Catching Up On The Hydra

March 20, 2015: Zee, Constantine and Jericho catch up, Jes shows up later

Flushing Meadows - New York City



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Mood Music:

Mid morning in Flushing Meadows finds the area busy, but not too busy. Parents with children, couples, and groups are out enjoying the milder weather. In all comings and goings, Zatanna is walking slowly along one the paths seemingly with no direction.

Wearing black leather pants that hug her figure, black denim jacket over a cherry red crop top that displays an amount of midriff and high heel knee high boots complete with buckles, the outfit is topped off with a diamond encrusted collar and an emerald pendulum at her hip.

The young magician, recognised by people passing by, smiles brightly at those who wave or nod to her and stops and signs autographs when asked.

A young man, about Zees age, approaches her and holds out his. Smiling brightly at him, Zee accepts the hand and stops to talk to him. After a few minutes, the smile still bright, she shakes her head and starts to move off. Whatever the question, the answer was obviously 'No'.

"C'mon, baby, just tell me what your sign is?"

The man dogging Zatanna's steps is a leering fan for just a few paces, and the next time she looks over her shoulder, it's John Constantine, grinning toothily around a cigarette with an impish grin on his face. Considering it's been almost six months from Zee's perspective since he last showed his ragged mug in New York, it might come as a flicker of a surprise to her.

Coming up the other way this morning, dressed in his typical jeans, boots ,long sleeve tee shirt getup is Jericho. His a long leather case sways on his back. He's got his head down, clearly thinking as he moves - right in Zatanna and Constantine's direction.

"About time you showed up again, John" Zee doesn't quite smile at the man "And you know what my sign is. Where have you been?" Continuing in the direction she was moving, Zee slows her pace to allow John to catch up with her.

Jericho's approach has Zee sighing slightly, his parademon had been a point of contention between her and John. "Morning, Jericho." Zee speaks loudly enough, she hopes, to break his reverie.

John grins at Zee and ducks in for a quick squeeze around her shoulders, moving to step along with her in pace. He lifts a chin at Jericho in greeting as they draw close, emitting a wolf whistle at the man. "Hey there, Old Wolf. Been a day, mate," he greets.

"How have you two blighters been?" he inquires, mostly of Zatanna. "I took a little sabbatical to the Outer Planes for a while to see the gears of the cosmos turn, but lo if I didn't hear HYDRA is making a mess of things. Are you two keeping this place in line?"

John grins at Zee and ducks in for a quick squeeze around her shoulders, moving to step along with her in pace. He lifts a chin at Jericho in greeting as they draw close, emitting a wolf whistle at the man. "Hey there, friend. Been a day, mate," he greets.

"How have you two blighters been?" he inquires, mostly of Zatanna. "I took a little sabbatical to the Outer Planes for a while to see the gears of the cosmos turn, but lo if I didn't hear HYDRA is making a mess of things. Are you two keeping this place in line?"

Jericho looks up at Zee's call and his eyes glimmer briefly as he recognizes her. "Hello Kit. John." He greets, straightening up and slowing down to greet them.

"Been a hot minute yes. And HYDRA is… making a more visible mess of things than usual, to be sure. Trying to keep them in line."

Zee accepts the friendly hug from John and shrugs "Good, I suppose. Busy really." the mention of HYDRA getting a quick shrug. Jericho's dimunitive causes Zee to grimace and flash him a cranky look but she nods "Yeah, trying. Mostly successfully, I guess."

"Sounds like I'm back here just in time," John quips with a grin, ashing his cigarette and flicking the butt into the bushes. He reaches for his pocket and produces a flask, taking a quick hit, and then makes it disappear before offering anyone a nip.

"Can someone give me the skinny? I talked briefly with Illyana but I didn't get the full list of what HYDRA's been about since I took my hiatus."

"Something like that." Jericho puts his hands in his pockets and cants his head slightly. "You did, did you? Mmmmm."

"Well, HYDRA found out how to work magic. Made some literal deals with demons and now they have a plan to enact a dimensional transposition. While doing that, they've been using diviniations to target their enemies for death or subversion. It's almost like they've got a vision of the future in mind and they're nudging things toward it as best they can."

"I've heard they are the sort to rearrange the world to suit their own wants," John agrees, nodding at Jericho. "They'd burn it to the ground to cook some popcorn up."

"If they're making deals with devils, though, that's /my/ baliwick. I know who carries those contracts, and believe me when I tell you that even contracts penned in blood can be undone."

"I'd welcome anything you can do at this point, unfortunately the only information that I have suggests that the contract was of a more… commercial nature. They traded something for knowledge and as best I know, that trade's been carried out." It's clever and it has Jericho more than a little worried. With neither party tangled up in the other, there's no slowing both down by latching on to one piece. For the present his focus is on HYDRA. He'll worry about the other angle later. Though he's not entirely inactive on that.

"What's more worrisome to me is their tendency to summon Abyssal monsters and use highly transformative magic based out of some kind of… nether plane. Oh, yes, and binding and corrupting spirits and using them to animate hard suits that spit hellfire." He grimaces. Such a horrible mishmash of things.

"Don't forget too" Zee murmurs "They're targetting unaligned magic users. And then there's Jes, as well." The mention of the hardsuits has the young magi shuddering "Those things are hard to take down. The last group we fought against, had a death curse. I shunted the power elsewhere, but it hurt and took a lot out of me to do it."

"Demons will do anything to get topside," John says. "The only thing they gain pleasure from is breathing air and causing pain. Even trapped in a suit, they're likely willing to take it over being caught in the Black Pit."

"I need to do some research into these things, though. Do we have any names? Powers? Notions about who is controlling them? Demons have to be held in place with lines and words of power, or they just run rampant in any direction they can."

"That too." Jericho nods to Zee. "No names from that side. But I have one from this side. Zyklon. German for 'Cyclone'. I've not seen him myself yet, but I get whispers from the 'net and friends who ran into him. Some kind of… mystic speedster. Durable. Potent. Magical protections if not an outright magical nature. He seems to be the face for this particular branch of HYDRA that's got it into it's head to tap occult forces."

That has Zee looking at Jericho and shuddering "When the SHIELD Helicarrier was transformed, the group I was with" she speaks slowly "Came up against someone like that. Had me dead to rights, except that Rachel… saved me." That had been a close thing "They were after that person, Armory. Wanted to take her with them."

"Zyklon." John fishes in his pocket and scribbles on a worn leather-bound notepad, before making the pencil and pad disappear up his sleeve again. "Demons always have a cost," he reminds Zatanna and Jericho. "The powers of Hell don't give /anything/ away for free. Souls, power, authority, magical force… they want something back. Hell wouldn't be giving this kind of power away unless they were investing in something with a good return. HYDRA itself might be getting duped into turning their 'prize' over before they even get it in their hands."

"Unless what they want is the prize." It's occured to Jericho that a weakening of dimensional barriers might be its own reward where some parties are concerned. "I'm still working on that part of it. It'll hopefully be clearer when I know who traded what for what."

Zee gets a glance and a nod. He'd heard from Lunair but not the others what had happened. "That was bad business too. Leveled a dozen blocks worth of the Bronx."

"I'll catch up with you both later. Right now I've got an appointment to keep." With a wave to both he continues up the path, leather case swaying behind him.

As Jericho leaves, Zee waves after him before turning her attention back to John and shrugging slightly. "It's a puzzle that we're slowly getting the pieces for." Continuing to walk, now that Jericho had gone, the raven haired magi peers at John "So how were the Outer Planes?"

"Relaxing," John says candidly, walking alongside Zatanna in no particular hurry. "Problems that aren't world-shattering. Simple issues, simple solutions. Some peace and quiet, for a change. Though I'm thinking I was gone more than I should have been. It sounds like HYDRA is in bed with some dangerous allies."

"I just needed some time away, I think. No emergencies or things burning apart. Maybe it was selfish," he admits.

Zee smiles a bit, not the big flashy stage smile she uses, something a little more warmer "You do what you need to do, when you do it. It's not selfish to make sure you're on the top of your game." Nodding slowly, Zee agrees "HYDRA… it's worrying, John. Very worrying." A slow shrug "However, it means that my powers are getting a good workout."

"Eh." John shrugs. "Not to sound cavalier, luv. But there's always something. And this sounded like the kind of disaster you need to really put your skills to the test. Flash and theory is good but it's no substitute for a real crisis. You don't know if you can work under pressure until there's a virgin squirming on a sacrificial altar with her life in peril."

He produces a cigarette and lights up, promptly ashing it in a few drags. "I am sure that we can lick this, though. No one- /no one/- makes a deal with the Pit and comes out ahead. Demons are willing to wait a hundred years to collect their due if that's what they need. I think HYDRA doesn't realize they're being played."

"Well, I'm working under pressure now." Zee laughs a little, she knows that John is correct in that regard. "I really hope that you are speaking figuratively about the virgin on the altar."

As they walk, a couple walk in the other direction and nod to Zatanna. Nodding back to them, she flashes that showbiz smile.

Smiling mischieviously at John, Zee nods "Of course we'll beat them and I agree, HYDRA doesn't know they're being played."

"You really think I'm joking?" John arches an eyebrow at Zatanna. "The solo hero work is… at least /sixty/ percent rescuing virgins on altars," he hedges.

"What we need now is information. Who is pulling the strings, who is providing the power, and who is making the deals. I'm sure once we have a corner piece- one of the parts of the puzzle we understand- we can start coming up with a workable solution."

Zee smirks at John's arched brow "I'll take your word for that, it certainly hasn't been my experience so far." Rescuing nice people and friends certainly.

"Jericho, Illyanan, me and others, we've been gathering data. We" she blows out a breath "just have to keep on digging."

"It will coalesce all at once, when it does," John assures Zatanna. He squeezes her upper arm briefly. "We just need to watch and wait and be ready for the opportune moment to strike at them. They won't know what him them," he says with a flash of a grin.

"Yeah, I thought that might be the casr…" Zee bumps against John as he squeezes her arm "And I need to be on the top of my game."

Zee's phone 'pings' at her and she checks the message "Oh, it's my friend Jes, asking where I am…"

A few taps on the screen and the message is sent: In Flushing Meadows. Come join me. Use the pendulum or I can teleport you.

"I've just asked her to join us, hope you don't mind. She's staying with me at Shadowcrest" Zee sighs a little "Yet another one who has been targetted by HYDRA… when you meet her, she might tell you why." Jes' secret is not Zee's to tell.

A few moments later Jes appears nearby and lopes over to Zee. Mismatched eyes travel over her friend's companion and as she gets close the native american's nostrils flare as she tries to catch his scent. She gives Zee a quick hug and doesn't really hide the fact she also pauses to sniff her hair. "Hi Zee. Who's your friend?" Jes asks softly. Her voice is sounds a bit raw.

Constantine blinks at Jes' sudden appearance, but the way she sniffs at Zee isn't missed. He rummages into his pockets for a moment, looking the woman over warily, and the flicks a raven feather at her from nowhere. It flies up and away, borne on a gust of wind, and he tilts his head to the side, in a gesture akin of one of respect from one wolf to another. "Hello, little sister. You're a long way from your grounds. I'm John Constantine," he says, his tone unusually flat but his posture somehow more eloquent.

Zee is obviously quite used to Jes' affection and hugs her friend back. "You're getting good at that… " she murmurs and then smiles broadly at Johns greeting. "This is my friend, Jes, John. As I said, she's staying with me at Shadowcrest. Jericho and I met her when we saved her from a HYDRA contract squad."

Jes gets a questioning look, specifically about the sniffing "I'm alright Jes, haven't done anything or been anywhere foolish today."

Jes nods her head in a bow of respect. "Greetings, Brother." She nods at Zee. "Yes, I know." "I hunt new grounds now." She replies to John's comment. "It's good to meet another friend of Zee's though."

John looks at Jes and does something a bit odd with his face. His features twitch and wriggle minutely, something barely visible to humans but which speak volumes to wolf-kin. He's clearly spent plenty of time around wolves and their kine. Jesae would likely percieve it as an expression akin to acknowledging her as a friend and ally by virtue of her friendship with Zatanna, while asserting his own expertise in the realm of the magical (which among wolf-kin, is not an expression of pride, but a factual statement that cannot be feigned).

It's a language loaded with subtlety, certainly.

"You have good friends in Zatanna, Jes. And you must be good people if you do- she's got a good sense of who's worth keeping around."

Looking between John and Jesana, Zee colours slightly at the compliment and drops her eyes to the ground for a moment. "I think she might disagree with you on some of that John. Although, she does seem to have adopted me…" Zee quips "I would have introduced you to John sooner, Jes, but he's been out of town for a while."

Jes hasn't been herself the past few days but Zee can see a bit of the usual sparkle return to her eyes when she looks up again. This friend of Zee's is interesting and speaks a language she's familiar with. She nods at him respectfully. "Mostly she does. Zee is very special to me and it is an honour to me you, John Constantine."

"We are honoured, Little Sister," John says, smiling at Jesana. "We are pleased to see you with this pack."

He looks back to Zatanna, nodding in agreement with her words. "I took a little vacation," he informs Jes, abandoning the subtle language of wolf-kin for English. "Some time exploring the distant lands outside this world- places humans don't walk."

Continuing their walk, Zee looks over to Jes "We just came across Jericho and were discussing the HYDRA threat." A small smile "John feels that we can beat the threat, we just need to put the pieces together." Zee won't ask outright, but the invitation for Jes to share her story is there.

Jes sighs. "I know he was here." She doesn't growl at the mention of his name so thats something at least. Her expression goes turns cold and her voice is flat at when she continues. "I would have let it go before, what my father did. But now, when we catch up to him he will wish he'd never found me. And then he'll wish he'd never been born. He took my family from me. He slaughtered them. There is no place in this universe he can go that I will not find him."

"She who sets out on a journey of revenge should begin by digging two graves," John tells Jes, though his tone is not unsympathetic. He drags on his cigarette. "HYDRA is on about something more than their usual plans about world conquest. They usually aim for… social revolution, new notions of order and supremacy. This is all about power and control- it won't make humans stronger. The end game here is demons rampaging across the face of the planet."

"But… " Zee won't be drawn on the revenge aspect, if Jes wants her help she'll be there though "As John's pointed out, Jes, it's possible HYDRA is being played." An interesting concept really "The question is, by whom and for why… "

Jes shrugs. "It doesn't matter. They made the decision to deal with demons. Whatever they suffer is deserved. It's the rest of the world that we need to keep from being taken down with them." She does realize that much through her grief.

"I won't argue that," John agrees. "Demons don't fool anyone. If you start trucking with them it's because you want power more than you want your soul. They don't lie- they tell you /precisely/ what the terms of the deal are, going in. The only people who accept those terms are the greedy, vain, and shortsighted."

"See" Zee frowns a little "This is where it falls down for me. First, you say HYDRA is about social revolution. Then we all agree that whatevers happening, it will result in demons rampaging. So if… demons tell you precisely what the bargain is, WHAT do HYDRA get by leaving the world to demons?"

Jes tilts her head to the side. This is the first conversation she's managed to focus on since learning of her family's murders. "Fenris told me they wish to control the world according to their vision of how things should be, what if they think to just remake it instead? That could be the power they seek, or the reason they don't care about demons running free. Less people in the way of what they want to do."

"There's always some fool who thinks he's canny enough to outsmart Hell. They make a deal and they think they can pull one over the eyes of the Pit," John explains. "Or they genuinely are okay with demons overrunning the world," he clarifies. "Or… well, demons don't lie, but they have intermediaries who /do/. They'll happily sell you poison and tell you it's a panacea."

Zee becomes thoughtful "Well, that's a possibility Jes. Nuke everything and start again." Cocking her head, the young magician frowns at Johns words "Although it makes slightly more sense that they were duped." Shrugging, Zee shakes her head "We're grasping … we need more information…. guess we're just going to have to find it."

Jes appears to only be half listening now. She's staring into the distance with a desolate expression. "I'd never even heard of them a few a months ago and now…now they've taken everything from me. I owe my father a blood debt. The rest of them…I'm going to help you find them. All of them."

Constantine strikes up a fresh cigarette, the zippo in his hand flaring red light near his face. "I need to be going. Things remaining to do," John informs the ladies. "I'm still getting a handle on what is happening with HYDRA. Hopefully I can get ahead of them before they realize what I'm about." He touches his fingers to his brow. "Good arvo, then, ladies. Jesana, nice meeting you." He turns away from the pathway and starts walking out of the park, trenchcoat swinging around his calves.

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