1963-11-05 - Disturbing the Peace
Summary: Llew and Strange find themselves dealing with a very loud banshee, and some hapless Communists who disturbed more than they can endure…
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange llew 


It was the shrieking that drew people's attention.

A haunted house is hardly the sort of thing that would usually attract the attention of an organisation like SHIELD, but when such a house turns out to be a hidey-hole for a Communist cell (political extremists) right in the heart of New York… they pay attention.

It would just be the Communists' luck that their efforts in the house would disturb an already-restless spirit — a woman with a connection to the house going back more than a century — and now no one can accomplish anything there.

For good or ill.

The bean sidhe (banshee) has not stopped shrieking since 02:12 in the morning, resulting in phone calls to the police, responses to allegations of 'disturbing the peace', discoveries of munitions, ordnances and some very disturbed Russians, and finally: calls to SHIELD.

Others have been alerted as well — by more subtle means, with no connection to SHIELD outside or the Communists within. A banshee's cries have travelled farther through the Astral Plane, disturbing sleep and attracting other attention.

One such person is SHIELD Agent Croon — also known as Llew Griffin. He stands outside the two-storey townhouse, with a trusty Labrador seeing-eye dog at his heel, talking with police about jurisdiction…and his attentions to go inside.

Which he is.

What fun!


"If this woman tells me her entire life story again, I will throw myself from the Empire State Building."

Anyone who catches this irritated murmur gives the passing man a lingering look of concern and quite possibly recrimination. The good Doctor, dressed in his black Belstaff and crimson scarf, walks towards the unending shriek that is steadily growing louder as he approaches its epicenter. Frankly, my dears, he doesn't give a damn because he's needed sleep for the last day and a half now. This banshee? Not helping.

The entire residence is taped off with that blaringly-yellow caution tape and of course there's a crowd that lingers outside its barring lengths. A police officer, dark beneath her eyes, explains wearily for the umpteenth time to the umpteenth reporter that this is a case in the making and no, she has no answers as of yet for them. It's easy enough to Strange to wend his way through the sparse crowd and to the edges of the tape. His lips thin as he glares at the house with noticeable annoyance.

His steel-blue eyes lighten as he calls up the Sight and gazes once more upon the two-story house. He can see, beyond the curtain-shuttered windows, the signature after-lights of failed magic. His frown deepens still. A failed summoning of sorts. This particular banshee has needed his attention once before, but only because the youngest son of the previous family living her had been playing with a Ouija board to near-disastrous results. The fact that she shared her entire life's story with Strange had been a patently patience-straining incident afterwards.

The Sorcerer Supreme blinks away the Sight and glances at the people around him. How to get into the house without being sensed, much less seen? Well, a glamour, of course, would work just fine - nothing like an illusion spell to wipe oneself from visual. Orrrrrrr…he supposes he could Gate into the place. He vaguely remembers the living room and its layout.

The blind man and his seeing-eye dog ensnare his attention for a moment. Why on earth would someone without sight be discussing with the police behind the tape? Strange narrows his eyes at the duo, but only for a moment. He doubts he'll see anything further of the pair after he's finished dealing with the banshee. Bad pun, sorry.

After apologizing quietly to a woman with whom he bumps shoulders, Strange retreats to the nearby alleyway and deep enough within it to avoid attracting attention. It'll take him no more than a ten bars of music to open up a tunnel through reality that leads directly into the house and he gets to opening it with a graceful outstretch of mudra-aligned hands.


"That's it. Show's over. … Apparently."

The man speaking is one of the police-officers on the scene, the very same one who had been conversing with the blind fellow mere moments before. When he gets surprised, shocked and annoyed expressions from his fellow officers, the man explains:

"SHIELD's pulling rank, people. They sent us a… 'consultant'. (A goddamned blind consultant…and his dog. Swell. Just swell)." And so muttering, the officer heads back to the 'line' to keep civilians away.

Meanwhile, the blind fellow starts humming.

To anyone else, nothing happens. The guy has a pleasant — more than pleasant — sounding voice, but humming is just… humming. One by one, however, people turn away from the building with the shrieking banshee inside it, their expressions glazed over.

And, just like that, the SHIELD agent leaves his seeing eye dog behind… and walks inside the building.

Ah — vey… Mari — iii — ia…

The interior of this former Communist-terrorist nest is an absolute disaster. There is shattered glass on the floor — some of it from windows and drinking-glasses. There is even a pair of reading glasses on the floor — just the frames. The lenses are completely shattered. Coffee mugs have been just 'left' there, magazines on tables. Someone left the shower running in one apartment — and there are wet footprints leading out of the bathroom, down the hall and in the direction of the fire-escape.

In another apartment, judging from the smell, someone fled the bathroom without bothering to flush the toilet. The SHIELD agent wrinkles his nose in acute distaste, and continues walking calmly through the halls, silver-pommelled cane in hand, heading toward the room where the banshee is making all the racket. Accompanying him, on the Astral Plane, is the man's soul-self — a luminescent version of himself, either floating alongside him, or scouting ahead swiftly, peering into every room.

And all the while, the agent quietly sings.


Llew is deeper into the house by the time the good Doctor gets the Gate completely opened. The general aura of the house (slicked with the oily taste of the Dark Arts) had resisted his efforts.

The crackling of the rift in reality is subdued, but still audible, even as Strange steps through it. Ambient golden light flashes from reflective surfaces briefly. It collapses behind him once gestured to do so and then his daywear burns away in that oddly-fascinating change to become his storm-blue battle-leathers. The Eye of Agamotto rests on his sternum, glowing a dull green as if uncomfortable with the air as a whole.

The crimson Cloak riffles around his legs as he quickly surveys the living room. There's the impression of a hasty retreat overall - is that a shower running still? But wait…singing? Huh - someone must have left a radio on. But wait…no, that's rather clear for a radio, not even a hint of static.

A blink and his vision washes over with the Sight. Any object with a touch of the Dark Arts glows sullenly, as if resisting his attention. There's a knife, blade snapped, beneath the couch that was clearly used to some extent. Nearby, a book - this is whisked up and tucked away into his vest. No use letting someone stumble across that. Strange's ears take him towards the large hallway that branches off into the various rooms beyond. Stepping as quietly as he can (and keeping in mind that glass snaps just as loudly as twigs do), he carefully peers around the doorway, hands upraised in defensive mudras.

Oh. It's - the blind man?! The dog - where's his dog? What's this…? Strange is seeing double: the blind man is projecting Astrally, even using this form to check for danger before his physical body reaches the place. Clever.

Even as the Sorcerer takes another step into the hallway (he's now realized that they're both heading for the same objective: the banshee that continues wailing, as if she's sensed neither of them), a piece of glass snaps beneath his boot.


The singing stops.

The first thing the good doctor would notice — visually — about the 'singing detective', is the soul-self floating through a wall, stopping not that far away from the Sorcerer Supreme, surprise evident on its astral features.

The image cringes a bit, as though having encountered an awfully bright light… and fades away completely, just as the man himself rounds the corner. Llew doesn't look at Stephen — he can't — but with his visage directed forward, hands upon the pommel of his cane, he bobs his eyebrows at the sorcerer and remarks:

"I say, well this a spot of intrigue." The agent then hums the melody to 'It's a Small World After All' — a new release, all the rage, which causes his astral self to appear again. The man leans against the wall, face upturned — not unlike so many cover arts on the sleeves of records: the lonely, wistful singer — while his spirit moves closer to Strange.

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears…

All the while… the banshee screams.

"Well, I hardly need to ask what someone of your…hmm, 'aura' is doing here," says Llew's spiritual projection. The image's eyes and tones are… notably hypnotic, intentional or not. Llew's physical self bends down to pick up (in a handkerchief) a shard of glass that has blood on it. There's water over the floor here too.

It's a world of hopes and a world of fears…

It would appear the person from the shower ran this way — naked and over broken glass — to get away from the Shriek. Llew grimaces and puts the shard back down, still humming. His psychic projection points a psychic cane at Strange.

There's so much that we share, That it's time we're aware

"You're dashed inconvenient, my dear chap… this is now a SHIELD investigation. Unless…" The soul-self flies around Strange to the other side, and then leans against the wall in a mirror-image of the 'real' Llew. "Fancy being an asset for an afternoon, Mister…?"

It's a small world after all…


The Sorcerer in question continues to keep his hands upraised in suspicion, even as he watches this man's Astral self disappear…and reappear again with the upswing of a piece of music he hasn't heard just yet, as sequestered as he keeps himself in the Sanctum.

The Astral self glitters with oscillating golden light, much like Strange's own projection when it appears, though this version lacks its home-body's darked-out glasses that indicate blindness in the man. The good Doctor's chews at the inside of his cheek even as he acknowledges that there's a definitely draw to this man's voice. The pain keeps him in the moment, keeps him from actively acknowledging the magnetism beyond that his misgivings are becoming hard to keep in place. They've become rather slippery things and he finds himself shaking his head sharply even as he hears the acronym for the program run by none other than Peggy Carter herself.

"You're the more inconvenient of the two of us," Strange replies coolly. His irises continue to glow with that faint silvery light around their centers as he takes a step away, putting a wall close to his back in the case of a surprise attack. After all, he's being observed from two fronts now, even if one is physically blind. "What is SHIELD doing attempting to deal with a bean-sidhe? Director Carter should be aware that this is my job."

Let his reputation precede him if Agent Llew knows of the diadem that glows around his neck. "And stop that singing, it's…disturbing," he finishes with reticence, as if he's aware that his complaint gives merit to the ability's power.


Llew laughs.

Both his physical and astral self.

"There's a bean-sidhe screaming across at least two Planes, and you think my singing is the more disturbing of the two?" exclaims he, shaking his head while his soul-self floats over toward the room where the wailing spirit — but does not go inside. Not yet. Of course, the hypnotic quality of the agent's voice is… somewhat unavoidable, even 'dialled back', and he is aware. At least he isn't trying to affect Strange — that would be weird.

Also amusing.

"Everyone's a critic." Instead, Llew returns to just humming — and so low it can barely be heard. "You might want to consider wearing a lamp-shade, perhaps — your astral presence is hard on the psychic eyes. I'm more accustomed to the dark — if you'll pardon the pun."

Then, joined by his soul-self, the blind man walks toward the Sorcerer Supreme, and holds out a hand. "Agent Croon, SHIELD — although you may call me Llew if you prefer. I'm one of the few psi-agents we have, and frankly… you can't be everywhere at once, Doctor Strange."

Llew frowns.

"Or can you? That's a thoroughly unnerving thought." So it would seem the agent knows who Strange is, at least by reputation. This will make for a diverting debrief with Director Carter when all is said and done. His Sorcerer Supremeliness criticised my singing…the brute.

Everyone's a critic.


Well, geez, yes, his singing is more unnerving than a bean-sidhe's screaming! At least the spirit has no impulse control over her sounds per the curse on her person.

"A lamp shade?" Strange mutters and strings a very quiet scoff at the end as the paired personalities approach him. Now that he's mentally steeled himself against the weird lyricism of the man's voice, he's not considering taking action against him. Not at the moment, anyways. Another realization that the Agent is attempting to worm his way into the Sorcerer's mind and he'll slap down that Astral form quicker than Agent Croon can sing Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry".

He takes the Agent's hand and returns the handshake with one sharp motion before withdrawing his touch. The feedback is minimal, considering that Croon doesn't precisely use magic within his abilities - it's the sound of a lullaby and the all-too-easy sense of granting trust where perhaps it shouldn't be given. Another quick shake of his head and his frown deepens even as he grants Croon an edged smile.

"I'd say it's a pleasure to meet you, but you're an unexpected element as well and I dislike surprises. What do you have to offer me in the situation, Agent Croon? After all, it's easy enough for me to walk down there, remind her of who I am, and grant her the sleep she needs."


The agent doesn't miss a beat.

"Why, SHIELD's continued cooperation and appreciation," says he with a smile, tapping his cane lightly upon the ground. "Besides, this is what we do — we meddle. For the good of the planet, of course. Director Carter should like to know why a Communist cell is audacious enough to summon a bean-sidhe — however bungled the attempt. Indulge me."

Perhaps it is arrogance; perhaps it is duty.

Likely, it is a bit of both — but Llew Griffin starts strolling past the good doctor, on his way down the hall to the room where the wailing spirit is… wailing. As he goes, his humming intensifies — and as unnerving as that might be for Strange, it is fortunately not aimed at him.

It is aimed at the ghost.

Llew's astral self soars ahead of him, leaving a trail of aether behind it; he is in no hurry — neither has he any real defense against Strange, should the latter decide to 'relocate' Llew before he can 'meddle' more.

Perhaps it is a challenge.

Or a test?


"Meddle?" The growling mutter is left hanging (clearly the rest of it being, 'I'll show you meddling!') as Strange gloves his hands in Astral-gold, the same ephemeral hue as the copied image of Agent Croon that begins to travel down the hall before its home-body. As the Sorcerer draws on his powers, the teeth-tingling effects of the humming seem to dampen.

With a few long strides that take him past the physical form of Agent Croon, he then does an abrupt about-face and holds out a stiffened and mostly-outstretched hand -

Which summarily halts the progression of the Astral form when it makes corporeal contact with the form's chest. The crimson Cloak settles from its brief riffling about Strange's tall person once more as he glares at and through Agent Croon.

"Stop that humming for one second and listen to me, Agent. Rather, listen to her." He stops talking in order for the banshee's wailing to permeate their hearing once more. "That's not normal. Something is very wrong. That's not a banshee, Agent, it's a-"

Wood splinters fly everywhere as a levenbolt of watery magic slams through the wall beside Strange with the force of a cannonball. Having its force negated some by its travel through two sets of ply-boards doesn't spare him much. He's slammed against the far side of the hallway and manages to catch himself on one knee, even as his palm slides down the peeling wallpaper and he has to lean his shoulder to the supporting structure. "Cyheuraeth," he wheezes, stumbling to his feet.


"That has to be a made-up word…" Llew coughs, despite the seriousness in his voice. He, too, finds himself tossed aside — having caught the edge of the blast that sent the good doctor flying into a wall. The peculiar thing, however, as that the agent doesn't stop singing.

Most people would.

The sound practically vanishes into the floorboards, hitting notes far too low for any human larynx, almost becoming inaudible. Instead, Llew's form changes slightly as his astral-self appears to merge with him, leaving this luminescent image superimposed perfectly over his body.

It affords some protection against the splinters and debris still flying past — but nothing against the initial impact. Llew Griffin now has a splitting headache. Turning toward Strange, Llew's glowing form shields the pair of them with his now-tangible wings, and he remarks something:

"One supposes it would be efficacious to defer to the expert in this matter," says he in a speaking voice while singing. "Perhaps the… 'psy…cho…wraith?' would be amenable to negot — ."

He never finishes the sentence as a second attack of force grips him and jerks him backwards — through the air and into the wall on the far side of the room occupied by the Cyheuraeth.

And the singing… stops.


Strange's swiping grasp at the Agent misses entirely, leaving him with air streaming through his fingers even as he watches the man, wreathed in golden Astral power, get yoinked into the room. His person barely misses the lintel of the doorway in its flight and the good Doctor is left to scramble to his feet as fast as possible, even if his ribs are telling him that they aren't supposed to feel like this. His grunt of pain hisses through clenched teeth as he wraps himself in the mantle of the Sorcerer Supreme.

Wattage at max.

His entrance into the room is quick and his abrupt stop quicker still. The crimson Cloak wraps about his legs and then seems to ripple of its own accord, like a dog showing its hackles. His silvered eyes narrow at the Cyheuraeth. She's a ragged thing, like the offspring of a harpy and a drowned woman, with oily black feathers like a cormorant and a beaked nose that projects beyond deeply-set eyes that glow with yellow light. Clad equally in rags that hang from her emaciated frame and drip with water from an unknown source, she glares at Strange as if he's into the bathroom in mid-shower. Her pupils constrict tightly from the general ambience of his form in her Sight.

«Begone, Sorcerer. This man is mine,» she says in a voice raw from inhaled water, in a speech that he can translate only because it's the pidgin Mystical language. Behind her, Agent Croon is silent.

The Sorcerer Supreme slowly raises both hands into mudras as he replies, in that same pidgin, «The singer is not yours to keep. You need to go home, my lady.»

«I AM HOME!!!» Her words are followed by a slashing gesture of her hand and he deflects an arc of water meant to take him out at the knees against his defensive shielding spell.

"Agent! AGENT!" The good Doctor can't tell of Llew's current state and yells not only to ascertain it, but to garner assistance. After all, the water-harpy's focused on him, not on the Agent!


The agent's current state is…

"My name is not 'Agent'," Llew replies tersely, although with no small amount of pain in his voice. He was not expecting to be hit with such force, or he might have put more effort into his song — the song that turns him into something of an armoured warrior.

Still lying on the ground in a heap, the blind agent starts humming again — and this time the tune is an old Gregorian chant. He likes those for when he means business… although there's no physical manifestation this time. Instead of attempting anything overt, Llew's soul-self invisibly creeps up on the Cyheuraeth…

And whispers in her ear.

This is probably Llew, the Crooner, at his most dangerous. Nothing outlandish. Nothing garish. Just a simple song… and a Suggestion. The good doctor will hear it too — fortunately, it's not for him, so hopefully he won't hate the poor agent for trying. As for the Suggestion…

The screaming Cyheuraeth will find her affections shifted ever so slightly… from Llew, to Stephen — not merely for the devotion to him, but the desire to do as he says.

Whatever he says.

Of course, Llew has no experience with this kind of being. Her mind is alien to him, her powers of will… untested. There's no denying the potency of his Song, but against a creature not of this Plane…? What could possibly go wrong?


The Sight, utilized as part-and-parcel of the mantle, allows Strange to see the counter-attack by Agent Croon, who is in fact quite alive - huzzah! The good Doctor hasn't been certain in the rushing-eternity of the last few seconds if the movements beyond the snarling Cyheuraeth have been figments of his imagination.

What he sees, in regards to Llew's psi-attack, isn't the Astral form, but the liquid distortion of the air around the water-harpy's ear, a wavering of spirit like the fabled mirages in the great deserts. The water spell, a humdinger that had been gathering around her scaly long-boned fingers, webbed and tipped with short but lethal talons, seems to sputter out even as her yellow eyes seem to glaze over slightly. The impression is of a moment of dreamy confusion.

The pause in spell-casting hovers heavily in the electrified air. Strange doesn't drop his hands, merely settles into a readied martial stance, and waits for the results of the Agent's subterfuge.

«My lord? Why am I here?» The water-harpy blinks slowly at him, around the room, back to him. «I was…»

«Asleep, my lady. Allow me to return you to your home,» the good Doctor replies with purely-human appeasement in his tone. Perhaps he can bolster the effects of the Suggestion. «All you need to do is commit to leaving here. Tell me that you wish to go home and I will send you hence.»

All seems to be going swimmingly. The creature blinks at him slowly once more and then he can see lines of distress begin to fill in her face. The Cyheuraeth curves her back in a bow of sudden clash against the power of Llew's Suggestion and grasps at her skull. «WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! YOU WEAK PERVERSIONS OF LIFE!!!» Her words crackle and screech with the feedback of the deep-swimming whales and the thunder of the surf in a storm. Strange flinches and has to cover his ears against the bone-rattling volume of it in the small room. She seems to have breath unending for the shriek and he tries to yell at Llew overtop it. The result is more like exaggerated mouthing.


Yep, still Agent.


"That's a trifle extreme, isn't it?" Llew protests to the creature, but he is not idle. As the energy builds, the agent voices a single note — very high, very painful to hear… for dogs — and immediately encases himself in his psychic 'armour'.

He doesn't glow this time.

His whole form turns opaque — jet black — wings and all, and he launches himself across the room, through the damaged wall and into the hallway. As soon as he is clear, he crouches down and folds his psionic wings about him for protection.

"This seems like a very good place to do something ostentatious, Doctor…." he croons, all on the same note.

Outside, a dog howls in distress at the high-pitched note coming from the SHIELD agent.

Then another dog joins in.

And another.

And another.

Thus begins the 'Twilight Yelp'.


Ostentatious? Why didn't the Agent ask for it earlier?

After glancing over his shoulder to ascertain that Llew was indeed out of range of the spell's radius, he grimaces and then removes his hands from his ears. Strange performs an intricate series of gestures that end in a particular set of mudras and rock-grey magic bursts to life around his fingers.

"In the name of the Vishanti, who grant my might alone, I command you but once, let your tongue turn to stone!"

With the sound of shattering granite and the force of a punch to the mouth, the spell darts across the room. The Cyheureath is taken off-guard and her head flicks upwards. The rest of her body stumbles back a few steps as the impact rocks her onto her taloned-toes. Only the wall stops her from falling to her behind.

The good Doctor can't hear a single thing she's saying through the ringing in his ears, but that's okay - neither should anyone else since she's been quite effectively muted. Of course, the 'stone' aspect to the spell is metaphorical and not physical. The water-harpy presses at her lips and looks horrified.

"Agent, put her to sleep, please!" The spell he just cast has taken some of the wind from his sails, but Strange won't admit it aloud. By the time Llew is finished with his disturbing singing, the Sorcerer will have regained enough guff - and likely his sense of hearing - to be able to permanently banish the Cyheuraeth back to her true dimension.


Llew does not need to be told twice.

In a moment, the hardened, astral 'shell' covering his body in a second skin flies away — straight toward the Cyheuraeth. Llew, the man, remains crouching where he is as his soul-self comes up alongside the horrified spirit. It wraps its arms about her like a lover, radiating confidence, affection and calm. It leans in, a glowing, translucent reflection of Llew himself — perfect in every detail — and whispers something in her ear.

The Cyheureath smiles.

And sleeps.

Llew… stops singing. For the first time since the Cyheuraeth started wailing, there is silence in the building. Well, near silence. The plumbing is wrecked, and pipes are dripping. Taking a breath, the agent rises to his feet, hands upon the wall. His cane lies some yards away — where the spirit threw him — but he does not sing or hum in order to retrieve it.

He just leans against the wall, breathing.

Moments pass, and the slender man turns his visage toward the last place he saw the doctor — he can hear him, as well — and offers a rueful, if weary, smile. "Are all your 'house calls' this… robust, Doctor?" he asks, with a chuckle.


"Well…yes and no." It's the truth - no house call is quite alike for the good Doctor.

Shaking his head and half-yawning to loosen up the tenseness around the hinges of his jaws, he then grounds himself once more.

The Words are spoken, but not with their usual spitting fury and fiery force - with the bidding of a good night's sleep and sweet dreams. He pities the spirit, pulled so rudely from her dimension and then forced to endure the confusion of existing here for who knows how long, at the beck and whim of idiots. A cat's-cradle of thin violet strands whip out from his counter-posed hands and surround the Cyheuraeth in a rush of light that momentarily whites out the room. The air is sucked inwards and then exhaled past him in a rush of coolness and the scent of distant rain.

Wiping a hand across his brow, Strange glances over his shoulder and towards the Agent. It doesn't cost him a thing to bring the cane over to the man and press it to his nearest hand. "Might need this." Perhaps Llew can hear the faint amusement in the Sorcerer's words. "Or maybe it's all for show…?"


"If only," is Llew's response, smiling to reflect the same amusement he hears in Strange's voice. He lifts the cane once in a gesture of thanks, and then whistles — too high for human ears. It is enough to soon bring Hunter, his black Labrador, running.

Llew smiles again, warmer this time.

"This should make for an interesting report to file…" says he after a few moments, rubbing his enormous chin thoughtfully. "I suppose the hard part is still to come, then. Paperwork. Thank you, Doctor Strange. It has been…quite a day."

Hunter barks at the doctor.

"Come on then," Llew tells the dog, taking up the harness and starting to walk away. "After all that noise I think a brandy is in order… and a nap. Without music. Farewell, Doctor," he adds to Strange as he passes by. "I'm sure we'll be meeting again… hopefully in quieter circumstances."

And he disappears down the hallway.


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