1963-11-02 - Vespa Accident
Summary: Wanda pursues a stolen book into the Scrap Yard.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
wanda duke 

ROLL: Wanda +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 85


The weather has been all over the place in broken microclimates: rainfall in a clear sky, a tempestuous dust devil churning through the dying gardens at the edge of Greenwich Village. Snowfall dumps on the witch when she swings her way through southern Queens, a ghastly, abominable scenario for everyone forced to skid on ice and slide through a blizzard that reduces visibility to zero. Yelps and curses reign over that scene of chaos, a broken bicycle and two crashed cars later. At least the damage to life and limb is reduced, but more than a few people suffer from split pants, torn stockings, and ruined dignity.

In the middle of this, Wanda is in hot pursuit of a deranged Italian. The man is smeared in dirt and drying water of a foul effusion, slush melting off his boots. He zips around the streets on the back of a Vespa, the little engine roaring as loudly as it can buzz inside a tin can. His package on the back of the moped bounces around, tied by twine, and every sharp turn or near skid out somehow keeps in place.

Now imagine chasing such a man on a stolen bicycle. This is Wanda's unhappy predicament as she skids through another traffic stop, the ten speed she's on at least light in proportion to her frame. The traffic is snarled up enough that the fellow really has only two choices: reverse the way he came or switchback right through the scrapyard. Now surely the scrapyard has a way out as well as in; a reason he turns abruptly, fishtailing out of control. The girl gives one last burst of speed, chasing him.

Given she's encountered rather dubious luck in the past mile or so, her route simply hasn't been clear enough to permit a clear shot.

It does now, at the back tire, the man's bent back, the sloppy suit.

Carmine light blooms around her fingertips, and she utters a word, hurling what otherwise looks like a football at him. A small football, true, but the unformed force bolt simply crashes into him and sends the Vespa in one direction, the man in the other, and the package straight up in the air with a broken snap of twine.

To say she pedals like mad to capture it is an understatement, along the lines of the Beatles are a little foursome from England.


The Vespa goes careening off through a stand of corn and comes to rest — however briefly — in a tire pile. The man gets up to run but is immediately steamrolled by a yellow mastiff bigger than the Vespa. He's pinned flat on his back under the beast, his face spattered with foamy dog-spittle as Coz bellows furiously at him. A white goat with red markings takes umbrage with the Vespa and head butts the back tire with a furious wheezing bray like the sound of a broken bike horn.

The package arcs into the air, it seems it might escape Wanda's desperate attempt to salvage it, when it's snagged by a very tanned, work-rough hand, almost before Duke emerges from behind a wall of crushed cars. There's a cigarette in Duke's other hand and he takes a drag even as he, almost carelessly, steps aside to avoid a collision with Wanda.

He's probably at least a little high. …well, probably very.


Wanda's run for that package, bike or not, meets with an unexpected end. She cares less about the fleeing messenger so much as the heavy cloth wrappings in an oblong shape; possibly a book or a photo album, too tall to be regular, and rather stubby in width. It slews around inside the package, bound by twine, and makes a suspiciously hissing noise when caught by that hand. The weight is shockingly heavy for something so small. Maybe it's made with lead covers and pages.

The bicycle makes an unnatural rattling sound as it rattles over the ground, and the tires bump around the various debris invariably collecting from the fallen Vespa. Striking the brakes, she squeezes the handlebars rather than be flipped over and end up like the saddest leather-covered tea kettle.

The rustle of motion and a blur ends up with her in a deep crouch, rising from that sunken state, the bike dropped. Momentum serves her well, the bike less so as it bounces off a wall.

The poor man on the ground shrieks at the dog in German, flailing about, telling it to get off and stop the mad woman instead.


"You dropped something," Duke notes owlishly. Cigarette between his lips now, he's got the package in both hands. "Or someone." He squints suspiciously at the package.

Coz is unmoved, he sits down on the man's stomach, paws on his shoulders. A hundred-fifty pounds of dog — dog that's been rolling in something — is no treat. The goat continues its assault on the Vespa, where it's joined by a couple chickens. A third chicken decides to help Coz out and begins pecking at the man's face. It's less that they know what's going on and more that they're used to just following the lead of those that run the scrap yard.

On the top of a stack of crushed cars, a mourning dove coos judgmentally. Everyone's a critic.


The girl rocking back on her heels no doubt has a glimmer of familiarity, more than that after a moment as she hangs at the end of time's rope. Her breath drawn in releases in a coiling sigh, and she arches her back slightly, standing up the straighter. "Something. The one is less of concern." She approaches Duke slowly, her vivid burgundy coat swirling around her as she moves.

The man grunts, and he tries to sway an arm to get the chickens to stop attacking him. The dog, that won't be dislodged any time soon given the sheer immense weight perched upon his ribcage. That hurts, compressing his lungs, and taking some of the desperate fight out of him, but not much when a rolling brown eye catches sight of a man holding his package, and the slimmer European closing in.

He snarls, "It is mine! She is a thief!" The crisp, hard accent places his flat out of Bavaria, without a question.

Everyone's a judge. Wanda's smile is thin at best. "It is not good to hold that too long. It is ugly."


"Humans are thieves by their nature," Duke says sagely. There's the weight of years behind the assertion, under the vague haziness caused by whatever he's been taking. Or testing. "You were at the park, with your brother." Statement. "I remember. What is it that he wants returned so badly? Little heavy to be a soul. Demon?" If it is, it must be dying to get out and get at him. Duke is irresistable to that kind of creatuer.


"I remember," confirms Wanda. Her dark hair floats around her face, and she pushes forward. "Written in screams and tears. It is a thing of loss that does not belong to him. Nor here." Her head shakes slightly, eyes focused as much on the book as upon the man trying to throw off the dog. He utters vindictive statements in German, at odds with his rather respectful, somewhat militaristic bearing.

"This is not theft. It is keeping something dangerous from his hands." When he spits at her, she snarls back at him in his own language: Tooth stealer. That's probably a new one. Maybe he's the tooth fairy.


That much Duke understands. "What do you mean to do with it? And with him?" Coz is an excellent judge of character and the dog does not think at all highly of the fellow on whom he's sitting. "Does it need disposing of? Delivery to some remote Hell?"

Coz bares his own teeth at the man threatening Wanda.


Wanda gazes towards the man and the Vespa, and her shoulders peel back, the coat dragged open to reveal a corset and the slope of her belt, a sliver of her dark pants. "I would ail him, but that is not my choice. I am not an authority like that. Ask him what he has done. Will do, with the association he has. The brand on his back tells much." It's clear the man speaks more than enough English because his head jerks and he stares at the pair with the book when she mentions brand.

Clearly not something that was intended to get out, was it?

"Maybe cut that from his skin, but I doubt he will come to his senses." She shrugs, and looks back at Duke. "I will take that to the Doctor. He might destroy it or allow me. But the final judge of its end? He who must deal with it opening up."


"Why cut it when I can cure it?" Duke offers the book to Wanda. "You mean Strange. He came to me once. Confused but not evil, not unwise. He will know what to do. And this one?"

Once Wanda accepts the book, he crosses over to the man pinned under Coz. After a moment to calculate, he kicks the man in the temple — not maliciously — rendering him unconscious. "I can relieve him of his marks and some of his memories. I can offer him a little cleansing of body and soul. If you'd like."


ROLL: Wanda +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 33


If the man lying on the ground is the mongoose, Wanda is no snake but something more like a raptor. Sharp of claw and hard of eyes, she watches every last motion for a time until the German looks the other way.

"Confused? Perhaps." A tinge of suspicion in that statement lies heavily among the unspoken corridors behind the main words. Her shoulders tense slightly at the name, though not for reasons vastly due to rage. The slimmest deepening of her complexion follows, no more.

Taking the book without actually touching it requires her to use her jacket as a sling. "Thank you." Not grudging. She has manners, and in Duke's defense, being baked out of his mind and happy probably alleviates her a bit. She does, however, blink twice at the kick.

"I think I will like your methods." Purposeful use of violence warrants some approval. Her mouth in a moue, she thoughtfully nibbles on the inside of her lip and halts when the sting reminds her of a bad habit. "I do not know how much is in him. How much hate, the lies they taught him. The Faceless Ones are troubled. His identity may be gone. But if you want, do what you see fit. I do not know how these things cost you."


"Me? It costs me little. The Earth's Garden, the Other Garden, they give what is necessary." The fruits of the Garden of Eden do not mix well with the evils of this world or any other. "Unless you think his death is better for the world?" Duke pulls a knife but it's only to strip away the man's clothing to inspect his markings. "I could send him back out into it as clean and unmarked as a baby, if it suited you. As a favor."


"He is not worth murder." Wanda does not, evidently, have the least number of doubts about that. "His leader, maybe. Should I come to you one day, asking for a good death… it will not be for him. Myself, maybe. Someone dangerous who threatens the world's balance. But not him."

There is something of a quiet knell to the statement, a heavy truth that claps adamantine upon a harsh bell.

On the man's back lies a shape of exotic contours, a stylized lightning bolt perhaps, with a curling tail instead of a vertical fork. Four equidistant dots surround the horizontal bar at the top, two more nested in the jagged descent and the curve of the edge. It resembles nothing meaningful, save it is a symbol that holds purpose. Nae it what he shall.


"I will cure him of it. If nothing else it will leave him empty. If there is enough of his old self to fill him, then he will survive." Duke grinds his cigarette out underfoot, then hefts the man easily across his shoulders to carry him off somewhere. "If not, I can always leave him in some Hell somewhere. I'm certain if the ones who are using him want him, they will come and get him there. What's left of him."

Coz barks irritably at Duke. "This is a public service," Duke says, unmoved by whatever argument the dog is making. "We don't charge for public services."


The faint nod from Wanda follows her folding and wrapping her sleeves around the book. The parcel will be bigger in her coat, and she might freeze in that black shirt, but better than getting in contact with the heavy weight upon it. "I see. You can travel between the Hells."

Begs the question why she had to do some heavy lifting with the Hellmouth, and Pietro of course was being his lazy daisy self. Her expression tightens a moment, thoughts drifting through all razor edged and painful. "What do you need? Anything beyond the book?"

The unconscious man has no say; given he's unconscious, he really does naught but breathe. His clothing is good if labelless, and there is precious little about him to distinguish his identity. Just a ruined Vespa and a bike.


"When the car allows it, I can go places," Duke says with a shrug. "I don't need anything but this guy. Keep the book. Give it to Strange. I'll leave this one at a hospital. Vespa accident." There's a little smile from him, one that suggests he's not that stoned. "Good to see you again. You should come back when you're not working. Relax."

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