Replacing The Wolf

Summary:
March 15, 2015: Zee's having a busy night, after dealing with the occultists in Gotham, she's summonsed by K-Nert. Jericho and Partisan need her help.

New York City


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Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


The production of a Bodark is something supposedly lost to humanity well before the inquisition, the technique as far as anyone knew was never written down. Scholars have suggested it was amongst the earliest magical works to be created however, and once upon a time shamans the world over utilized the technique. From the Aztec who became leopards, to the oppressed Russian peasantry who used the wolf's guise to fight their nobles. That is until Hydra dug a document up somewhere, and the CCU "liberated" said document. The details it entails are both grim and logistically demanding, the requirements are specific and difficult to really satisfy. You see it isn't any beast you can utilize, no it has to be one who has a supernatural connection to humanity in a bad way. It has to have a righteous grudge with the species of man, it needs to have been wronged utterly and become a man eater. A predator who carried the scars, who had sated it's hatred with the flesh of man. That complicates matters, because where on earth do you even begin to verify if the animal has a "sufficient cause" to become a man eater? They shoot those now anyway, who keeps a man eater around?

The Russians do, or so the news article dated just over a year ago claims. They take Tiger conservation seriously up there, serious enough to capture instead of kill what was rumored to be one of the most prolific man eaters in recent memory. She'd been raised in a Chinese tiger farm, where she was kept in a state of perpetual near starvation awaiting her death so they could harvest her for body parts. Only she'd supposedly killed one keeper and escaped her cage, before killing a guard and escaping the farm into the woods beyond. For more than seven years she'd wandered the Chinese/Russian border where she was credited with at least fifteen attacks and suspected of another twenty. By sheer chance she'd been captured during a tiger radio-tracking project, and well she's recognizable. So they moved her to a facility just north of Khabarovsk, a quiet little series of fenced enclosures typically used to keep genetically viable but crippled wild tigers for breeding. During her short stay there she'd already mauled one keeper, and seriously injured two others. To environmentalists she was a symbol, a representation of systematic exploitation. Who could argue though, if the article was true that her behavoir was not truly justified in the kharmic sense?


The woman who was most recently the Partisan lays in a coma in the CCU headquarters. Jericho comandeered a HYDRA satellite uplink not too long ago and he intends to use it, but there's something he needs first. He's identified most of the components he needs for a rebinding ritual but one. He needs a mage. He can't himself do it without resorting to things he's fairly sure will be more dangerous to both of them than is worth it. So he calls out for help. Specifically he sends K'nert to go find Zatanna Zatara. If anyone might be willing and able short of Illyana - who is presently busy, he can sense - it'd be her.5r


Zee's in Shadowcrest, in the library, studying. K-Nert can't enter the building, it's too well warded. However, the little imp can make a dreadful ruckus simply by barging against the front door. That noise, is enough to have the young magi startle, place her book to the side, hurry to the front door and open it.

Looking down, Zee sighs at Hensen "What do you want?", she's smart enough to pull the door closed as she steps through. Looking around, not seeing Jericho or Illyana, Zee frowns "Is he alright, K-Nert?" she's sure the imp understands her.


K'nert is rather insistent. Zee doesn't speak demonic like Jericho does but the thing still tugs at her. Come ON silly human. Just get moving. Once Zee arrives she'll find Jericho in a repurposed K-Mart distribution center. He's pacing and through the door there's a young blonde woman who looks like she's been through hell.


It says something that K-Nert didn't just stepping disc Zee away, but at the rather annoying imps insistent, Zee teleports to Jericho. Hurrying towards Jericho, ignoring K-Nert, Zee glances through the doorway, falters and then frowns. "That's Partisan… " casting a concerned look up at the hacker and then back through the door, Zee makes to move into the room to check on the blonde. "What happened?"


The Partisan had been shot thousands of times, she'd survived direct head shots for fucks sake. She'd been overpressured and pulped, she'd been hit with chemical weapons, blasted with flame throwers, and eaten enough shrapnel to build a battle ship and she'd always bounced right back. The woman beneath the sheet is, well not the same one. That distinctive red and black tattoo running from wrist to shoulder is somewhat on display, where there aren't bandages. She'd taken more than a few rounds through the stomach, a trio more up her left side, another directly beneath her collar bone, her left shoulder had been all but destroyed and there were secondary sharpnel injuries everywhere. Scrapes and cuts, made all the more apparent due to that sickly yellow sheen her skin had taken on. Her eyes unfocused and half lidded, but judging by the ECG and hiss of oxygen she's not there. Theres nobody home at all, it's a miracle that systemic organ failure hasnt advanced further really all things considered.


"We got ambushed. They had magic to target her. It ripped the wolf from her." The wolf corpse has been placed with some honor over on a table and covered. "She's dying, Zee. I need to get an animal to replace the one she's lost. I know where to find one, but I'm not a mage. Even if I get everything, I can't perform the binding."

Jericho sounds grim. Partisan is his best friend. And he can't help her. Well, not by himself. "Zee, I need help."


Making it into the room, Zee walks slowly around the bed that Partisan is on, observing, the look on her face is a mix of horror and sadness. Spotting the wolf corpse, she falters again and stops, simply staring at the best and then back at Jericho. Something in his tone has her considering him.

"Dark magic?" A simple question, but the answer will mean a lot to the young magi "You know I'm strong enough to do it, Jericho, but I need to know more." Cutting her eyes back to the blonde, she sighs, her expression turning grim "Tell me more…" Time might be of the essence, but a secure building is built on strong foundations and right now, Zatanna's foundations are shaky.


Its hard to call it a wolf anymore, even bore the gunfire. It was already in a horrific way after farmers had attempted to burn it alive, but well a few hundred rounds doesn't improve much. No it just sort've mulches, so lets be frank here. Whatever that is, it hasn't been a "wolf" in a long time. It was something else, something very mean.


"Pretty dark, yeah." Zee's met Partisan. Nothing like her could be a product of the lighter kinds of magic. Still, the woman and the wolf both were his friend and he's not about to loose the one he can save if he can help it. "Time is short. I can show it to you but right now we need to be in China. There's a tiger that has a date with the state, if you take my meaning. Maneater. We'll need her."


"You can tell me more on the way." Zee makes to smooth the hair from the blondes forehead and hesistates, Partisan didn't seem like that type of person. "Let's go… I'm not sure about dark magic, Jericho… even to save a friend." The cost may be too high for the young magi, he'd better be convicing.


For aproximately two months out of the year, Khabarovsk is pretty nice. The rest of the year, well you don't forget that this is fucking Siberia. The Tiger preserve even in the daylight is, pretty rough to be honest. The enclosures are a little on the small side, and well we're talking chainlink and broken concrete everywhere. Theres a night watchman of course, but in typical Russian fashion he's drunk and passed out in the guard shack. The tigers are out though, most of which pace their enclosures irritably in a familar obsessive pattern. These tigers are, well in rough shape themselves. Every one mangled or wounded in some way, but they do look well fed at least. Neat little colorful wooden boards wired to the fences proclaim the names of the tigers held within, but well none of these poor animals is of much concern. No it's the unlit enclosure towards the back, There is no name attached to the sizable enclosure there, but the hand painted skull and crossbones is likely identification enough that somewhere in the darkness in there lies a Tigress whom is not to be trifled with.


Zee looks around as they get there, opens her mouth to ask a question and then shuts it again. Seeing the nightwatchman is out, she moves up to the enclosures and looks at the poor beasts within, moving slowly past each one. Finally she comes to the enclosure at the back and stops some distance from the gate "I suppose this is one you've come for, Jericho?". Peering into the darkness of the enclosure, Zee tries to make out just what this tiger is.


"That's the one, yep." Jericho looks over. "It has to be a killer. Like I said, dark magic. Not demonic but only a few steps removed."

The hacker peers one way, then the other. "Okay. We'll need to get her and move it. Can you put the damn thing to sleep." He produces a stun baton. Heavily modified. If she can't, he'll handle it himself.


"And what does the dark magic do to me…" Zee murmurs, still peering into the darkness of the enclosure. Shrugging at his question, Zee answers by conjuring a spell:

~~ tuP ehT regiT oT peelS ~~

This spell, is becoming easy for the young magi but that's got as much to do with her improving her control and focus as anything else. Closing her eyes, Zee reaches her senses out "It's asleep, but I'd keep that baton handy. Move it back to where Partisan is?"


That pelt is thin and clinging to it's boney frame, making it all the harder to hide the rather extensive battle scars she wears. Who knows how many times she's been shot, and she's half starved but that doesn't change the basic truth of the situation. Sleeping or not, healthy or otherwise this is a mother fucking Tiger. A man eating tiger, no less. She is neither small nor cuddly, she may as well be a god damned grenade missing the pin.


"I'll show you the scroll later. Well my scan of it. Right now we need to get this thing and get out before we're seen." Jericho traces out and vaults into the enclosure, stun stick at the ready juuuuust in case. "Yes. I can call for a teleoprt of you can but don't strain yourself too much." He gets close and prepares to signal the Starfire.


"Call for the teleport." Zee's not going to use her magic unless she has to. Whatever this ritual entails, if she agrees to do it she's sure she'll every drop of magical energy she can maintain. A sleep spell, is nothing… but teleporting three of them across the world requires a fair bit of effort.

Climbing the fence behind Jericho, nowhere near as athletically of course, the Mistress of Magic follows at a safe distance behind him.


She's out like a light, well for the time being anyway. Inside its, well unlit and unpleasant but what do you expect? This is a tiger's cage in siberia, luckily her slumber seems deep.


"Let's go. K'tten. Three out, back to the CCU." There's a flash of light and a sense of dislocation and then they're back. Yay for teleportation. Jericho wouldn't get nearly as much done without it. He lifts the tiger onto a gurney and wheels it over next to Partisan. "Alright. So… here's the brass tacks. I found this file while raiding a HYDRA magical shipment." He calls it up, projecting it for Zee to read. It is dark magic. Not black, but definitely not light and puppies.


Very little magic is light and puppies, that's a bit of a fallacy. Often, the type of magic is driven purely by the intent it is cast for. Sometimes, it's the construct of the magic that causes it to be dark. Zee stands quietly and reviews the file, her eyes widening slightly as she does. It takes some time for the young woman to complete it and she turns to Jericho, glancing to the blonde on the bed and back again "When do I need to make a decision?"


The Partisan is, well for all intensive purposes half a person. The vestiges of what used to cling to the wolf laying under a sheet still hang freely like torn ligaments. With the other half of that puzzle close, well theres a certain energy in the air. Its on an instinctual level, the sort've thing the more reptilian parts of the brain struggle to decode. A weight in the pit of your stomach, and what else would you expect? The lights pulse ever so subtly, keeping rythm with the beep of that ECG. The air dries out, chills ever so slightly. Even without the spell starting the raw ingredients alone are having an effect.


"Soon." Jericho says to Zee. He's happy to let her make her call, peruse the spell, but if she decides not to he won't have much time to put together an alternative. "I don't know how long she can hang on like this but it won't be long at all."


"Soon…" she would have liked more time, Zee turns to look at Partisan. "I guess you called me because Illyana is elsewise engaged." Zee looks the spell over again. Raising her head and standing straighter, still looking at the projection "I'll do it Jericho…"


Jericho nods. "Alright. I'll get it ready then." The song is the most important part of the ritual and it is traditionally sung by the person to be transformed (so he really hopes Zee doesn't screw this up) but there are provisions for doing it on someone's behalf. The hacker moves the tiger next to Partisan and breaks out some chalk. He's got, as has been mentioned, no magical talent and only a bit of demonic exposure to go on… but the scroll has pictures and diagrams, so it doesn't take him long to set up the circle while Zee reads up. "Whenever you're ready there."


Zee looks at the projection "I want to reference that as we go. Can you project it over there please?" and takes up position inside the circle. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be… " her hand brushes the emerald pendulum at her hip and she smiles wryly as she unhooks it "Keep this safe for me?" as she hands to Jericho.


Jericho cants his head and accepts the odd- ack, it's magic. He can tell because his HUD starts scrolling in nordic runes the moment he lays a hand on it. Inconvenient. "Can do. Just let me know if you need anything." The hacker stands back and watches and waits.


Zee needs peace of mind and courage. The first, it's unlikely Jericho can give and the second has to come from within. She shrugs "You know who to tell if anything goes wrong… just stay out of the circle, I don't know how your traces will affect this."

Looking up at the projection, Zee holds her over Partisans body and begins to chant softly, her eyes tracing the lines on the projection and the magical energy begins to build.


It comes in a rush, A buzzing growl followed by a burst of light as bright as the sun itself.

"Don't give them what they want Bisera, don't cry. You're a very brave girl, don't give them the satisfaction of seeing you cower. "A man with his back against the cell wall, one arm left to hang from his it's shoulder. His face is a mass of bruises and cuts, his crisp white shirt covered in a mixture of grime and dried blood. Still his voice is calm, confident and utterly at odds with his appearance. "I'm so proud of you, come dry your eyes."He winces as he leans foreward, lifting his one good arm to expose those mangled fingers.

"I've still got one good arm to hug you with, men like that are nothing to be afraid of. "

Just as quickly as the vision arrives, it just fades away. Like waking from a dream and trying to remember the details. The spell is already getting to work, theres a prickly almost electric charge in the air as things begin to shift into place. It's like performing heart surgery with a sledge hammer, no wonder nobody tries this madness anymore. THe raw magical horsepower necessary is absurd.


Jericho's traces would probably be highly disruptive, so he stays well back of the young magi and the fallen werewolf. He doesn't know what Zee is seeing, but he knows what the magic is and he knows who Partisan is, so he doubts its pleasant.


Zee shudders as the magical energy pricks at her, a thousand tiny needles against her skin despite what she's wearing. A light sheen of perspiration forms on her forehead and her jaw sets, the chanting becoming stronger.

The tone and the tenor of the chanting changes, becoming more fluid and sing song. The flavour of the song is ancient, drawn from the depths of time… and even in Zee's untrained voice, it's haunting.


It comes again in a wave, brighter and louder. That buzz now a growl, the flash beyond blinding. You can feel the light's warmth on bare skin, and well it's beyond blinding.

"Hey let him go you stupid piece of shit, he has nothing to do with any of this. He's out of bounds, he's a fucking civilian! You want to talk you talk to me, You're not getting a fucking word until my husband walks free."It's another dungeon in a way, only this one is decidedly more modern. Theres a trio of middle aged men in cheap suits, and a pair of manilla folders on a small desk each the size of a phone book. Behind them, sits a man in the corner with a black bag over his head. "Eduardo, Ed! Ed listen to me, It's going to be alright I'm going to get us out've here. These fucks are nothing to worry about, men like this are nothing to be afraid of."

One of the suits peers between the two for a moment, before pulling that bag free. The bound man's face is a mass of bruises and swelling, and well he looks more than a little punch drunk. "Thats not how this works, you've already lied to me once." Calmly that suit produces a snub nosed revolver from his waist band.

"No! No wait! I told you everything, just tell me what you want me to say!"

-BANG-

Again the experience recedes as that tiger's form begins to fade, looking suddenly somewhat more ghostly as the temperature in the room begins to plummet. Won't be long now.


Tears roll down Zee's cheeks, mixing with the sheer of perspiration on her face, as she watches the vision. The sing song chanting never falters, although Zee's voice may break on a half emitted sob as the gunshot sounds in the vision.

The prickling on her skin feels sharper now, like the pins are being stabbed in more deeply. As the tiger begins to fade, Zee changes the tempo and melody of the song. Quicker, harsher, more guttural than before, still ancient though.


There it is, the third wave. The light flares brighter yet, and that roar resolves into something the human ear can't even begin to make sense of.

The fires are still burning, rising high into the air in swaying ripcurls of flame. The smoke is choking, reducing the sun's light to pillars of light which roll through what remains of the city. The bodies of the fresh dead fill the street almost entirely, the gutters choked with blood and gore. A man in a dull green uniform stands amongst the bodies, his fingers covered in rings and his pockets bulging with jewelry. "Look, look I'll be your prisoner I surrender I have no weapons. No weapons! This isn't what it looks like!"Part grabs the man by his collar, shoving him down amongst the dead. Pressing a blood stained boot to the man's throat as she presses the barrel of that FAL against his forehead.

"Whats wrong fucker, don't like the look of your own handywork? Look at it!"-BANG-. Shoulders slumping as her gaze wanders slowly up the street, its a massacre. As far as the eye can see, slowly she hefts that FAL to rest against her shoulder and dips her head to light a cigarette. "Don't let them see you cry Bisera, don't give them the satisfaction."

The vision fades as the tiger fades from sight. The ECG starts going nuts immediately, Part's heart rate jumps through the roof. Her back arches, head driven hard against the pillow as she lets out a low animal groan. Skin returning to color almost immediately, as she settles back into the bed in a rolling pant. Lifting a hand to tear the IV out've her arm as she offers a general cry of alarm.


Jericho moves when Part starts to become more lifelike. "I've got her Zee." He says as he moves to prevent her from arching herself off the bed. There goes the IV. He reaches over to shut down the drip and check on the younger mage. "You okay?"


Zee's breathing heavily and barely able to stand, that last part of the triplett really took it out of her. Raising the back of a hand, Zee dashes the tears and sweat away leaving streaks across her cheeks. The normally well groomed young woman is looking rather dishevelled.

Moving to rub an arm, Zee stops, hissing in pain and starts to remove the jacket she'd been wearing. It takes a few minutes as it obviously hurts the young woman, she reveals blisters covering her arms. The magic burned her, literally.

Shaking, trembling with fatigue, Zee looks at Jericho and blinks at the question "Fine." and then she looks to Partisan "I take it, it worked. How is she?"


Partisan grabs hold of that wrest the moment Jerry lays a hand on, -SQUEEZING- at his wrist before slowly she begins to relax. That ECG too thankfully begins to wind down as those cuts and scrapes all but vanish, and she begins to heal just like she always has. Head rolling drunkenly to either side as she offers another groan, lifting a hand to shield her eyes for a moment. "Hmmmmf, oh fuck. Who, Zatanna right?"Head rolling limply off to one side to give Zatanna a looking over. "The fuck happened, how long have I been out?"


Jericho breathes a sigh of relief as Partisan comes to and her wounds begin to heal. "Most of a day. I'll give you the full story later. You took a pretty big hit. Just lay back for a few." He says to the old soldier.

"Zee come over here. I've got some burn cream I can put on you at least. She looks like she's going to be okay. Thank you."


"Zee" the magi corrects automatically, starting to shiver now the spell is done. Turning her eyes to Jericho, Zee moves very slowly towards him and offers a small smirk, crossed with a wince of pain "I don't think you'll be able to get all of them." beat "You're welcome though."

Her eyes, if someone was to look closely enough, look extremely haunted. What has been seen, can't be unseen.


Partisan sits up slowly with a wince, peeling those bandages away one by one to expose the perfect skin beneath. "Ah fuck, Jerry smokes?"Suppressing a dry cough with another wince "And a glass of water please?"motioning for Zee to have a seat on the bed "Give me a minute to get my bearings honey, I'll patch you up not to worry. I don't know what happened, but I'm guessing you helped with whatever it was?"


The empty gurney might be a clue. Or a mystery. Partisans smokes are on the table right next to her. Jericho reaches back and grabs a bottle of water, handing it to Part. "There you go. Take it easy a sec, eh Part? Yeah, she helped. I needed magic to… get you back." The hacker takes that burn cream. Part might know a better trick but for now he can ease the pain.

"You okay? You look a bit off." He says a bit lower to Zee.


Zee snags a bottle of water as she moves to the edge of the bed. Hissing again, she lowers herslef to sit, her jaw clenching and unclenching as she works through the pain. She's not speaking of the ritual she just performed and works to control the shivering as they talk.

Jericho's question gets a look from the young woman "I don't know yet…. that… was… intense" and then some.


Partisan needs to get a cigarette lit, and some water down before she's really able to do much. However once she's sorted, well she gets to work albeit somewhat stiffly. "Breathe deeply, and take the pain. If you tense up it'll just make it worse, you need to try and relax as much as you can."Producing, hydragel. Neat pale blue jelly bandages, sort've. From the moment she drops the first one on, yeah the effect is an immediate wash of cool. Topical pain killers are pretty great for burns. "So you stitched me up with a tiger, I can't imagine that was easy or fun. Glad I was out for it I guess, considering how it felt the first time I'd likely have throttled both of you."


"Why do you think I was here." Jericho chuckles dryly as Partisan starts to bandage Zee up. "If anyone was going to be throttled, you can throttle me." A joke, but really, he'd rather get his skull bashed in than Zee hers. "Yeah, it was a tiger. Only meaneater I could find on short notice and only because it was on the 'net." The hacker looks over at Zee sympathetically. He's got some idea what she might have seen.


The pain in her arms starting to ease, Zee breathes a little easier and listens to Jericho explain. "He said he and you needed help, so I did." the young woman takes a sip from the bottle. "Neither easy or fun… but it is what it is. That was one spell you found, Jericho."

Jerichos sympathetic look has Zee holding her head high, she's not weak really she's not.


Partisan smiles softly "That was very decent of you Zee, and very sincerely thank you."Works quickly and efficiently because with Jericho around she does infact get a great deal of opportunities to hone this particular art. "A tiger is just fine, the old wolf is out of her misery."So yes, she is taking it fairly well it seems. "Anyway Zee I'd give you a hug but that'd be a bad idea right now, so how about I owe you one alright? I don't forget the kindnesses I've been given, so if there is anything you need just ask and it'll be done."Finally settling back to savor that cigarette with a happy little sigh. "I'm just sorry you got burned up on my account, I'm not used to folks getting banged up for me these days."


Weakness isn't the same thing as Humanity. Jericho went to war for eight years, not counting two plus against HYDRA and he has a collection of haunting nightmares and things he wishes he could unsee. Partisan was at war for well over two hundred. The math is pretty easy. "HYDRA was interested in the spell Zee. That's how I found it." Which says all she probably needs to know about it.

"Just wouldn't be the same without you swearing at me over the radio?" The hacker winks to Part. "Besides I've lost too many friends to not try."


"Owe it to me." Zee shrinks back at the thought of anyone touching her right now "Magic is strange, it has it's costs and that spell… " Jericho gets a look "was unusual. I'ld like a copy for my library in Shadowcrest, please." She'll notate it for future generations, if not her direct line then one of her cousins lines.

She's still shivering, so she pulls on her jacket, very carefully "Thank you patching me up, Partisan. I'd say I'd do it again… " but she's not sure she could face that again.


Partisan pauses for a moment, before offering a soft nod. "You may have a copy then, in payment. Just don't make any more alright, the world cant really handle any more Bodarks than we already have."Offering Jerry a soft smile and a nudge of the elbow.


"You can say that again." Jericho murmurs and then straightens up. "Come on, Zee. You must be tapped out and Partisan here needs an hour or two off her feet. I'll take you home and we can talk later." He nods to Partisan with a smile and then gestures to the mage. Least he can do for her troubles.


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