2020-06-19 - New York Confidential


A meeting with a goddess in disguise adds urgency to a WAND investigation.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Jun 19 05:19:21 2020
Location: RP Room 1

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It is late enough that night is falling at the rather expensive and upscale River Cafe. This is not the sort of place that Koa usually frequents. It's too Uptown for the likes of him and anyway while he makes a good living he doesn't make a good enough one to casually splurge on dinner at a five star restaurant much less get a reservation at one.

But here he is, because tonight is a bit of a working dinner. A message had arrived at WAND from a local businesswoman asking to meet and this was the time and place given. Pandora Peters thought about it for all of five minutes before giving the job to Keiko and Koa. Koa told Keiko to change into a nice shirt. He did the same but that's about it. At least he's in slacks and not jeans? That WOULD look out of place here. Or… well. It'd make him look like one of those hipster businessmen which is not the look he's going for.

He spots the woman they're supposed to meet right away. Middle Eastern looking with a Catherine Zeta Jones haircut. She's looking over a menu.

"That's Miss Taft…" Keiko says as they enter the restaurant. Changing into a nice shirt means a T-Shirt a collar, her tattooes are still visible to the public. That generates *looks* from the Host. "Um. Rahm-Tek, I think she's from."

For Keiko it seems like several lifetimes since they had met the woman.

As they approach the table, Keiko stops and waits for the woman to acknowledge her.

The woman looks up. Bethany Taft, yes, that had been her name. She'd been involved peripherally in the Ragnarok Incident, as it is now being called in the case files.

"Ah. You must be the Agents. Have we met before?" They might forgive her for not remembering. It was months ago now and it was only a couple of times they met at best.

"Please, sit. Order whatever you'd like. And thank you for coming. I have something rather delicate to ask of you…"

She pauses as the waiter comes to take orders and then departs again.

"You are charged with the policing of mystical matters here are you not? There is a problem I could use your help with. Someone has been praying very old prayers."

"Briefly." Keiko says and she knows she looks different to how she did then. At least then she smiled sometimes. "Agent Keiko Kurita and Agent Koa Turner."

Keiko eyes the menu and glances at Koa. He'll order for her, she's sure. There's no way she's going to sit there and try to sound out the items. Steak. That's what she wants.

"What do you mean, very old prayers?" Policing mystical matters - is that what they do, really?

"That's right. Nice to see you again Agents." Miss Taft says. Koa does indeed order a steak. Sous vide style whatever that means. She'll have to trust that this will be good. Once orders are in and the waiter away he focuses on Miss Taft. "Very old prayers? And how would you know what people are praying?"

"Because people pray to me sometimes…" Bethany says with a bit of a smile. "And yes. Prayers. Old… formulae used to entreat the gods and beg boons of them. Or compel boons of them. It's an ancient form of magic and very different from the kinds of thing people think of when I say magic. They're not spells, they're more… interactions with unusual beings or catches in the laws of reality. They are where a lot - but not all - of your very old stories come from."

Now Koa looks dubious. "And you know this because…?"

Quick as a flash Miss Taft has cats ears. Then they're gone again.

Keiko bites back asking if it really it is - nice to see them again but takes a seat and watches the woman.

Sous Vide? All Keiko wants is a steak that's nearly rare. Bloody is good as far as she is concerned.

"They … pray to you?" That's all Keiko gets out before she hisses at Miss Taft. Her tattooes tingle and the show of power … sets her a little feral.

"*What* are you?"

Tactful, Keiko. So very tactful.

"A goddess." Bethany smiles. "Or well. A being that has been worshiped as one. I suppose hearing a woman say they're a goddess doesn't necessarily mean that they're divine." She chuckles slightly, even at Keiko's hiss. She seems to enjoy the reaction.

"Relax. I'm on your side. Or at least I'm not on the other side. But that's why I asked WAND to send agents. Someone is looking for artifacts and digging up knowledge to let them contact beings like myself. They're going to get a lot of answering machines, I'm afraid, but even a few answers could be quite bad for your world. They can bestow powers like few others. You've read Homer haven't you?"

Koa glances at Keiko. "I have." Keiko may not have though… maybe she say Troy. Not that this will really HELP.

"Ah right. Well the classics aren't as common as they used to be. What I mean to say is that when you hear of ancient heroes accomplishing impossible deeds… not all of that was exaggerated fancy on their part."

Keiko's lizard eyes fix on Bethany and the goddess can feel the weight of her stare. Laughing at Keiko isn't really … appreciated but the small agent isn't stupid enough to take affront. She just won't like her.

"No. But I've watched TV shows. Ulysses and stuff, right?" she frowns as she processes that. "The Golden Fleece and stuff? I don't suppose that's Homer but … Who is sending the prayers?"

"And what do you mean answering machines?"

"Do you… not know what an answering machine is?" Bethany says curiously. "Why would you not know what that is? Humans seem to love their technology…"

"What goddess were you?"

"Bast, of course. Best goddess. Cat goddess."

Koa will leave it open to interpretation whether that's actually best. He's not a cat person.

"To answer your question I am not yet sure. But a lot of us are starting to receive them. Fortunately my power is already out on loan so I couldn't be compelled to bless someone. Also I'm a cat goddess so I can't be compelled anyway. But they are DEFINTIELY interested in power and they are definitely NOT the usual type of worshippers. I think they've done some research and figured some of the old formula for making contacts like this."

Koa shakes his head and glances over at Keiko. "Yes, Ulysses. And that's a problem for us. Because there are plenty of old gods who aren't so nice and might just give an ambitious person power if they were appeased properly."

"No. I … didn't have what would be classed a normal childhood." Keiko answers, eyes narrowing a little and feeling like she wants to hiss again. "And I'm not overly fond technology."

"I know. There's a group who might try to break out their prison." Keiko adds to Koa. "Why aren't you sure, yet? You're hearing the prayers, don't you know where they are and who they are? Everyone who says prayers in movies, says who they are."

"It's not like we can go find them, is it."

"Well I know when someone is praying but unless they tell me who they are I don't know who they are. I know SOME things about them. I know what they want from me even if they don't say it. I can get some read on their emotional state. And I know roughly WHERE they are. But not who."

"And where was the person who asked you?" Koa follows up, nodding to Keiko. That group would be a problem yes and if someone is contacting people like Bast here, then they MIGHT also be treating with the old gods.

"Here in New York. Roughly…" She pulls out her phone and points and a spot on Google maps. "Around here. Somewhere."

Koa sucks in a breath. "Keiko, do you remember that report we pulled on HYDRA and HYDRA related activity recently?" There was something going on in that part of town that was unconfirmed.

"Right. So you can give us some information and want us to do the leg work." Keiko says quietly. "Why did you ask for SHIELD and not look into this yourself?" She's not very trusting and after her own experiences with so-called Gods, she's not going to take this on face value.

Looking at the Google map, Keiko sighs.

"Yes. The rumour that HYDRA is converting or something, arcane practioners. The activity was in that rough area. Still, might be nothing."

"Less that I want you to do the legwork and more that it's a bit more your problem than mine. I have a whole other realm I can call home. I do like this place a bit though hence my calling the authorities. Anyone who is channeling divine powers is probably someone that divinities should be careful of. And anyway even if I were inclined to go looking they'd probably see me coming."

Koa looks at the map too and nods. "Might be nothing and it was a bit iffy. Intel wasn't sure if it was HYDRA or something else." Though they did say that it 'seemed like' HYDRA. It had many of the same hallmarks. Hrm…

Koa does wish Keiko would not be so… blunt. She never had many social graces to begin with and she has largely lost the ones she did have, at least except where her daughter is concerned. But Bast hasn't taken offence, yet, so all is thus far well.

"HYDRA. Were they not the ones that went looking for Asgardian relics during the second world war? Curious, then, that I have heard that people are doing the same again. Well not Asgardian relics. Anyone's relics."

Koa makes a face. "Sounds a bit like someone is trying to pull together as much arcane power as they can."

It's not like anyone is taking the time to remind Keiko that she's still partly human and helping her navigate social niceities. People had relied on the fact that she had a family of sorts when she returned from Limbo but that's all gone now, isn't it?

Then again, does the job really require social graces?

"But it becomes your problem, doesn't it, if one of the other pantheons gains more … power through worshippers. It was the same with Siffror and Plokta. They thought themselves petty gods and fought over the Nightfall continually."

"That was HYDRA. Though it might have been more than Asgardian relics - the records we have aren't … very clear on that."

"Do you expect us to do anything once we find them?"

"Splinter Lords, fortunately for us, are more powerful than the beings we are talking about. Certainly more powerful than I as much as that hurts to say. Or at least in their own domains they are." Bast says.

"Keiko…" Koa reproves. Maybe she does need reminding to tell her to at least try to ACT like a person. At least she can start with being a bit less like a blunt instrument.

Bast looks at Keiko all the same. "Would you be inclined to just leave them be if I did not provide specific instruction? You are defenders of this realm or so I thought. This is a threat to it. In any case this… HYDRA sounds like they might be up to their old tricks. Considering they needed a world war to do it last time, one has to wonder, and worry, what they might think is necessary this time. And WHY they think they need that kind of power."

Koa shakes his head. "Doesn't make sense. HYDRA hasn't really seriously been a contender in the arcane arena for a while. Why now?"

It's not a question he expects Bast to answer though Keiko may have some thoughts. He knows in the end they're just going to have to start looking into things.

"What about what she asks though? Might one of the pantheons be manipulating this to get more worshippers?"

"Possible." Bast concedes. "But I don't think that's the biggest worry. Since whomever is doing this is sending out formal requests to anyone they can think of and the gods most likely to respond are all deeply unpleasant, having them all working in concert, or having them all working through the same medium which amounts to the same thing, sounds like the biggest issue to me."

Keiko gives Koa a look that says 'WHAT?' It's possible she's not even aware of just how blunt she is.

"No. We would deal with them but you're a Goddess and may have specific requirements. Isn't it better I ask than just assume?" Defender of this realm. Hah.

"It's HYDRA. Does it need to make sense? Someone has an idea and they're working on it - regardless of what other parts of HYDRA want. We'll find out soon enough. We going for a drive after dinner?"

They'll talk later. Koa needs to reverse Keiko's general downward trend before it's too late because while this isn't a 'people' position per se, it is still necessary to have some social skills. Magi need to be handled with some delicacy usually and there are beings other than demons that WAND interacts with on a fairly regular basis.

"Goddess or no I don't think many of us are in the habit of instructing WAND how to handle their business. You have that scary little woman in charge." Pandora, Bast means. Scary, eh?

"They do usually make sense at least internally. They may be a factional, social darwinist little club of awful but their internal logic is generally pretty good. If they're getting into this now after being on the sidelines for so long, something's changed."

Left unsaid, Koa knows that's IF this is HYDRA. It seems like them and they've identified a number of HYDRA operatives that seem to be involved but there are enough question marks about what exactly is going on that Koa is reluctant to close the book on whom is doing what. Right now it's enough to know that probably bad people are doing probably bad things.

"But yes we will go for a drive after dinner." And check out some places that might have a snake infestation.

"Excellent. I have a present for you in that case…" She produces a pair of little scarabs, of the exact same type as were seen a year ago but these have been reworked into jewelry and have hieroglyphs on them.

"You may find these useful. The enchantment is a simple one. Their eyes will glow in the presence of a being like myself. It's not foolproof but unless someone with power like mine takes care to hide their nature, you will be able to discern them no matter what shape they take."

Koa's got his own issues to deal with. He might just have to refer her elsewhere.

"You'd be surprised. You mean Agent Peters? She's ok." Scary, hah! Though Keiko files that away for later.

"Right and we won't find out what that is until we investigate." Keiko is direct. In her investigative techniques as well as well as manners. "If we find someone, maybe I can beat it out them."

As the scarabs are handed over, Keiko turns it over in her hand and looks up at Bast. "They will be helpful. I don't think Gods … think about disguising who and what they are."

"Mmmmhmm. Have you ever wondered why Pandora Peters is in charge of the world's only major organized pseudo-government magical agency? Was it connections? Was it luck? I can assure it was neither of these. Pandora Peters' name is known among my kind and you will find if you ask around, among those who practice various forms of magic in general. She is… not to be underrated."

Interesting that she seems to have something of a desk-job then. Or does she?

"If we find someone and they decide not to be forthcoming…" Koa says. "I will be happy to let you. And no. Most people who change their shape are only looking to fool the eyes. The notion that someone else might be out there sensing for them won't occur to them unless it has happened a few times already."

After all that would require that someone KNOW to be on the look out for them and that won't occur to most of these people either.

Keiko's steak arrives. It is in fact tender and juicy. Sous vide appears to be pretty good. And there's bleu cheese.

Keiko knows damn well that Pandora isn't desk bound - she's experienced the womans power first hand. "I don't." Underestimate Pandora, she means.

With any luck Koa's dinner won't be far but Keiko doesn't even think to wait or say 'thank you'. "The scarabs will be helpful and I'll use it." That's as close as she gets to any form of thanks.

That's all she'll say for a while though - she's eating. And Keiko has a healthy appetite.

Koa's dinner arrives shortly thereafter and is indeed not steak though it does both look and smell delicious. Koa tucks into it slightly less ravenously than Keiko does but he's still hungery and the food is good.

"Good. I will see what else can be done. Feel free to pray if you like to chat." She winks. That's a joke. Koa doesn't take the bait and in any case he knows that Keiko prefers to direct her prayers elsewhere when she prays at all.

"Is anyone in your pantheon likely to help these people?"

"Set and Apep probably would if they were able. It is in everyone's best interest that they not be able to do so and I will try to arrange that. I should think, as much as I hate to say this, that Zeus can probably keep a lid on the problem children in his daycare. But that still leaves a lot of unpleasant ground to cover. Your kind worship a lot of beings like me."

"I'm sure there are those within WAND who will be able to do that." Keiko says evenly. She doesn't … pray, not exactly. But her devotion and loyalty has been given elsewhere, yes.

"Our kind? You mean humans, I suppose, want to believe in something. Want to believe that someone or something is directing the events - it makes them feel better for making shitty decisions."

"Is there anything else we should know?" Set and Apep. She'll … find a video on them.

"Yes. One thing. There used to be a… collector of Egyptian Artifacts in this city back when that sort of thing was more popular and less regulated. There may be some actual artifacts in there and if these people are looking for power…"

"By the way you're saying that I take it you don't know where it is."

"No, I can tell you who it was though. Name of Hubert Van Der Gelder."

Koa makes a note of that. They can see what happened to this collector and his collection. He suspects that it went 'missing' at some point which means this will likely be a pain.

"We can look into that. And other collections. I'm sure he wasn't the only one who had something." Keiko answers.

The food is nearly gone - she's literally wolfed it down. No finesse, no grace. That's Keiko.

"The reports we got had references to artifacts. Maybe they're connected. I don't believe in coincidence though." She looks to Koa. Are they ready?

"We'll look into it yes." Koa nods to Keiko. He's just about finished his (smaller) plate and stands up. "Pleased to meet you again Miss Taft. Will we be seeing more of you?"

"Perhaps. We shall see. Be well in the meantime."

Koa means to be well or at least as well as he can be. But for now he and Keiko has some snake nests to investigate.

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