What They Do In The Shadows
Roleplaying Log: What They Do In The Shadows
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

A crack team of Batgirl, Jessica Jones, Zatanna Zatara and Red Robin explore the sewer network of Gotham City in search for more clues about the Whisper Gang and its sudden affinity for shadow magic.

Other Characters Referenced: The Punisher, Nightwing, Jim Gordon, John Constantine, The First of the Fallen, Giovanni Zatara, Daredevil, Batman, Robin, Killer Croc, Spider-man, Starfire
IC Date: January 19, 2019
IC Location: Sewers, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 19 Jan 2019 06:59
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for comic book violence
NPC & GM Credits: Whispered Gang Members (Batgirl)
Associated Plots

It is dark, but in Gotham's underground, it always is. The only differences between day and night are signaled by what little daylight streams through the gaps and holes, so diffused it only emphasizes the edge of shadows. It is a network of sewers, the forgotten subbasements of old buildings, and even — in the deeper reaches — literal lost city blocks of foundations. Tunnels bend and twist, some ending abruptly while others seem to just turn back on themselves in a dizzying maze. It is no wonder it is a favored stomping ground to the Rail Gangs and other dangerous participants in Gotham's ever-nurtured crime.

Not all of it is sewer; some of it is forgotten lines to the Gotham Rails — old stations that had been abandoned due to damage or disuse. This particular Gotham Rail station is suddenly luminous as a manhole-sized hole in the ceiling yawns open to bring in a spotlight of late evening sunshine. A rat scurries out of sight, and the dusty tiles of the floor bears several passes of tiny footprints.

Street-side, Batgirl leans over the hole briefly, casting the far-off floor in shadow once more. "Hmm," she muses aloud, frowning. "Well, it isn't flooded." Which was a possibility. She glances back up at the others as she steps back, yellow boots scuffing against cracked pavement. They are standing in the fenced in lot of an abandoned warehouse down in Sandy Hook. It is unusual for Bats to be about in daylight, but it is almost nightfall, the sun low at the horizon. Perhaps they can be forgiven. After all, they are here hunting for the Whisper Gang — the abruptly magic-wielding Ukrainians that have gone very quiet since the Birds of Prey's hit on their Atlantic City safehouse back in November.

"I guess that would be one way to get them out of there. Turn on the water. Wash them out. Kind of like spraying misbehaving cats," Jessica says dryly. She lights up a cigarette and flips on a maglite, the two things she will apparently need for this trip. She's her standard field clothes, her leather jacket zipped tight, the ratty grey scarf on, today, because she definitely doesn't want to risk messing up the purple one, a gift from a deceased friend. Her jeans are nicer only because they're bulletproof, and getting potential muck on them does not outweigh the possibility of getting a bullet in her ass.

At this point, crawling through sewer tunnels to solve various crimes is literally becoming a monthly to-do item. Get milk. Fill prescriptions. Sewers.

The Whispers aren't the only gang that's been abruptly wielding magic, and Jess, for her part, is curious about who might be handing that shit out like god-awful candy. But in a way all this feels familiar, almost nostalgic, especially with three members of team 'getting shit done,' the tongue-in-cheek group who once spent the better part of a year fighting the Cult of the Cold Flame, here on site. Of course, Jessica was a lot drunker back then.

She hops down the hole without much preamble than that, figuring if anyone here is going to take initial damage from an ambush or trap or some bullshit, it probably needs to be the most durable of the group.

The request had come through Jessica, who indicated that she and Batgirl might need a fresh pair of eyes regarding the Whisper Gang's sudden expertise in magic. The private investigator might be surprised to hear that Zatanna had already heard of the trouble, courtesy of the Batman himself, who had also asked her to look into the magical aspects of the investigation. Admittedly, he hadn't gone into terrible detail - just that the family was looking into it, and so was John Constantine, and considering that she knows that Bruce doesn't trust John as far as he could throw him, she agreed to lend her assistance.

She isn't alone, though, when she arrives - via portal, a whisper of electric tingles and the scent of ozone to herald her arrival by magic. Reality splits, spilling out the view of New York's ever-bustling heart within it, before long-legged strides take the Mistress of Magic through the opening along with Red Robin. While she doesn't have a costume, she's done her best to adhere to the new rules instilled upon the others now that the Titans fully intend to operate on the outside perimeters of the law - clad in nondescript black jeans, black boots, and a black hooded jacket, she also keeps most of her face behind a violet-and-black domino mask with white lenses - Tim's own construct, which digitally breaks down the scenery around them. She is still getting used to the electronic read outs she sees inside it.

It's helpful, though. She's not accustomed to holographic displays and the like - technology meets magic, from where she's standing.

"Hey," she lifts one of her gloved hands up from where they're stuffed in her pockets. "I don't know if we wanted this to be a girls only thing, but I brought back up." She gestures to Red Robin.

Her voice is light, at least, and there's a faint, but honest smile on her features. She peers at what they're presently hovered over - a hole in the ground, leading into Gotham's deeper, darker places.

"…you Bats really do take me to the most interesting places," she says in a quiet murmur.

As Jessica jumps in, there's a light shrug, before she also does.

"So give me the skinny on these guys again?" Her quiet voice filters through the built in comms of her mask. "Are they the only ones who've been using magic these days?"

Working in Gotham requires a different approach than the sort of work the Titans generally do: Red Robin knows that, knows it as deeply as he knows anything. The city was a part of him in a way that New York, and places beyond, never really would be… It's actually kind of a relief once he's on the other side of Zatanna's portal, as much as he dislikes the act of teleportation itself. And so, rather than his more lightweight costume he prefers when acting with the Titans, the Red Knight is clad in the heavier suit that fits better with the City of Yesterday: With his cape and cowl, in the dark he could be mistaken for the Bat, though the lack of 'ears' on the cowl breaks up that familiar profile. It's the familiar costume he wore when he first met Jessica Jones, when he first rescued Zatanna from that tannery she'd been held in.

"There's deeper things, under the sewers and the rail tunnels," the vigilante rumbles at Zatanna, though he's at least forgone the electric burr of the voice changer for now - everyone present has heard him speak in his regular 'business' voice anyway. "It's a honeycomb of old structures. Flooding would be worse, though," he muses, before also jumping in. "Especially if Croc is loose."

Yeah, he's just gonna leave that hanging there.

Back in October, Red Robin and Zatanna stepping through a magical portal would have given Batgirl actual pause. Fast-forward to January and two months of hanging around John Constantine and his inscrutable use of turning any door into a portal to anywhere, and you get over it. Mostly.

Okay, very mostly. Magic is cool, alright?

The bat-eared head turns toward the sight of Tim and Zatanna, and the purple and black clad vigilante straightens up a bit from her casual lean. The sight of Tim's more familiar costume has just one corner of her mouth twitching slightly, but that is the only acknowledgement of the callback to yesteryears. She's stepped back to let Jessica peer inside, and this also gives ample room for the other two.

"Hey," she returns quietly. Tim gets a hint of a smile before she's pulling several long meters of batline out from the tight coil on her belt. "I thought we'd do the spelunking tour of Gotham City." She gestures in offering to the gaping hole before they all start to pile in. Tim's casual mention of Croc has her snorting slightly.

Batgirl secures the rappel line — an assurance that if something goes horribly wrong, there's at least an assist to get all their asses out — and then she too drops down into the dark gloom of the forgotten underground station.

Boots hit tiles, and bright motes of dust spiral up into the eerie, echoy chamber of the dark, manmade cavern. The air is stale, muddled with a stench of sewer. She glances toward Jess now that they are down in the dark before she looks to Zatanna. "Shadow magic. They can summon up utter darkness… can't see anything, hear anything. Kills perception entirely." She disconnects the line, leaving an ample coil on the ground. "Constantine thinks someone sold them the magic. Looks like all their power was coming from amulets."

"Hellraisers are a new gang back in New York, and they're doing it too," Jessica tells Zatanna, swinging her flashlight around. "And yeah, those goddamn amulets. Some sort of, I dunno, demon pact, I think, since when we broke their circles some shit came out of these amulets to kill them. Meanwhile, Hellraisers are maybe quote-unquote 'hulking out' with it. On that one, the fact that it's magic is unconfirmed, but the way it seems to work doesn't match the latest 'be a meta for a day, pay no attention to the possibility of liquifying your insides' drug that was recently passed around on the streets, and there doesn't seem to be another one rising up to replace it. Babs, when you and John fought that one Jamaican gang were they sporting new tricks, too? Because this really feels like a pattern of someone handing out dangerous toys to children who shouldn't play with them, not just a one-time sale. Which sure, I guess turns a profit, but I'm worried it's something worse. Causing a bunch of chaos and small fires in preparation for the salespeople to do some real nasty shit later on."

Mention of the Croc has her blinking at both Batlings. "…what, like…an actual…crocodile in the sewers? I guess New York's not the only one who has them," she replies lowly as she heads in further with the rest of them. Seeing in the dark isn't a problem, thankfully, with the mask on her face - the lenses automatically shift to account for light sources within a given space. It's honestly quite handy, especially when one's not a metahuman with enhanced senses or a costumed vigilante trained by an expert ninja where darkness is more of a boon than a bane.

Clearly Zatanna has not heard of Killer Croc, though. She is not as well-versed in the rogues gallery that the Bats keep in the back of their minds like a mental rolodex.

If the stench in the sewers bothers her, the young woman doesn't show it. She has lived a lifetime in the community that she does, her father's ever present shadows in the realms of the dark and the light. An iron stomach is necessary when one is a student of both Giovanni Zatara and John Constantine.

Instead, Barbara's words has her furrowing her brows. "It's reckless," she murmurs to the rest of them. "This reality's still in recovery mode after the demonic invasion a few months ago. When Batman and I talked about this last, I told him that it might very well be that there's an experienced practitioner behind all of this - someone who has the know-how to guide the Whispers into doing any kind of magic beyond hedge-level, otherwise the consequences would be disastrous. Any serious practitioner knows that…but if the source is coming from artifacts, the risks of it opening new rifts are mollified, somewhat. The burden is lighter if magic is stored in something else first. Did you guys manage to obtain any of these amulets? If not…we might want to grab one. Magical signatures are unique to the caster. If we do…"

Then chances are they can find out who has been making them, at least.

She listens quietly to what Jessica says next about the Hellraisers. "You mean the gang that hit the Jennings Gala?" she wonders. "I heard Daredevil say something about magic - he knew I was in the crowd. But I did a scan and I couldn't…it didn't seem like magic. Not really? I guess we won't be able to analyze for sure until we found out more." There's a glance to Barbara and Tim. "I gave Batman the footage of the Jennings fiasco. If you guys want it, I have it also. I had to kill the cameras because the Titans needed to suit up."

In the dark, the lenses of Red Robin's cowl gleam with a faint white light. The luminescence is of course part of the whole augmented reality setup, helping him to see in the dark: Despite his somewhat lighter words about the situation, that they at least aren't hopefully going to have to deal with Killer Croc trying to eat them, in the dark the vigilante's manner is all professional. He's listening to the conversation between Jessica, Zatanna and Batgirl, of course, but the bulk of his attention is turned to studying their surroundings.

"Hn," the Red Knight mutters to himself, turning towards the northern end of the tunnel - it's the only actual noise he makes, despite the heavier look of his costume. They might not even notice he's moved off from the rest of the group at first. Maybe it's the city, maybe it's the costume, but either way he's acting more like his mentor, more like the solitary operator he was before.

Just a quick, cursory check of the mysterious, seemingly humanoid shape he sees there, before he calls out to the others.

"You might want to have a look at this."

"Frank Castle has been working with Dick Grayson on the Hellraisers up in New York." That's purposeful, the use of Dick's name instead of Nightwing. Her blue eyes trail toward Zatanna and Red Robin in a casual glance before she snaps on a few heavy, high-intensity glowsticks. Normally, she'd rely on her own cowl's lenses, her own HUD to deal with the darkness without diminishing it. But, last she checked, Jessica Jones needed light to see. She tosses Jess one of the glowsticks in a casual underhand. "Neither of them think what went down at the Christmas Ball was Hellraisers, but they lost their informant. Castle had him turn himself into the police. He died in custody — they think it was a brain aneurysm." And by her tone, Babs knows that was no coincidence.

The mention of the Jamaicans has Batgirl shaking her head slightly. She tosses another stick out into the darkness. "No. I mean, nothing that smelled of magic, but John has some theories. But the Hellraisers were pushing hard, and had zero issues with the kids caught in the crossfire. He thinks someone… maybe a warlock, maybe a demon, is dealing the cards, maybe playing the odds." Then she turns slightly toward Zatanna, snapping to life another glowstick. "It might be reckless, but if a warlock is out to make chaos, would it really matter the risks?"

The Gotham Rails station loses some of its darkness, but instead gains exponentially in long, deep shadows where the radius of the glowsticks fades out. She turns her head at Tim's casual prompt, and then her steps guide toward what has Tim's attention. She gives the luminous stick in her hand a toss toward where he indicates, and it flips end-over-end in a spiral of ever-changing, advancing light until it lands just short of the spread lower limbs of the human portcullis.

The body is just edging into the forensic classification of advanced decomposition. Young adult, maybe early twenties, and male — easy to discern because of the body's nudity. He is stretched into a bodily X, arms and legs spread wide and bound in ropes at the ceiling and floors of the tunnel. His black skin has gone gray, and the the lacerations across his skin have been bled dry. His head does not hang limp at his shoulders, but instead is arched back. He leads with his chest, and some kind of symbol has been carved into his chest.

Batgirl's mouth tightens, and she glances slightly toward Jess. She recognizes it, and knows Jess would, too — at least, the display of the body. The kid they found in the tunnels — Barbara's informant. Granted, he hadn't been nude, but the display is still the same even if the symbol in the chest is new. The light of the glowstick shines bright on the words painted on the ceiling above the body: Silence Is The True Friend That Never Betrays.

"Daredevil would usually be the best at telling if any non-mage would," Jessica muses thoughtfully. "So is there anything that would emulate magic without being magic?"

But she nods about the footage. "Please. It'll save me a half million witness interviews. I've been retained to figure out who hit that Gala. But yeah, it probably wasn't. Jennings had himself a deal with the Hellraisers. So. Probably imposters."

But then Tim is calling them over to have a look. With no weird tech to see in the dark, Jessica resorts to coming over there and shining her flashlight down on the shape. Though Barbara is tossing her a glowstick too. Jess catches it neatly in one hand and shoves it in the outer pocket of her jacket, so that most of the top half sticks out. She can't have too much light down here in her opinion.

Shen she sees the body she briefly covers her mouth and nose with a slim, pale hand, turning her head as if to hide the look of empathy and sadness on her face. The symbol's all Zee; Jess bets she can identify that in a hot minute, but she pulls her evidence kit out of her phone and starts trying to get any other trace she can, up to and including taking the rope samples. This is where the glowstick really does come in handy, because she has to put down the Maglite to do it.

"These Whispers," she says, her voice strained, "are really starting to piss me off."

They think it was a brain aneurysm.

Judging by the look on Zatanna's face, she doesn't believe that either, but she will leave that to the detectives on the team.

"I didn't know Detective Grayson was on the case," is all she says about Dick's involvement, but in retrospect, it makes sense - organized crime was his beat, though she didn't know that until after their double-date with Kory and his younger brother. There's no flicker of much of anything else on what's visible of the young magician's expression. Her friendship with Tim over the years, and then later discovering the identities of Batman, Daredevil, Spider-man and Nightwing afterwards, she's well practiced in separating civilian identities from the costumed ones.

"If there's demonic involvement, John would be able to ferret that out pretty quickly," she murmurs. "He's the one who taught me the ins-and-outs of Heaven and Hell." She slides her hands in her pockets. "If I was looking into who might be playing around with the Hellraisers, I'd say check out the Morning Star club above the New York Stock Exchange, though I'd keep John away from there…word has it that it's under new management. But that would have been the first place I've gone. It caters to every depravity humankind can ever think of and more…for a price."

It might be reckless, but if a warlock is out to make chaos, would it really matter the risks?

She sighs. "I suppose not. It's just more work for the likes of us, is all," she finishes with a grouse, rubbing the back of her neck. "It took months for the New York mystics to seal up the rifts caused by the Hell's Kitchen disaster, and then invasion and another month after to check them all."

Jessica's question is sound. "I'd leave that to the more technologically inclined," she says, glancing over at Red Robin. "Tech has gone so far these days that anything at this point could emulate magic but that's the kind of thing that's well beyond my expertise save for the little whirlygigs you use in stage shows. The mind's a powerful thing, though. Maybe some kind of hypnosis to make them think they're jacked up and more powerful than before? Sure doesn't explain how they looked during the gala, though."

And then, they find the body.

The magician is already withdrawing her smartphone, so she could e-mail the footage to Jessica - it's a huge file, but nothing that their shared cloud and sever can't handle, remembering the access Jessica gave her and the rest of Team Get Shit Done. The body, she leaves to Jess and Red, possibly the most well-versed in forensic analysis out of all of them, but the symbol? The private investigator is right about the speed in which she identifies it, for she says:

"It's a bindrune," she says immediately, though she doesn't go near the body - she's run with Red enough times to know not to venture too close to a crime scene before an expert takes a look at it. She does crouch on the ground to get a better look. "Nordic in origin and extremely versatile since you can essentially uh…" How to explain it… "…program your intentions into it. Back in the day, the Volva instructed their villagers to carve these in the entry points in their homes as mystic alarms in case anyone breaches the dwelling. But these are usually found on windows and doors, not a body…"

Of course, Red Robin is also taking samples from the corpse, though his forensics kit is located in the seemingly endless supply of pouches hanging from his utility belt, rather than hidden away magically. It's a Bat thing.

As always, he's thorough, with every intention of following up on whatever he might be able to later - the system in his cowl actively recording, too, giving him video and photographs to examine later. Just in case.

"We should try to identify the corpse, at the very least. There might be a loose thread we can start pulling on," the detective suggests, though he isn't particularly optimistic about it. The sorts of people who get caught up in these sorts of things have often already slipped through the cracks even before they wind up creepily dead in an abandoned railway station.

"So then… What kind of intention is programmed into it?" he wonders, looking towards Zatanna.

"Alarm," Zatanna tells Red Robin quietly. "Which is why it's weird. Like I said, these are usually placed in entry points of a dwelling, not a body. Unless whoever set this up knows that anyone who comes across the corpse will try to move it, or go beyond it..or…"

She glances past the corpse.

"…maybe it's a Dante's Inferno sort of deal? Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here? I mean…" She gestures to the painted words above the corpse.

"I played matchmaker," Batgirl half-murmurs to Zatanna. Careful of each little intricate nature of their lives — double and triples lives for some of them — Barbara Gordon doesn't mention the passing jest of Babs setting up Dick to be Frank's Jim Gordon. Besides, only her and Dick find it worth exhausted, wearied amusement.

Mention of John being able to ferret out demon involvement has her nodding soberly. "He's working his angle. He thinks that this may be connected to the shadow demons that were pied-pipering children and teenagers into the Underground a couple months ago. He called them sentries, but I don't know what they were guarding." Though, the words about the Morning Star Club and that John shouldn't go there has Batgirl frowning thoughtfully.

Then the body becomes the focus, and she tucks away the location Zatanna gave for the club. For later.

"Bindrune." The word is repeated thoughtfully as Barbara stands at the back of the group, staring up at the body. She shares Jessica's sentiment. These guys are really starting to piss her off. Tim asks the question she was going to ask. She listens to Zatanna's words while Jess goes about getting samples from the rope.

The P.I. touches the boy's ankle just above the knot of rope, and the air in the station abruptly changes. It is like suddenly the manmade cavern of tile, stone, and cement takes a deep inhale, and that intangible breath is laced with magic.

The body's seems to come to life with that breath of magic, and its jaw unhinges, and then a blast of inhuman noise that is ear-splitting in volume… and sounds an awful lot like an alarm.

The carved symbol in the dead boy's chest begins to glow.

Zee's explanation about the nature of the bindrune comes just a split second too late. Jess had been pulling back her hand, but…

"Shit.

"Sorry."

And then she just…tries to punch the rune in hard enough to cave the poor body's chest in, because pulping it ought to help, right? And because that's the kind of careful and precise dismantling of magic she's fallen into. Destroy circle. Smash crystal. Punch thing.

It's also just kind of reflex.

Not that it will keep them from getting unwanted company, of course, not with that scream.

Not that punching the glowing rune might not be a problem for other reasons.

The detective may be having an off night.

Alarm, Zatanna says.

"Uh huh," Red Robin replies.

Sorry, Jessica adds, mid-punch.

"Yeah… That seems about right," the vigilante sighs.

Because, of course, the alarm was triggered, and that was pretty much going to happen regardless of whether or not Jessica goes and pulps the rigged corpse, and the glowing rune carved into the ex-person's chest.

"So on the upside, now we know what kind of alarm it is," he says, turning to look over his shoulder at the others. "Hide, or leave?"

This wasn't his mission, after all… But he's already stowing the forensics equipment in his utility belt, and instead getting a short cylinder from the small of his back - his battle staff, collapsed - and palming a few small discs in his other hand.

"Batgirl's call," Zatanna says, already taking several steps back once Red prepares himself for an altercation. Jessica is already moving, punching the rune in the chest of the dessicated body. This was, after all, her case.

She doesn't move. Not yet. Her eyes follow the threads of magic suddenly filling the cavern, able to see these wisps of color and watching them twist in the darkness.

"Um."

There's a crunch as Batgirl takes a step back, stepping toward Jones, Zatanna and Tim with her back turned to the others. The lights start to go out. Though going out isn't accurate. It is more like the light is being inhaled, consuming by an advancing wall of blackness.

"I think we're going with the third option, Robin." From their spot in her belt, she slots a few razor-edged batarangs into the reinforced webbing of her gloves.

In a clear moment, she abruptly wishes it wasn't her call.

The shadow magic climbs up from both ends of the tunnel, but something about it isn't quite the same as it was in Atlantic City. The darkness rolls in, pressing in toward them. It rushes in like a wave of impenetrable black.

Batgirl takes out batarangs, and Jess doesn't think that's going to help. No time to fumble around for the super-duper powered flashlight that Red gave her once; a distinct disadvantage of keeping her entire life in her phone. Jess has no punch the darkness option. And she's not really sure what the third option is going to be, so she renders her own opinion quickly enough.

"Zee! Get us the Hell out of here!"

"Red Robin," the former Boy Wonder corrects automatically. Really, there are more important things going on here, but learned reflexes are learned reflexes.

Besides, who would want to get confused with Damian?

He backs up as he talks, away from the advancing dark, but keeping himself between the encroaching shadow and the gothic magician, as though he were going to be able to bodily protect her from it. He hurls one of those discs, though (it's yellow, matching the yellow detailing on his costume, and it has that Red Robin bird's head silhouette logo on it, because branding is very important) which proves to be a flash grenade. A very amped up flash grenade, actually, for the same reason those overpowered flashlights exist.

"Gonna have to agree with Batgirl here," he says. "Zatanna, fast exit please."

"Third option?! What's the third option?! I don't speak Bat!"

That is Zatanna's cry in the tunnels when she feels it, yawning, stretching darkness - all consuming, all encompassing. As it rushes towards them, she…

…well, typical of her reckless nature, she doesn't run back, but forward. Her hand whips over the air, as if she could physically pull a sheet over all of them. Her eyes burn white, light spilling out from underneath her domino mask as she commands reality to do what she bids: "NWOD WOLS SSENKRAD!"

She's used this before, fighting the Primordial Darkness-coated seraph in the High Line - an intangible, ephemeral screen in which Time passes differently. It encompasses their part of the tunnel, swirling over the space before them. It is meant to slow down the effects of the encroaching shadows the moment they hit the barrier and reducing the spread of it as slow as molasses. Her hand remains up, palm flat.

Her other hand points behind her. "LATROP NEPO!" And on the other side, behind Red and Jessica, reality splits open to reveal the heart of Gotham before them, in one of its many dimly-lit alleys. Both of them would find it familiar - they can easily glimpse Gerry Craft's business across the street. And while the magician keeps the Time-slowing screen active…

"GET GOING!" she cries to the rest.

She hisses under her breath, slowly lowering the hand that has opened the portal, pointing that finger slowly forward. With two spells active at the same time, she's about to unleash a third, bringing that limitless mystical power to bear, holding onto her control as she attempts to push the case forward with their efforts. Because whoever has unleashed this dark magic must be here, must have a name…

Here, she does her own forensics, finger on her spare hand threading over the air in an effort to pull a piece of the slowed darkness, to rip it off from the mass. Her hand continues moving, slowly folding to herself, to rip a small bottle off her array of charms and holding it up as she continues whispering. Her intent is clear: to trap a sample of the magic in an enchanted bottle so she can analyze it and look at it later, but that requires staying there until she can do it. Hopefully the Time-screen is enough.

"Red Robin," Batgirl returns in the same instinctive reply.

The darkness is moving, and the flash grenade disappears into its maw. For a split second, it looks like the grenade pushes back the darkness for a few solid feet only to be immediately consumed as the darkness closes around it. In that heartbeat — that single pulse — the flash of light reveals at least three humanoid shapes moving within the darkness, shrouded and charging.

As Zatanna brings in her own power, summons up her own will, the darkness is uncomfortably close. Then it hits the barrier, and it is like watching the slow-motion footage of an obsidian, ocean wave. It arches, reaching in the same grasping, clawing motion. The magic slows, but the attackers moving within the shadows don't. There is one at the front of the charging Whispers — a compact woman with a short bob of black hair, and the entire lower half of her face covered in a grafted max of steel. She's lunging forward with lupine grace even while the Magician tugs free a pinch of black from the slowed wave. The magic is sucked into the bottle.

The portal opens and Jessica dives through it. She lands awkwardly, scrambles back up, and stands in tense anticipation, fists up for no real reason other than adrenaline and the fact that they're not quite done yet. Still, she's more than happy to take the escape she all but begged for, and she knows from past experience Zee has to be the last one through.

Which means she can growl, "I'm such a fucking idiot," under her breath. A steady stream of muttered blistering curses follow, invectives mostly born out of little more than frustration and fear.

On the bright side (heh), Zatanna's brought her magic to bear: It's far more effective than the flash grenade in slowing the advancing shadow, while she tears open a hole in reality to give them an escape route… An escape route meant for the others, because with her characteristic boldness the Princess of Prestidigitation is going to grab a sample of her own to study.

A lingering that gives those inside the dark, those calling the darkness home, a chance to go after her.

"Nope," the Red Knight says, whether he's answering Zatanna's shout for them to go ahead of her, or commenting on the half-faced woman lunging after Zatanna: In a single movement, his battle staff extends to full length, jabbed forward at the lunging woman with one hand while his other grabs the witch to draw her back.

As close as it passes by Zatanna, she could feel the tingle and scent the ozone on the air: Strands of her dark hair repel other strands as static electricity settles into them, as rather less static electricity crackles along the staff.

Which he aims to slam the end into that grafted metal half-mask.

Discharging enough voltage to drop a charging roided up super lunatic, a crackling lightning strike of blue-white that flares briefly but valiantly against the creeping shadow, while he yanks Zatanna back through the portal.

Almost, almost.

That piece of darkness gets torn from the screen, to be captured and stoppered by that enchanted bottle. With her focus split three ways, Zatanna doesn't have the room to defend herself, but that's why she brought back-up, right?

With Jessica and Barbara throwing themselves through the portal, she suddenly finds herself yanked backwards, her fingers closing over the glass bottle securely with her sample intact. Her shadow suddenly comes alive in black and red, the electrified end of his staff - Tim's particular field of martial arts focus - slamming into the metal faceplate on her attacker. To her credit, she doesn't even wince, that's definitely going to hurt, if not drop her completely.

She follows in the way she usually does whenever they're in the field together, growing relatively boneless and letting his more significant wiry strength draw her into safety, through the portal she has opened up and once she's through, much like Jessica has already anticipated, the portal shuts, leaving them in one of Gotham City's alleyways and brighter lights.

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