2019-09-29 - By The Grace Of ...


Two corrupted SHIELD agents get called to a Church to check out a Stelae.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Sep 29 02:20:45 2019
Location: Cathedral

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Theme Song



Keiko has since passed the basic 'learning about being an Agent' phase and is now in the middle of her 'lerning HOW to be an Agent' phase. She spends some of her time in classes remedying things like being largely unable to read, some learning about WAND procedure and law and a few other things. The rest of her time she spends getting hands on training with Koa, partly because she was already helping him on this particular case and partly because he gets other calls that make good training experiences.

Today's call is one of the former. The Basilica of St. Patrick's in New York has been the site of what appears to be a stele, or at least that very much sounds like it. The Church is closed - as in cordoned off at the moment - and Koa has just arrived at the sidewalk. It's evening, late enough that it's getting dark and he had to call Keiko from her home. Or her dinner. Or whatever it was that she's doing. There isn't anyone else here at the moment.

The lessons about reading aren't going well for Keiko. And less well for her Instructors. Frustratingly stubborn has passed their lips multiple times but neither party is backing down. She *much* prefers OTJ training to book learning, so field trips are a favourite.

Arriving on her pushbike, Keiko is dressed much as she ever is with some allowance for how the weather is turning. "You rang, Koa?" She doesn't say what she was doing, but Koa knows from other conversation that Piotr is often not home, which means Keiko has to get help with Elena. She seems to be managing that.

The approach to the Church has the small woman pausing, a look of … discomfit … crossing her face.

"I did." Koa nods as Keiko arrives. He looks up at the Church. It's a hell of a structure, pun unintended. Massive and impressive as these kinds of Basilica often are. "I'm not quite sure what we're dealing with yet. I was waiting for you to arrive."

He takes a deep breath and scratches the back of his neck. "So. Tell me. We've just got on scene. You have all the information that I do. What's your first move if you're in charge?"

A little pop quiz before they get to the learning portion.

Keiko really doesn't want to get any closer than this but she pushes herself to join Koa's side. "What was the call we got?" She asks as she looks around, getting a feel for the area, rolling her shoulder like something just bit her.

"It's a good thing I'm not in charge, cause I have absolutely no idea." The peruvian says. "Ask for a briefing on what already know. I guess. And find out who our liaison for the site is?"

"Something in the church. Matches the description of a Stele but we don't know because the person who called isn't very good at describing and didn't know what he was looking at anyway." Koa comes up the steps to the church as he talks.

"The Priest is about somewhere but I think he's talking to PD on the other side of the property at the moment or maybe taking a call from the Bishop. Who knows? Anyway… first thing is always to secure the site when possible. We're in New York so the site is more likely to be safe but we don't know. Hence…"

Koa draws his weapon and places his hand on the door. Then jerks it off and shakes it as if he'd just been burned or zapped.

"Ow. That felt… weird. Uh, why don't you get the door, Keiko."

"The site is cordoned off though, can't I assume that was done?" Keiko notes as she climbs the stairs beside the Senior Agent. Her steps seem to falter as she glares at the door - not realising she's doing it at all. "But alright…" She pulls the collapsed rod she carries out and looks as Koa draws his hand back "Electric shock? I wonder if the building's not grounded properly."

"Are you kidding me?" When she see's Koa isn't kidding, the junior agent reaches out to grab hold of the door. "Ow…. " she pulls her hand back, glaring the thing and uses that rod, hooking it through the handle of the door and pulling.

"By the police who might have run into an arcane problem or might have walked right by it never knowing what it was." Koa points out. "So no. Unless someone who knows are business - and whom you trust implicitly - has secured the site it is never same to assume that it's secure."

When Keiko pulls her hand back Koa frowns and gives her a look. "You too huh?" Felt like the damn thing had a joy buzzer connected to it.

Once Koa steps inside that frown deepens. This place feels like an itchy blanket for… some reason.

"Alright. Should be toward the back here."

It is in fact toward the back and that involves going past the pulpit and into the choir loft where… yes. There is a stele.

"Ugh…" Koa itches. "I wonder if they're redoing the insulation here…" He peers at the stele and considers.

"Alright. We know that these things are linked into some kind of magical network. And we know that you accidentally accessed it. We don't have any kind of key item like the last time…" He ponders.

"But I wonder if we can't trick this thing…"

"Oh. I see. That makes sense." Keiko answers, sliding the rod from the handle and following Koa in. "Like I said, it might be a grounding issue. Old buildings have problems like that sometimes." she stops as they get further in, rolling her shoulders and grimacing.

"Is it hot in here? My skin feels like it's pricking." Koa can see the tattooes on Keiko's arms ripple as she says that. "Maybe you're right. They might be renovating, that might explain the electrified door."

"Last time, I used my staff…" the peruvian answers, getting closer to the stelae to have a look at it. "… maybe there's something like that now … But do you want me to bleed on it, or something?" She scratches her arm absently.

"Well if the Nightfall archives were accurate, then the stele used by Siffror and the stele used by Plokta back in the day share a common knowledge base. I doubt Siffror's Manchurian candidates would have wanted to reinvent the wheel, so they would have simply rededicated it to Plokta. Which means if I don't miss my guess these two should work in broadly the same way."

And indeed. There's a place that looks like she could insert her staff. When she does though, there's only a small trickle of energy, not the river she experienced last time. It's almost like the staff isn't fully attuned to interact with the gossamer.

Koa frowns as he watches and rolls his shoulder. It really is kind of unpleasant in here. "Hrm. Are you getting anything?"

She is but it's faint and kind of scrambled. So different than what she experienced last time. Blood might work, or there might be other options. The lifeless feed of life, don't they? So it's possible she could power it with… a spirit.

"I didn't like that movie." Keiko mutters to Koa as she prowls the stelae looking for something similar. "Here…" She really is uncomfortable and it shows in her countenance. Irritable - and showing it. That's not usually Keiko's MO.

Fitting her staff and holding it, Keiko frowns and curses a little. "Not much … It's like when a radio isn't tuned properly. You know there's a station but you can't hear it properly." She finally says.

Glaring at the pillar and then scowling at Koa. "I … could summon one of my beasts. But I don't know if it will harm them." She might not show it, but she's rather fond of them. They've been with a long time, after all. It's Araranet she selects in the end, summoning the demonic looking Tarantula by touching the tattoo.

When the spirit appears, it writhes and wriggles in discomfit. "Touch the pillar, Araranet. What's wrong with you?"

"She looks like she doesn't like it." Koa frowns. He's never seen the huge spider do that before. "Either she doesn't like it… or she doesn't like here…" But that doesn't make sense, why would the spider care what here is? They've never shown any kind of tendency toward knowing what's in their environment before.

"Mmmm. Something's off. Don't use her." Koa finally says. He reaches out to touch the Stele but it's not doing anything especially unusual.

And then Keiko's connection resolves. She can see G'frn. He's pale, much paler than he used to be. And he doesn't seem to be IN Limbo.

"It looks that way, doesn't it?" Keiko says, reaching out a hand to stroke the spider. "Go now, Arananet." The spider turns to smoke and retracts to the peruvians arm. The tattoo still writhes though and Keiko has to cover it for a moment. "None of them like it, I don't think."

Which is unusual.

"Don't …. touch it." Koa gets a yellow eyed stared from Keiko. Yellow eyes - they haven't done anything to draw her demon out, have they?

"Oh. Got it. G'rfn is there … " she mutters, blinking a couple of times. "I wonder if he can see me… Hello, G'rfn. I've come to visit you again."

Koa stands back. Unlike last time this doesn't overwhelm his senses. She can see him. He puts his hands in his pockets and watches.

G'rfn turns at the voice and stares at her. He doesn't look much like the demon that Keiko first met. Larger. Paler. Twisted, even by Limbo standards. Gaunt too.

"The false consort." He hisses. "You've figured out how to use the Stelae. What do you want?"

It's weird for Keiko, standing there with her skin prickling and tattooes rebelling, seeing G'rfn and Koa together. "You can't see this?" She says to the other Agent.

"It wasn't hard to work out how, you imbecile." that's to G'rfn. "False consort? Remember I'm the mother to the Heirs heir. That's more than you could arrange in all the time you bedevilled me. What do I want? I want to gloat. I want to see how you've failed and how you're going to fail." Yellow eyes meet Koas as Keiko pauses to think. "Did Sifror punish you for failing to keep the network secret?"

Koa shakes his head. "I can see that something is happening around you but not what that thing is." He says. "There's an aura swirling around you and it looks like it's reacting to you. I'm guessing the network is based on some kind of sympathetic magic but that usually requires something alive so I'm still not quite sure."

G'rfn hisses at Keiko. "He will reward me greatly for bringing him the secrets of Limbo. As will Belasco. The Darkchilde was weak to keep you. She is not worthy."

That's… interesting. G'rfn had been something of a loyalist. Something had changed. Had the demon changed his mind or was he corrupted in some fashion?

"The Darkchilde is not weak and well you know it, G'rfn." Keiko answers, assuming that Koa can hear the answers. At least focussing like this, the discomfit is easier to ignore but not by much. She's sure there's blisters forming on parts of her body.

"You ran from Limbo when I discovered you. Who is weak do you think? You know that I could have come there and dealt with you but you ran." There's something hard about Keiko as she speaks. Koa's only ever seen this when she came from Limbo itself. "You couldn't rise to power in Limbo and took the first offer you were given to betray those you followed. You are weak, G'rfn and it shows. Look at you, you pale, washed out excuse for a demon. When I find you, I'm going to put a collar on you and keep you as my pet."

"The Darkchilde has faltered on her path. She seeks to remain as she is. She feels." G'rfn spits out. "Just like her heir did. When he decided to keep you after you were clearly useless. You will never collar me."

Koa can her what she says to G'rfn but not the other way around. Which is fine. As she is using it he is examining it. He's got a couple of trinkets she hasn't seen before. Tools to let him examine the stele.

"Keep him talking…" Koa mutters. He needs for this thing to be active while he's examining it.

Keiko gives a small gesture to let Koa knows that she's heard him. "And still I gave the heir an heir and she thrived. I shall bring her so she can command you." It's cold the way Keiko is talking. Koa has heard her speak like this, of course, but it's different to the woman she's become since returning.

"I will collar you, G'rfn and I will put you on a lead, make you sit at my feet and serve me. You're pathetic and useless, so much so that you needed to go somewhere else to grow your power. The others in Limbo just laugh when they see you, you couldn't even best the useless Consort, could you?"

"Maybe I already have and you just don't know it." The demon hisses. "You are foolish to come challenge me here. I can read you through the network. I can see the corruption in you. You will not be a consort for long. Soon you'll be just another demon. Just a toy. Just a pet." It taunts. Is that true? Illyana probably wouldn't do that…

Would she? Or would she have to? Keiko already reveres the Darkchilde. How much of that is her and how much of that is the demon within.

Koa takes something out of his pocket, a little quill, dips it in a bottle and starts to scrawl on the base of the stele while making a 'keep going' gesture with his free hand.

"I will always be consort and when my daughter is made heir, I will be mother to the heir. I won't matter to the Darkchilde or her Heir what I *am*. We're all corrupt in our ways. At least I am loyal to the Queen of Limbo. You are nothing but a useless, worthless, washed out demon. Look at yourself."

Keiko cants her head and peers at G'rfn, not showing any of the unease that she's feeling right now. She's got at that. "A pink collar I think. Or a red one. With love hearts on it. I'll have a bonnet made for you as well."

"And I rather like being a pet. I'll be a favoured one… who has *you* as a pet."

"Best me? Look at you. How, by the Darkchilde, could you best me?"

"The best way possible. Wait for you to destroy yourself. Perhaps you'll be favored. But when you have lost the being you are now and become something whole other, your Darkchilde will have lost a 'friend' and your daughter will have lost her mother." G'rfn smiles unpleasantly. "That is, if Limbo isn't crushed. And if it is… well… I win anyway."

Koa finishes and gives Keiko a thumbs up. When he does she can see the demon frown.

"What are you doing on that end. I think it's time for you to go…"

Like before he sends a surge of power through the connection, aimed at burning Keiko out of it.

"You're a pitiful creature, you know that?" Keiko tilts her chin up. "If I corrupt and become more demon than human, can you *imagine* how strong I will be? I bested you *like this*, in my pitiful human guise. If I change, you will be just a gnat."

Her eyes turn yellow as she talking and Koa can see the demon scales start to ripple over her form.

"And I'll still have you for a pet. Won't that be fun?" beat "I'm not doing anything, but I'll see you next time, G'rfn. When you're least expecting it."

As the power surges, Keiko yanks her staff out from the stelae. Not quite quickly enough - the disturbing sensation she's been feeling imepedes her reaction time. She's sent tumbling backwards this time.

As the power rushes through it stops short of coming up the staff and congeals into a small marble of concentrated magic which Koa reaches out and grabs to stuff into one of his pouches. Then he moves to catch Keiko - not quite fast enough to prevent her from stumbling into a rack full of choir robes. Which at least probably aren't going to give her a rash but it's hard to say.

"Keiko! Hey. Keiko. Come on. Focus." He knows that putting her in a position of talking to demons makes her more demonic and puts her at risk of letting the one inside her out. The question is… does she have any control left.

Landing in the choir robes hurts. Not from the landing but because they actually burn. Keiko groans and rolls to the side, coming up on all fours, breathing heavily. Koa can see the reddened skin, where the demon scales aren't rippling at the moment. Not a rash, but not far from it.

"What in Limbo do they wash those clothes in? Caustic soda?" She mutters, raising yellow eyes to the Senior Agent. "I'm here. I've got it under control … " Her voice is rough though.

"What did you do?"

"I set a trap. Or more like a tap. The next time someone put power through it I arranged for that power to spill out rather then go wherever it was going." Koa pats the pouch he put the marble in. "We're going to go back and take a look at this. Knowing what the power is and what it was meant for will help us figure out what these things are for and how they work."

The WAND Agent looks critically at Keiko's reddened skin. He's not feeling super comfortable here either and now he's starting to get suspicious. "Why don't we step outside, mmm?"

"How?" Keiko is so not a mage. She's a soldier who has had magic bound to her. Pulling herself to her feet she scratches her arm, wincing at the tender skin there.

"Let's go outside and you can tell me, while we get something to eat. I'm starving."

Getting outside is just a matter of walking and shutting the door behind them and once outside the itchy blanket, watery eyes feeling goes away and Koa feels much better. Except that now he's looking suspiciously up at the church and rubbing the side of his neck.

"I wonder… that's never happened to you before, has it Keiko? That particular feeling? In a church?" Had she regularly gone? He supposes not. But being around holy symbols of the cult would be SORT of like that, yes?

Keiko's skin immediately starts to settle once they're away from the Church. Keiko looks back, scratching a patch on her arm.

"Church? Why would I go in a church?" The spirit caller sighs, a frown creasing her brow. "I met someone, when I went to see that counsellor. One of their interns - he … made my skin crawl like that. I think he was an Angel. Or something like it."

She'd been too broken at the time to ask more questions.

Koa makes a thoughtful hrm sound. "Because I know it's never happened to me before…" And he can only think of one real reason why it would be happening to both of them. It's… slightly worrying if he's honest but it's also not something that either of them can do anything about, so he doesn't press the thought. No reason to worry her.

"Well it's there and we're going to need someone to watch it. I'm afraid the Church won't be able to reopen for a bit. The good news is that we have something to study. So… let's get some food and get back to WAND. Or well, in your case perhaps let you get back home."

He had called her late, after all.

"Why though?" Keiko hasn't quite made the connection. Why would she?

It's good that Koa distracts her with food. "I need to go home, Elena is there. I will be in early to do my reports. But I'm hungry."

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