of any kind, that'd be great. I think Rook and Hawkeye need to stay within thirty feet of Balm, that pit is huge so there's a lot a ground to get covered."

Damian Wayne has posed:
As Crush does /exactly/ what he wanted her to do, Rook says nothing, instead, dropping a rebreather from his utility belt into his hand as he slips it into place under his mask. "Good recommendations. Balm's a mage. As you gathered. Which means that she could also work in concert with Jinx and Phantasm. I'm a trained biochemist. I can help Caitlin in researching what this stuff is, if it has a chemical base."

"Otherwise. Good, solid plan. But since that's my two cents and..."

She just clearly just pushed him aside verbally, he steps back. "I'll stay here and research this side. Figure out who was in the tomb. What we can glean from the research already on it. And that way, someone else can lead and you will not have to worry about me."

Jinx has posed:
"A mage, a sorceress, and a phantasm walk in to a bar... there's no joke here I think we should just go get drinks before our brains turn to orange moosh." Jinx folds her arms. A small sigh as she looks toward their destination. "We'll figure it out, I guess. If it's alien we can upload a virus from someone's mac. If it's a curse we can pull the ghost mask off the real estate criminal. If it's technology we can tank the bitcoin wallet funding them."

"Yo Long Legs, Hawkeye, let's go kick some orange goo butt," Jinx says with a smirk and starts the hike toward the helicopter that will take them to the crater of doom, "And yes Hawkbabe. There is a big ol' orange glow comin' from that-away."

Belinda Gutierrez has posed:
The wolf-woman nods in agreement to Balm's concerns, leaving the matter to rest... though her tail gives an involuntary, happy fanning. Is intimidating! She also stifles a silent giggle, which is totally not intimidating. Team Leader Crush! "Is good," she affirms, grinning with quick delight.

Oddly cheerful now, she gives the Czarnian a quick thumbs-up of absolute approval, ears perking upright as she listens to the camp's goings-on outside the thin tent walls. "Shall stay close," she promises to Balm, stretching her neck with a quiver . She leans over the tablet as Rook presents it, careful not to reach for the tough plastic. She watches for a moment, leaning back again with a frown. Slanting back ears.

And, very faintly on her cheeks, a slightly green expression. Some things are just too disturbing for words.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "Probably a bad idea. I'm a killjoy in the bar scene." Balm states with a wry smile to Jinx and then she takes a deep breath, exhaling. "The orange glow IS really distracting, but it's weird. Can't really wrap my senses around it yet." Balm states, and then brings her right hand over her left wrist. A little mutter in Latin, and there's a shimmer of white light about her.

    And her aura is unbound. People within her vincinity may feel quite peaceful and even a bit tingly with The Light.

    "All right. I'm ready." she murmurs quietly -- and tries to scratch at her left wrist through the armor. It doesn't work out well.

Kate Bishop has posed:
    "Uh." she peers through her purple tinted goggles, then lifts one up to use her bare eye. "I do not see a glow at all. I wonder if that tilts things more to Magic or Science. Regardless... definitely need to stick with my seeing eye sorceress..."

    She falls in with Jinx, but slow enough to make sure she stays in Phoebe's unbound aura. "I surely hope we have some indication of what this is before my brain melts into orange goo... I really don't want to go to the underworld. Even if Vorpal would love an epic quest to fish me out..."

Michael Hannigan has posed:
With Crush approving the plan, Phantasm nods, and looks to the people who have indicated they are going in. Hands pressed together, he starts off with a gentle melody, singing the relevant verses needed.

'It started so slowly,
didn't see it come.
The tears, the aching,
and thoughts that scare some.

Yes the feeling is seeping in
It's a pain deep within.
We're not sure if we'll survive.
This thing inside that thrives.

It builds until that won't do,
this sickness residing in you.
You're not sure how to keep it at bay
Just need to know what to say-ay yay, hey.'

As the singing reaches the ears of one soldier there's a smile as he speaks up. <<You like Drago music too?>> But it doesn't stop there as he joins in singing along with the chorus. Phantasm doesn't take a moment to tell the guy to stop and instead continues on with a bit of a shrug. Within the pressed fingers, there's a bluish yellow glow building.

One thing to ask
a tone demure
Raphael's flask
give me a cure.

With the chorus done, the soldier drifts back into the background, humming along.

A saving grace.
Perhaps that'll buy us awhile.
A smiling face.
Time to give sickness denial.

It's time to thrive.'

Pulling his fingers apart, there's a bridge of energy that joins the two hands before the increasing distance causes the energy to whiplash over to one hand before fading away.

Oh how disappointing.

Until he reaches his hand out and reaches a finger towards the forehead of the nearest volunteer. The energy zaps from fingerpoint to forehead with a staticky zap.

The hooded figure's head tilts. "There we go." the voice behind the mask says cheerily.

And now time to do it several more times.

By the time the last person is zapped, Phantasm is on his ass in the sand.

Gar Logan has posed:
Beast Boy sniffs. "Well, let's make sure we don't take too long in there. Pair off, get a plus-one, whatever you like."

At this he takes a new form, that of an Egyptian sand cat, and lifts his paws toward Crush. "You and meow, how about it? I'd suggest us," he says, gesturing toward the wolfy one over there, Silverdane, "but we should split up the ones with sharper senses."

Xiomara Rojas has posed:
The plan we was, the helicopter ready. All that remained was for some to repel in, others to fly or jump, but ground zero was the target. <Stay tuned for Mysteries In the Desert, Part 2>