4657/=Darkness in Tribeca

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=Darkness in Tribeca
Date of Scene: 09 January 2021
Location: Tribeca
Synopsis: Amanda Sefton finds more traces of demonic activity and a skeleton. The Witchblade leads Sara to the scene.
Cast of Characters: Amanda Sefton, Sara Pezzini

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Another weekend rolls around. And, once again, Amanda Sefton finds herself in Tribeca, hunting monsters. The sun has set. That subtle sense of darkness and oppression once again settles across the neighbourhood, muting the streetlights and depressing the usual traffic that flows in and out of the area. To mundane eyes, there's not really a big change -- aside from the fact they just don't feel like sticking around longer than they have to. To mystical eyes, however, shadows are darker, lights are dimmer, and the sensation of standing on the edges of a creepy, dangerous borderland. It's just a subtle sense that says: Hell starts here.

She is dressed in her Daytripper leathers, her hood over her head and a misdirection spell gathered about her to let her pass unnoticed by mundane eyes. On the other hand, none of the most powerful mystical powers will mistake her presence. Not if they really want to be aware of it.

Nonetheless, she is on the hunt again. Her steps take her down a narrow alley behind a strip of bars and stores. The front of the buildings are lit up, suggesting they are open for service. But the alley has a more oppressive 'Keep Out' vibe. So, of course... she's going in.

Sara Pezzini has posed:
Pezzini is out of her jurisdiction; the Witchblade doesn't have one. Officially, the police have been sending her as a consultant on the "difficult" cases, i.e., those that have no probable cause or show signs of magic - something that, despite super powers and super beings being acknowledged, is still not considered kosher. Word on the street is that something "unkosher" is going down in Tribeca. The Witchblade confirms it.

Sara's partnership with the Witchblade has deepened; it never ceases to surprise her. They are not like an old married couple. On good days, it's as comfortable as living with a mighty alien with its own unfathomable agenda can be.

All of which leads Sara Pezzini, detective, to walking down a dark alley in Tribeca with the Witchblade pulsing on her wrist and a sense that hell is about to break loose for no reason.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
As she hears new footsteps enter the alley, Amanda pauses. She pivots, glancing over her shoulder. She recognizes the detective, however. "Detective Pezzini," she says, letting her hood fall back, opening the misdirection spell enough to allow the other woman to focus on her clearly. "I shouldn't be surprised to see you." If anyone from the NYPD was going to show up, it's her.

Her gaze leaves the detective, however, and scans the alley, falling on the dumpster. "I suppose you've been drawn here, too," she says, starting to move slowly towards the oversized metal bin. Her hand comes up, and a scattering of light motes flows from her fingerstips, spreading out across the concrete and brick. The motes congeal into a sweeping beam, not unlike a scanner, really. Green eldritch light glows off of most of the surfaces. There are, however, some places where the light is absorbed and disappeared. The taint of darkness.

Sara Pezzini has posed:
Sara raises a hand, acknowledging the woman, "Amanda! I wondered who we were following. Drawn, yes, that fits it." Her face is a pale oval in the shadows, the black leather jacket and dark pants difficult to see.

Closing the distance between them, she stops next to the dumpster, the red stoned bracelet flashing her a warning. It has been a steep learning curve, going from skeptical unbeliever in magic to someone who no longer flinches at manifestations of it. The Witchblade warns Sara of the danger lurking in the darkness that absorbs the green motes of light.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda's eyes focus on those dark stains. They look like puddles surrounding a dark pool. Some splashing appears on the walls, but most of it is more a creeping, festering, fractal climbing -- like mould staining the brick and asphalt. "Tribeca has become a hotspot for demonic activity," she tells the cop -- probably needlessly. "It started just after Hallowe'en and has been growing steadily since. The first body turned up last week, however."

Yeah, that'll probably go over well.

Carefully, she moves toward the dumpster, dark and unlit by her green energy. Which tells her that there's probably something really wrong inside that bin. And she's fully expecting it to jump out at her. Thus, she allows an eldritch wind to lift her off the pavement and allow her to hover above it, rather than ticking arms or head into the box and risk having them chopped off.

Sara Pezzini has posed:
A faint indrawn breath testifies to Sara's reaction to eldritch winds and Amanda rising from the pave. Beneath the soft leather cuff of her jacket, the Witchblade poises itself and unfolds into a blade, eddies of blue flame obscure its sharp edge. Blade raised as she faces the dumpster, weight evenly distributed, the young detective tenses, quipping nervously, "Is this the magic version of a dumpster fire, Amanda?"

Amanda Sefton has posed:
"After a fashion," Amanda admits. "The dark spots are where demonic energy has stained the environment. The green light is where it's still clean. Think of this like a forensics scan. I'm tracking whatever is doing this. I've been circling through this neighbourhood regularly. It seems to be a hotspot. A few days ago, I found a junkie ODed in an alley several streets over. He was reanimated by some sort of dark energy and became a Devourer -- a demon who eats the bodies and souls of its victims." Hence the name. Go figure.

She spreads her hands and lets tendrils of energies flow into the dumpster. In moments, something rises from it. It's a skeletal figure with bits and pieces of flesh hanging from it like leftovers on a turkey leg... except a whole lot bloodier. It's clearly inanimate. And clearly freshly dead.

"But devourers don't leave corpses like this. They inhabit them and burn them up."

Sara Pezzini has posed:
Sara acknowledges Amanda framing her magic in easily accessible terms, she has a good grounding in forensics. "Lovely," she mutters, wryly. "What did you do with the Devourer?"

As the stream of light intensifies, Sara readies herself for the unknown. She still takes a step back when the dripping skeleton emerges, the Blade held high as she prepares herself to defend against it.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
"I killed it," Amanda admits. "I burned it to ash with a mini, magical sun." She eyes the detective sidelong, placing the corpse carefully on the pavement between them. "You, uh, heard about the electrical fire over at the cotton gin last week?" She gives a mild, unapologetic shrug. "Not so much an electrical fire."

She lands and crouches down beside the thing, using magic to try to straighten it out and get a sense of who or what it was. "I'm afraid I may have tampered with evidence there, to keep your more mundane brethren from getting their heads ripped off."

Her eyes sweep the now prone form. "Female," she says, noting the number of ribs. "I may be able to reconstruct a memory of the flesh, if you want."

Sara Pezzini has posed:
The skeleton is good and truly dead. "Mini sun?" The question is rhetorical, Sara's attention is on the remains stretched on the alley pavement. She crouches by the bones, the Blade lending its cold, blue light to the scene.

Focus still on the corpse, Sara speaks abstractedly, "Yeah, I caught a notice of it but didn't think anything of it beyond other disco fires."

She shrugs, frowning, leaning to look at the skull, "Female, huh? Can you? I might be able to compare it to missing person's reports. I'd hate it to be another Jane Doe, the family never knowing, if there is family." Balancing her blade bearing arm over her knee, she looks up into Amanda's face. "Do it. Please."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda nods to Sarah and peels off a glove. Flexing her fingers, grimacing with a fair amount of distaste, she cautiously reaches out to touch the center of the skeleton's blood soaked ribcage with a trio of fingertips. Golden light flows from her hand and fills her eyes as it runs over the contours of the remains. She is a healer as well as a mage. It's that magic she calls upon to taste the body's DNA and learn its form. But its her illusion that will display the body's original form. Illusion and the ability to scry.

Her other hand, though still gloved, hovers a foot or so above the body, releasing tendrils of magental magic. They ripple over the corpse and, slowly, from the bones to the muscles and then the skin, the young woman's body is reconstructed.

She's young. Late teens/early twenties. Brown hair and eyes. Skinny in the way so many street kids and runaways are. She's more likely to match the photo of one of the hookers documented in the sex crimes unit than a missing person's report. But you never know. Regardless, it's certainly enough that Amanda can produce a photograph of her face for Sarah to take later.

Amanda looks down at her work with those golden glowing eyes and lets out a soft sigh. "I'm so tired of seeing bodies like this."

Sara Pezzini has posed:
A rush of sympathy for the young woman transfixes Sara on the face that comes to life through Amanda's abilities. Later, she'll replay the swirl of magic that filled the air between herself and Amanda. Sara isn't hardened to the dead, if anything with time, she has understood the sad matrix of circumstances that lead young women to run away and try to make their living on the streets.

Still crouched next to the body, the detective nods and sighs, "It never gets easy. I don't think it ever should. Are we going to leave the body here to be discovered? More to the point, what do you intend to do next? Can I help?" She raises the sword to include the Witchblade in the question.

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda looks at Sara. "I'd say the body has been discovered, detective," she says, gently emphasizing the woman's job title. "Whether we want to let the ME or whomever else you'd need to involve here... that's another question." She releases her magic and lets it fade. The bloody skeleton returns in gory detail. "If you want to have the thing put back in the dumpster, I can do that. I can reset this place to how it was before we entered. But... there's nothing your people can do. She was killed by a monster I doubt bullets will kill."

Standing, she steps back. She holds up the hand she used to touch the body and a burst of green flame appears on those fingertips, burning the traces of blood away. A similar burst of flame appears on the skeleton's ribcage, removing traces of where her fingers disturbed the blood pattern. "I hate the idea of her friends and family never getting closure. But I don't believe the police can solve this case." She pulls her glove back on and flexes her fingers again.

"That said, I won't say no to your help. I've been gathering allies. When I find the source of this darkness, it's going to have to be excised. And I'm sure I can't do it alone. I've been working with a pair of Avengers as well as Kurt -- if you remember him. He was the blue furry unconscious mutant at the museum when they first met. "And another consultant or two." She takes another cautious look around the alley. "I have no doubt your experience and contacts will be helpful. Not to mention your... friend." She gestures to the Witchblade, giving it a look of respect.

Sara Pezzini has posed:
"Then I will make it official. Leave her here. It'll make it easier to explain how I found her." Sara glances between the skeleton and Amanda, the blue flames seem to leap in recognition of Amanda then the Blade slides back into its quiescent form. After pushing herself upright, Sara unzips her jacket and pulls out her phone. "I'm plainclothes so it's not like someone saw my uniform and called me for help. I'll just say I saw someone running in a panic out of the alley and suspected something."

Looking down on the remains, "You've taken a lot on yourself, trying to protect the police. Likely, it'll remain a cold case but as you said we might find the...her family."

A self-depreciating smile fleetingly crosses her face, "I want to help. So I will." She reaches into an inner pocket and extracts a card to give to Amanda, "Likely you won't need this. But, in case you do. I mean I'm not an Avenger. Which ones?"

Amanda Sefton has posed:
"Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver," Amanda admits, taking the card from the detective. "Thank you." She puts it away into a inner pocket of her coat. "They and I share similar heritage and experiences," she says, as to the Maximoff twins. "And her abilities, though occasionally unstable, are formidable. We'll need her help before the end, I'm reasonably certain." She grimaces. "In fact, I suspect things would have escalated a lot faster, if she hadn't been around to help me before now. And Quicksilver is exactly who you need around to keep her grounded." She's learned that much, at least.

"If you want to help me continue to hunt, I don't mind the company. I've found there are two ways to deal with the monsters I've encountered so far: Banish them, either with spells or sunlight, or kill them. But the longer this goes on, the stronger they get. Since this started, I've seen demonic spirits, mutated animals, revenants, devourers, and now... this feeding. And I have no idea what did this. It'd help if I could find out where she went in the hours before this happened. A lot of demon attacks aren't nearly as random as they appear."

Sara Pezzini has posed:
"Once we get an ID on her, we might be able to backtrack through her day. Do you want to hunt now?" Sara gestures to the bones that gleam occasionally in the light of a passing car. "If I call this in, I get stuck here."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda looks around the alley. "No," she says. "I have some research I want to do first, based on the taste of her death." That might be an odd turn of phrase, but, well... sorceress. It comes with the territory.

She gives Sara a nod and grim smile. "Call it in, I think. The sooner one of us can get a lead on what might have led her here, the sooner we'll have a more concrete direction to move in. Right now, I'm making educated guesses based on instinct and feelings. I'd like to find a pattern, instead. Some sort of predictability."

It's not, the cop might realize, all that different than finding a serial killer. And Amanda, apparently, has something of a head for investigation after all.

Sara Pezzini has posed:
"The taste of her death," Sara repeats, unconsciously grimacing and washing her tongue over her teeth at the thought. Sorcerers. She might get used to them one day. Some of the former wielders of the Witchblade were burned at the stake for witchcraft.

"Do you think it is the same, ah, agency behind all of the deaths?" With a shrug, she says with resignation, "I guess its takeout tonight." She flashes a smile at Amanda, "I get to feel sorry for myself for about thirty seconds."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Amanda laughs at that. "That long?" she quips. "Luxury!" Nevertheless, she gives an ambiguous shrug. "I think there's a connection," she says. "I don't know if it's a singular entity or a group, however."

She purses her lips. "Think of it this way: You end up with a small leak in your roof. Small enough you don't notice it. But, before too long, it expands and a shingle or two gets loose. Now, not only do you have water seeping into your house, but you've got a soft spot animals can use to chew through and get into your attic to nest. The leak continues, you get mould and mildew, in addition to the animals. Eventually, if you don't find it and repair it, close the hole and stop the leak, you can end up with a completely condemned house. A bit extreme, maybe, but... I think it's kind of like that. Somewhere in Tribeca, there's an open breech between our world and Hell in one of its myriad forms. And it's growing. The bigger it grows, the bigger the monsters that can come through to harass us. The question is: Is this leak an unfortunate, natural phenomenon caused by weakness in the Veil between worlds, or did someone open it on purpose and other things are just taking advantage of it. That's what I need to figure out. Where it is, how to close it, and who might be behind it."

Sara Pezzini has posed:
"Count me in. I'll feel sorry for myself on my own time." A smiling shrug is wiped from her face by the force of an image from the Witchblade, a hallucinatory flash of a rent in the fabric of things. She knows without seeing anything clearly that all of her worst nightmares of dissolution and death lie on the other side.

The force of the image makes her sway in place, eyes shut, as she comes to terms with it. Opening her eyes, she says after a deep breath, "The Witchblade is inclined to think it is deliberate."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
Somehow, that doesn't surprise Amanda in the least. "Mm," she agrees. "So am I." She looks down at the Blade. "The challenge is figuring out who. I've been so busy treating the symptoms, I haven't been able to treat the source of the disease." Which is why she'd love some help. If she's not the only one patrolling and fighting, maybe they'll make some headway.

"Whomever it is, they're powerful and patient. They didn't just rip a giant hole and step through. Instead, they're letting entropy do the work for them." She offers a lopsided smile that's less filled with humour as it is with a semi-amused understanding. "Of course, that may be self-preservation at work. I can think of at least one, probably two or three people off the top of my head who'd destroy them before they got more than half a claw through, otherwise. So..." She shrugs now.

"I appreciate your willingness to help, Sara. It'll take a load off me, for sure."

Sara Pezzini has posed:
Nodding, Sara holds up her phone then begins to thumb type the call into the local precinct. Before she pushes send, "You ready for me to call this in? I don't know how much help I can be but count on me."

Amanda Sefton has posed:
"Go ahead," Amanda says, pulling her hood back up around her head. "I'll be in touch. If you find anything, let me know." With that, she conjures a portal beside her and step through it, into that living room Sara might remember from the night they met. Because that's where Amanda will need to do her research. "Thanks again, Sara."

The portal winks out, leaving the detective alone in the alley to call in the body.