Darth Essentia
Roleplaying Log: Darth Essentia
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

In which Ghost Spider and Carolus investigate a former model associate of Charles Arany, who turns out to probably be more than they bargained for…

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: February 08, 2020
IC Location: Gotham City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 09 Feb 2020 07:51
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: None
NPC & GM Credits: Harley Quinn as Carla
Associated Plots

Some months ago, Danielle Moonstar of X-Men fame passed along a bit of information to look into, uncovered while she was hunting into the matter of Charles Arany and those who might wish to see him dead. Those who saw him get that way.

She uncovered the name of one former model, Miranda, who had become a household name with Arany's creations wrapped around her.

And it has taken some time to find her.

She's still in Gotham, although she's become almost entirely a recluse. The lifestyle might not be otherwise possible, save that her brother Victor took her in. He has a larger home on the western side of the city, and wasn't quite forthcoming in the information that a) she lived there or b) that she ever had time to receive guests.

* * *

Carolus Sinclair took too long to follow up on this because life just wasn't cooperating with anyone for a few months there, and then he had to move out of New York to duck some possible complications of his residence being too accessible. Fortunately, all of that is… over-ish.

So before he gets going, he snaps off some texts.

SPOOKY
Hey, Spooky.
Need to follow up on the essential oils killer.
Meet me in Gotham in about six hours.
If you're sitting there thinking of taking the bus just get in touch with me and we'll make this less mediocre for you.
Unless you want to embrace the Greyhounds, I guess.

NOW…

The mothman is a few streets away, relying on his sense of smell to track the people in the residence he's already passed by. He sits atop a covered bus stop, legs swinging back and forth, waiting for his partner to arrive, concentrating on scents in search of an opportunity— or a familiar hazard.

* * *

Gwen "Ghost Spider" Stacy had been through a lot of 'stuff' recently. The last few months had been difficult and dimension-hoppy, but now, it was firmly the new year. She had to let it all out of her system and just Be for a bit. New York wasn't that place, for her. The place where she had landed, back in September, was Gotham City. The dark, yellow-windowed metropolis where nighttime dragged on and themed goons hung about every corner.

In some ways, it was comforting to knew where everyone stood in the city of darkness. They wore it more on their sleeves, funnily enough.

MOTH
Oh hey.
Nah, I'm in Gotham right now. I'll get sandwiches.
You couldn't give me two weeks without a murder, could you?

NOW…

Twirling acrobatically through the air, Gwen lands on a power line, rotates around it 270 degrees, and flips backwards towards the ground all one-handed, her other hand clutching a web-stuck large paper bag.

Landing like an olympic gymnast, complete with step-turn, Ghost Spider lands besides Carolus, immediately shoving the bag into Carolus' secondary arms. "I got a salami caprese sandwich for you, and then added honey on top." Gwen notes, tapping the bag with her fingers.

"So, are we actually ringing the doorbell this time?"

* * *

The home is gated, although the gate for the modest yard hangs open. Not that it would matter — not really — to a man who can fly or a woman who can swing from a thread. But the matter of it remains all the same. A fence, an open gate, and nothing blocking the way to the front door.

There are no cars parked along the road - a sign perhaps that the protective Victor isn't home.

* * *

EARLIER…

SPOOKY
I wish that I could.
In fact, I'd like to talk to you about something more relaxing soon.

NOW…

Carolus smells Ghost Spider coming before he sees her. It's not just the strawberry scent (which he finds sticks out uncomfortably now), but also the APPROACHING SANDWICH that stands out. His antennae rise and fall as he shakes the paired scents and tries to re-focus on the target house.

He looks up as the sandwich is shoved into his lower set of hands, brown eyes rising to meet luminescent eye-lenses for an instant.

A moment of this passes before he looks away, rising easily to his feet and beginning to unbag the sandwich.

"I am," he says, "inexpressably glad for having met you."

A deliberate call-back to a previous exchange. Carolus smiles, jerking his head in the direction they're going, "Yes. We're going to ring the doorbell."

Then he steps off the bus stop, buzzing in that direction. He lands in front of the house, walking the rest of the way up to the front door as he unwraps his sandwich. With his primary right hand, he does exactly as he said— and rings the doorbell.

* * *

Ghost Spider lens-winks at Carolus as he accepts his sandwich, a laugh issuing mostly from Gwen's nose - the whole affair cartoonish with the practically drawn-on nature of her mask's eyeliner. "Yeah, who else would honey your caprese? You're going to have the *worst* breath, by the way. Garlic and honey, yikes."

Hopping over the fence with a arm-vault, Ghost Spider walks the rest of the distance through the yard and steps to the door, leaning clearly to the side of Carolus for the eyehole to see her, arms crossed before her chest.

It's a bit 'cliche superhero' of a pose, but it also exposes her hands and should be fairly disarming.

If two metahumans at the door can be normal for ANYONE in the suburbs. Wellllll… it *is* Gotham.

* * *

The loud chime of the doorbell echoes heavily in the home's walls, and soon a dark-haired woman with a ponytail comes to the door dressed in a pair of jeans, an Old Navy tee shirt, and a pair of highly sensible tennis shoes, and pulls it open. She's maybe in her early forties, but her eyes narrow as she looks at the pair in open suspicion. "Hello? Can I help you?"

An herbal scent rolls out of the home, spearmint and lemongrass. Bright and cheery.

* * *

Carolus's eyebrows rise with his antennae at the exaggerated wink. He apparently doesn't know what to do with that. He replies, "An acceptable price to pay. Although mildly unpleasant, I admit."

His sense of smell is merciless.

His attention quickly turns back towards the house. Once again, Carolus smells before he sees— the interior scent of the house, though… he can discern through things like that, but it makes him a bit suspicious. Are they trying to cover something up, or is that just their routine?

Impossible to tell in the circumstances. Best to be direct.

"Good evening," Carolus greets the woman, "I'm Carolus Sinclair, and this is Ghost Spider. We're following up on an investigation we were undertaking before a recent trip. It is our understanding that this is the residence of a former model, associated with Charles Arany. He and his associates are being targeted by a serial killer."

"If anything strange has happened around you since September of last year…" He trails away, allowing Ghost Spider to pick up— or the woman to complete the thought on her own.

* * *

Ghost Spider doesn't have her moth friend's incredible sense of smell - which is probably why she doesn't mind the godawfully artifical strawberry hair-blast shampoo she puts her usually mask-matted golden locs through. So she doesn't pick up immediately on the scent of spearmint and lemongrass…

But she's focusing more on the scents she remembered of the essential oils killer. Those were overpoweringly present, the kind of scent that sticks in the brain.

"We're chasing a pretty dangerous killer, and we're worried that you may be being targeted, ma'am." Gwen adds, leaning forward a few degrees to add a bit of peering cant to her stance. "We're not cops, but could we step inside?"

Ghost spider shrugs helplessly, slowly spreading both arms out. "Otherwise I'm going to stick out like a floodlight on your porch, and there's nobody else around to distract from that. I don't think I've ever seen a burough in New York without people parking on the street. It's really nice."

She turns to Carolus. "In some of the busier intersections, there's this low grade danger I can't stand. Like being aware of an alarm a few rooms over blaring away."

* * *

The look that Carolus gets is an altogether bewildered one. "I…" Then she looks to Gwen, and she looks even more confused. "I…"

The woman closes her eyes and then drags a hand over her face. "Look. Miss Miranda really doesn't like company. Hasn't for years. And I don't need her brother firing me because she's unhappy. This is a good gig, yanno?"

* * *

"Sounds like how the surrounding atmosphere feels to me when there are a lot of insects about. It IS pretty annoying, but what you feel is significantly more urgent than what I do." Carolus asides back to Ghost Spider, his wings twitching lightly against his back as he speaks to her.

His attention swings back to the woman. Carolus offers a tilt of his head, as if ceding the point by gesture.

"Okay," he says, "but so far I've got two bodies. Mister Arany, Miss Arche…"

This is in error— and it's deliberately in error.

"Not pretty deaths, either. We don't need to talk to Miss Miranda, but we need to know if there's anything strange going on." The mothman gestures with his sandwich towards the house, "Is that essential oils, by the way? My sense of smell is a bit weird, I can't tell if I'm getting it too strong or if it's really some powerful stuff."

Finishing what he has to say for the moment, he takes a bite of his sandwich.

* * *

Ghost Spider nods along at the deception, not catching the error herself. Carolus said it, so it's probably correct. The alarm bells that go off in her head alert her in other ways, a squinted gaze cast back and around. Panning quickly across the roof while leaning back, she exhales a slow breath - the 'wrongness' diffusing into nervous hero twitches.

"I hav-… had a roommate who diffuses saffron and spices, but I'm going to be lost to the 'restive power' of that thing once we're done with this case. Still, you do smell nice!"

Gwen pauses. "In a… not… creepy way. Sorry."

* * *

Superman heads to the FRP Room Hub.

* * *

Carolus misses the accounting of a murder, another model, and the woman at the door doesn't even blink. It doesn't register at all. "Miss Miranda likes those oil diffuser things. Says they help her mood. She's got an oil for everything. Headaches. Depression. Immunity support." The woman at the door looks at her watch as something flips up on it, and then sighs heavily.

"Look, the house is quiet most of the day. She sleeps. Has since the accident, and I've been taking care of her since then. This is an easy gig since the trials were over, and you can read all about those in the paper. And I get the feeling that you have. If you're not the cops, why are you here?"

* * *

"Excuse me a moment. Ghost Spider, please continue, I'd like to know more about this from a reliable source." Carolus says, walking back down to just outside the gate so that he's out of sight. He /hadn't/ looked into the woman's accident, but he's got a sneaking suspicion that he could've saved both of them a trip if he did. Taking out his phone, he simply googles 'Arany Miranda Accident' and waits to see what comes up.

* * *

"The accident? Did something happen to Miranda?" Gwen continues, nodding along. Carolus goes to take a call, which leaves JUNIOR SLEUTH, GWENDOLYNE STACY on the case. "Sorry, I've been out of… town." She adds, sheepishly. "We're trying to solve some murders, and there's some strange mechanical attackers. We think they're connected to Miss Arany, which is why we made a housecall. Is there anything else you can tell us?"

Her voice is calm and patient, carrying the low tone of voice that conveys sympathy for having to talked to someone in a white costume and mask. The 'I'm really sorry for all this' kind of tone.

* * *

ARANY MIRANDA ACCIDENT turns up a slew of articles. Mostly, they turn up the horrific car accident that took the model out of the industry, right at what many considered to be the peak of her career. She'd gotten her rise as the face of Arany's fashion house, the star of his catwalks. Details aren't plentiful about the accident itself, but the young woman had lost her ability to model. An industry that thrives on perfection, after all, won't tolerate a woman less.

Gwen gets a curious look at her questions. "Miss Miranda got burned to a crisp a few years back in a car wreck. It's a miracle she survived. Some pictures leaked online of her after, when she had to go to court, and her brother sued any journalist who posted them. She doesn't go out anymore, and I got hired to keep her company and help her. It's a good job."

* * *

Carolus regards the articles distantly, frowning slowly as he does. He puts his phone away, turning right back 'round and striding up to the front door, taking another bite of his sandwich as he goes. He settles in next to Gwen, listening intently — and avoiding rudeness by speaking with his mouth full — before he says, "I think that we've probably troubled you enough for the moment. There is one last question I'd like to ask before we get out of your hair."

"Have Miss Miranda or her brother mentioned any… suspicions that she was being deliberately targeted back then? Perhaps an early victim of what we're pursuing right now, rather than an accident?" He asks, putting on a firm air of serious concern.

* * *

Ghost Spider is a pretty good investigator of rooms, but with people… her spider senses had rapidly became her greatest asset when dealing with people, sensing the potential for bad conversation topics and sensitive issues dimly in the back of her head. It really helped out having all the nature of a rocker jock and all the nurture of a shut in artist.

"Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that." Gwen adds neutrally. The nonpresence of stabbing danger meant the lady wasn't about to freak out, no assassin was about to drop from the cieling, and Darth Essentia wasn't lurking in the wings.

"Have you noticed anything weird, around nighttime? Local animals getting weird?"

* * *

The next question earns another bit of transparency from the caregiver cum gatekeeper. She crosses her arms uncomfortably. "They did. Back then. They… They don't really talk about it anymore." Thin shoulders shrug. "They talked about going back to Germany, where their family's from, but Mister Victor's job was here and he thought Miss Miranda would get better medical care here. So, they stayed."

And then Gwen's question gets a downright quizzical expression. "Local animals?"

Then, there is a small tingle at Gwen's senses. A change of the scent upon the air as lavender sneaks into the mix. And then another woman's voice from deeper inside. "Carla? Who's at the door?"

The look on the caregiver's face is immediate horror. "It's no one. Why don't you just go on back to the living room? I'll be there in a moment." She mouths to the two on her doorstep, 'I gotta go. Sorry.' And she moves to start shutting the door.

* * *

That is, unfortunately, exactly what Carolus feared when he reviewed the incidents. He masks his reaction to the scent of lavender— but Carla gets a moment too long of firm eye contact when her own expression becomes horrified. His eyes flick from Carla's towards the back of the house— go on, he says without speaking.

His wings flutter to life, a light buzz announcing his ascent. There's an instant where he offers a hand to Ghost Spider— she doesn't need it, but it'll offer a cleaner immediate exit from sight than most exits would offer her. Carolus doubts that Ghost Spider flitting to a lamp post would be much less effective, though.

The mothman circles back 'round to the bus stop, seating himself on it exactly as he'd been before, fully expecting that Ghost Spider will join him in short order.

If she does, he jerks his head the way they came and says, "/That's/ probably our killer. We need somebody who can get a good, solid look at her and what's inside that house."

A moment's pause, as he gets halfway through the sandwich.

Then, "I think we need to find Red Robin or Batgirl. This is firmly their territory, and I guarantee they're less clumsy investigators than I am."

* * *

Gwen's lenses work slowly as she tries to radiate a smile towards the caretaker. It's hard, again, with her shockingly white mask.

So mostly she has a weird squint on the magenta lens-rims of her 'face'. "Sorry for bothering you." She breathes, as the caretaker turns. She's bowing slightly, hands pressed together.

Carolus is up and away, and Ghost Spider springs up up up, firing a webline out to a nearby roof and yanking herself through the air up and away so that when the caretaker turns back around, there's a white-and-black blur at most.

Later, at the bus stop, Gwen retrieves her own sandwich, stuck to the roof of the bus booth to hide it. "Red Robin? Yeah, I'll let him know. This is definitely his gig - and I'd really rather not fight Forever Stabby-One the evil mannequin just you and me. Maybe we can get that dirt on the journalists too - they're detectives, right?"

* * *

"There's probably nothing we can do about the journalists. They get away with effective harassment a bit too often. But maybe." Carolus grants, with a faint shrug.

"We'll see. I think it might be useful to chat with Tiffany again, too. For now, I'd rather not think of this too terribly much more tonight." He sighs, antennae drooping visibly.

* * *

Gwen pulls up the neck seam of her mask to bunch white material under her nose as she moves to eat her sandwich.

"Yeah. I think I'm ready to think about this sandwich."

After a few loud moments of crinking…

"So that thing, earlier, that was just because you really like honey, right?"

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