Portals?
Roleplaying Log: Portals?
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Raven, Ulysses, and Jessica Jones follow up on Zeph's portal tip. It looks like a mysterious enemy isn't quite as gone as they thought.

Other Characters Referenced: Tony Stark
IC Date: February 11, 2020
IC Location: New York City & Rural Michigan
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 11 Feb 2020 22:52
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: None
NPC & GM Credits: Ursa
Associated Plots

An address scrawled on a piece of paper, one leading to a few other addresses.

This is what has gotten Jess to gather an unlikely party to go look at what might be a whole lot of nothing.

"So here's the deal," she says. "I've got someone hiring metas to come commit high-profile crimes, trying to stir up anti-meta sentiment. I only know of one, but where there's one, there's others. Apparently, though, they make the pitch to their chosen catspaws via portals."

She frowns and says, "I'm not sure who is doing it…if they're metas themselves the action makes no sense. So I need to know if these are magic portals, or tech portals, or someone's powers at work. I figure between the two of you…you can tell."


At first, she thought it was a mistake.

Raven has been scarce of late, but she knew she hasn't had many other contacts aside from the Titans and a very small selection of people she has worked with in the past. But after some cross-referencing and personally seeking out the addresses herself, she sees that it's much more than that.

As Jess explains, the cloaked figure stays to one side, her arms folded loosely despite the fact they are hidden from plain sight. "That's…kind of a pain to deal with," comes a carefully chosen opinion once the telltale pause arises. Her brow furrows slightly, but she remains thoughtful as she glances between the detective and the agent present. "But I suppose the same can be said of me if I were the one doing it."

Lifting her head a few degrees, Raven adds, "Using magic or technology for these matters is clever, however. They're doing they're best to cover their tracks."


"…portals."

Already the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is doubting whether he's the right guy for the job or not. Ulysses is more than flattered that Jessica's reached out to him,

but he'd been expecting some kind of hacking job. He's got his laptop and other fun equipment all packed and ready to go, the backpack slung behind

him, his thumbs hooked around each strap. Compared to Raven, he's dressed decidedly less dramatically in a dark blue wool parka and a pair of jeans.

He looks more like a college kid than any sort of agent.

"Portals," Ulysses says again, as though waiting to be corrected on the off-chance that he'd misheard somehow. He looks from Jessica to Raven and back again. They both seem pretty serious. Well that's troubling.

"…okay."

He supposes he has to seriously consider how this is going to work then. Slipping one of the straps of his backpack off, he shifts his bag around so he can pull out a few things. He tucks in something that looks like a remote control crossed with a calculator into his coat pocket and hauls out an 8x5 tablet before slinging the pack back behind him. "How long ago was this and are we at or near where something of the sort happened?" he asks as he powers things up.


"Dude," Jess says to Ulysses. "I know what kind of tech SHIELD's packing. And if you want some of Tony's to get the job done, we can make a stop and we can go get it. As for how long ago, about two months. We didn't catch our CI until pretty recently. I know the traces may be gone, but this is what we've got to work with."

As for Raven's comment about being a pain to work with, Jess flashes a quick grin. "Yeah, they say that about me too."

She takes them to a warehouse on the Lower East side and just breaks the lock to let them in. She's in no mood to dither right now. "Site 1," she says.


Serious is a default look for Raven. If anything, she picks up on the undertones of Ulysses' repeated use of the word 'portals,' glancing over in his direction as he gets his tablet out. The least she can do to ease his mind is to continue being as she is; any sudden change in her normally-deadpan demeanor, including trying to switch other people's moods while on assignment, would be just as worrying and not so great in the long run.

The grin from Jessica receives a faint smile in turn. It takes a person with supernatural abilities to know how it goes.

But here they are, at the Lower East Side. As the lock is broken, Raven drifts forward and into the warehouse, methodical in her approach. Once she picks a spot, she sits, in midair, crossing her legs and closing her eyes. Although it's a weird thing to do, being out front without thinking, she taps into the magic side of things, not actively displaying the use of it if she's able to pick out anything strange.

And if that doesn't work, the Empath side of her also feels around, more or less; she tries for sensing traces, remnants of emotions belonging to whoever has been involved, threads of those anyone who may still be lurking within if they didn't move away all at once. Whatever stands out may be important. But if there is nothing, then she has done whatever she could in the moment.


"If you wanted me to come along on official SHIELD business then you should've said so, but either way I'd have to fill out paperwork for any special equipment, just that it'd take more creativity if I'm working on the sly." Ulysses then beams. "But you know me, I'd make any excuse to get to play with Stark toys. Er, tech." Same deal, right?

He files that bit of information for later, simply because it's a reminder that Jess seems to be on familiar enough a level with the genius billionaire to even make such a suggestion. Given Tony Stark's reputation and the taste of computing power that Ulysses got to play with in his visit to Stark Unlimited, it might not hurt at all to borrow some equipment, especially for the things that Jess wants them to look into.

"Two months? That's going to be a pretty stale trail to pick up," he frowns, but he hasn't said no, and Jessica is probably well aware that for all that he complains, he does like a challenge.

Once at the site, the agent does a scan for signals, electronic and wifi and whatever else might ping his radar as he taps on his tablet and adjusts knobs and levels on the handheld. He pauses as he catches Raven out of the corner of his eye, and for a moment he can't help but stare, even though it's hardly the first time he's seen her doing such supernatural things. Ugh, that is so cool. Okay, but work.


If Ulysses put his reminder in quite that way, Jessica would be embarrassed. Very embarrassed. Nevertheless, she walks right in and gets whatever equipment Ulysses wants. Not into Stark Industries, which is Bart's now anyway, but to the Avengers headquarters, which seems to have just as much stuff.

Once Raven is floating and Ulysses is scanning, she just walks around. She doesn't expect to find anything, of course, but she's a detective and she might as well do some detecting while her actual experts get the real work done.


The mystical realm yields nothing for Raven. Nothing at all. Absolutely nothing at all.

And for an agonizingly long moment, as Ulysses meticulously scans and adjusts his equipment, only to scan again and repeating on different settings, it might seem that he will turn up entirely empty handed, too.

Except that eventually, there’s the first blip on his sensor screen. It beeps, and then, when scanning elsewhere, it beeps again. It’s faint, but it’s there. The trace residual energy of someone’s portal work, of what was once likely incredibly highly charged particles bent in ways that are very much unnatural, but now dispersed across the room.

Two months is a long time, indeed. And in two months’ time, there will likely be no sign of anything at all.


Sitting. In silence.

And it yields…

"Nothing."
Raven lifts her head as she reopens her eyes, remaining as she is as her cloak drapes down, barely touching the warehouse floor. Her voice somehow carries across the way so that both the detective and the agent can hear her findings (or lack thereof), still whispering despite the fact the distance is pretty wide between all of them. "No magic. No people. No evidence of anything ever occurring."

A lone beat passes. "Let's hope I'm wrong."


"This is almost worse than fishing," Ulysses murmurs under his breath as he continues to tweak things ever so slightly as he walks slowly around. He stops occasionally, trying some other combination of settings, switching to a broader range as nothing seems to ping his readings.

He's just about to complain again after Raven reports her own findings, or lack thereof, when there's a hit. It's like noticing the first nibble on your line, and from that moment you end up waiting with bated breath to see if anything takes it. Instead there's nothing. Well, that happens too. But Ulysses isn't deterred by the silence that follows. He'd caught something, so that means that there's something left.

A few more steps, a bit of circling, but after the first couple of pings, he's able to isolate what he should be looking for. Even then it's very vague and very dispersed. He stops in the middle of the room, scowling at his tablet screen.

"Okay, so good news, bad news. There was something that churned out some highly unnatural energy. Heavy emphasis on the 'was'." Beat. "That's the bad news, by the way. I'm surprised I'm even getting any readings at all, but it's too scattered. Not enough to really piece together anything."


Jessica's head tilts to one side, then briefly to the other. "Well, that tells us it was tech," she says. "And there's got to be a limited number of people who can get their hands on portal tech just kind of. You know. Whenever they feel like trying to start wars. I have other sites. Maybe if we pick up more readings we can narrow the playing field a little bit? Figure out what makes it unique, where someone might go to get their hands on it? Figure out how to pick up on places it's been used more recently?"

She's spitballing here, but she has never had a time when throwing questions at experts to see what sticks hasn't been an insanely useful thing to do.


"That's better than nothing at all," Raven replies after Ulysses says his piece. "It confirms no one was imagining them occupying this space."

It does make it more difficult for her if it's more technology-based than magic, but it's something she can live with. While she was initially prepared to assist, she still feels tired. Mildly grouchy? Jess and Ulysses don't need to know that her sleep hours are weird and messed up, this right now is important.

The hood nods at Jess' suggestion. "We may as well," she says, languidly gesturing with her hands in the meantime. "Need another portal to our next destination to save time?"


Ulysses blinks at Jessica and then Raven. "…oh yeah, huh." He'd gotten so caught up in finding traces that he'd almost forgotten that they hadn't even verified until now what sort of trace they were trying to look for.

"Messy business," he agrees, nodding at the P.I. along with Raven. "Yeah, there's traces, so maybe with enough sampling I can reconstruct enough of a model to get a signature we can use to compare against equipment readouts." He makes it sound easy enough, anyway. "And yeah, if we can get a solid enough signal, it'd make tracking outputs on that particular wavelength so much easier."

He taps at his tablet and saves his findings, glancing at Raven at her offer. Oh, he remembers creepy dark portal travel. It's definitely useful and pretty nifty. It was also kind of unsettling, so he's on the fence about whether he likes it or not. So he looks to Jessica. She's calling the shots, and if it cuts out some travel time, Ulysses can't really complain.


Jessica nods and says, "We almost gotta. The next location's a farmhouse in rural Michigan. But let's not portal directly into the place. Let's…mmm. Half mile out? Then walk in? I don't want to foul the readings if your portals produce some of the same stuff the tech portals are making."

Magic may give off a pretty distinctive signature, but that doesn't mean it can't foul up the tech, she reasons. Of course, if she'd brought Jane along, Jane would have told her the line between the two is pretty razor thin. Jess didn't, because anything that tempts Jane to put more needles into her arm so she can jack up her algorithms with blood magic is a thing Jess wants to avoid. Even if Jane is somehow now opening black holes, in hallways, without doing that at all.

All the same.


Raven doesn't hold anything against Ulysses feeling the way he does about magical portals. This kind of portal is especially normal to be wary of due to its dark nature, but her control should be reassurance that the trip will be okay. Still off-putting to some degree for those who aren't used to traveling this way, but mostly okay.

"That's a fair point," she agrees, uncrossing her legs from their floating seated position prior to muttering some words and creating a portal big enough and far enough from the farmhouse in question. Interference in tracking will be bad.

With a half mile as their intended radius and repressing the urge to yawn, they'll either end up on an empty road or somewhere in the middle of an open field. Raven just rolls with it, making room so that the other two can go through. "After you."


"For the record I'm not even sure what kind of output magic puts out, but I guess better safe than sorry." There's however no objections about shadow portal shortcuts. Michigan is a loooong way out otherwise.

Shrugging, Ulysses gives a vague nod before gesturing for Raven to do her thing, not that she needs the direction. She sure makes that look easy. When the portal opens, he peers through it, squinting. Well, Jess did say rural.

"…I sure hope there's internet," he says as he steps on through, shuddering on the other side. And just to check, he pulls out his phone to check how the signal is.


The fields on the other side of that portal—long left fallow and unworked—are damp and cold, partially frozen. There is evidence of what was once cornfields, and neglected blueberry bushes are in the distance, overgrown and dormant.

In comparison to New York, it is very, very, very still. Birds sing, but it’s hard to hear them at first with the sudden void where once there was the constant, loud rumbling of the city. It’s peaceful.

About a mile away, there’s an ancient barn where the roof has completely caved in. The old two-story farmhouse nearby, with its rusting red tin roof and wood siding caked in peeling pale blue paint, is in better shape, but doesn’t seem like it’s far from that same fate.

Don’t count on great internet signal. There’s not a cell tower for miles.


"Raven, can you give Ulysses like…magical internet?"

Jessica lowers her voice way more than is necessary. Out here she feels like there's going to be like. An echo. Or something. That's way more open sky than anyone technically needs, jeez.

Not that there appears to be anyone here, and she frowns. Zeph and her crew were living in that shit?

Either way, she starts walking in that direction.


Raven just looks at Jessica.

"…Magic doesn't work like that."

Not her magic, anyway. Instead, her focus on the environment is almost immediate. The unnatural absence of sound. Countryside. A maintained and abandoned wilderness. If she lets it all get to her, it becomes terrifying.

A few quiet breaths steady her thoughts, she lets the portal close up, revealing the road on the other side of it. Keeping her awareness and her wits about her, she finally decides to drift after the detective, making sure to also see where Agent Angrim is so that he isn't left alone.


"…it's like Alaska all over again."

At least Kenai had people around, but there was still way too much open space between places. Ulysses inches a little closer to the two women, as though thriving on the presence of any form of civilization possible. He looks woefully at his phone and the lack of a full stack of bars.

"Well as much as I hate to say it," he sighs, "…it might actually be better this way. Less interference of any kind. So theoretically? It should be easier to pick up any traces if there are any hanging around."

He stuffs his phone in his pocket again and pulls out his scanning equipment, pausing to suck in a breath of fresh air as he figures it might be nice to experience while they're out of the city. He quickly rethinks that as he ends up coughing and sputtering. Maybe too much fresh air.

"R-right," he croaks. "Let's see what we got so we can get out of all this nature sooner." City boy.


The chilled air continues on its silent, exposed and exposing way, really not caring that a bunch of city mice are cutting their way through it. Over the tall grass, closer to the house, a few rusting cars become more visible.

There are possible signs of life inside the house, but they’ll only become apparent if one catches sight of the thin wisps of wood smoke that curl out of the brick chimney or smells it upon the breeze. The windows are covered with worn wood blind shutters, making it hard to see inside.

But Ulysses is right about one thing, with the sensor settings from before, it’s a lot easier to pick up the presence of those same distorted particles a small distance away from that home. Repeated portal generation has marked the earth in a way that isn’t immediately apparent, the base of an ellipsis arcing its way across broken twigs and grass, but his sensors will see the invisible.

Of more obvious nature is the barely visible footpath near it, cutting its way between the wild and overgrown terrain of once-fields and the scraggly, barely tamed space that leads towards the dilapidated house. Someone walked through when the ground was warm, soft, and wet. Beneath dead grass, there are footprints.

And a keen eye might discern that it’s not someone’s footprints.

It’s someones’ footprints, of different sizes, weights, and widths.


Jessica considers the footprints. She takes out her camera and snaps pictures. She takes out a ruler for size reference, and snaps more pictures. Someday this evidence might be necessary in court.

She glances at them, then jerks her head towards the house. She's going to creep close. She may not be able to see, but she might be able to hear, if she gets to the right spot. Maybe unlikely in January, but that doesn't mean she's not going to give it a shot.


Fresh air makes other scents distinguishable in comparison to the chaotic stench of the city. Raven quietly sniffs, glancing up as they approach the house. Not only that, her senses catch onto the fact that they aren't there alone.

While Jessica makes her move to see what's going on, she gives her room, choosing to concentrate on whoever - or whatever - may be within range.


"Know what this reminds me of?" Ulysses goes on conversationally despite the silence from the other two as they work. "This FPS I play. This place reminds me of it. It's empty and quiet and it's even got all these old looking, rusted out cars… Now I wouldn't mind having a Ghost to help me scan for- Oh, here we go."

He turns on his heel and starts in the direction of the traces. One might have to forgive him for looking like some crazy person hunting virtual pocketable monsters as he directs his devices this way and that. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agent stoops down to inspect the visible path of movement on the ground, and after a few taps to his tablet, he takes a few images to overlay the mapping of the particle traces with, nodding to himself.

And then he looks over at Jessica and then at Raven and back. Naturally Ulysses looks a little uncertain about this plan as the investigator makes her intentions known, but hey, better her than him? He gives a cautious nod.


As one draws closer to the house, the beaten down path that serves as both driveway and off-roading adventure becomes more apparent. One of the cars—an 80s Buick—seems to have some life still in it, if the tracks mean anything.

And inside, if Jones can listen, there’s the sound of a staticky radio playing the local Oldies station from the kitchen. There’s the sound of life there, escaping through the small crack left by a window gone crooked when the wood frame it sits in settled.

The woodstove is going there, and a woman fusses over it with heavy cast iron cookware that is not quiet as she clanks it around.

Meanwhile, Ulysses’s particle hunting seems to be going unnoticed in the field, and as he draws nearer the arc, the readings certainly become more apparent. …Whatever they are, anyway. It’s hard, really, to explain the energy readings or the unnatural ways particles have been impacted by proximity to it, even two months out. It’s something new.

All the while, Raven will likely feel that nothing is really wrong or amiss. It’s just life, living as life does.


Huh. Anticlimactic. But also possibly very useful.

Jessica pulls away from the house, considering. She drums her fingers against her crossed arms, then goes back to her companions.

"I think we've just found Mom," she says dryly. "But…that doesn't mean I can't ask her a few questions. Care to back me up if she suddenly peels back her face, sprouts teeth, and starts shooting acid everywhere or something?"

She won't just barge in without telling them what she means to do, after all. Especially not Ulysses, hard at work getting those readings which seem like they can be important in a number of different ways.


"Everything feels…normal," Raven confirms once the detective returns, her eyes half-lidded as she continues to monitor the extent of the available emotional field. Seeing as she's done enough floating for the time being, she touches down lightly on the dirt and grass underfoot.

Approaching a house without the intent of barging in guns blazing makes sense to her; she figures being polite can buy time if things decide to go sideways in the middle of a pleasant conversation.

Also, Jessica and Ulysses can blend in a bit more than she can in their current civilian clothing. "Yes. I can do backup." She can decide whether or not she'll go through the trouble of changing while waiting.


Ulysses' face is the picture of intrigued confusion as only he can so wear it. "Weiiiiird." He fiddles around with the settings of his capture systems, then carefully sets them down to the side as he unpacks one of the Starkified devices Jessica had 'borrowed' for him.

While he's not even really sure what it does, he takes a few moments to push a few buttons and things before he figures it's like an energy scanner on steroids, which makes him slightly jealous as he looks between it and the things he's been using. After plugging in the specifications from his earlier findings as a baseline, he sets the thing to scan and save whatever readings it comes up with.

Seeing Jessica come back has him breathe a sigh of relief for the fact that no explosions, shouting or whatnot have followed. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agent once again looks worried as Jess states her intentions. He appreciates the head's up, definitely. "Yeah, um. Suuuure." He looks down at his scanning progress. "Give me a few more seconds for this thing to finish." He'd rather have everything packed away safely after he's gotten everything he can find around here saved before something happens.


The joy of Stark’s technology is that it is fairly easy for Ulysses to figure out how to configure the thing, and it comes to life with all manner of faints beeps and whistles and lights.

It also, on a small readout screen, declares in tiny letters of an archaic LCD font: 1 Match Found.

Whatever that means.

Meanwhile, Raven will sense when the harmony of before changes. There’s a spike of concern, which quickly devolves into a fear tinged with anger. It might be safe to assume that someone has noticed them.


Jessica waits as asked, and then simply knocks on the door, pulling out her wallet. She exhales a little. Here she is, with a real badge to flash. Let's see how this goes. Not that the woman has to talk to her, but then…

Exactly zero percent of anyone she has ever talked to on any investigation has to talk to her. No changes there.


Everything was fine. Was.

As Raven waits, the change in the overall mood of the place physically causes her to take a small step back. Pressing her clawed fingers to her temple, she shoots a look at the house.

Because any sudden shift in a nice, peaceful area is grounds for worry.

"Be careful, Jessica. I think they know we're here," the half-demon says with a tinge of muted urgency.

She assumes it's coming from inside, but it doesn't hurt to keep an eye on their surroundings.


Oh no it makes cute noises. He's going to have to name it. Sorry Jess, he's claimed this scanny-thingamagig now. Not like the Avengers are using it or anything, right? Right.

Ulysses squints at what appears to be a screen, frowning a little. All that and it still displays in LCD? Maybe this is an old model. No wonder it's just left lying around. "One match found? Well that's infuriatingly vague." He looks around for output ports that he can possibly connect his tablet to. For the moment it seems that he's sidetracked himself with this now that he's been distracted by some sort of finding. Typical Ulysses behavior. At least Raven's paying attention to things.


There’s a bit of a wait, and then the door cracks open. The chain on it is very much in place and half of a woman’s face appears. She’s probably in her late forties or early fifties by appearances, which would make her about the same age as the eldest of the gang. Her hair is already dominated by streaks of grey, making her seem older.

Her dark eyes narrow at Jessica. “Who the hell’re you, and what d’you want?”

She jerks suddenly, as she bumps something with her hip. She talks to someone else, but her eyes don’t leave the Avenger on her worn, wooden porch. “Go back to your drawin’, honey. Everythin’s fine.”

The light sound of footsteps sounds as someone wanders away from the door and deeper into the house.

A small micro USB port at the end of the scanner does indeed allow the tablet to connect, and as soon as Ulysses does this, the whole screen dims save for one retro shaped box that asks a very polite question in the same nostalgic LCD font: 1 Match Found. May I show you? Y / N

Aww, it even has green and red on-screen buttons. Yes. No. All you have to do is push, Uly.


"Jessica Jones, Avengers," Jessica says. Raven might feel the mingled pride and embarrassment she feels when she says that, all swirled in with not feeling good enough to say that and yet enjoying the belonging that lets her say it, mingled still with a firm focus on getting the job done that pushes the rest of that to the background.

"I'd like to ask you a few questions, ma'am."

A pause. A calculated one.

"You don't have to answer, of course. You don't have to let me into your house. I don't have a warrant and we don't have any evidence you or anyone else inside has done anything wrong. But if you talk to me…it might help Zeph and her siblings."

She also feels a stab of compassion for the woman, though it doesn't leak past the professional look on her face. One very reminiscent of a police detective, for all of Jessica's contempt for the entire profession of law enforcement.


Turned away and standing still enough to blend into the scenery, Raven goes through the motions. Her brow is set, face serene as she picks up on Jess' current emotions. That, she can understand; it is kind of awkward to announce yourself under an unconventional title, but it simultaneously owns up to it, bringing it into the detective's identity.

The older woman is rightfully on the defensive side of things. That fear she felt earlier makes more sense now, as well; it's a child, and they can be easily frightened if they don't know what's going on.

For now, Raven concentrates, looking out at the endless emptiness while silently encouraging a feeling of calm to fall back over the household.


The dimming screen makes him anxious, but Ulysses would be more surprised if Stark's tech wasn't compatible to some degree. He lets out a breath when the message window comes up, unable to help but smile as it even asks so politely.

Of course then he frowns. It's a very straight-forward question but has to wonder what all he's getting into by hitting that button. He makes a mildly frustrated noise as he drums fingers against the side of his tablet. His eyes flick over towards the house where he sees Jessica and Raven have engaged the occupants. Well. Better make the most of this.

"…please don't explode," he prays as he hits 'Yes.'


Raven’s handiwork is most apparent in the twelve-year-old girl who works more contentedly and with fewer nervous glances towards the door. That’s not to say, however, that she goes near windows. She’s stays deep in dim sitting room and listens.

Her guardian at the door doesn’t look entirely convinced, but eventually she relents. The mention of Zephyr causes a spike of fear—a fear that settles into a more even if deep-seated, maternal sort of concern as Raven works. “I can’t let you in,” she drawls to Jessica. “Notus’ll lose his mind if he finds out I let you in. But you can ask, I guess.”

Out in the field, the tablet goes black. It stays black for a long moment, perhaps leading Ulysses to wonder if Stark’s device just killed it.

Except that then the tablet flares brilliantly back to life. ‘Apologies,’ the device tells Ulysses in a new text window, as it proves that the LCD was a stylistic choice. ‘I needed to update your operating system.’ Numerous windows start popping up, with a multitude of readings, supplemental particle diagrams, and satellite images with coordinates that will perhaps seem familiar.

They’re coordinates that point to a place in the Alaskan wilderness.


Jessica pats the air a little. "It's fine, I don't need to come in," she says. "You should know that Notus is in custody, along with his brother and a sister. Zeph is not in legal custody, but has been granted a sort of asylum for the moment."

She tilts her head to the property. "We are here because we followed some portals that were happening. As I understand it, some people came through those portals and offered Notus, Zeph, and the others a lot of money if they would go into New York City and start stirring up trouble. They stirred up enough to kill cops, so they were successful, but I suspect your family didn't get a cent beyond whatever might have gotten paid up-front. Did you see these people? Were you there while they negotiated this offer?"


"Explode?" Raven voices mild concern despite how deadpan she sounds, giving a sidelong glance Agent Angrim's way once he presses a finger against the tablet screen.

She doesn't know the guy too well, but she can trust him enough to not explode anything. Unless he proves otherwise, but that's something to be seen.

In the meantime, she'll take the calmness in one of the two residents living here. The maternal fear and concern in the older woman is different from what she's used to sensing, but she shouldn't dwell on that. She's cooperating. Raven doesn't need to try forcing a hand as Jones gets some information across. She even casts a glance back toward the house for a bit, just to see how it's going.


A curse breaks the brief silence out in the field behind them as Ulysses stares horrified at his suddenly blacked out tablet. He's only minorly relieved that nothing exploded. Still squatting there in the grass where he'd been studying the physical traces of a portal's formation, the agent sags visibly in relief when his tablet screen comes alive again. He shakes a fist at…the text window, apparently, before gripping both sides of the device as he watches things start to sprout up like crazy.

The information reflects off his glasses as he stares down at the windows that have pulled up, eyes scanning over each bit of info he grabs in snatches before fixating on the satellite coordinates.

A brow twitches.

He pulls up an input window and types out, 'Are you sure?' if only to voice his frustration somewhere before he sighs and begins to tuck the scanner into his pack, draping it in front of him as he stands so that he can keep the tablet plugged in without stretching the cord too long. Dusting grass and dirt from his jeans, Ulysses turns to head over by Raven, eyes still glued to his tablet.


‘1 Match Found.’

It’s as close to insisting as a text window can be. Particularly when the LCD letters seem to bold. But then, it offers a little more.

‘Multiple Partial Matches Found.’

The doorway stays locked by chain, even as the older woman on the other side just closes her eyes and rests her head on the jamb. “I saw ‘em once, yeah,” she says without lifting her head. “I mean, through the window. Notus doesn’t do business in the house, y’understand? He’s pretty strict about it.”

She waits a moment and then lifts her head with a sudden resolve. The stir of memory, another surge of fierce and transcending desire to protect, prompts her to speak again. “You should go. I can’t talk to you. I…” She looks to the lot. Doesn’t see any more cars. Looks back to Jessica with a barely controlled panic.“…How did you even get here?”

“You should go,” she repeats.


Jessica is hesitant for a moment. "Listen," she says softly. "We can get you out of here. Protect you. Get you somewhere safe. I don't know who you've been dealing with, but you're obviously afraid of them. We can help you, if you'll let us. Especially if you're worried about someone showing up right now. Watching you or listening to you. We can keep them from hurting you and the little girl. This is what we do."

Because okay. The lady doesn't know much. But that doesn't mean Jess won't try to help her. It seemed like Notus was just trying to support this very poor family, and while that doesn't excuse what he did, it does mean that his getting arrested has left them very vulnerable indeed.


The spike of emotional activity causes Raven to lift her head, looking away from the windows of the house and back toward the door where Jessica is standing in view. With panic daring to break the surface tension of countryside silence, the cloaked figure refocuses, doing her best to calm the woman's fears while the detective did the rest.

"We might be leaving soon," she whispers to Ulysses. "We're starting to move in that direction, anyway." She takes a few more steps closer to the agent to see what he's working on. "What's happening? Did you find anything?"


Only Ulysses would be taken aback by bold text. He draws back a little, which is mostly him leaning away from the screen since he's holding the tablet in his hands. "Okay, okay," he mutters before something else comes up. "Well why didn't you say so in the first place?" Maybe he should actually type something in to that effect. He's about to when Raven comes over.

"Oh, just dealing with some sassy Stark equipment. Not sure if that's a thing or it's just me, but I feel like I'm being sassed at." He types one-handed on the tablet screen to see about getting the details on those partial matches. In afterthought he adds 'please' to the command line despite feeling silly about it, but at the same time it just feels right to do so. After all, he'd rather not find out the hard way that the update made his tablet super sensitive that it'd have an emotional breakdown and brick his equipment.

"What's been going on here? We haven't been attacked or shot at so I'm taking that as a good sign?" he asks, glancing back towards Jessica and the house.


Tiny dots begin populating all over the screen in Ulysses’s hands, scattered across the global map. Each one is touchable, but only to zoom in and show an unhelpful radius with an low-level energy signature and a time stamp from Stark’s satellite systems.

Raven’s push for calm has an effect on the woman at the door and she calms again, lifting her head. “I don’t know that that’s a good idea. I don't want anybody taking our girl. Look, you turn around and forget you came through, I’ll tell you whatever I can. And then you’ll send the lot home, yeah?”

Like Zephyr, the woman seems just as ill-suited for criminal living. The thought that Jessica could be lying about any of it doesn't seem to cross her mind. And she turns around sharply, only to bark, “Get away from the door.”


Jessica considers that. And finally she pulls out her wallet. She brings out several hundreds and a business card which she hides beneath the hundreds. She bends down, slips it through the crack in the door, and says, "For the kid. I'm sure there's stuff she needs."

Maybe she'll get a call or an email, but she's not going to press. Child services can be a bitch, and Jess sure has no helpful contacts in Michigan.

She turns and walks away, putting her hands in her pocket, her head lowering as she frowns down at the ground, her emotions roiling with discontent. Still, it's clear Ulysses has found something. She drifts back over there, noting, "We probably should get off the property."


"I wouldn't know. But if it's from Mister Stark…" Raven doesn't judge Ulysses' addition of the word 'please' with the command input. Her brow creases more out of concern for the other scenario occurring at the same time. "In a way, yes. Not being attacked is always good. Jessica's still trying to persuade them to come with her, but the woman's adamant about staying out here."

She feels the whiplash between genuine concern and the subsequent overreaction, with fear flooding back into her veins like ice. Her eyes squeeze shut, absorbing any emotional remainders just as the detective approaches them. That fresh weight of discontentment is buffered as well, drawing into her so that it won't leave too heavy a mark on the results of their outing.

"That's fine," Raven rasps, already moving her arms and hands to create a way back to New York. "We did whatever we could."


"Ah-hah….ah..?" Ulysses blinks, his grin freezing as the dots continue to grow on the map displayed on screen. That's a lot. "Ugh, this will take some time. I need to narrow things down," he says, even as he zooms in the map on North America to get a better view of how many points are there. He'll have to put some filters in, maybe get a chronological listing, cross-reference with the places Jessica's looked at. The agent glances up at Raven then. "Hey, you okay?"

When he hears approaching footsteps, he hugs the tablet close but relaxes a little when Jessica is the one coming back over to them. He nods, knowing questions can wait and that at least he's got something for their efforts here, if Jessica hasn't. They can trade notes once they're back somewhere comfortable. …because New York is totally more comfortable than here, apparently.

"No one's coming after us, right?" he asks Jess. Just to be sure.


Even narrowing the selection down to North America leaves dozens of spots filled with little more than wide radiuses as records. Some of those dots have repeated hits that the program is able to pull up and list, but so many of them are a little vague and likely unhelpful.

One dot is, however, a radius which would include the spot where they stood not even an hour ago. …And also all of Manhattan. It has multiple hits across a wide span of months.

Nothing seems to predate the dot in Alaska, however.

As Jess rejoins them, Raven may or may not feel the surge of anxiety and then, moments later, the woman from before is barreling out of the house with a thick wool wrap pulled over her flannel shirt and jeans. She calls over the barren fields, “Wait! Wait.”


Jessica freezes then turns quickly back to the woman. She dashes back up to the front porch, her mouth still open either to thank Ulysses for finding so much for them to work with or to give some directive or both.

The woman's sudden change of heart is the last thing, the very last thing, that she expected. And it still shows all over her expressive features as she returns. She snaps her mouth shut a moment later, tries to put the professionalism back on, but mostly only manages to ask, "What is it?"


Drawing in a steady breath, Raven then quietly exhales. "There were a few problems," she tells Ulysses. "Emotional feedback is awful and I wasn't concentrating hard enough to withstand the sudden change of pace- "

And it happens again, causing her to pause awkwardly as a ball of anxiety pushes through and past her body.

"…Much like that," she adds with a slight grumble, more disappointed at herself for not being prepared than at the woman who asks for them to wait.


His attention flicks between Jessica and Raven, the former when she suddenly turns and hurries back towards the woman who's come after them, and the latter as she starts to explain and then trails off briefly in the wake of rolling emotions. Ulysses slips a hand from his tablet, wavering hesitantly in wanting to offer some support to the cloaked young woman and wondering awkwardly reasoning out that patting her on the shoulder probably won't do much. Okay, so he's not good at this.

The agent's eyes drop back to the screen he holds in his other hand, and he makes an annoyed sigh. Inputting the filters, he makes a face as he glances over the time displays, saving the output. This is what he hates about using a tablet. He needs more windows and more room. And actual keyboards wouldn't hurt either.


To Jess alone, the woman drops her voice. “If you’re serious about helping out, I… I got kinda nosy. There were three of ‘em, and they popped in and out a few times. But I’m not like Notus and the other kids, so you learn to keep your head down, yanno? Anyway, said they were representing someone. Didn’t say his name. Never showed up. But these three, you couldn’t miss ‘em in a crowd. Especially here. But one of ‘em has this thick head of pink hair. One of ‘em has skin that I don’t even know how to describe. Purple, I guess? And the other one looks like Igor out of an old Frankenstein movie.”

She bounces her knee, and it sends her whole body shaking. “They haven’t been back since… Well. Since. They hopped off with everyone in tow and we’ve been waiting here since.”

She looks pass Jessica, then, and onward to the other two in her fields.

“This is my dad’s land. They’re… I just don’t have a lot to lose, so what I have matters. …Is Zeph okay? Because she ain’t got the sense that God gave ducks.”

She doesn’t say anything about the others. Because. Well.


"Zeph's gonna be okay," Jessica murmurs. "She's got good people looking after her, people who won't let her fall into the same trap twice. Thank you. I'll put this information to good use. And when the day comes that I'm pretty sure you don't have to look over your shoulder anymore, you'll be the first to know."

And if her information seems to muddy the waters again, it's still a whole lot of leads. Someone, somewhere, is going to have people meeting that description on file.

"I don't think they'll be back," she adds softly. "They got what they wanted. But I won't be sure till we know exactly what they're doing."


Knowing how Ulysses feels, Raven looks his way, not outrightly rejecting his attempt to help her. "Thank you for your concern," she says, mostly matter-of-fact while he's still trying to figure it out.

While she doesn't hear much of what goes on between the woman and Jessica, she still reaches out for the former, reapplying small doses of relief to ebb the deepened senses of paranoia and fear still running through her veins.

"It's the least I can do," the half-demon adds quietly to the agent, staring at him from under her peaked hood.


"Hey, you're doing stuff and dealing with stuff I'm not even aware of. I doubt it's that negligible." Ulysses wrinkles his nose a bit. "…a-anyway, better you than me. Wait no, that's not quite what I meant." He waves his hand as if that'd reset what he said earlier. "You're good at what you're good at, and I'm good at…other stuff."

He steals a glance back over at Jessica and the woman she speaks to, offering a tiny wave with a wiggle of his fingers in the direction of the latter when he notices her gaze has shifted towards them. Absolutely legitimate tasks being done here, nothing to worry about ma'am. They'll move along shortly. He pauses and then steps forward slightly, as though thinking to block the suspicious portal back to New York from view, not that he'd be able to really hide the thing behind him.

"….right, other stuff," he murmurs, looking back at his screen. With North America covered, he does a quick filter of the most recent activity matches elsewhere in the world just to see if anything might pop up as relevant, although he figures only Jessica will be able to tell him that once they compare notes.


There’s something about the wave from Ulysses, however innocuous, that sends the older woman back into her anxious cycles. She stops looking in their direction, and finds a place to stare on her worn hard-sole slippers instead as she folds her arms hard across her chest.

“Okay. I’m… I’m gonna get back inside. Just… If you see Zeph, tell’er I said to get her hide back home in one piece so I can tan it properly.”
A hefty sigh escapes her lungs after that, and then she tugs her head back in the direction of the farmhouse without really looking up.

“Yeah. We’ll… We’ll be here.”

And on that awkward note, she turns and makes a rapid walk back inside. And she promptly locks the door.

There are certainly dots all over the world, but most of the ones outside of the US seem to bounce across Europe and a few smaller island clusters in the southern hemisphere. A few up in Antarctica.


Jessica hurries back to the others, and says, "Sorry about that. She decided she did have some information for us after all. I think we're ready to go. I hope you found out more than I did, Ulysses."

She'd been conscious of something going on back here with the agent, but focused on Zeph-mom as she'd been, she hadn't really tuned in to what.


Raven shakes her head. "Don't worry, I understand what you mean by that," she smirks after Ulysses fumbles through his words. "You're doing fine. It's good to see that Jessica trusts you delving into these matters alongside whatever it is she needs to do."

She does notice that shift in the woman, however, letting her violet gaze lift to see that Jessica is heading back over to where they are. Perhaps Ulysses' gesture is coincidental, and that she hasn't been putting too much effort into instilling peace in the one person who needs it the most, but…

"She did?" Raven lets the trivial thought go, focusing on the detective again. During the pause, she begins to lift her arms again, turning away from the two so that she has some space to conjure. "Well…that's always a good sign, I suppose."


Ulysses wonders if he should be offended as the woman looks away, but he supposes she's got her concerns and he's got… a whole lot of dots on his screen. He's tapping about again with thoughtful hums and an absent nod at Raven. "We go back some. I figure when she calls me up I should expect a challenge." Which is fine by him. He's still looking down at the screen when Jessica comes back.

"Got some promising data. This equipment's awesome, by the way, even if it is sassy. So if I forget to return it to you at the end of this I really didn't because I'm totally keeping it." He pauses. "Now what was I… Oh yeah! I got a list of recent pings from similar energy readings, one match and the rest are partial, the main one in- haha, you'll never guess, Alaska, our favorite place to visit."

He falls quiet again as though waiting for a response, but whether or not one is forthcoming, he'll continue. "So anyway I can get a chronological list and maps of everything unless you have other information to further narrow things go- can we go now because this whole quiet thing is kinda getting on my nerves."


"Alaska again. Son of a bitch," Jessica says, her head tilting and snapping back in the way it does when she's particularly annoyed. "Kenai again, or somewhere else? And I have three possible profiles that might be in either SHIELD's database or the Avenger's or both, so…let's head home and have a look."

She describes the three individuals the mom described, noting, "It doesn't make a lot of sense to me why metas would be working with this Alaska Crew…"

A pause.

"Unless they don't have much choice."

But she walks through the portal, because she is no fan of hanging around rural Michigan either.


Although Ulysses isn't looking up, Raven nods anyway. She can see how it all plays out between the two, each with their different strengths in mind. Pretty beneficial, in fact.

So as the detective and the agent trade notes, the cloaked Titan silently follows after them, making sure that the portal stays open until she's the last one through.


With Jess heading on through the portal, Ulysses is quick to follow, no hesitance about it. It's something to be said when he'd rather deal with creepy portal sensations than empty fields.

"Unfortunately, I think so," he says, tapping through windows to pull up an earlier one. "I only glanced at it but it looked too familiar to be coincidental. From the partial matches, there's a lot of activity in Manhattan in the past few months. And hey, if profiles aren't on either or, then there's always other places to look, if the info's there."


Jess nods and pulls out her phone to go searching the Avenger's records for a person with purple skin. Hair is too easy to change, and 'looks like Igor' is pretty subjective, but unless the skin is painted, purple skin is awfully hard to change. She just does it while walking around the sudden crowd, flowing to settle in an alley where she won't be in the way without hardly having to look at it.

Ah home sweet home.

"Got addresses or locations in Manhattan we can check out? Sounds like we're going back to Alaska in any event."

She looks at Raven and says, "Did you hear about all that went on up there recently? Alaska, I mean."


"Not since the last time I went along with you two," Raven answers the detective, her voice a decibel above what the city alley provides as quiet. "The only time, to be correct."

Still, she thinks about it, letting her head tip downward. "…As for anything else related to Manhattan or the rest of New York, I've felt nothing else out of the ordinary. A few disturbances, but those aren't related to this portal ordeal."


"Oh blessed internet," Ulysses murmurs as the bars on his tablet build. He doesn't navigate the crowds nearly as smoothly as Jessica once they've stepped back into the thick of New York and its plentiful foot traffic, but he's versed enough in the practice that he doesn't run into anyone as he follows her into an alley.

"Uuuh, lemmee see if I can get some coordinates." He brings up the map window again to punch in the search filters again, making a face as they in the meantime discuss Alaska trips. "If we end up having to go back up to Kenai maybe this time we'll get to go to Moosemeat John's."


For that one site in Alaska, and that site alone, the tiny red dot does indeed have very specific coordinates. And Stark’s database does indeed display said coordinates.

That do indeed sit precisely over one part of Alaskan wilderness that is this particular group of heroes will know as home to one crater, and the hidden lab accessed by said crater.

The device helpfully tells Ulysses in cheerful LCD:

‘Uploading new data. Transmitting…’

Cue the turning hourglass that, admittedly, only turns over three times before disappearing.

‘Upload complete.’


"So far this group makes no sense. Kidnapping telepaths, and now a bunch of weirdos hiring people to make meta trouble…" Jessica frowns down at Ulysses' data, and frowns. She blows out her cheeks.

"Yeah. It might be a visit to Moosemeat Johns and some spying at Dr. Evil's justice crater, unless that upload just gave us a lead closer to home."


"It's disturbing to think of what they're trying to do with everyone they have involved so far," Raven adds, her features mostly neutral despite being hidden within the confines of her hood. Still, her brow furrows in thought, knowing that she hasn't been that helpful in the moment.

But Ulysses has been very useful and highly skilled here, she notes, and she also glances his way to see if anything new has come up.

Although she has to wonder about Moosemeat John's. That's something for later.


"Uh—"

Brow knitting, Ulysses frowns at the tablet. It's not simply because the coordinates are indeed a place all too familiar. His immediate concerns are in this case, the sudden window that's come up and the message coming up in that accursed font.

"Wait, wait, what- h-hold on, what are we… Um…."

Well, it's not like he was going to contribute anything insightful to the other two, his attention from that conversation abruptly derailed as he stares at the innocuous message. Then he pulls up a window and single-handedly taps up a storm as he searches for the brings up the directory accessed and the IP trail.

"…okay so that happened." He types off a brief reprimand in the window, a little warning next time? But then why should it? This is Stark's tech after all. "Mister Stark probably just got that information right now." He looks up from the tablet finally, glancing from Jessica to Raven and back. "Just so you know."


"I agree," Jessica says to Raven, looking grim.

Then Ulysses makes his revelation and her lips flutter upward in a quirk of a smile.

"Good. I mean there's a non-zero chance he'll just blow up all the evidence, but it saves me the trouble of having to go and make a report to him," Jessica says, arching her eyebrows. "I'm not hiding anything from him, Ulysses. I didn't take anything he would have a problem with me taking, I promise."

She gestures down at the pad, intent on getting them back on track. "Any of those dots on your screen represent leads closer to home than Alaska?"


If Tony Stark knows (which isn't too surprising, considering that his tech is being used), then…it should be fine? Recalling the last time they went to Alaska and the sky was lit up, that wasn't anywhere near fine. For the other people, anyway.

(Blowing things up is a common theme among her circle of friends and she's not even sure if there's a way around it.)

"How wide has the range of coordinates been so far?" Raven asks Jessica and Ulysses, the urgency in her voice lacking since it isn't a question to prioritize over the information already being gathered.


Ulysses sighs. "I mean, I'm not mad, just…" Okay, but can he really take credit for punching buttons and things on Stark-tech? This is a question that makes him think, and he trails off as he mulls over it.

"Huh? Oh. The Alaska one's the only exact match. Everything else is partial, but we got a few in Manhattan on that list," he says as he brings up the other window with New York's coordinates mapped out.

To Raven, he gestures vaguely in the way one does while really accomplishing nothing by it. "I'm not really even sure what it means by partial matches- either there's someone else using similar portal methods or maybe they're not as big a scale as the one between Michigan and Alaska. But those are scattered all over the place."


Jessica thinks about it for a long moment and scowls. Finally she says, "Can you email me a copy of that? I'm going to go check out those locations. See if I can't pull surveillance video from anywhere near any of them. See if I can't get a glimpse of Pink, Purple, and Igor, see what other patterns shake out. And then I guess…there's nothing for it than to go back to Alaska and see what's what."

She looks at them both, grimacing. "Thanks for your help today, both of you. I had nothing to go on this morning and now…"

She gestures at Ulysses list. Now she's got a lot of work to do, which is exactly what she wanted.


Although it may not be the best answer, Raven takes it. With how complicated it already has been, it's better to not have to deal with something on a larger scale. Less stress from outside sources to feel on her part, even if Jessica and Ulysses have been pretty consistent in keeping their emotions in check.

(Well. There is more emotional control in Jessica than in Ulysses, but the effort is recognized.)

She bows her head slightly. "It's just good to hear anything has been found at all," she offers, her words leaning toward apologetic despite their lack of connotation.


Ulysses's emotions aren't terribly drastic and are usually just varying shades of concern at the most. Today's actually been a good day, normal despite the portal travel.

"Yeah, sure thing Jess. I'll run through things again and see if I can't nail down anything else too." That's a given, but he says it like your typical legal clause found at the end of lengthy statements. He makes a face at the thought of going back to Alaska as he looks between the P.I. and Titan. "I was hoping that we'd shut down what was going on over there the last time we all went," he sighs.


"Yeah, me too, but obviously we didn't pull it out by the roots. I should have gone back and investigated the whole facility after. That's on me. Instead, I celebrated that we got everyone home and went and grappled with my issues."

She grimaces, self-recrimination and uneasiness filling her. For a moment her emotions aren't in check at all. She exhales sharply though, going back to her normal baseline, which is focus with varying edges of humor and irritation. This time it's way more on the irritation side, but that's life. "So, that's on me. I'm an investigator, I should have investigated, I didn't, and now we've got a big friggin' mess on our hands. I won't make the same mistake twice."


Another frown joins the fray of thoughts leading back to Alaska.

"…That was a good enough reason to forego any more digging at the time," Raven replies, saying nothing of Jessica's moodshift as it rises and falls back into place. "We needed to take care of them first."

She meets the detective's gaze, almost unblinking until she says, "I believe you. And if you still need my help on the matter, I'm more than willing to assist."


"…I mean…." Ulysses ventures after a second or two more of awkward silence ticks after Raven's words, "…I figured Mister Stark probably went and leveled everything after everyone was cleared, seeing how enthusiastic he was at the distraction." He slides the tablet back securely into his bag. There's only so much you can do while on the move. Once he's at home or something he can really start to punch some numbers. Aw yeeeh.

"Anyway what I'm saying is that you did what you went out to do and it was a joint op and only one of you. So don't come down so hard on yourself Jess. Without you, Alaska wouldn't even have been something anyone would've been aware of."


"You're welcome to come with while I go doing this footwork. Either of you. I'd never say no to help." Jessica's expression flickers with a tired smile. "Most just don't find it as fascinating as I do to do that stuff. But I like you both and you both bring plenty to anything that I don't, so please be welcome."

Ulysses' comments bring a faint bit of color to her cheeks along with a quick smile. She is both embarrassed and pleased. She claps Ulysses gently on the shoulder and squeezes, the most she's going to say about that, and other than to say: "There was a whole lot of rubble, wasn't there? Maybe there were a few sublevels we missed though. Could explain why they're back and operating so fast."


The Titan silently agrees with Ulysses on those points, letting him take the brunt of the camaraderie as she stands off to the side.

But she does nod, both for Jessica's openness and for her assumptions as to why everything picked up again. "That's possible."


Aahh, human contact! Ulysses manages not to let himself lose his balance with Jessica's gesture, returning her smile with one not entirely awkward or uncertain. His words at least are without such as he nods. "Could be. And you jumped down a pretty long way." …which meant if they went poking around they'd be spelunking again…

He clears his throat, deciding it better not to get ahead of himself. "But yeah, if you think you need tech support…" Ugh, Alaska… "Not like I'm getting any results on my other stuff lately. -I just request that you get your butler friend to pack blueberry muffins."


Jessica laughs softly at that. "I'll ask. And then you'll end up with a basket of 7 kinds of muffins, cause Emery never likes to do the bare minimum of anything."

She jerks her head at…well. New York. Sweet, sweet New York with lots of places within spitting distance. "Want lunch, guys? I'm buying. Least I can do after all your help today."

And all their help forthcoming, too, given the slog that's ahead. Still…it's a more than worthwhile slog.

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