2019-12-05 - A Dark and Stormy Night


A vampire in Central Park brings three heroes together.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Dec 5 02:44:32 2019
Location: Central Park

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Theme Song



"It's a dark and stormy night, I swear the gods hate me." Min is in the guise of a young man with a warm cloak, or at least that's what she was aiming for when she shifted. What she actually got was a skater kid with a hoodie, so 'he' is still soaked through.

It hardly matters, he still looks basically the same, same features. Same scent. Same stupid brain inside, that doesn't know to come in when clouds roll over. "Stupid bus, stupid bus pass, stupid driver." Sure, blame everyone else you didn't pay the extra ten dollars for the full pass.

She's so in her own head, she doesn't notice the magic flare ahead, or the figure drop down. The squawk she makes is decidedly unfaked though, when fingers reach out and grab by the throat, and her body is lifted into the air. Slammed against a tree.

There may be screaming, but it is only audible for a moment. Then the air is cut off, and it too ends.

Patrolling during a storm sucks, and a lot of capes won't do it, which is precisely why Spider-Girl is out. Fortunately, her costume is woven of organic spider-silk, so it has a tendency of wicking away the moisture as opposed to spandex, which would soak it all up and make this whole affair a living hell. A very cold living hell.

The young woman is swinging down Central Park East, heading down from her usual stomping ground of Spanish Harlem. She might have swung right on by, were it not for the scream that echoes off the buildings around her.

Her momentum is halted by gripping hold of a building's brick wall by both hands and feet. An arcane force seems to surround her, masking her to the organic eyes of the real world in shadow. "Arana, localiza al griton," she says quietly.

A sleek, black drone, flying in escort, suddenly veers off and heads into the park. Her microphones have isolated the sound, and her programming is triangulating it's origin. The drone's cameras feed directly to Spider-Girl's mask, but for the moment, all she can see is nature, bathed in wet darkness.

"Thgilnus," a woman's voice commands grimly, and a cone of golden light like a spotlight pours down from the sky to center on a woman in the top half of a tuxedo (blue, with gold waistcoat, a top hat, and white gloves) and the bottom half of a burlesque dancer's outfit (fishnet stockings, knee-high boots, bikini briefs), a wand clutched in one hand, aimed skyward. The light burns away the shadows obscuring the park, and make each raindrop that falls into the light throw off tiny prismatic rainbows as it passes the boundary of darkness. The direct radius of sunlight isn't very wide, maybe fifteen feet at most, but the light does extend hazily outward, enough to make a bloodsucker cringe.

"You know what comes next, Vlad," Zatanna calls tauntingly into the night. "It doesn't have to be like this. I can help your curse, or I can fry you. It's up to you." Zatanna would rather not fry the vampireshe's seen it before, and it's beyond awfulbut if there's someone in there who wants to be saved…

The eyes in the darkness seem almost feral; darkness that seems to swirl around the bloodsucker, its face too close to the boy it's holding. At arm's length, it's clear that the thing is strong; one hundred pounds of youth is still hard to hold up like that.

The hiss comes from nothing human, and was never meant to be heard by human ears; it actually seems to scrape along the mind, allowing itself to cry in both pain and thirst at once.

Then it glances upward, aware of another. Somehow. It pulls the victim closer, a victim that's trying to kick it in the nards apparently for all that he's being choked. Fighter, at least. Hasn't given up or been hypnotized.

Though that's the next tactic tried, as the vampire's eyes burrow into the onlooker's brains, trying to grab ahold of Zatanna's mind, her heart, and her life.

Min, for her part, felt that a moment ago. It kind of skidded off her own matching abilities, and though she'd love air right about now she's at least not in serious danger. Until it turns serious attention to her body again, at least.

As the drone sees all, knows all, and Anya becomes informed. Horror movie shoot, all good.

The light is all Arana needs to zero in in the victim and his attacker. Spider-Girl immediately leaps from the building, casts a webline upon a traffic post, and swings into the park at a dipping speed. She hits the ground running, but something happens she wasn't quite expecting.

It isn't Zatanna, nor is it any intentional wizardry at the hands of the vampire. It is his existence, his visage, and he causes her body to lock up, mid run.

A sharp, shrieking gasp comes from the short hero, and she tumbles head over foot until finally coming to a rest. Gloved hands grasp hold of the earth, digging up dirt and grass. Her mask is locked upon the vampire, her mouth open; beneath the white, emotionless faux eyes, she's staring at the creature, paralyzed. It's the look of a war veteran, trapped in a crippling flashback.

Morlun. He's back.

Zatanna, surrounded in golden light, feels silver darkness enter her mind, cool and quiet. It brings calmness with it not as an active presence but as an absence of passion, as if her feelings and will are being bitten, drained, consumed by an endless thirst apart from her. In that calmness, there is the peace of nothingness. Simply be still, and obey.

The rain drums a senseless beat on the brim of her top hat, a sound she processes without acknowledging it, the way a sleeping dog's ears will twitch when it hears a noise that doesn't wake it.


Be still.

The silver darkness (which sounds like a contradiction, but there is no better description) makes conscious thought as hard as running from a monster in a nightmare, let alone acting on conscious thought; but Zatanna is the mistress of the mystic, and the ability to choose your perspective is the first, most foundational skill of the art. Her words are mushy and slurred as if through sleep, but she projects as best she can:

"Cilrag htaerw dnuora eripmav."

The power of the beast, and it is a beast, is not inconsiderable. The spider female is right to fear, to be paralyzed. It knows fear, it can not stop the beast. The half naked female stands before the beast. It can not stop it.

These are the half-thoughts in the vampire's broken mind. It is prepared to take all from these victims, and as it has held, or seems to have held, both the attackers, it hisses victory and raises its dinner to its lips, teeth, fangs extending gorily. Or about to be so.

When whispers of magic curl around it, and with a pop that is both anticlimactic and hilarious, a wreath of HELLPAIN appears around its neck! Simple garlic, the first thing taught by the vampire hunters to their children. Simple, and effective.

It totally gives Min the chance to break free, as the vampire shrieks with that inhuman voice, trying to escape the pain without touching it further! The boy is dropped, and …vanishes? Yes, vanishes in a flash of magic, and a squirrel leaps past Anya, stopping behind her.

Basically getting the mcf…getting out of the way, so Zatanna can blast.

Though the squirrel pokes at Anya worriedly, looking her in the face.

The scream prompts Spider-Girl to curl up into the fetal position, terror and paralysis washing over her. Something has clearly triggered this, but there is another emotion rising up inside of her, and it isn't pretty.

The squirrel's poke draws her. She uncurls, head tilting toward the little thing. "I know," she mutters. "I…"

The word fades as she tilts her head further still, and behind the mask, eyes are locked upon the screaming vampire. A palpable transformation can be seen, from her body language to the exposed lower half of her face; the ugly emotion has surfaced.

Scrambling to her feet, Spider-Girl forms a scream of her own. The arcane powers that fuel her own superhuman abilities blossom like an explosion of red anger, and she herself transforms; a chitinous, arachnid hide forms around her, turning the short woman in a black bodysuit into something more akin to an arachnophobe's worst nightmare. Now, it is monstrous claws for feet that are digging up earth, and she charges the vampire in a dead run.

The false, silvery calm falls away from Zatanna's mind, draining out of her like… oh, just say it, like blood from a wound. She's already exhaustedbreaking through the hypnosis took more out of her than she could admit; her magic has always been weak against mind controlbut what gets her through it, absurdly, is her boots. If she gives in to the exhaustion now, she will tumble while wearing high heels. She'll break a boot, twist her ankle, and look frigging ridiculous in the process.

It's stupid, but sometimes stupidity is all that keeps us on our feet.

Zatanna strides forward, the sunlight following her, tracking her. She feels the rush of air whipping her hair and coattails as Spider-Girl rushes past her like a small truck, one bloodsucker attacking another, a fact that stuns her briefly. Who to side with here? Well, probably the one not currently trying to eat anyone, right?

Or maybe save her strength to deal with the survivor?

That sounds wise. Zatanna continues walking toward the vampire, but slowly. High heels are great on Central Park's paved paths, but once you get into the mud, you take your life into your hands.

Blinded by the Light, (Mannfred Mann's Earth Band, 1976) the vampire can't properly attack. It can't properly defend. Heck, it can't properly see, which is why it lurches toward Anya, the one with the most ability to combat it in her current state.

Thus does a vampire, with inhuman strength, bloodlust, and at the moment terror, come to grapple with Anya Corazon in full arachne form. As sunlight pours onto it from the side, with the magics of Zatanna Zatara lashing into it. Destroying it, though there is a good ten seconds of power. Vicious, ancient power, as it tries to tear Anya apart.

Min, forming into her human, female, standard form, looks on in horror. Dude. I have got to stop going for walks at night.

Yes, random asian chick just showed up back there. The squirrel is gone.

Ten seconds can be a very, very long time.

Spider-Girl collides with the vampire, and the two go tumbling. Chunks of her armor are ripped free, joining the detritus of earth and pavement that are ripped up in the brawl. Claws are swiped, spit flies, and the meaty sound of blows landing on each are heard. Tendrils of black shoot out, black webbing that sticks to trees and occasionally finds purchase on the vampire, until the two go crashing through the large trunk of an oak.

The massive tree lurches to the side, and Spider-Girl breaks free. She dives under the falling tree, half of her exoskeleton gone, and fires a pair of weblines as she rolls beneath it. The tree's momentum suddenly swings toward the vampire, pulled by Anya as her muscles bulge against the costume and what remains of the chitinous hide covering her left arm.

"Step into the sunlight," Zatanna commands Min. "It will keep you safe and it will help cleanse that thing's touch from you." She says this while keeping only one eye on Min, though, if that. Most of her attention is focused on the battle, while she points a wand at the dueling pair of monsters like a prison guard might point a gun at rioters in the courtyard. When the two break through the tree, that's enough for her. She shouts, "Nekorb sehcnarb emoceb sekats!" and, with a flash of light and a nauseating ripple through space, the chunks of trees reshape themselves into dozens, maybe even a hundred, pointy wooden knives, any one of which would fit a treat in Spider-Girl's hand. Any of her hands, really.

Min, the slightly thin-looking feminine person, steps into the sunlight when ordered. "Yes ma'am," she offers with a slight accent, hard to pin down. Korean if you know accents. Likely swahili if you don't, but I'm not judging.

Little bits of wisps of darkness shine off of her, she wasn't even aware of them. But she sniffs the air, unnoticed. Glad to have them gone.

Not far away, monsters battle. The face, too close by far to Anya's own, bites the air in front of her face. It seems to know that it's losing, though there is still power, still a form of life.

Then it's shifting, becoming smoke as tendrils of black beyond black pull its skin from its body, the wooden knives of death the final straw.

And the vampire flows upward into the sky, fearing the sunlight and final death more than anything. And leaving Anya battered but alive. Though given the way the sunlight is cleansing Min, perhaps a suntan for them all is in order.

It's done.

Wooden stakes?

For a moment, it seems absurd, but Spider-Girl grabs one of them and heaves it at the vampire's chest. The creature was lucky to disappear, for the stake goes flying through the air where there once was a body. It would seem today is not the day for Anya's first kill.

Her head turns skyward, and once all sign of the creature is gone, her frame slackens from its ready, fighting stance. The exoskeleton falls from her body, leaving her in the costume of black and white that seems unmarred by the tustle.

"It wasn't him," she says to herself, and reaches a hand to steady herself on a garbage bin that somehow made it through the fight unharmed. "It wasn't him," she breathes again, sounding tired.

"Hguone," Zatanna commands the sky, and the beam of sunlight piercing Central Park from a rainy, night sky for the last minute or so shuts down, leaving nothing but the comparatively thin light of all the overhead lamps lining the path. She turns her attention to Min, her face drawn but still focused as she searches the slightly smaller woman's eyes. "Are you okay?" She doesn't ask if Min had been bitten; there's no need. Stepping into the sunlight answered that question.

Slight differences might be noticed. No hoodie, but that could have vanished in another way. The small differences in body shape, sure, that could be a trick of the light. But anyone who saw the squirrel would know, flat out, that there's something going on.

Right now however, there's something a bit more important. Min looks at Zatanna, knowing, just knowing. And sighs, nodding. "-I'm- fine. She's going to be, too. I mean, she's going to be, right?" Yes, she's going to be.

How can she know that? The little Korean kneels down by Anya, then says, "It wasn't him," in a cadence that has echoes in the mind. Power.

"You are going to be alright."

As Min sends that hope inside. It's lucky Anya is already reinforcing it, or she'd not have this opportunity to help.

Zatanna nods at Min, and turns her attention to Anja, who's out there getting wet and muddy for no good reason (not that Zatanna, mistress of the mystic and crowned queen of drama, can judge). She points her wand at the shattered pavement stones, the churned earth, and commands it, "Eht thgif reven deneppah." Obediently, stone pieces begin fitting themselves back together, and the earth smooths itself out. There's no help for the grass or the shattered tree, but she can at least tell the stakes, "Sekats trever." They shimmy back into the senseless chunks of wood they once were. With as much forensic evidence destroyed as Zatanna can now manage, she steps carefully off the path into the wet sod and makes her way to Anja.

"Hey. You alright down there?"

Had she even noticed Zatanna? Anya isn't entirely sure, for a moment, whether she did or not. The mask hides the haunted expression from her face, a rush of emotions that she's unfamiliar with coursing through her as strong as the blood that's pumping through her veins.

Min draws her attention from what easily could have become a thought cycle that would pose to do even more damage. The words echo through spiraling thoughts.

You were going to kill him. You're not a killer. You are a killer. You wanted to be. That's not who you are. Is it? It wasn't him. You are going to be alright.

Finding some of her inner strength, the young woman pushes off the trash bin and straightens her back, looking from Min to Zatanna. "I…" she starts to say, hesitant at first. She looks to where the creature was last seen before taking to the sky, chewing on her bottom lip.

You wanted to kill him.

"Yeah… I'm okay." Those words may not come off her tongue with much conviction, perhaps the slightest of trembles to her voice. "I'm… a little tougher than I look," she adds, and at least this time there is some certainty to her words.

She's still staring at that spot, haunted by something.

The shifting stones draw Min's attention. She whistles a bit, jealous of that level of magic. Magic that can fix things, actually move the world. Do something useful. She glances at Zatanna, not caring about the looks. But the power, that's a thing worth noticing. And it's just the tip of Zatanna's abilities, but Min doesn't know that little tidbit.

Still, not a mindreader, she doesn't really know if her help did anything for Anya. She just knows that she, against all odds, appears to be getting away with her own part in this scot-free. And that, as her aunts used to say, is more luck than any kitsune should rely on twice.

"Thank you both. My ancestors will be told of your help, and your sacrifices in my name." It's the right thing to say, though it may sound a little..stilted. To Americans, anyway.

Zatanna, a consummate magician which means she's also a consummate liar, picks up a little of Anya's conflict from context clues, even if she can only guess most of it. "For what it's worth, they're entirely different breeds," she informs Spider-Girl. "This thing? It's just a mosquito, has little to no higher reasoning skills. It only knows to feed and to sleep. It can pass on the diseases in its blood, but a creature so simple and stupid barely even needs to be hunted. Its foolishness will kill it before a week is out."

There are some lies strewn in there, of course, but the important thing right now isn't the truth. The important thing is telling Anya something she needs to hear.

Spider-Girl turns back to Zatanna, surprise visible in parted lips that seem to be painted a dark shade of red. Deep inside there is a feisty young woman who wants to demand how Zatanna knows anything about any of this, but around that young woman has formed a shell of something else, still waiting to be tempered into something good, or otherwise.

She accepts it. She doesn't argue or make demands; neither of them would really know it, but it's entirely unlike her. "Guess it stumbled upon a bug zapper," she quips, and turns to face the two fully. Her attention remains upon Zatanna for a moment, and at long last, the hint of a smile forms on her face. "Thanks. I'd probably have been in over my head if you hadn't shown up, amiga."

Her masked face turns to Min now, and her head angles to the side just so. Errant dots are being connected, it would seem, and the smile slants into something more like a smirk. "You're welcome," she says. "But I gotta thank you, too." She winks, and the bug-like eyepiece squints a bit, passing on the wink despite the way it covers her face.

"You knew about Morlun?" she remarks, looking back toward Zatanna.

With not a great deal to say, and as a minor detail much happier to be generally ignored, the korean lady watches this go on. She sniffs the air now that there's some time, as if there's a scent in the wind that interests her. But the only thing in the air is hot dogs from far-away vendors, and trees.

She peers at Anya. At Zatanna. Frowns. Curiosity wars with other emotions, and she bites her lip as if fighting to keep from blurting something out. Then, without warning, "You both saw, didn't you?"

Well if they didn't they'll sure be suspicious NOW, Minhee. That was subtle. Credit to your race. Dolt.

Zatanna nods at Spider-Girl, which is hard to do in the rain in a top hat, but she makes it look easy. "Yeah. Spider-Man came to me for assistance to deal with some of Morlun's allies." This is true from a certain point of view, though Peter wouldn't know it. "I'm sorry I couldn't help you more directly, but throwing my kind of power at a power-eater is a really bad idea." She seems to have more to say, but then Min blurts out her question, and Zatanna asks mildly, "I saw a lot of things. Which thing are you worried about?"

"Power eater," Spider-Girl echoes, clearly thinking about this concept to a deeper level. "God… that makes sense," she adds. She shakes her head then and says, "Well, we took care of-"

The masked woman turns toward Min then, without finishing her sentence. "Not exactly," she says with a softness to her voice. "But it's not every day you get nudged by a woodland creature." To that, she grins again, and seems to be in support of… whatever it is she can do.

The korean girl narrows her eyes. At both of them. Well, they're not the only ones who can avoid a straight answer, though she seems to smile, just a little. I love a good game too.

"…" Damnit. No. That isn't even an English word. Keep it simple. After ample hesitation, she says, "Maybe a bit more magic than I was expecting." Then she scritches herself behind her right ear for a second with a fingertip, thoughtfully. "Not that magic is actually a thing. Nobody HERE would be…I'm fooling nobody. I'm Min, from Korea. New in town, and apparently an idiot because I walk in parks alone at night. Vampire infested ones."

Sigh. Well, that's one way to do it.

"I agree, there's definitely no such thing as magic," Zatanna deadpans. Her magic wand vanishes (though that's just sleight of hand, not actual sorcery; a person would be forgiven for not even noticing it) as she suggests, "I have secrets of my own to keep, Min. Whatever I saw tonight, let's both of us just assume I was too worried about my own to even notice anyone else's?"

No such thing as magic? Spider-Girl smirks at Zatanna. She may not know how to wield it, see it or understand it, but she is at least aware that her powers come from the arcane.

"What squirrel?" she asks, and turns to look back at Min. "I know all about keeping secrets, Min." She then takes a step forward and offers a gloved hand. While the glove does keep her dry, it's certainly wet enough on its surface. "I'm Spider-Girl."

As for walking in the park at dark, she shrugs. "People should be able to walk in the park after dark without… any trouble. You know? But if you ever need an escort, look me up on Instagram."

Oh, she has an account. It's mostly selfies of her with friends, fans, or crooks she's webbed up. Those are her personal favorite.

Hmm. Min looks from one to the other, wrapping herself in her arms. The rain still ruining her mood a little, she finds herself among people who understand. And if she's a bit of a rookie at this, maybe someone else is too, at least a little.

But it's nice to have allies, so she shakes the offered hand, already wet anyway.

"I saw absolutely nothing," she agrees. But pauses, as she lets Anya reclaim her appendage without threat or imminent danger. Then she glances around, and whispers, "I'm a photographer," aiming a bit at Anya there but including Zatanna. Of course. "Tell me next time you're fighting, I can make the Insta shots killer."

Grin. Well, it pays the bills. When it's not freaking pouring out..

Zatanna, in a rain-soggy tuxedo, groans. "Oh, please don't mention photos, I can't imagine anyone seeing me look like this right now!"

Honest laughter erupts from Spider-Girl. She'll reach a hand, if allowed, and rest it briefly on Zatanna's shoulder. "You're still killin' it," she compliments the magician, before shuddering at a gust of wind.

"I'm gonna go find a Dunkin Donuts to warm up in," she tells the two, and centers her attention on Min for a moment. "Hit me up, yeah?" she requests, then prepares to zip off into the storm.

Before she goes, however, she looks toward Zatanna again. The look lingers, as if she's considering something… but then, with a webline thrown high and long, she's zooming off into the darkness.

Min looks at the web-slinger until she's vanished in the dark, wet night. "Showoff," she says with a smile. Then, head tilting towards Zatanna in her fishnets and heels, she raises a smoke blue eyebrow. And says bluntly, "I could shift to something that isn't freezing, but you look so very cold. Go on." She doesn't put power behind the suggestion. Just amusement.

She's shivering herself, but hey, maybe a cold won't take on her. Or she'll be sneezing and sick, but that's life as a human.

Zatanna tsks to herself. She'd been hoping to talk more to Anya, but done is done. She sketches a stage bow to Min, raises her hands in a grand Y over her head, and declares, "Ew era htob yrd dna mraw!" A blistering hot wind whips past the remaining two women, drying their bodies and clothes instantly (and restoring Zatanna's hat to its former shape; it was wilting under the weight of the rain it had absorbed). It passes in an instant, and Zatanna lowers her hands to her sides again as the rain resumes its quest to soak them. "Well. Have a safe walk home, Min, and don't worry about the attack. It's just random bad luck, and it won't last long." She tips her hat and steps off the path, walking into the dark where she can conjure a ride home.

Which is nice, since a fox in the rain can find it's own way. But fur takes AGES to dry. Without help from a new friend.

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