Hydra Communications Orb

March 22, 2015: May has information on HYDRA to pass to Oracle, Jericho assists.

Shadowcrest - Gotham



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Mood Music:

Located on the outskirts of Gotham is Shadowcrest Manor, ancestral home of the Zatara family and now Zatanna Zataras'. Although Zee is a member of the Titans and can stay there, she's currently residing in Shadowcrest to protect her friend, Jesana from HYDRA.

The Manor is protected by mystical wards and other incantantions and is rendered invisible to those untrained in the mystical arts. i.e You have to be magical and be looking for Shadowcrest to find it and even then, the only access is by way of a complex 'word magic' security system (Zee needs to have issued a passcode for entry). Although, visitors who find the mansion, could try knocking on the door…

Around lunchtime and Zee's at home for a change, just preparing herself a light meal. She's been researching information on HYDRA and documenting what she knows to send to Fenris, so they can compare notes.

Dressed in figure hugging leather pants, bright yellow crop top, high heel knee high boots with buckles, Zee's black denim jacket hangs on the coat rack in the entry hall. She's still wearing the diamond encrusted collar and the emerald pendulum on her left hip.

There comes a rapping at her chamber door, a knock-knocking. Once admitted in, Constantine nods at Zatanna, edging into the manor. It's a bit less disordered than his own place, but they're both 'pocket dimensions'- though the House of Mystery has something of a malicious personality.

"Sorry to drop in, Zatanna. I'm keeping communications as limited as possible for now. Do you have a containment circle handy?" he asks, juggling something in his pocket. "I've a pretty little bauble I need to examine and I don't want to accidentally tip our hand if it's active and I don't know it."

Zee looks at John edges his way in. The manor is immaculate, despite two teenage girls living there, Zee has mystical assistance in that regard. With a slow nod, Zee turns on her heel and motions for John to follow, leading him to her workroom, where a circle is set into the floor. "That do it for you, John?"

"Perfect." John stoops down and touches his fingers to the ring, mumbling something under his breath to activate it, and then drags over a convenient chair. Shucking his magical coat, he steps into the circle, placing a fist-sized, perfectly smooth sphere of obsidian on the chair seat. "There," he says, nodding at it. "Bumped into that bloke Jericho. He said they took this off of a bust on some HYDRA kidnappers, and he asked me to look into it. Some kind of two-way communicator. I need some help trying to turn it on and see if we can tap into their lines- or, failing that, blow their communications to hell."

Zee raises an eyebrow at John "OK." Maintaining her distance from the circle, Zee leans a hip against one of the work tables and folds her arms loosely across her chest. "What do you need?"

John looks up from his notepad. "I've been doing some tentative work and I think I know how to activate it. I need you to monitor the communication. If it starts trying to send a location out, or you think we're being scryed or compromised, you need to shut it down. You're faster on the draw than I am," he explains, hunkering down in front of the orb. "Ideally, I'd like to turn this on and monitor their communiques to each other. I might even be able to backtrack the signals to see where they operate from. Failing that, I'll try to blow their communications network apart. If all else fails, we cut the threads to this one again and I break it with a hammer."

Zee nods slowly "Mmmmm, they may try to scry but the wardings around Shadowcrest will see to that, I may not even detect them. But if it starts sending something out, I can fix it." Raising herself from the bench, she approaches the circle and sits on the floor just outside. She's not going to break the construct, what she has to do can be done from here. "Whenever you're ready… "

"All right, here we go…" John starts weaving his spells in the air. Despite his talent for spellcasting, he's a ritualist and a mechanic, mostly because he knows it works. And he starts with some chalk and some candles, setting the stage for the spell that will tell them whether they just cracked HYDRA's version of the Enigma cypher device…

Some hours of work later and Constantine seems to have a handle on managing the strange little obsidian orb. He perches in front of a chair in the middle of an enchanted circle, kneeling down. Sweat beads his brow and streaks his stained white shirt, his eyes lidded and body cramped into a position of ritual meditation. Zatanna stands not fair away, ready to snag any attempt by the orb to compromise their location.

All at once, the orb flickers slightly, then blooms to life, an image of people and faces flickering around it momentarily.

It flickers off, then Constantine gasps and exhales. "Got it!" he yells, triumphantly, pumping his fist. "Haha, the idiot who built it got lazy and authorized a verbal password. Never occurred to him that some bloke who understood psychic communion would crack it open!"

He rises and winces, knees crackling complaint. "Blimey, I need a beer, luv," he tells Zatanna. "I think we're safe from being tracked- the orb is only receiving, not transmitting anything. That's a separate trick. I don't want to risk touching that matrix unless we must. But I think we've a valuable insight into their operations, now. At least we'll know when major messages are sent, though scrying through the other orbs might be a risky business."

Zee, still sitting outside the circle with an intense look of concentration on her face. At Johns triumphant cry, she shakes herself and looks over at him "The Shadowcrest wards will give a good deal of protection, but thank you for not endangering my home." That's not what she needs right now.

Rising smoothly and gaining her feet, the young magi crosses her arms over her chest again and cocks a hip "You think I have beer, here?"

"Oh, you wee lass," John sighs, limping towards his coat. "Fortunately," he says, digging in his pocket, "I always bring emergency scotch." He pulls out a little silver flask and takes a few long pulls from it, shaking his head briskly and pushing a hand through sweat-dappled hair. "I can bring this to the House now," he tells Zatanna. "I needed a second set of hands to hold this down and I definitely didn't want to risk HYDRA getting a foot in the door over there. I think I can contain it safely on my own, though."

The emergency scotch earns a smirk from the teen magi before she turns serious "You think you're going to do this on your own?" Zee issues a slightly derisive snort "They've targeted me and my friends, John, I want in…" This could be the 'in' they've been looking for. "Take it to the House, by all means, but don't cut me out."

"Not on my own, luv," John assures Zatanna, walking towards the dark-tressed woman and stopping a half-pace away. "Just somewhere… secure. I can hook this up into House now and send her sniffing along the astral trails in a microsecond. I can't do that here in your home," he tells Zatanna sympathetically. "And Shadowcrest is strong, but I'd rather HYDRA not get wind of where you're at. At least if they compromise House, I can blast the entire thing somewhere into oblivion for a century."

That receives a sharp nod from Zee, as she looks up at him as he approaches. "I don't want them knowing it's here either. Jes and I have gone to ground here, we're safe." Glancing at the orb and then back to John, Zee smiles grimly "Sounds like you have the start of a plan. What do you need from me?"

"Be safe," John asks Zee, his tone a bit plaintive for once. "Don't take un-necessary risks. This is a dangerous game we're playing, with canny, dangerous people," he tells Zatanna. "They won't hesitate to kill you, or use friends and family as leverage. If we go after them, they can't know our faces until the very last moment, and when we strike we have to cut them apart in one fell swoop."

"When, John, when" Zee's chin tilts upward with a stubborn set "And I'll be as safe as I possibly can. But, with or without you, I'm going after them." Tightening her arms across her chest, she looks at him flatly "They've already taken Jes' family and they seem to know exactly who I am." It might be too late for complete discretion.

John gets right in Zatanna's face with a familiar expression- a mentor correcting one of his students. "These aren't some blokes who are running around playing prank enchantments," he snaps at the woman. "They're bloody dangerous murderers and kidnappers. If you go after them alone, you're going to get yourself killed, and Jesana, too," he says sternly. "No one plays this game alone and lives long," he says, relenting a bit and backing away from Zatanna. He turns away, taking a slug of his scotch. "Right now, you two are nobodies- an escaped victim and a young magician who is protecting her. You're a low-priority target," he explains, looking over his shoulder. "But if you start making a proper nuisance of yourselves, they'll come at you, hard. At least let me take point," he begs Zatanna. "I'm safer in House than you are here. If they come after me, they're dealing with a crusty old wizard with nothing to lose. Everyone knows John Constantine doesn't mind watching friends die," he says bitterly. "You won't be targeted if they want my hide."

"I was targetted before Jes came on the scene, John. They've tried to kill me and kidnap me already." Zee stands her ground as he tries to face her down. "I won't go after them alone, John, I'm young, not stupid or foolish. Take point on this, do it from the House, become the target… but don't cut me out."

"All right, all right," John says, tiredly, waving Zatanna's objections off. "That's the best I'll get, I suppose." He reaches down and picks up his jacket, slinging it tiredly over a shoulder. "This goes both ways, though. I won't cut you out, but the minute someone ugly comes knocking on your door, you send a signal up to me, all right?" the Brit tells Zatanna, moving to pick up the orb and toss it into one of the endless pockets in his coat. "We have to work as a team on this or they'll pick us off on the streets."

He pauses, then steps over to Zatanna and gives her bicep a quick squeeze. "There are old wizards, and bold wizards, but no old, bold wizards," he tells the girl, dropping his hand. "And the old ones are bitter and cranky for having watched good friends die over the years. I don't want you to end up like me. So, I'm going to be my usual arsehole self," he says, with a shadow of a self-deprecating smirk, "and make sure you and Jesana and everyone else come out of this alive and well."

It is the best he's going to get, Zee can be quite stubborn and that streak might be growing. "I'll send up a signal when it happens. Just don't" Zee smirks a little "go visiting the outer planes again, without telling me." Truth was, Zee could have used Johns counsel over the last few months and given he'd gone missing, she'd learn to rely on herself.

"You do what you have to, John. And I'll do what I have to as well." Turning on her heel, she leads the cumudgeonly wizard back to the front door. "Glad I could be of assistance, today."

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