5496/Thousand Faces: Who's For Dinner

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Thousand Faces: Who's For Dinner
Date of Scene: 08 March 2021
Location: Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Morningside Heights
Synopsis: Vampires set up a dinner with bloody consequences for all involved.
Cast of Characters: Jane Foster, Hellboy, Peggy Carter, June Moone, Jemma Simmons




Jane Foster has posed:
Deva Ventures rarely posts to social media. Intense interest from the city's glitterati explodes to a day-long rush when their Instagram feed displays a wrinkled clock on March 14. Cryptic clues can be pieced together painstakingly for the location of their latest Deva Dinner celebrating the Ides of March. If they aren't lucky to receive a direct invitation, the complex puzzle eventually leads to the unfinished Cathedral of St John the Divine, one of the world's largest churches.

Guests show up in black, with bonus points for togas for the gents or stolas for the ladies. Or close as they can make. Everyone carries a bottle of Italian wine, one of the core clues and requirements for admission. A run on Faustian and Falernian wines or grand crus shall be displayed proudly on tables set up well underground.

Yes. That. Guests are escorted by monks in grey and brown habits, marking their respective orders, the vow of silence and charity found in smiling faces. Past thick beeswax candles poured into large pyramids or studding the stone walls, the monks bring the chosen deep into the catacombs where actual human skulls are far rarer than exquisite mosaics and a great many statues. Baroque, Gothic, and Romanesque styles all clash here, but the statues are remarkable in every niche: there's everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to frowning saints and at least one conspicuous world-famous musician wrought in stone. Candelabras set at key spaces keep the low stone vaults reasonably well-lit, and those who come to dine are assigned at random to different tables. Each is set with couches, not chairs, and the low tables absolutely sprawling with courses of every different variety. Aside from the kraters of wine (and jars of wine, and amphora of wine) are lavish piles of impressive fruit, mostly out of season. Steamed meats and vegetables are sprinkled throughout along with sugared centerpieces that depict the various Roman muses -- all nine, stolen from the Greek legends wholesale.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy wants to be hunting down an asshole, but this whole affair drifts way too close to W.A.N.D. territory and their number one boy for this kind of thing is, of course, Hellboy. He didn't want to do it. He was obsessed but, rationally, he had to admit the soul had been where it was for 60 years. Hell, the soulgem wouldnt even be in the city until next week so he had nothing to do but cool his jets but as it was, he wasn't even going to try and fit in. He'd borrowed an artifact that let him have limited invisibility for about 30 minutes, cracking the small alchemical tube open at the fringe and slowly sneaking up on the dining room. He was going to wait for the go word, but the file, which he skimmed (barely) told him that these people were probably worth shooting even if some of them weren't. Either way, he was told to be here, and so here he was.

Peggy Carter has posed:
Peggy doesn't get to go truly undercover much, but when she does, she knows how to pull it off. A gorgeous black Stola, trimmed in red and with a few red gem accents to be *lavish* about it, covers her muscled, hourglass frame. She's got her hair in some tight 1920s waves, a little theatrical make up to change the contours of her face, and any weapons are well hidden beneath the heavy folds of fabric of what looks like to be a designer outfit. When Jemma told her the concern, Peggy said she'd secure them the outfits if Jemma got them the invites. And off they were.

She walks along side her colleague, but has the happy, giggly sort of smile on her face that says she might already be drunk, stupid, or very randy. Who knows! It's the sort of smile that is supposed to fit in here. She grins to her friend, "Keep your eyes open for a handsome man, hmm...Maybe someone to drag home with us?" She winks to Jemma.

June Moone has posed:
The past few weeks were filled with oddness and blurs. Time lost, here and there June could put together the pieces, more often not. What was curious was the invitation and bottle of wine that was left upon her dresser. And a note that 'implored' June to show up, and instructions of what needed to be done (get dressed) and where to go (The Cathedral of St. John the Divine). Curious.

The compulsion allowed to her dress in such a stola; pitched black with bronze leaflings upon her arms. Wine within her hand, rings decorating small fingers, dark brown and black hair dancing along the middle of her black and smokey eye to complete the look. And June was nervous. And while she didn't know -why- she had to come as she was, she had an inkling.. that something far worse implored her to show her face and..

No. Not that thought.

June attempts to smile wistfully as she's shown a seat that she would take up when dining, and offering a hand in a pause to do what she does best. Examine the architecture, the art, the decor, focusing on something wonderful in light of the dark.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
Though she was not part of WAND, Agent (or Doctor, pick a title) Jemma Simmons had her own reason for wanting to attend this particular dinner. The least of them being the fact that the invitation itself was sent by a deceased individual. It did not take long for Jemma to pull up the files for one Crispin Mellon. Why him? The handwriting on the cryptic invite that SHIELD received...a simple matter for the handwriting analyzing program to crack. The rest of the clues...well....they took a little more. And so, trusting Peggy to get the outfits, without too much fuss from anyone else higher up knowing, Jemma set forth with solving the clues and securing their invites within.

And, Jemma had to admit, the stolas that Peggy found were absolutely fabulous. Jemma had green accents to hers, with some earrings that would be right at home at a 20's era speakeasy as well as some other baubles. In a hand, a bottle of vintage Italian wine. Hidden somewhere on her person, her ICER. Because Peggy insisted.

"Oh, if I dragged anyone home, people are going to suspect that the real Jemma is somewhere else. It would be a delightful ruse, though." A giggle caps off the commentary.

Jane Foster has posed:
Several dozen diners already rest on their couches, reclining as the conversation veers between diverse subjects from automotive engineering to reclaiming the Brooklyn Yards, wool's absorbency for wine, and the difficulty of finding a good cruller after 10:00 p.m. First world problems cast back two millennia forms a soft, seductive murmur among the ribbed pillars. Monastic waitstaff efficiently help young Latina women and Korean men to their couches. An androgynous figure wearing a rope belt pours wine into ceramic cups stamped with the D> logo of a Deva dinner. Every table has their flight, and whole stacks set off to the side among grinning skulls for anyone who needs a replacement beverage.

The candles alone offer any light to see by, and they're heaped in a way to throw pools of warm shadow slumbering between gilded veils. Soot and graffiti make a dramatic backdrop for a deep arched recess serving as a stage. The cathedral has never been fully completed or without tragedy over a century. Derelict at times, home to the ghosts of poverty and faith, the streaks of scarlet and fuchsia against cyan and green form an exquisite mosaic of roses, several tags, some Greek letter wrought in urban glory. Bold geometry matches ancient elegance.

Here the Deva cognoscenti themselves share their couches with anyone that meets their fancy. The only way to tell them apart is their tendency to listen and encourage conversations along when the chatter dies down.

A murmur follows when a young man practically drops from one of the archways shrouded in darkness, only likely spotted when the black-clad youth hits the ground and crouches. He throws his arms wide in greeting for him, a glass harp at his side. Small enough to be a lyre, but much more interesting, he strikes a pose and then a chord, the electric reverb strange and distinctly off. A flautist somewhere replies, the breathy refrain peculiarly atonal as it flutters through the room. Monks might stamp their feet or clap if so given.

The flautist waits not far from a table where Jemma will be shown; Peggy is separated, given the chance, though within veritable arm's reach. The couches set in staggered crosses afford the chance to talk over one's shoulder to a diner or to those beside or across.

June is guided merrily to a spot adjacent to a column, kitty-corner to Peggy, so continuing a possible chain of conversation.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy almost wishes he'd borrowed one of those artifacts that let him be human for a while as he watches the party, instead of shimmering sight unseen except on the ultraviolet spectrum gun in his hands, waiting for something to go down. It looks like a fun party, but he's been to this kind of party before, and the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Dark Oracles can be wrong, really wrong or bananas but he suddely stopped resenting his assignment here. The music and the youth makes him think instantly of the kind of cultists that think of him as nothing more than a key too a doorway. He absently takes out a cigar and chomps on it; oral fixation or not. He doesnt light it yet, smell would give him away but if he opens fight he is going to light it up in more than one way. He doesnt think this is the wild goose chase he thought it was even if he has no immediate evidence.

Peggy Carter has posed:
As the staff try to separate Peggy and Jemma, the older woman gives a warm smile, "Oh, alright...but I want to be somewhere *close* to my friend. See, she's shy and if anyone can set her up, it's me!" Peggy offers to the staff member in her surprisingly good American accent. She looks like she's having the time of her life pretending to be an already drunk New York socialite who is here to wingman her friend.

She even sends Jemma a bit of a wink, one that could be interpreted as flirtatious, as she lets them be lead to adjacent couches. That was acceptable. Once Peggy settles, her dark eyes go from flirtatious to far more serious, trying to scan what little she can see of the crowd for the man of the hour. The music gets a momentarily surprised look, but it doesn't stop her from her hunt.

June Moone has posed:
June missed it, her eyes were upon the decor, one hand reaching out to press against the wall to feel the etchings and the groovings, dancing along the surfaces of the table, the music a mere backdrop for her wanderings until her arm was gently taken. "Huh? Wait.." She protested, but not too much, for the young woman was practically spun and danced to her dining spot and plopped into her chair like a doll.

Alright..

A little smile goes off towards Peggy, though June herself looks uncomfortable doing that. So much so, that her hands lift to grip her bare arms as if she were fighting off a chill.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
It is not acting that causes the flush of red to Jemma's cheeks. No, it is no extraordinary feat of undercover work to pull up the emotions needed for that. That is true embarrassment that warms the flesh and draws a weak smile upon Jemma's features. There is even a slight shoulder shrug and an apologetic look cast to the monk seating her that most likely goes unnoticed by the server. However, the expression cast towards Peggy in the classic 'what are you doing?' trope is most visible by the elder Brit.

And probably thoroughly enjoyed by Peggy. Leave it to Peggy to pull the best out of Jemma.

Jemma does accept the seat with a softly murmured vote of thanks. Unlike her 'wingman' Jemma is clearly speaking in her usual British accent. After all, New York has all types, yes? As does the Roman Empire. It wouldn't be that out of place. While Peggy studies the people, Jemma studies the environment. The ceramic cups themselves get a particularly interested lookover, as well as the contents within. The music itself is noted, also, with the flautist receiving a slight nod in appreciation. Or acknowledgement. Not that the musician would know either way.

Jane Foster has posed:
Roman music with its peculiar rhythms isn't suited to singing but adds another layer of ambiance to an atmospheric place. Faithful unable to send their mortal remains to the great mausoleums of Europe instead sought refuge here, and the outer walls and crevasses of the catacombs bear their marks. Some are fully realized skeletons and others bones, and just as many prefer to reside behind mosaics brimming with amiable deathsheads or even a reaper disguised as a girl no older than fifteen. Shadows and light bring them to life, participants in the thrill of banqueting among other dazzled and dazzling people. Each and every one of them, even an invisible half-demon, has something to share.

Peggy's request to be seated near Jemma is honoured by a nod, but the waitstaff as a rule stay silent. Smiling, laughing, but not interrupting. A smart snap of a burgundy cloth napkin over black settings invites June to sit too without fear of spoiling her lovely attire. Plates are within arm's reach, small bowls off to the side for dipping one's fingers or removing the sticky residue of fruit, cheese or bread. Two of the monks round the banquet table on its low slab, pouring wine for everyone. The wines vary considerably, but that's to be expected given two hundred people -- at least -- did BYOB.

Waiting for the laughing, boisterous trinity to arrive shall not be overly long. The musicians ply their notes between electric harp and flute, a swirling convocation that rises on a breathless crescendo towards /something/ happening. They stretch out the moment while restless diners unconsciously crack their discussions, pausing, looking about more readily.

When the first rose petal falls from the ceiling, it looks simply to drift in from a fan. But then the false plaster breaks away in strategic spots, dropping several inches. Honeycombed plates slide back. Countless petals in soft reds and creams come spilling down amidst the food, and a good number of them are perfectly edible. Either nasturtiums or candied, lightly sugared, treats of another time.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy knows magic when he sees it, and to HIM at least though as he smells the food his stomache grumbles and he looks down at it . o O "Shut up you" and the most dangerous kind of magic isnt the kind that sparkles, but the kind you can't see, the one that makes you wonder if it is real or not, but that's mainily because it is usually right before you get all the proof you need that the things that go bump in the night...he sees too many dead, people he's killed, people who died because he FAILED to kill someone else, but worse so many of them look more and more like the souls that died around the house, killed by the Limner. Damn trickery. He doesn't quite drop his gun from surprise OR shoot it but its not something he expected to deal with here.

So much for the distraction of work.

Peggy Carter has posed:
As Peggy catches June's look in her direction, the 30-something looking woman flashes a smile back that could be called flirtatious, at best. She's trying to blend in, not call attention to herself as someone who was being far too serious at a wild, fun party. But when she's noticed, she will notice in return, memorizing June's features for a few heartbeats before she goes back to the study of the room. She very casually leans her hand against her ear, so she can subvocalize into the comm piece to Jemma without hopefully drawing any other attention, especially as food starts falling from the sky and the wine starts to flow.

<<I suspect the wine is safe if we just saw them open bottles the guests brought, but the food... wish you had some way on you to tell if it's laced with something or not.>> Peggy mutters. Maybe her wish will come true? This was a part of desires, after all. She then reaches out, scooping up a little note of sorts that has been left. Her red lips curve into a bit of a frown as she reads it, worried eyes flickering back up to the room. Taking in the dead, the skeletons, but also looking specifically for what might be the biggest threat. And the best exits.

When she does manage to catch a wait staff again, though they don't speak, she gives a warm smile, "...If you see our dear host, Crispin...could you give him my best? We worked together a long time and I'd love to see him again..."

June Moone has posed:
If this were magic, it would have been the best kind. The display of flowing wines and the food that descends from the ceiling gives June a near doe eyed look at the festivities. Is this why she was here? A mere treat? A rose petal was taken and sniffed, and set back down as she begins to hold herself even more.

Emotions flowed freely here, as June watches, friends were with friends and speaking, servers were laughing but unusually silent..

June takes a glass of wine for a sip, her lips pursing and cheeks flushing red from the sweetness. Her shoulders roll to try to loosen up, even as the glass was held eye level, her head rolls to stretch her neck. Nope. It wasn't working.

"Hello, I'm June." A blurt, mostly directed towards Peggy as she was the one who smiled. And June took that as kind. But words remain clipped as Peggy asks of a friend, which allows June to lay sights upon a few others gathered around the table, and attempting to force herself out of her comfort zone with a wave in slight if they looked in her direction.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
<<Not to worry, Director Carter.>> Jemma's voice cuts in softly through the comm link established between the two of them. <<I am a biochemist. I do have my tricks about me that do not require elaborate laboratories.>> Yes, it does seem that Jemma still hasn't shaken her habit of addressing Peggy with her title, regardless on how current that title may or may not be. Still, the scientist does indeed have her methods, many of which rely on her own senses.

And a great deal of knowledge squirrelled away from books.

As the first of the flower petals fall, Jemma's eyes tip upwards, catching the shower of petals just as it happens. It looks all so mystical and magical....or it might to someone other than Dr Simmons, whose mind immediately latches on how it could have been done via practical means. And again, whose mind almost immediately identifies the petals upon sight. Fingertips held out catch a violet petal as it falls to the table, the thumb sliding up to sample the texture of the delicate item. Then...with just a momentary pause to smell the petal, Jemma places it between her lips, the candied nature instantly apparent. The petal is taken in, and ingested...certainly harmless enough.

Instead of using her comm...instead, Jemma vocalizes her findings, in casual conversation that is mostly practiced and only a very little bit improvisational. "Oh, these petals are delightful. Candied, yes. Just enough to allow the subtle flavors of the flora itself to be known. Absolutely amazing..." Well...maybe not that amazing for her. But they are there for a dinner. There should be at least some conversation.

Jane Foster has posed:
Diners laugh and clap when the flowers fall. A few soft "oohs" ripple out, and sampling by munching on a petal gets a laugh from a table Jemma shares if she faces forward. A woman in her forties with a gorgeous laugh wipes the sugar away from her mouth. "Oh! It's a violet. You have to try one, they are just sublime."

Inside the graffiti-stained alcove, two of the Deva organizers sit up straighter. One lifts a hand and the grey-robed fellow bringing over a wooden board laden with sushi rolls cleverly dusted with leaves to look a bit more period bends. Beneath her hood, the monk grins and nods. Sushi is left, and she heads over to a sideboard under the Greek letter painted in geometric slashes and electric thorns to collect something.

The harpist ceases his work and strikes another resonant, minor chord. "My friends!" Answering him, the low thump of wood on the ground ripples from the ground. Two of the tables in the corner have been instructed no doubt to stamp what looks like a log or a caber into the tiles. They pass it around, taking their time. "Tonight," calls the harpist, "is a night devoted to Mars! A time when we are to give thanks to our successes and our fortunes with wine and song!"

A girl with arms wrapped in gold leaves and a rose in her hair -- fallen from the ceiling bounces up to her feet. She gestures wide, narrowly missing Peggy, one of her couch-mates aware of her lines. "An hour to feast together! We celebrate our friendships and our luxuries when the moon peeks back out, as they have of old. Let us toast to every joy!"

Not far from Hellboy, there is a general call: "Hmm! What man is that?"

"And wine," the musician calls back. He tilts his head, and anyone with a theatrical background might instantly realize the staging to attract attention wherever his head is turned. In this case, to a space between pillars, one of darkness. He squints. "Who? Bring he before me, so I can see his face!"

Among the last cascading petals comes an older man, forehead high and lined, swathed in a black robe. He carries a bottle and hoists it up. Peggy's Caesar hath arrived, the man of the hour. Following him is a man in his thirties who could be a soldier by fitness and bearing. "Bah! He's a drinker, let him pass. A toast, everyone!"

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy blinks. He hasn't met Mars but he knows people that have and the song "War, What is it Good for" dangles in his mind. He has seen this movie....no.

No. God damn he is IN t his movie and what seems like an otherwise really COOL event, is...yeah everything about this screams "Bad things a gonna happen" and he advances towards....well hell. He doesnt know. He tries to follow where the entertainers are implying the 'God of the Hour' will wander in and do what Mars does, likely kill everyone, and shoot the God. To think of it, Mars, if it was the ACTUAL Mars was likely bullet proof but these guys could be summoning anything. Or Anyone.

Peggy Carter has posed:
First to June, which Peggy didn't quite mean to start up a conversation with, but the near century old woman isn't going to be rude. She keeps a warm smile on her face and offers a single hand, her palm mostly smooth except for a few tell-tale callouses of someone who goes to the gun range at least 3-4 times a week and has for decades. "I'm Margaret... lovely to meet you. This party should be quite the...spectacle, I'm certain. I don't suppose you know the host? Crispin? He's an old friend..." Peggy might as well use the awkward conversation to her advantage.

Then she looks behind her shoulder to Jemma's report about the candy flowers, her smile warming even more. "Well, that's just...lovely. Not exactly sanitary, but I don't suppose you expect that when coming to a baccanilia." Peggy offers, as carefree and light sounding as she did before. And then, suddenly, there is the man stepping forward. Peggy's eyes go slightly wide and she looks to Jemma again. "Jem! Doesn't that look like dear old Crispin? It has been *so* long!" She wants the other woman to double check with her, since it really has been ages for Peggy.

At the very front of the chaos, Peggy catches sight of Hellboy. She's read the man (creature??)'s file, at least, and there is a trace of relief on her face for seeing him -- or not exactly seeing him, but that ripple of cloaked invisibility in a shape like that. She has hopes it's him. She subvocalizes to Jemma quietly, <<I think we have someone from WAND across the room...might be helpful. Or might be another threat. Eyes out.>>

June Moone has posed:
"Margaret.. yes.." June says, now it was her turn to be distracted. "..your name is beautiful.. pearl is the meaning. Greek, English and Scottish.." The distraction of course was the display. The boisterous words, all in wrong order.. the incorrectness could have possibly set her off if she did not reach for the glass of wine. To sip. To wince. To place again and hug. Large parties, strange in nature, invited by She the Her..

Something was so wrong..

"Excuse me.." June says abruptly, standing from her chair in the same manner which pushes it back a few paces. There was a light bump into a party-goer as she slide/shoves right past them, only to reach out towards a server with a hard grip upon the forearm to keep them from escaping her please. "Where's the exit? I need to leave. Right now.."

Jemma Simmons has posed:
"What is that, Peg? Crispin?" Brown eyes drift over towards the gentleman playing the Caesar role...and the eyes widen. Jemma has seen the file recently...and the gentleman making his appearance in the black robe is most certainly one Crispin Mellon. And the conversation....why does that seem so familiar? It is perhaps the fact of the realization of the person and the speech that causes Jemma to mutter softly. "Of all the wonders that I have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come."

Peggy hears a bit more in the comm. <<They are quoting Shakespeare. And yes, that appears to be Crispin.>> The mention of a WAND agent does give Jemma pause. It does cause her to look...but not like she is *actually* looking. Which...comes off about as well as expected. Her attention is pulled back to the evening's host....and that clinical eye does a silent inspection. This person was supposed to be dead. So...how is he standing before her now?

Jane Foster has posed:
The call for a toast has most of the diners lifting their cups. Wine, mostly, some with water or fruit juice as age and need suggest. Clinking ceramic serenades the appearance of 'Caesar,' who offers that disarming smile and holds up a hand as though to halt the greeting. "Now, now." When the voices die down a little, he clasps his fist to his toga. "Make merry and enjoy one another's company. To our hosts and our friends!"

The soldier behind Caesar is joined by a youth with flowing brown hair, all in black like the rest. Quite a handsome trifecta, they salute the diners in the alcove and the diners between the far bone-clad walls.

In the alcove, the grey-clad monk passes a bottle to one of the organizers, who gleefully breaks the seal. Flying out with a loud pop, the cork bounces onto a table and lands among a spread of grilled vegetables.

June's departure causes a soft murmur and one of the waitstaff heading for her, telegraphing concern when she grabs him. That vow of silence doesn't extend to whispering to her, helping her away from the throngs seated around the banquets. Even in the catacombs, there will always be quiet places.

"You are all our guests to the peak of society, the convivial delights known to a select few." The man in the alcove sets the wine bottle to his lips, drinking deeply, tilting back like a raconteur out of 1973, Jimmy Pagesque in flamboyance and bravado. Licking his lips clean, he sweeps his arm out boldly. "I agree with Caesar. It is with the greatest pleasure that we - your humble hosts - bid you all, eat!"

Diners turn. And they do (oh how they do). Hellboy's likely the first to notice. June certain to feel something

Knives and spoons are optional. Finger-foods abound. Crystallized flowers, powdered fruit, abundant wine. Pale cheeses, stretches of glossy vegetables. Slender necks. Sharp teeth. All of it, bliss, when the first bites reach eager lips and curling tongues. Neat fingers bring food to willing mouths, and think nothing of veins opened with hard canines.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy doesnt hate vampires. He isn't a vampire hunter and he has known and even fought side by side GOOD vampires, but consent is well....the problem is in this case, is the food drugged? As he scans about the room, he can't help but notice that those being bitten are totally into it. He isnt going to just start shooting just because people like being bitten, but as he walks into the middle of the tables, at this point assuming the Vampires know he is here, he looks at the dialated pupils on some of the victims and nods. Yeah that's enough.

He decides to be as subtle as a bag of hammers that he always is and shoots the ceiling. "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN" he appears suddenly, the invisibility ruined as takes hostile action, and says, "I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT IN THE 21rst CENTURY CONSENT IS COOL, AMMIRIGHT? AND I'm THINKING THE LOVELY PEOPLE HERE MIGHT NOT ALL KNOW WHAT THEY WERE GETTING INTO, SO LETS ALL STOP SNACKING AND CONFIRM THAT OUR GUESTS ARE COOL WITH BEING PART OF THE MEAL K?"

It's one of the cooler intro's he has made which is why some of the rubble has to fall down and hit him in the head. "Ow." It's not enough to hurt or even distract him but it lessens the cool factor.

Of course.

Peggy Carter has posed:
While Jemma has cleared the food, Peggy is still paranoia as they come. She makes shows of drinking her wine, but the level of the glass never goes down. She picks up bits of food in her hand, to her lips, but then it's crumbled into dust between her fingertips and dropped to the floor. She can eat later. Right now, she is on high guard for whatever is happening. "Of course, Miss. Be...Safe." Peggy offers after June, when the woman makes her apologies. Her eyes narrow at the back of the woman's head, watching her head for the door, but Peggy doesn't stop her. She's simply curious.

Then she's looking back up towards the stage. Things do not look like they are going well for Crispin and the room is falling into more chaos. Suddenly, she feels like one of the old sober ones in the room. Peggy shifts into standing, "I'm going to check on our friend..." She calls quietly to Jemma, just loud enough to be heard over the chaos. It's both an invitation and a warning, Peggy not ordering her to come deeper into it all, but would like the woman at her side.

She's then trying to weave through the bacchanal. Doing her best not to step on anyone, and looking for any other threats, she's doing her best to get closer to Crispin. Maybe to say hello. Possibly just to examine him.

And then there's Hellboy. <<*Definitely our WAND friend.*>> Peggy mutters into her comms. She blinks a bit more as he comments on snacking and people consenting to being more snacks. Her eyes go wider, looking closer at various parties...and the *bites*? <<Shit. I think they...*Bit* him..>> While Peggy knows many things, vampires are not yet in her 'these things exist' vocabulary. Right now, the ex-Director looks like she's watching some very strange kink party.

June Moone has posed:
"No, I am not feeling alright.." It almost seems as if June was speaking to herself, but to the escort, but mostly to herself. "I do not want to take a breath.. I want to -leave-. I have things that I need to do in the morning and I canno..." The sound of June's frantic ranting disappears as soon as her and her escort round the corner..

Most would have seen the frantic woman go in. Most on the other side would know that someone had taken her to a much quieter place to not distract from their feedings..

And if they were to be joined, they'd be met in time to see a pair of hands, nails sharp and cutting, protruding from the back of the escort who ushered June away.

Those hands covered with muscle and fractured bone, which were shaken off through the hole that she made. Fingers would wriggle and hands would turn, prying the body away from itself. Split down the half through the middle, Enchantress steps through. The moon crown affixed to her head glows and vanishes in a puff of black smoke, and with each breath the witch takes, on inhale the runes upon her arms glow.

"No. Wonder no one would talk." She muses to herself, then begins her slow trek back towards the party proper. This is going to be fun.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
There was a moment...a very clear and conscionable moment...where actually Jemma actually *wanted* to bite someone. To feel the blood of a living person flow down her parched throat. It would be so incredibly easy. So easy. She already knows where the opportune area is to incise to retrieve that precious warm sanguine fluid within. Just so simple, really.

Then, two things bring Jemma out of her revelry. One, the clear and loud soliloquy that the red demon with the really big gun proclaims. One that is certainly not anything that William Shakespeare wrote, which cause her mind to break free. And, two...the sudden revulsion that overcame her the moment the spell was broken as her medical sense kicked in. As the two fully snap Jemma free, a quick deduction cools her spine as her mind instantly links back to another moment.

One in a 1920's speakeasy, where she was enthralled with a musician.

Blasted vampires.

<<Peggy, we are in over our head. This....is going to be bad.>> How does Jemma know about vampires? Best not to ask

Jane Foster has posed:
A woman with a bleeding wrist sprawls back on the couch, ruffling the hair of a young Black man happy to share a drink. He bows to her and she gracelessly drinks her wine, and all is right with the world.

Beside Peggy, the petal-munching woman melodiously laughs again and slides off her couch, walking over to a vacancy two tables over. She drops right down in time to receive a warm welcome. Warmer than most, about 98.6, give or take a mismatched pair -- one genteel and older, the other most definitely from the Near East and hewn like sandstone. Repeat: a smile, a bite, blood lapped away gratefully.

"But the duck was so fresh," murmurs a man somewhere near Hellboy, popping a roasted morsel into his mouth. That rich bite brings no doubt quite a bit of satisfaction. He draws a curious fellow diner into an embrace. "No need to shout, giant friend. We're all in agreement. Aren't you, Ben?" 'Ben' turns his head and grins, though he's a bit green around the gills at seeing someone huge, red, and armed. He promptly vomits behind the couch into an awaiting bucket. Hopefully that was its purpose.

In beauty, horrendous truths unspool. Caesar -- one Crispin Mellon -- alone is seized sharply by the soldier and the brunet youth, hauled down to his knees, and ripped into like fresh veal. Black to hide the stains, though how can they, when his jugular and his brachial artery are ripped open, bites marred up the front. He's shoved away, somehow upright and not stumbling, sent careening into another willing knot of celebrants who wash blood from his arms with questing fingers and might just lick it away. Or look up with uncertainty and wonder both, taking a blunt nip before themselves being nicked by a companion.

Peggy receives that wild-eyed look out of him, a shock of recognition through the glaze of pain and suffering, cloudy purpose and driving aims. His mouth forms a word before he's yanked to one of the pillars. The blood runs. Wine flows. Exchanged goblets and toasts rage among the gluttony found when crushing strawberries or licking shocks of honey from treacle spoons buried in various sweet puddings.

Vampiric smoke on the air is an invisible thing, calling to minds, plundering reason. For some, no nudge is needed; they fall into those embraces with obvious delight and intent. And others just choose the moment to stand on the table and dance, kicking plates, shouting at the musicians to play. No shots needed, nothing more severe than flinging a cup and grabbing another. Candles drop to the ground in one spot, harmlessly sputtering out in a pool of wax.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy can't tell who is a full on vampire, and who is being induced to act like one, but he does know that people are getting hurt. He slides his gun on his back, cracks his knuckles, cricks his neck, lights his cigar and proceeds to punch anything and everything in sight. It's love punches, no seriosuly, they might have a black eye but any human he hits might have a black eye or enough pain to hopefully wake them out of the trance while if they prove to be a real vampire they get a full punch to the face that they WILL feel (if he can connect) but right now he is working to be an agent of chaos, trying to turn the critical mass of the ritual and break the bubble of lackadasical lotus eatery.

Peggy Carter has posed:
The more Peggy looks, the less she wants to see. Thankful now for not having touched any of the food truly, she stares at the pouring and lapping of blood from people's throats. No one else seems to be *complaining*, but she cannot imagine they actually want to be here. She catches Jemma's voice over the comms and blinks, her frown only deepening. <<Why in over our heads? It's... They aren't violent.>> Yet. <<What do you know I'm missing...?>>

And then she sees that mouthing of a single word from Crispin. Her eyes go a bit wider, instincts fighting with what everyone is saying to do. Run. <<Crispin says run.>> And then, that is what she's doing. Back towards Jemma, because she is *not* going to let Jemma be stuck in here alone. Peggy would rather take up the back if she can. She's also pulling out her weapon -- the actual .38 that she carries on her and not the ICER because she's that paranoid. She keeps it down at her side for the moment, mainly there so she can defend them if needed.

But the moment Hellboy starts his peel of violence, there is no point in holding back. She pauses in her dash, turning to look where Crispin has been handed off and raising her gun quickly. Unless someone very quickly stops her, she snaps off two shots straight to Crispin's head. He was an old friend. She wasn't going to let him spend an unlife in misery.

June Moone has posed:
Chaos.

Oh it was sweet. First it was muted; quiet protestors who fell to their inhibitions, allowing their life-force to be stolen, and soon those who woke up to the disaster and their screams. And blood. There was no music, only the sounds of a very large demon causing havoc, a few screams and scampers, all which draws the witch into a small.. slow dance.

She was like a dark fairy, tracing the path of her dance with bloodied footprints, the silent song draws an outstretched hand towards a fallen chair with it's legs suddenly snapping.

Magic.

Magic (or telekinesis if everyone wanted to be technical) that causes the wooden stakes to fly through the air, in what -could- be protection, to plant into the chests of a vampire or human.. Enchantress draws no distinction to destruction. And much like a jealous lover, she moves through the crowds as if they were all -hers-, and if she could (and will), bodies begin to drop and carve her path.

"If you would have shared your secrets..." She hisses, "..I could have saved you all..."

Sing-song, ping-pong.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
<<Vampires.>>

The single word is offered at the answer. What does Jemma knows that Peggy is missing? Jemma knows what it feels like to be entranced. And that....that was entrancement. Jemma is already reaching into her stola, pulling out her ICER there. Yes, she did not bring anything heavier...nothing more lethal. Her refined medical sense...the very one that pulled her out of a fate worse than death.

Or undeath, as the case may be.

The comm is forgone. It doesn't matter much now when the patrons are now feasting on each other. "He's right. We need to get out of here!" The normally calm Jemma in a panic? Perhaps she is still shaken that she almost joined in. "I can't explain how....but the food is laced. I didn't catch it with the one petal...I almost...." A shudder....only stopped because the feel of the railgun in her hand brings Jemma some small token of comfort. "Must get out of here..."

Jane Foster has posed:
Guests moving through the indolence and debauchery turned into something bloody do with gliding steps or mincing stumbles. They might be tugged down or fall upon another diner. Shoving aside someone necking in an alcove to flee to the chopped stone staircase leading into the old asylum on the cathedral grounds isn't hard. Escape is possible, if very few take that option until a great red demon punches them. Until their eyes open to dark shadows instead of blissful abandon.

Screams anoint the victims made alert and monstrous sorceress on the move. Crushed flowers give rosy perfume to mix with bright copper and the incense found of death. The Enchantress has her whirling parade of stakes, but distinguishing vampire from human from everything else isn't an immediately easy thing to do.

Neither is planting fist, bullet, broken chair-leg. Punched into a wall when the target abruptly shifts. Buried into someone's belly with a confounded, incomprehending look on a pained face when blood boils out from the belly. Worse, if organs rupture. On more than one occasion, the Enchantress is bound to stab a monk, a man in a black toga, a woman curled protectively around another. They move within and push back, but it's a futile effort. Stacked odds. Hellboy smacks around someone who interposes herself to stop the musician with the flute from being knocked over.

Crispin ends up bitten again, stabbed, bleeding as he rotates through the tables in the crypt like some form of nightmarish scapegoat. The bullets collide with his skull at an imperfect angle, painting brain matter and fluids aplenty on a clutch of doctors and surgeons gulping wine. Soon enough staring, watching Caesar collapse. A few hide behind their couches, others curling to tables. But to dine or despair?

He's dead. The impaled monk waiter, dead. The torn servant who halted June, dead.

And yet none of them are /dead/, for all they bleed and don't move, some spark of awareness in their eyes.

A damn skeleton laughs. Skulls grin. Teddy Roosevelt's statue peers over his glasses at them all, perpetually amused. Jemma's passage, if she departs, will take her past a trio of modern saints: Banting, Pasteur, Salk, all watching the dead stay and the living go.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy can tell this is a losing battle, but that's not his job. Saving as many people as he can is what he is going to do and while he does reach into his vest and splash around the ONE vial of holy water he always carries and splashes as many as he can. He does his best to try and waken the meatshields or knock them unconcious. He REALLY should start taking icer ammo in his gun but there are so many random things that need something else to KILL that he rarely takes it. Vampires were not something he expected to kill tnoight. He does have VERY incindiary ammo but the meat shields MAY be savable. And if not, he's not gonna be the one to kill them. He uses his strength and speed and combat skill to punch as many as he can. He's more interested in punching as many as he can at least once, and will (when easily able) stop the staking but his primary and laser focused goal is to give every human a chance to break free.

Peggy Carter has posed:
"But... we can't leave these people... Oh hell." Peggy breathes out, staring behind them at just how vastly outnumbered they are. The woman who vaguely looks like June and Hellboy, both with far greater powers than Peggy or Jemma, are at least doing a decent job of clearing people out. Peggy's face pinches with guilt, looking back at her comrade, "I'd say vampires don't exist, but... I'm just glad you are you." And she's still running, gun in hand. If anything tries to directly attack them, Peggy's firing at it. But otherwise, she's trying to get them to the exit.

When there, she pauses..."Go, call for back up, if you want. I...I'm going to try to evaucate as many people as possible. If anyone is sane left, that is." Peggy really is just that stubborn, standing on the edge of chaos when she could get free. If they make it to the door, that is.

June Moone has posed:
No distinction. No care.

Perhaps this was all punishment Enchantress inflicts upon June, as she -will- remember by way of carefully timed spell during witcheroo switcheroo.

A woman trying to run? Oh. She's human. Human now gripped by the throat, snapped, and tossed like a rag doll as the dance continues. A harp is lifted from the ground and tuned correctly to replay the Roman aira like the Grand Nocturne. Invisible prickly fingers may as well play Benny Hill with how some who were near her try to escape.

The big demon was a riot! But there was something odd about his attacks. They fall. They still breathe. Their eyes are closed. If she chose to listen to read the room she would still see them breathing. No. This would not do. "Kill them or die." Enchantress demands of Hellboy, who all intents and purposes could be her loyal subject.

"Kill them. Or -perish-!"

Jemma Simmons has posed:
"I don't intend to leave these people. However, I don't exactly know the effect of dendrotoxin upon desiccated flesh." The ICER shifts out, held with both hands...a talisman to ward off evil. A totem of protection. "However, I do know the effect upon living specimens."

And, with that, the ICER fires. Human shield or no, it matters not. Jemma fires, knowing that it will not kill those enthralled humans. And...she fires, hoping beyond hope that if a person falls, it will be one less target for the sorceress killing indiscriminately.

Which is worse? Enchantress or vampire? That will be one for consideration...albeit later.

If Peggy is staying to try to save others, then far be it for Jemma to run off.

Jane Foster has posed:
Splashing holy water on the young singer with golden wreathed arms earns a disgusted sound. "Really? What's your problem?" She wipes it from her face. Her companion busily lapping her palm and knuckles looks up with glassy eyes gone utterly dark. Staring at Hellboy and then the sprinkled freckles forming on his skin, he recoils at speed. Fast as hell, but the big demon has a really nasty right hook. He throws that vampire through the ceiling, leaving a hole past stone. That would break someone's back, if they were alive.

The singer pouts and slides away when his back is turned. Another person can get punched: that bearded guy in a black robe, say. She cavorts with a laugh and dumps a bottle of wine over, rolling aside before someone shot crashes down beside her.

One of the Deva organizers who conspicuously has not been punched grabs the brunet youth who bit Caesar. He wrenches him aside, and no less than six people scattered through the chambers hurl knives at Hellboy. A candlewax pool bubbles and the rickety metal candelabra rises, flung at Enchantress from behind by someone with aspirations of being a javelin thrower.

People are spared, if they can be dragged off. Fingers wet, chins mired in food, clothes fouled with flowers and blood. All might be grabbed safely.

"Baron," cries a woman. "The lady's called it all for you. Hear her praise, and enjoy!"

Gentler kindnesses at Jemma's hands assure those offered protections are softly dropped, slumping to the ground, leaving barren holes in the mortal shields wrapped around a diverse group. Trouble marked by the Black man nibbling on a weatherman from a local station. The soldier who bit Crispin, the youth and the Deva organizer slinking for the shadows, all of them targets.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy says, "Lady! I don't know who you are, but you kill one more human you're gonna find out just how hard it is to kill me. One. MORE." He doesnt stop though. There are simply too many here for him to focus even on the obvious threat that the greater vampires provide but he tries to give as many people a chance as he can. Punch to wake up courtesy of W.A.N.D. If he KNOWS someone is a vampire, he'll punch them at FULL strength (if he can hit). He grunts in pain as the knives hit him, a few bouncing off his thick skin but others sinking into him. He feels it, it hurts but he takes a licking and keeps on ticking and DOES NOT STOP until the people are not dead...or ...er...more dead. There was an anology there that got lost in a movie reference and...aw hell. He turns around and tries to punchone guy and blinks, "Wait didnt I punch you already?" But spreads the tough love anywhere and everywhere he can.

If enchantress keeps killing humans, he keeps punching but punches people in a rather obvious direction toward her unless there are thicker pockets gathered together."

Jane Foster has posed:
Why yes! Hellboy -did- punch that guy. And now he's even a more bruised punched guy, possibly a terribly mangled person being whomped. Those terrorized eyes might not even want to be punching back or acting as a meatbag for Hellboy's friendly greetings. But there that man is, until he drops again. Oops.

Peggy Carter has posed:
"...there are those stronger than us here. We're going to get as many innocent people out as possible and let the others handle the...Vampires." Peggy is courageous, but she's not stupid. Besides, civilian lives are always the priority. At least, they should be. Peggy reaches up to her comm, switching channels, so she can get back to SHIELD and get some ambulances to them as quickly as possible. "SHIELD, this is Agent Carter, I need medical care to this address five minutes ago. We'll need at least five ambulances, if not more, and more civilian evac." She gives Jemma an approving nod at her ICER work, watching the woman help clear away innocents with proper efficency.

Once the request is made, Peggy shifts back into the room, "If you have your right mind about you, THIS WAY. We have transport on hand, exit this way! Help carry someone if you can!" Peggy calls over the room with a solid air of command that doesn't come from any supernatural powers, but from nearly 45 years of military command, of one sort or another. She knows how to get attention and how to be an authority people can trust.

June Moone has posed:
Was that a threat?

The deadpan, glowy-eyed look was narrowed towards Hellboy, and with an unleash of a hand, a scrampling young man, who quite possibly would have been a boyfriend, was lifted into the air and twisted like a ragdoll. He drops upon a fleeing vampire or human, all dead-weight and collapsed legs soon after.

"Is that two?"

It was all fun and games until someone -really- tries to kill you, the javelin spear planting itself right in Enchantress' side, who barely flinches though she -feels- the pain. Her hand reaches down to smack the javelin backwards so that it could fall to the floor, leaving a gaping hole where skin used to be. "You mutherf.."

With the lack of eyes in the back of her head, Enchantress didn't know who threw the possibly fatal blow, so the ones who cower in the corner, attempting to hide from sight? They would be the first to invoke her ire.

Her hand strikes out, fingers curled to cup the air, tendrils of glowing green soon begin to form into the middle of her palm, building and growing larger with energy. But it wasn't until the voice of Peggy gets her attention, which has her turning to level eyes upon the.. what?

"Ooh.. hello..." Miss Margaret is reading -extremely- wrong.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
Curse that compassionate nature. It would have probably been easier to just run out, especially when wooden stakes started flying and undead creatures of the night made appearances. But....the compassion. The core of Jemma's being. That prevents her from just running.

It does, however, encourage her to run in...and pull the knocked-out humans out to the soon-to-be-arriving emergency services. The medic mode kicked in, which overwrites the flight.

No, Jemma will fight now.

A menacing figure drops next to Jemma, with fingers, hooked into claws, reaching out to try to snag the doctor and drag her off. A face, looming in the darkness. One...that receives a pistol whip for its trouble, followed by an instinctive shot into the chest. It...may not work, but it shows just how well SHIELD trains their agents...even the scientists. It was all reflex.

And then...back to pulling the innocents, as loose as that term is for those here...back to pulling the innocents out of danger.

Jane Foster has posed:
They will come. Slowly, but they shall if guided from the fringes. Those in the tightest clusters that haven't been bashed to pieces may not come any time soon. Encouragement via seeing their peers fall or Peggy waving the equivalent of a torch helps the diners find their way out. Crawling, if need be.

Emergency services finding their way to Morningside Heights is easily enough done, though they will have to thread through the nighttime streets and past the many parked cars brought by those who can afford the parking. The first victims won't be loaded for a few minutes by EMTs far less bothered by someone covered in violet petals and six bite marks at strategic places than a dogwalker who faints in the street when bloody people emerge from a heretofore unoccupied cathedral.

Punching the injured into the gauntlet chewing them up and spitting out those not /quite/ dead is bound to go badly. They don't have much of a chance to avoid being strangled or ripped apart by whatever those green swirly tendrils do. Something in that eldritch fire sends two of the vampires bolting up with a sudden leap through a hole in the ceiling. Run away to fight another day. Another isn't going to end up nearly so well, dusted in a violent cloud of shadows.

Stakes are one thing. But real magic, another, if it falls. Bending minds isn't so helpful against being ripped to pieces. Shots fly, blood spatters. Just more gore for Jemma to have nightmares about.

The exodus that starts in earnest builds. Ten, fifteen. Twenty. Numbers trickling out while the fight rages, and how many damaged, injured souls lie there bleeding their lives out?

...For a moment...

No one greets them at the pearled gates. No one escorts them on the other side. For a moment, a skeleton leans over the sprawled wreck of Crispin Mellon's body, blood reflecting nothing but damaged saints and laughing skulls. He reaches down, and the light winks out. The dead seize, and expirations tiptoe one after the other, tribute scythed down.

Wisps of the grave mingle with rum, black coffee, and cigar smoke. Then nothing, as the stain fades away.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy immediately shifts to first aid mode once the last of the vampires are gone. He feels BAD for punching the crap of defenseless humans, but; mind control is nothing to joke about. A mob or a ritual can be a living thing even when not magically animated or anthropamorphized and until you break it...

Still, this will likely lead to some complaints, which will mean paperwork. He sighs, but the same punchy strength that he used to knock people unconcious is useful for lifting bodies (after carefully using his first aid to make sure he is not bruising or snapping spines) and moves to help the EMT's as much as he can, leaving the most critically injured to the EMT's.

Then? He writes up the world's fastest mission report (you get good at that after a few decades) and leaves.

He is hunting something on his own and did what he was asked to do.

Peggy Carter has posed:
Peggy is following much the same in Jemma's footsteps, clearing the way, helping carry those who worst need evacuated, continuing to clean out and direct those who can move on their own. She's about to dash over and help Jemma from a particularly vicious foe when, well.. *Clearly* the woman has some extra fight training in her somewhere. Peggy smiles to herself in quiet approval, <<Nice move.>> She calls over the comms, but settles back into her own evacuation rhythms.

It's not until the first ambulances are pulling up, having been riding adrenaline most of this scene and keeping herself together, that Peggy slightly falters. She tries to keep it in the shadows, so no one else sees her wavering. Just that quiet wash of dizziness, the moment where her head threatens to drop. She forces herself to stop, to take a few deep breathes, press it away, and then move on. There was work to be done.

June Moone has posed:
The fleeing vampires catches her attention all too late. That was a consequence of noticing someone who should -not- be here. Enchantress frowns deeply then turns, keeping her eyes upon the three who jumped into action to help, her pace taking her backwards, carefully stepping over the fallen, the dead, dying and the sobbing. Her fingers squeeze together to squelch the magic, back soon pressed against the wall.

They were all so fragile, but even the 'suit' that she worn was the same. Enchantress kept her hand pressed to her wound as she leans her head back, her body slowly sinking into brick, no fanfaire, chant or wave of the hand. But the only thing left behind was a shadow of her that blinks once. Sneers. And fades from sight.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
The lack of an Enchantress is not caught by the acting SHIELD medic. Jemma is on auto-pilot. Get a person, pull them out. Do it again...and once more.

Soon, it slowly dawns that the supernatural elements are...gone. And, it is then that Jemma finally releases, the ICER falling to her side as the shuddering takes her. All the stress, the horror....it needs to be released.

But not now. The momentary lapse is pushed aside. Ignored for now. No...these people still need help.

But tonight, when Jemma finally sleeps? That is when the dreams will come. And the only comfort will be that she managed to save some people. A small comfort, but it will do.