The Night Force: Night Forces, Chapter 1: Magic Hunting

by CSyphrett

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Timothy Hunter, a bespectacled twelve-year-old with a twirl of brown hair, strolled along Baker Street in the heart of London. A yo-yo danced in his right hand, a rhythmic companion to the beat of his leisurely walk.

As Timothy lost himself in the yo-yo’s mesmerizing motions, a sudden darkness eclipsed his path. Startled, he glanced up just in time to witness a blinding flash.

The tranquility shattered as his head exploded in a fine mist, a pink spray painting the air. The yo-yo fell with a dull thud, echoing a nearby woman’s horrified scream.

The killer, a shadow among the bustling crowd, vanished without a trace.


As John Constantine maneuvered through the bustling London streets three miles away, his senses on high alert, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something wicked was brewing. The air crackled with an eerie energy, an unmistakable omen of danger lurking beneath the surface. Lighting his cigarette, the acrid smell mingled with the scent of apprehension as he tried to steady his nerves.

His tan trenchcoat, worn and weathered from years of supernatural encounters, whipped around him in the wind as he strolled purposefully down the cobblestone path. Suddenly, a glimmer of emerald caught his eye, drawing him toward a quaint shop displaying Mad Mod Fashions. There, amidst the vibrant display of pinstriped suits, a muted green one seemed to beckon to him, whispering its secrets.

But before Constantine could fully indulge his curiosity, a chilling darkness consumed the world around him. Instinctively, he ducked to the side just in time to avoid a shower of sharp shards exploding from the shattered window. Deafening screams mixed with the jagged echoes, resonating with his name in a sizzling hiss.

With a surge of adrenaline propelling him forward, Constantine sprinted away from the chaos, his forgotten cigarette smoldering on the sidewalk. His eyes darted frantically, scanning for any sign of escape from the deadly pursuer hot on his heels.

Then, like a beacon of hope amidst the chaos, his sharp gaze landed on a car idling at the curb. Its engine hummed with anticipation, the driver momentarily absent, likely engrossed in a simple errand. Constantine’s heart pounded in his chest as he made a bold decision.

Without a second thought, Constantine hurled himself into the vacant vehicle. His hands gripped the steering wheel, his fingers trembling with a mixture of fear and determination. Ignoring the angry blares from fellow drivers, he slammed his foot down on the gas pedal, propelling the car forward with reckless abandon.

It was then that the shadow reappeared, its gaze fixed on its elusive prey. A gunshot pierced the air, the bullet finding its mark in the metal of the car door. The impact jolted Constantine, but his resolve remained unyielding as he clung onto the steering wheel.

Yet, as swiftly as the shadow had materialized, it dissipated into thin air, vanishing like a ghostly apparition. Constantine’s eyes narrowed, his mind racing to piece together the puzzle of this relentless pursuit. The grim realization settled upon him — this was no ordinary threat he faced. Something wicked had crossed his path, and he was determined to unearth its secrets, no matter the cost.


The old man blinked slightly as the metal skullcap slid back from his head, home in the masterpiece of his creation. His one working finger spun his rotating chair-bed to the right. One bottle full of light stood in the first slot on the tray. A second bottle in its slot was just trickling slowly instead of filling up. So he hadn’t killed the blond man outright. No matter; he would die soon, anyway.

He rotated back into his launch position, calling a virtual map of Great Britain and Ireland to life. A spot glowed brighter than any other in Ireland. It was just waiting to be snuffed out.

Henry Valdemir, orchestrator of destinies, reveled in the unfolding drama — a deadly dance where shadows and mysticism collided. (*) The threads of fate woven by a mysterious killer threatened to unravel the very fabric of magic, leaving a twelve-year-old boy, a trenchcoat-clad mystic, and a sinister mastermind entangled in a web of darkness that spanned the boundaries of reality and beyond.

[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: The Sentinels of Magic: Times Past, 1948: Sacrifices Must Be Made.]


John Constantine maneuvered the borrowed car to a sudden halt, his overcoat stained with a seeping wound. He peered down at his chest, where blood oozed from the hole in his attire. The urgency for help pressed upon him, but as he mentally sifted through potential allies, a grimace marked his face.

Contemplating his options, Constantine reluctantly acknowledged that only two individuals might aid him in this dire situation. However, the memories of their last encounter left a bitter taste in his mouth. Zatanna, his former love, and Baron Winters, both held the power to intervene, but involving them came with its own set of complications. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Night Force: The War of Darkness and Light.]

Wincing as he wiped blood from the corner of his lip, Constantine fashioned a makeshift bandage from his shirt sleeve, holding it against the chest wound. The very thought of reaching out to Winters brought forth images of the enigmatic figure gloating, bloating, and chortling, as if intoxicated with an excess of oxygen.

“Oh, bloody hell.” Resigned, Constantine sought out a telephone, knowing he had no other recourse.


In the hidden recesses of his lair, Henry Valdemir lowered the skullcap onto his head with a determined focus. He adjusted the crosshairs over a lit spot across the Irish Sea and pressed the roller ball, fixing his position.

He flipped a switch next to the roller ball, starting a countdown on the virtual map. Valdemir kept his eyes wide open, anticipating the impending burst of light as he propelled himself to the designated location.

Upon arrival, he surveyed his surroundings, finding himself near a quaint pub facing a cobbled courtyard surrounded by small shops. As his calculating gaze scanned the area, he witnessed a skirmish in the sky above. Jack O’Lantern, the Irish super-hero, clashed with Dubh Magus, a formidable magician radiating a coveted glow.

Seizing the opportunity, Valdemir took aim at Dubh Magus, dropping a cascade of fire upon the magician, forcing him to plummet to the street below.

From the ground, Valdemir fired a metallic shell at the exposed face of the falling magician, the explosive impact killing him instantly and causing the body of Dubh Magus to crash out of Valdemir’s line of sight.


The elegant telephone on an ornate desk interrupted a man’s meticulous perusal of his Rolodex. A sly smile adorned his face as he picked up the receiver.

“Hello,” Baron Winters greeted, his voice smooth as velvet. “Constantine. How are you? Oh? That’s too bad.” The conversation was brisk, and he hung up, turning his attention to the magnificent leopard that perched its paws upon the oak surface of his desk, regarding Winters with a curious gaze.

“Three… two… one,” Winters murmured, predicting the imminent ring of the phone. He chuckled as it followed his countdown. “You again? You have to have money to hire me, Constantine. Hold on a minute.” With a dismissive click, the call ended.

The leopard emitted a grumble, but Winters shrugged off the discontent. “Not my problem, Merlin,” he remarked, unfazed by the spotted creature’s displeasure. The Baron’s index received an impatient swipe from the cat’s paw, prompting a brief standoff between the two that ended with a deep, frustrated sigh. “Oh, very well… you win,” Winters conceded, throwing his hands in the air.

Snatching the phone before it could ring again, Winters spoke decisively, “All right, Constantine. I’ll take the job.”

Sorting through his index, Winters pondered over the selection of two men suitable for the task. The challenge lay in convincing them, both having grudges from previous dealings. A unique approach was required to appeal to each of them individually.

Opting to contact the one in Boston first, Winters dialed a number, waiting patiently for a response. When the call connected, he smoothly uttered, “I’d like to talk to Mister E, please.” After the man’s secretary put him briefly on hold, the chilly voice of the blind investigator resonated through the line.

“Hello, E,” Winters greeted, attempting to be charming and pleasant. “Something has been brought to my attention, and I felt it was just right for someone of your talents.” As he listened, Winters reassured him, “No, it won’t be like the last time. What do you mean you want to talk to Merlin? Oh, if you insist.”

As he held the phone to the cat’s ear, the leopard made a mrrowing sound. “Will you take the job?” Winters inquired. “Thank you. I knew I could count on you. A ticket to London, England, will be waiting at Logan Airport under the name of Erik Estrada. Good luck.” The Baron hung up the phone.

“Now for Monaghan,” he said, dialing a number in Gotham City. Tommy Monaghan was going to be a harder sale. While Mister E could be counted upon to do the right thing, a hitter such as Monaghan was a different story. He was a gunslinger devoid of sympathy for his fellow man.

“I’d like to speak to Tommy Monaghan,” Winters requested. “I’d like to hire him for a job. Ahhh, Tommy. How are you? That’s good. Look, I have a job right up your alley. No, it’s not anything weird or flaky. I’ll triple your usual fee. The client won’t mind paying the overhead. There will be a flight to London from Boston. Tickets will be waiting for you under the name Harvey Oswald. Right. No craziness. I swear on my mother’s grave. Have a good trip.” Winters hung up.

“Good thing I don’t have a mother to swear on,” Winters quipped to Merlin, scratching behind the magnificent cat’s ears.


Henry Valdemir shifted his seat. The bottle-full of Irish magician power was full and sparkling.

The three jumps he had made were taking a toll on him, and he knew he needed to rest and recuperate before continuing his quest. The promise of full mobility beckoned, and all he needed were nine more bottles the same size as the first. That way he could manifest his other self anytime he desired.

Shifting the chair back, he rotated it so that he was comfortable, then closed his eyes. Faint snores soon escaped as the machine attended to him. While Valdemir slept, his adversaries sprung into action.


John Constantine had sought refuge to tend to his wound, choosing a small hotel he had used often in the old days. With a mixture of skepticism and necessity, he made his three calls to Baron Winters, despite knowing the uncharitable man had never liked him. He wondered briefly what had suddenly changed the Baron’s mind.

Wrestling with the decision to involve Zee, the pain eventually forced his hand. With the Night Force on the way, Constantine made four calls before reaching her, conveying the urgency of the situation. She promised to join him as swiftly as possible.


Tommy Monaghan narrowly caught his flight out of Gotham City, his tools discreetly stowed in his carry-on. As he quietly put the luggage in an overhead compartment, then settled into his seat and fastened his seatbelt, the hitman couldn’t shake his discomfort.

The hitman hated to fly, worrying that the wings would decide to come off for no apparent reason whenever he was on a plane. This is Winters’ way of paying me back for gouging him, he decided as he looked around the crowded passenger section.

Surveying the crowded section, he picked up different voices in his head as his eyes touched on the other passengers — all but one. Monaghan frowned at the man wearing the red-lensed sunglasses and a white suit a few rows forward. He had never met someone that didn’t at least admit static at his telepathic probing. The mysterious man subtly adjusted his orientation, resembling the deliberate movement of a blind person as he turned to face Monaghan’s general direction. The hitman’s instincts tingled with suspicion.


Zatanna arrived at the old hotel mere minutes after the urgent call from John. With a swift teleportation to the JLA Satellite and back down to a cozy booth in London, she wondered what John had gotten himself into this time as she breezed through the hotel’s entrance. It was typical of him to choose a location from their past, back when they were entwined in more than just magical adventures. He always had a knack for diving headfirst into trouble like a moth drawn to the flame.

Approaching their designated room, Zatanna rapped gently on the door. “Come,” came John’s strained voice from within. Pushing the door open, she stepped into the dimly lit room. John sat by the window, a makeshift bandage taped across his chest and back, blood trickling down his side.

“What happened, John?” Zatanna asked, concern furrowing her brow.

“Some bloke decided to take a shot at me on the street,” John replied with a wince. “I almost had a clean getaway, too.”

“Let me take a look,” Zatanna said, nudging his hand away from the towel. With careful hands, she gently peeled back the tape to reveal a gnarly x-shaped wound, oozing with blood. “That’s pretty nasty, John,” she remarked.

Reciting a backward spell, Zatanna’s hand glowed as she felt the wound, coaxing it to close under her magical touch. “That should do it,” she said, offering a reassuring smile. Yet, as soon as she withdrew her hand, the wound erupted anew, spraying blood in a disheartening display.

“Maybe not, luv,” John grimaced, grappling with the sudden surge of pain.

“We need to find a counter-agent,” Zatanna declared. “We’ll head up to the satellite and reach out to Jason Blood, Sargon, or someone who might have a solution.”

“I’ve always fancied a jaunt into outer space,” John Constantine mused, reaching for his shirt. “Too bad Swamp Thing isn’t around. He came through splendidly the last time I needed him.”


Meanwhile, Tommy Monaghan grew increasingly restless as the plane emptied out. Eager to begin his assignment, he swiftly retrieved his bag and navigated through the crowded aisle. Much to his surprise, the enigmatic blind man had vanished without a trace, leaving Monaghan with an unsettled feeling.

Shrugging off the encounter, he breezed through customs and made his way to the airport’s exit, determined to uncover the truth behind his mission. He knew full well that Winters seldom ever told him the complete truth.


Zatanna guided John Constantine through the lobby of the hotel, offering her support as they shuffled toward the front door. Constantine handed the clerk his room key before they departed the building, leaning heavily on Zatanna for stability.

Hailing a cab, Zatanna provided the driver with an address along the Thames. Though he seemed skeptical, the driver wordlessly complied, ferrying the couple across the city without any questions.

Upon arrival, Zatanna settled the fare before leading Constantine into what appeared to be an abandoned structure, registering him as a guest before they stepped into the plastic teleport booth, whisking them away to the JLA’s orbital headquarters.

Firestorm, his fingers ablaze with restless flickers, greeted Zatanna and Constantine as they materialized on the JLA Satellite. “Hey, Zee,” he greeted with a spark of recognition. “Back so soon?”

“We could use your help, ’Storm,” Zatanna replied, assisting Constantine out of the booth.

Firestorm sprang into action, dispersing the energy rings and swiftly hoisting the wounded mystic onto his shoulder. With a burst of energy, he soared toward the med lab, concern etched on his face.

The Nuclear Man frowned as he hooked Constantine to the life support system under the guidance of his other mind. “What’s going on, Zatanna?” he asked the Mistress of Magic when she followed him into the room.

“I’m not entirely sure yet,” Zatanna admitted, her brow furrowing with worry.

Leaving Constantine to rest in the sick bay, Zatanna turned to Firestorm. “I have to get back to San Francisco and look through some of my father’s books,” she explained. “Could you sift through reports from the U.K. for any suspicious shootings? See if you can persuade the authorities to preserve the bodies.”

“Consider it done,” Firestorm assured her. “How suspicious are we talking?”

“Single wounds, definitely magic-users of some kind,” Zatanna clarified. “Some sort of projectile causing precise cuts upon entry.”

“No problem,” affirmed the Nuclear Man.


Meanwhile, Henry Valdemir stirred from his slumber, the hum of his support system enveloping him. Consulting his virtual map, he noted two blips — one in Paris, the other closer to home in London. Decisions, decisions.

Knowing he required ample magical potential to achieve his goal, Valdemir resolved to target the luminance in Paris first, then gather the nearer source upon his return.

The thought of mobility once more almost prompted a smile, but his lips failed to cooperate. Setting his sights on the City of Lights, he adjusted the crosshairs and donned his skullcap, preparing to commence his grim task.


Paul LeClerc stood at the scene of a murder. The body had been cleared, and the technicians were gone. Now it was time for him to do what he did best. Raising his arms, LeClerc summoned his arcane abilities, honed by years of practice. His colleagues had long wondered how he always closed his cases so quickly. The answer was simple: magic.

With a gesture, LeClerc rewound time within the apartment, intent on uncovering the truth. In moments, he was able to see the murder taking place with the killer present. Unbeknownst to him, a shadow loomed behind.

Before LeClerc could react, a projectile struck him, shattering bone and muscle. And the room became the scene of a second murder, unrelated the the first.

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