You'll Get Used to It
Roleplaying Log: You'll Get Used to It
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Illyana has a bit of a demon problem. Domino's just happy to kill things.

Other Characters Referenced: Danielle Moonstar, Alison Blaire
IC Date: October 04, 2019
IC Location: Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 04 Oct 2019 21:49
Rating & Warnings: R for language, gore
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

'There's still matters to deal with in the tri-city area so I'm gonna go be productive in the only way that I can be.'

That had been the ultimate selling point given to Danielle Moonstar not twenty-four hours ago.

At the time this was not what Domino had been anticipating.

Blood, bodies, and spent shell casings litter the run down brownstone building tucked away within a particularly grimy corner of Gotham City. Somewhere -something- had gone sideways and probability took the reigns. What results is one only slightly battered albino leaving crimson footprints from the aggressive tread on her boots as she stalks toward one of the last people still breathing. He's blubbering something entirely incoherent while trying to scramble away on all fours while the automatic actions of a cool-headed murderer reloads a sidearm which used to belong to the guy who is now attempting to flee from it.

The injured man provides a thorough display of surprise as he backs himself up against the wall, brass merrily chiming across the floorboards as Neena steps up closer and raises the gun.

"You'll never—"

"Maybe."

The last shot of the skirmish thunders within the enclosed space as the man's head rebounds off of the wall then slumps forward with chin against shoulder.

Domino releases a long breath in a hiss, pressing the top of the pistol's slide against her forehead with a muttered "Jeezus. This isn't gonna look good."

***

Somewhere else, a pentagram has been drawn in the dust of a neglected attic. A blonde young woman sits in the centre, legs folded, eyes closed, breathing even. Waiting. It's a good bet that some of the residents of Xavier's sprawling old mansion wouldn't be terribly impressed to find sorcerous and possibly demonic rituals being performed on the premises.

Good thing Illyana hasn't told anyone what she's up to.

There's no change that an observer would see, but blue eyes suddenly snap open in the gloom, and something that's clearly a curse is hissed into the shadows surrounding her. "Sometimes I really hate being right." She says to herself and smoothly rises to her feet, already running down a list in her mind and crossing names off it as soon as they're added. After the bear and what's happened since, the team is a mess… but one name suggests itself. A smile flashes in the semi-darkness, and then a brighter silver-white flash swallows Illyana whole - and incidentally obliterates her dusty pentagram.

"I won't tell if you don't."

A moment before, Illyana wasn't there. Now she is. And while she missed the gunfight, she's surveying the results without a hint of the X-Men mandated shock and despair at the taking of human life. She is fastidious about not getting any of the blood on her boots as she picks her way through the carnage toward Domino, finally finding a relatively clean bit of wall to lean against. As before, she's all in black, but this time she's added a biker-style leather jacket to her ensemble.

"I hope you've got some ammo left. I'm offering an alibi in exchange for back-up."

Not that many people would trust an alibi from the Russian demoness, but she's not going to mention that.

***

To Domino's credit she doesn't yelp in surprise when there's a new voice speaking out into an otherwise silent space. Unlike the last time she doesn't even have a gun pointing at Illyana's face! With adrenaline already ramped up a fair deal it goes without saying that the albino is on edge. Illy's sudden appearance may have resulted in a few missed beats of the heart.

"Could you maybe not?" Blink. "Not..do the appearing out of midair thing. You still aren't going to tell anyone." Spoken as a statement of fact, not a request."

This is marginally embarrassing.

"Also: What are you doing here?"

While Illyana is navigating the results of a warzone Dom's double-checking that no one's left twitching or groaning while also doing a preliminary gear roundup. There's no sense in letting all of these weapons go to waste, right? As fortune has it she did well by getting a head start on the collection, as Illy's purpose for being here starts to take form.

'Offering an alibi in exchange for—'

A bloodied black and white hand is just pulling a stubby Kalashnikov away from another body when Neena turns to stare at Illyana with a cold, dangerous expression. "Are you -actually- blackmailing me?" And Illy can get away with it while being on the team? Sheesh, Neena should start pushing her luck more!

Also, good for her for showing some frickin' initiative.

***

Domino's getting used to her already? Illyana's going to have to up her game!

There's a tilt of the blonde head to one side, an innocently questioning look in her eyes as if she really doesn't understand what Domino doesn't want her to do… and it's all ruined by the smirk that strongly suggests making people jump is one of Illyana's favourite things.

She makes no promises not to do it again, either.

"Probably not." She agrees, inspecting the results of the last head-shot from her chosen vantage point, before glancing up again.

"Looking for you."

It's the obvious, and obviously unhelpful answer, and she's still wearing that damnable smirk when she says it. Even Neena's efficient corpse looting doesn't seem like it's going to wipe that expression off her face. If there's one thing Illyana isn't, it's squeamish.

Even the openly hostile look that Domino directs at her doesn't quite get rid of it, but Illyana does go very still. Maybe she does have limits on how far she'll push. Or maybe she really does want something.

"If I was talking to anyone else I'd say 'helping me save lives' and I wouldn't be able to get rid of them if I wanted to. But Dani is probably still drunk, Rahne is somehow still about eleven years old… and those are the ones who are still in one piece."

Illyana shrugs, as if it's nothing more than an inconvenience. It's a very good mask she's wearing.

"So for you I'll spoil the surprise. It turns out dragging a powerful spirit from another dimension to ours and then killing it here doesn't do a lot for the fabric of our reality. I've been watching. Something else has come through."

Illyana pushes away from her comfortable wall and takes a couple of steps toward Neena. "I'm going hunting and I came to you. If I was really going to blackmail you it'd be for something far better than this."

***

Illyana offers a couple of points which shaves down the edge which Domino had so quickly presented. It is true, most of the team is a wreck right now. Though it is also very -very- weird to think that Neena's somehow escaped such a downfall. Maybe she really is a sociopath… Though she does happen to be completely free to assist whereas the others, compromised or not, all seem to have quite a number of urgent matters on their hands.

There's also the matter of 'something else' coming through from the demon bear's dimension, a thought which has the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. It may not be blackmail after all, she's being hand-picked for another mission.

Very quickly those words spoken to Dani pop back into the mercenary's head. Helping to prevent some -other- demonic invasion sounds like an actual, honest way to be useful rather than trying to chase down a lead and having it end in a complete bloodbath because someone happened to say the wrong thing to her.

Despite having such a good reason for finding Neena during an uglier moment of her element, tension begins to fade away. "I see." Then she searches the one body for some extra magazines for her handy new AK.

"What else do you have for me? Any idea what we're up against, where it can be found, how it can be stopped?" And does she need explosives? Within moments she's practically doubled her mass in stolen hardware, like she knew exactly where to look for each weapon either dropped or having never been drawn during the fight.

Needless to say, she's willing to help. But there's something else on her mind now. Illyana's as focused as ever, as 'normal' as she seems to get. Despite everything that's been happening to the team she's acting like none of it matters. Dom had tried that same approach. It didn't work so well. But..just who -is- she underneath all of the complex layers..? Maybe hanging around the likes of Magik will help her figure it out.

***

Illyana doesn't look any more concerned when she's talking about saving lives than she does when she's talking about the state of the team - and name-checking two of them she's known since she was a teenager, and who if pushed would probably both be in the little-used 'friend' category - that is, not concerned at all.

But her eyes are bright and watchful, and they see the change in Neena when she presents what she wants as a job more than a favour. Interesting.

"I'm taking that as a 'yes'."

Naturally, she sounds amused - although it drops away from her tone when she actually starts providing some useful information.

"I have my suspicions but I can't be certain. Not yet. Trust me… I'll know it when I see it." Illyana herself isn't carrying any obvious weaponry, there's not much room for anything to be concealed in her skinny jeans and biker jacket combination, and she's making no effort to get in on stripping the dead of their armaments. "But if I'm right, they're hard to kill, so don't pack light. What I do know for certain?

A vertical slash of silver appears, widening into a shimmering oval portal.

"I know where they are. Or at least, where they were a few minutes ago."

Illyana, still making sure to avoid the congealing blood that's steadily soaking the floor, crosses to her portal and looks back at Domino, an unfelt breeze lifting her hair, while the light from the portal makes shadows dance oddly across her face. Her blue eyes seem very bright all of a sudden. "Coming?"

***

It isn't that Illyana had arrived out of thin air via a Hell (sorry, a LIMBO) Portal. It isn't that she's so idly amused despite the majority of the X-Men being in disarray. The complete lack of care she shows towards Domino's looting of so many dead people she had only just created doesn't factor into it. No, what is perhaps the single most puzzling thought which pops into the albino's head throughout this exchange is that Illyana is avoiding all of that spilled blood like it might set her on fire. This Queen of Limbo who is frequently in the company of demons and regularly practices in curses or unholy rituals or whatever the hell, she's acting as if she is -afraid of blood.-

It's really messing with Neena's head!

By comparison the pale lady with an unhealthy obsession with firearms seemingly couldn't care less. Her boots are properly rated against blood and pathogens. Heck, some of that blood is probably her own.

"So we're jumping in blind and hunting solely by your instinct for something of an unknown threat level." She hesitates to consider this then bobs her head once and racks the AK's charging handle back enough to verify that it's chambered. "Cool."

It never crosses her mind to check with the others, to see if they would object to this or insist on gathering together for an intel briefing or whatever. Dom's always been a 'by the seat of the pants' operator and it doesn't get much more impulsive than what Illy has to share. The AK rises up then falls back against her shoulder before she's following Magik through the portal.

"I still hate these things." Damn portals…

Where Illy avoided the crimson pools, Domino would have preferred to avoid teleportation. Immediately upon reaching the other side her guard goes up very nearly alongside her lunch. If she's looking grim it has less to do with their new surroundings and more to do with keeping herself composed.

***

Afraid of blood? Simply fastidious? Not wanting to pick up any incriminating evidence? Happy for only Neena's bootprints to be all over the floor? Could be any, or none. Illyana's certainly not telling.

There's a quiet chuckle from the blonde at the succinct summary of the situation. "It sounds much worse when you put it like that." She sounds dangerously close to cheerful when she says it, too.

But she still turns and steps through the portal before Domino really has time to re-evaluate her life choices.

"You'll get used to it."

The words come floating back through the portal with a slight echo, and as Domino steps through she'll see why. It's the same large stone chamber as before, with the empty throne at one end, and this time apparently no S'ym lurking in the shadows. There are some points of red light high above, of course, and the rustling noise of things shifting in the shadowed darkness of the rafters, but Illyana's paying them no mind. She's just waiting for Neena to join her, and almost as soon as she does, silver-white light flares again and they're back on Earth.

In a very dirty alleyway with a corpse in the middle of it. A corpse that looks like it's been ripped apart by a very large, and very crazed, wild animal. Illyana's already walking swiftly towards what might not long ago have been a woman. "We're late." She says, grimly, dropping to one knee beside the human wreckage and extending a hand over the body.

There's a noise from above. Claws on stone. Something is on the roof of one of the buildings lining the alleyway. Something big, with dark, leathery skin, a heavily ridged spine and - as it launches itself from the roof - a long tail twisting behind it.

***

Domino cracks a smile of her own. "I say it like it is." It doesn't seem to deter her any, either. Why should she be worried? Everything seems to work out alright for her in the end!

Get used to stepping through portals? "That's kinda what I'm afraid of." Stepping through so many portals that it no longer bothers her. So far nothing really -good- has come out of being teleported around and this journey isn't gearing up to be the exception.

Despite this concern Limbo continues to have a commanding presence which she's unable to avoid or ignore. It's fascinating, terrifying, intriguing and reality-warping simply by way of existing and setting foot upon it triggers so many primordial feelings that it's simply impossible to classify or quantify.

In short, it's really fucking neat.

Unlike her last visit to Magik's home realm they're back out just as quickly. The grisly scene awaiting them both is decidedly less 'neat.' On the contrary, it's an absolute mess.

"Aaand -this- would be how you knew where to start looking…" she promptly surmises.

They're late? "That's a bit of an understatement," Neena deadpans while peering at the mauled corpse with a look somewhere between dispassionate and disgusted. It lingers right up until noise can be heard from above.

"Or maybe not," Dom suggests as the cut-down AK snaps upward at the strange ugly creature poised above them. "I think it might have been —shit!"

'Rooting Illy out' was the idea. Like it somehow knew she would come looking if it left a morbid breadcrumb for the Limboite to follow. This thought takes a backseat in favor of the sudden but brief chatter of an intermediate rifle cartridge thumping out of a compact device with the steady rhythm of a runaway locomotive. Then Domino is diving for cover!

***

Illyana doesn't look up from the corpse when she answers. It's not clear why she's still holding her hand out, palm down, over the body, but whatever she's doing seems to require a lot of concentration considering how intently she's staring at it. With her knee down in who knows what slime and filth is coating the alleyway.

"Good guess."

For a second, it seems like that might be all she's going to say. And maybe it would have been better if she had.

"There's a… power in the spilling of blood in your world. I'd hoped this wasn't what I'd felt." She's still concentrating, her words are a bit less carefully chosen than usual. But then she snorts, quietly. "I know. Optimism doesn't suit me." She seems oblivious to the movement above.

Or maybe not, because as soon as Domino reacts, Illyana's head snaps up, and then with a flare of light, it's just Domino, the corpse… and the plummeting monster. Naturally, Domino doesn't miss. And while the gunfire makes the creature good and mad, it doesn't seem inclined to curl up and die.

The impact of the bullets ruin its descent, and in any case it's first target has vanished. It crashes to the ground, making even more of a mess of the corpse in the process, but quickly rears up again. It's big, with a maw full of fangs and claws tipping all four limbs, the rear ones reverse jointed. The tail lashes behind it as its eyes lock on to Domino, and it HISSSES its hatred.

"Good job getting it's attention."

Illyana's back again, sounding only slightly breathless, except this time her left arm is sheathed in shining silver armour, and she's carrying a sword that glows with a cold, silver-white light. She cuts a quick glance at Neena. "See if you can keep it looking at you."

A flash of light, and Illyana's gone again. And the creature is charging.

***

Huh. There's a power in the spilling of blood. 'In your world.' So..wait. Does that mean Illyana was actually born in Limbo? Then does this mean that Limbo also has mutants?

Questions for another time perhaps, because -oh crap it's coming right for them!-

Oh. And apparently shooting it only makes it mad. Because THAT helps when someone's primary power involves utilizing bullets!

Lo and behold all of their trouble really got into high gear as soon as they had teleported. Now Dom's alone in an all too narrow alley with an ineffective weapon in her hands and a very nasty and ticked off creature staring her down. Already she's starting a careful backward retreat but she's only able to cover a few steps. With the stare and the hiss from the beast the look upon her face would have been pretty damn memorable if anyone else happened to catch it.

Regarding getting its attention, "I'm skilled like that." Just like Illy seems to be skilled at blinking in and out of existence. Seriously, what the hell is she doing?

Aha. She's getting armor and a weapon. Okay, these are good reasons.

'See if you can keep it looking at you,' seriously?! "I—" FUCK Magik's gone again. Not that there's any time for sarcasm because the beast is charging and Neena's the target!

The albino turns to sprint away from it, one arm sweeping back to blindly dump the rest of the AK's magazine toward the creature while she tries to figure out what to do next!

The gun runs empty. She flings it over her shoulder.

Somewhere amidst the rhythmic chanting of "Ohshitohshitohshit" the creature slips on the thrown gun and stumbles, headbutting a dumpster which rolls forward right as Neena's making a mad jump for the fire escape.

This gives her just enough of a boost to reach the ladder before it rolls out of the way, leaving the space beneath her wide open right in time for the beast to sliiide into place.

Then the latch on the ladder snaps under the weight of Dom and all of her guns.

"Whup—!"

Where there had been a height advantage a second ago she's suddenly a lot closer to being in range of the monster. If..it's able to reach her while being pinned to the grimy alley ground by the rungs of a ladder. All it takes is one wide-eyed glance before she starts scrambling back up the ladder a second time. Its tail is a serious concern, it can still reach her!

***

Illyana's story is so, so much more complicated than just where she was born. In fact, 'born' is a bit of a problematic concept when it comes to Illyana. Still. With any luck Domino's going to be too busy to remember the demoness' distracted slip of the tongue.

Just where Illyana had gotten to during Domino's mad scramble to stay out of the creature's clutches is… unclear. As the ladder slams down into the creature and pins it to the stinking surface of the alley it lets out a scream that's more frustration at being denied its prey than actual pain. Massive clawed hands reach up, but clamp onto the ladder when Domino proves to be just out of reach, the claws scoring bright lines through the rust and flaking paint covering the metal. The tail lashes upwards…

…and now Illyana finally makes her play. There's an arc of silver, and the sword goes through flesh that had stood up to automatic rifle fire without seeming to encounter any resistance. The tail crashes to the ground, still thrashing, while ichor sprays from the stump - until the sword is expertly reversed and driven right through the creature's head. It spasms once and goes still.

Illyana tilts her head back and looks up at Domino. Her grin is fierce, but the light in her eyes is way beyond that. "You weren't kidding." About being skilled at getting the thing's attention, naturally.

And then she says something that Domino might have been hoping she wouldn't say.

"Let's find the rest of them."

***

This is fine. This is fiiine! She's going to make it to the top of this ladder then Illyana's going to do something good and decisive and the monster's going to be dealt with -everything is fine.-

Then everything is covered in ichor.

The tail goes first and sprays that icky dark goo just about all over the place before getting stapled through the back of the skull by a sword which actually does some damage. Seconds later there's a *wrrrRRRHP!* as the gore-covered ladder becomes too slick to hold onto and Domino slides down it only to roughly land across the dead monster's back then roll off of its side.

"Egh—dammit! Now I know how Ali felt," she grumbles.

Wait. The rest of— "There's more than one?" she pointedly asks with a wide-eyed stare cast at the Hellchick. Neena stands, flicks goo off of both of her hands with a sickly spattering sound, then refocuses upon Illyana with a point of dropping both of those still slimy hands squarely upon the other lady's shoulders. She should share in this moment. It's like their first kill together! Right? Eh, close enough.

"-How- many more?"

Also of interest… "And why does your sword hurt them where my bullets don't? If all I'm going to be good for is live bait then you need to square up with me, here." Not that she'll tell Illy to go fuck herself. If she's going to be bait then she'd REALLY like to know about it first!

Maybe karma's kicking into high gear again. After all of the people Dom's dragged into personal 'missions' with little to no intel it might seem appropriate to be on the receiving end for a change.

Stepping back and making a face she tries to swipe some more of that gunk off of her black suit. "I always did like the wet look…"

***

It's not that Illyana's completely avoided the ichor. That would have been impossible. It's just there's a darn sight less of it on her than there is on Domino. She might have neatly sidestepped in the moment between the creature's tail starting acting like a fire hose and the moment she delivered the killing blow.

She certainly clears the landing zone when Domino comes off the ladder at high speed.

By the time her possibly unwilling partner in demon-slaying has gotten herself upright again, Illyana's removed her sword from the creature's skull - none of the ichor seeming to want to hang around on the blade, either - and has her hands resting on the pommel, the tip grounded before her.

"Probably."

Then Domino's hands land on her shoulders, and Illyana almost imperceptibly stiffens. As if she doesn't like to be touched. It's only for half a second at most, and then she's back to normal, that slight smirk returning as she appreciates Domino's not very subtle sharing of the demon-goo. But it's still possibly the closest Domino has really been to forcing a reaction from her. And it gets some honesty if nothing else.

"I don't know. This may be the first scout, but I don't think we're that lucky. There can't be many, yet. If there were, there'd be more of that." A thumb is jerked back toward the corpse. "And I'd have felt it before now."

Something flickers in her eyes when Domino mentions being live bait, and Illyana seems to pull away, into herself. "The N'Garai are hard to kill with… pretty much everything. But I don't just need you to be bait." The teasing sounds a little more by rote than it usually is. "They come to this world through a cairn. We destroy that, and the breach is sealed. At least for now." Illyana pauses, then adds, "You seem like the right person for blowing stuff up."

When Domino steps back, Illyana just maybe offers an olive branch. "I can fix it when this is over." It's said absently, because like before, she's concentrating over a corpse. This time, it's the N'Garai, which is quickly decomposing. "The Soulsword is anathema to anything magical. Spells. Enchantments. Curses… and demons. It's all the same." She looks up. "I can't make your bullets kill them cleanly, but they don't much like fire."

As the N'Garai crumbles to nothing, Illyana climbs back to her feet and stretches out an arm, pointing to a derelict industrial unit at the far end of the alley. "Ready to finish this?"

***

It's strange. The way Illy tenses in that moment of physical contact, even when she can see it coming. There's a very long list of differences between these two Goth-inspired women but the more time Domino spends around Magik the more it seems that they share a fair bit in common. More than Neena does with any of the other X-ers thus far. Their attitudes are aligned, that much seems to go without question.

"The first -scout,-" she repeats. "Does this mean we're also looking at other classes? Workers, soldiers..heavy artillery?"

Confirmation is soon given regarding being bait. Rather than complain about the situation Dom starts shedding some weight in the form of gear taken off of the other individuals. If she's a runner then she needs to keep it light, though some disposable gear remains. Sidearms are plenty good enough for causing distractions or drawing attention. She can make it work.

Although it -always- feels good to toss another Glock into the dumpster.

But blowing something up? The subject brings a genuine smile to the albino's blacked out features. "You really should have led with that." She always packs -something- capable of bringing a boom, but "I'm running light on the party favors. If we find this cairn we'll probably only have one shot at nuking it."

Unless something useful falls into their laps. It could happen!

These creatures, the 'N'Garai,' don't like fire. "Noted." Maybe a muzzle flash in the face would help? If she could survive getting close enough to try… It's something she keeps in mind while nodding once more then following after Illyana while sloughing more of the ichor off of herself with an unhealthy sounding *splak!* "Let's show 'em what it means to raise some Hell."

***

"Let's just say… if you find a really big one with wings that calls itself 'Kierrok the Damned'? We might actually be in trouble."

There's not an ounce of trepidation in Illyana's voice when she says it. In fact, there might just be the faintest hint of anticipation.

As Domino switches up her gear, Illyana's preparations amount to resting her faintly glowing sword across one shoulder while keeping an eye on the warehouse she pointed at earlier. "I'll know for next time." She tosses back over her shoulder, then pays more attention when Domino mentions she's not as well equipped as might be hoped. "Then I guess you get to watch the demons chasing me, this time." Illyana remarks, nonchalantly enough, while obliquely admitting that yes, she did see Domino's antics with the first N'Garai.

"See?" A grin from the sorceress. "You're getting the hang of this already."

They vanish in a flare of light. This time the stopover in Limbo lasts a fraction of a second, and then they're on the old, unmaintained and honestly fairly fragile roof of the industrial unit, next to a smashed skylight. Illyana crouches, glances quickly through the skylight and ducks back out of sight, gesturing for Domino to take a look.

The warehouse below is a mess of debris and rusted machinery, but in the very centre, completely incongruously, is a large standing stone. It's covered in glyphs that hurt the eye - and the brain - and clearly isn't from around here.

And there are at least two more N'Garai like the first prowling restlessly amongst the derelict machinery. Illyana is smiling when she looks at Domino. "Glad you came?"

***

"Thanks for confirming that we aren't actually in trouble yet," Domino sourly replies. "I was beginning to worry."

Suddenly they're teleporting again. Dom -just about- slips again as they're suddenly standing on the roof. "Really?!" she hisses under her breath. "We were right across the street! We didn't need to—"

Something else is holding Illy's attention. The pale lady clams up then slips closer to get a look for herself. Almost immediately after peering inside she's wishing that she hadn't, recoiling with a wince and an arm coming up over her eyes. "I'm guessing that pain in the eye is the cairn you were talking about. Gah-damn- that is one hot potato."

While they -could- have walked to the warehouse there's something to be said about getting a free lift to the high ground. From up here they can get a much better idea of what they're up against and what the layout of the interior is.

"Two Hell-bogeys and an altar in a warehouse." She pauses and narrows her eyes slightly while looking back to Magik. "Would you consider that an effigy?"

She's still working on her mystical vocabulary.

The merc's head leans from side to side. Shoulders are rolled. Then comes a sly looking grin. Glad she came? "Hell yeah."

Then she hops right through the hole in the ceiling.

Lands on a light fixture which snaps on one end.

Hands catch the trailing end of the broken wire.

Dust cascades as she sweeps out across the room Indiana Jones style.

A delicate step leaves her atop of an old piece of machinery.

Then the light fixture breaks completely free and crashes onto the head of one of the N'Garai.

Following this is a much too cheerful sounding 'come hither' whistle from one smirking mercenary.

***

"You wanted to walk up and knock?" Illyana says, in a tone of such reasonableness that she just has to be being sarcastic, while Domino takes her own look at what's below them. With predictable results.

"Be glad you can't read it." Illyana remarks darkly. "If it starts making sense, you've probably looked at it too long." She hesitates, then adds, "Try not to do that." It's probably not worth wondering why she didn't recoil when she got an eyeful of the thing…

"It doesn't represent an individual. Not even Kierrok. It's a marker, stating their claim to the world." She smirks. "Telling us they want it back. It's more like a stele… but our definitions don't always fit." She shrugs, not looking at the cairn or the N'Garai, watching Neena instead. Judging whether she's really up for what she's been dumped right in the middle of.

Illyana needn't have worried, because a moment later Neena's vanishing through the empty skylight. Her entry is so artful that Illyana even takes a moment to watch the light fitting slam down onto the head of a N'Garai before she follows.

The N'Garai that's not wearing a light fixture spins around at the sound of the whistle, dropping into a crouch as its red eyes track across to Domino. A mouth filled with razor teeth opens and then it's bounding toward her.

The other is delayed by the need to tear the light fitting from its head and fling it across the warehouse with a snarl. It would surely follow its companion… if another target hadn't presented itself. "Hey. Sweet, juicy human. Come and get me!"

She's not even wearing the armour over her arm, and the sword is nowhere to be seen.

***

As far as knocking on the front door goes, the response is every bit as sarcastic. "It's the polite thing to do."

Like Domino cares about being polite.

"Right. Do not look directly at the ..thing." She can do that. Or..not..do that. Though it does raise some additional questions. Illyana here sure does know a whole lot about these critters, their 'marker,' the whole works. Do they teach this sort of cirriculum in Limbo School?

Stating their claim on the world? "Oh, -that- will not do," Dom scoffs. But yeah, she's still up for it. What, and let someone like the Avengers take all of the credit for helping save the world? HAH! Tonight they're going to be saved by a Hell-inspired gothling and a contract killer gothling.

Just imagine those headlines if anyone knew enough to cover the story.

Inside of the warehouse such bravado only continues for so long because -oh dear damn- those critters have a LOT OF TEETH. Neena's expression changes from confident and sarcastic to concerned in that instant. "Move, Thurman."

Here's where shedding the extra weight comes into play. When put in the right situation the albino's not far off from a jackrabbit on Speed. The bit of machinery is put to use for as long as she can before sliding off of it and running/leaping/rebounding off of the scenery like it's a goddamn parkour competition. It works in her favor..considering she has no idea where to go or what to do. Illy said she needed live bait, that's what the N'Garai are getting.

"JEEZUS at what point did this seem like a good idea?!"

A quick sidestep between two pieces of equipment is almost immediately followed by a deafening hollow *KLUNG!* as the one beastie collides between the two bits of aging machinery, snapping its jaw and swiping at the air in front of her face while trying to get through.

"Hey what happens if these guys catch us? It's not like the demon bear where our souls get enslaved for all eternity in a shadow realm, right?" Domino calls out while all too casually pulling out one of her pistols and shooting the momentarily caught N'Garai dead in the face.

Three times.

Where'd that other one get off to, again?

***

If they both get out of this in any shape for conversation, Illyana might have to explain that the N'Garai actually have a half decent claim on the place, since they ruled it before the fall of Atlantis… or maybe not. Illyana's not sure quite where Neena's 'secret history of the world' tolerance maxes out yet, and she's hardly easing her into things as it is.

Which, of course, just makes it that much more fun for the blonde sorceress. No-one ever accused her of being nice.

Illyana is not as fast as Domino, but she doesn't need to be. She can cheat. As 'her' N'Garai wheels around to face her, she takes off running - but only long enough to duck into the cover of a row of tall, free-standing lockers - and right through one of her portals. The N'Garai skids to a halt, claws scrabbling to arrest its momentum, and casts around for her before tearing into the lockers. Thin metal is shredded and sent flying in all directions, but Illyana isn't to be found there.

The N'Garai are tough, but pistol rounds at close range to the face are unpleasant whatever dimension you're from. It at least gives Illyana an opening to answer Neena's question - from just outside of arm's reach, rather than across the warehouse, where the sounds of wanton destruction are escalating.

"Not usually." Illyana says calmly. "They'll probably just kill us and devour our souls." She grins. "They might not get very full on mine." She adds, so very reassuringly.

The temporarily trapped and very shot in the face N'Garai has stopped reeling in pain, and Illyana narrows her eyes, says a word that's all hard edges and not enough vowels, and thrusts out her hand with the fingers clawed. Silver-white witchfire blasts from her palm and the N'Garai is suddenly shrieking.

Yeah, she can do actual magic, it seems.

In the middle distance, over the shrieks, the sounds of lockers being ripped apart suddenly ceases, and Illyana scowls. Of course it felt what she just did.

"Go for the cairn. I'll keep them busy."

***

In case bullets aren't enough? Illy's capable of launching fireballs from her hands. Neena jumps back with a "Yikes!" as the fire streaks past the side of her face only to strike the N'Garai square upon its own. "You could have told me you can do that before!"

Magik did say they didn't like fire. This..seems ideal. She's got this. Which means bringing the noise falls upon Dom's ichor-slicked shoulders.

"On it!"

Another run and slide brings her right alongside the cairn where the next challenge awaits. How does she find the weak points when she's barely able to look at the object? Not knowing what else to do she flicks out a pair of sunglasses, somehow not hopelessly mangled from the previous skirmishes, then gives it another go.

Setting up the charge is all muscle memory. She could wire up a block of C4 and a detonator in her sleep. Normally this would be a great window to strike up a battlefield conversation or perhaps sling some witty banter around but she manages to avoid such temptation. Anything to keep from drawing attention to herself because in the next couple of moments the N'Garai are gonna be -PISSED.-

A flick of a switch. A small red light coming to life. A black lipped air-kiss is given to the cairn. Then it's a mad scramble to get back into motion and go sprinting for cover.

"Work those legs girl, we are LIVE!"

Getting completely covered in inky black goo might not seem very lucky to most people but what they happen to lack is proper consideration for the long term. With the ichor still coating most of that sleek suit it makes sliding across a concrete floor WAY easier.

One moment she's running like hell.

The next she's prone and cleanly zipping beneath another slab of rusting industrial gear. Ready-made cover for the coming kiss from Satan.

"Fire in the hole!"

***

From the expression on Illyana's face she's enjoying the N'Garai's screams just that little bit too much, but the look is gone like a switch has been flipped as soon as Neena speaks. "But then you'd have wanted them to chase me, not you." It's lightly said.

In Illyana's world, that's just logic!

As Domino turns and runs, she might just hear a much darker tone in Illyana's voice.

"No, not her. ME."

And then a howl of demonic pain, swiftly followed by a crashing and tearing of metal as the second N'Garai joins the fray, tearing the remains of an industrial press from its rusted mountings in it's eagerness to get at Illyana. Who, of course, isn't there. Disappearing on cue isn't just something she does to annoy her friends.

The two N'Garai hiss and growl, then as one they're turning toward the cairn - and the floor underfoot actually shakes as the industrial press reappears from a portal right overhead, slamming down right on top of one of the demons. With Illyana riding on top of it.

Needless to say, there's ichor all over the place. Again.

Hopping lightly down, she draws that sword from seemingly nowhere, and silver plate forms across her left shoulder and arm. The N'Garai roars, looming over the sorceress, who just smiles because, right on cue?

"Fire in the hole!"

Illyana shakes her head. "Too late."

A portal appears at her feet and she drops through as if the ground had vanished beneath her, a flash of blonde hair the last of her to be seen.

The N'Garai swings around, hissing, and at the cairn itself a huge, muscular arm erupts from the surface as another N'Garai, bigger than the others, starts to drag itself through the gateway. Too late. Far too late. The cairn erupts, the N'Garai howls in defiance, the sound seeming to come from not one demonic throat but a hundred, or a thousand, and then it's gone. And the building seems like it might be about to come down into the deal.

So of course, there's a voice from a blonde figure who's suddenly kneeling next to Neena in her cover. "Want to use the door this time, or shall I get us out of here?"

***

It all seems to be going fine until the sound of a piece of outdated industry colliding with the floor causes the building to shudder and a most unnatural boom to resonate throughout the facility. It's enough for Neena to break her silence.

"WOO ten points!"

If home is where the heart is then Neena's home is on the battlefield. No complexities with social interaction, no political bullshit, no cares in the world other than being one of the few souls left standing when the endgame comes around. Though to be honest with herself it is so much better when she can properly enjoy herself in the heat of the moment.

Having a chance to blast a demonic icon into bite-sized shrapnel easily fits into the 'fun' category.

The familiar shockwave erases all evidence of the building's aging windows in one harmonious and destructive blast. Bits of the cairn drum against the sides of so many pieces of machinery like handfuls of gravel being fired out of a cannon. Overhead the aging steel gridwork begins to groan with the soulful depth of a giant creature in its death throes. There's also demonic screeching. A whole freaking lot of demonic screeching.

And near the center of it all is a lone albino who is absolutely -cackling.-

There is no need for words.

As a severed leg flies past and slams into an old conveyor line with a splat of gleaming ichor Illyana pops back into existence and resumes the sarcasm.

"Very funny." Says the woman who thought that detonating a demonic marker and taking out most of a building was fucking hysterical. She's off of the floor and ready to make the jump to safety in record time even if she'd probably survive having a building fall on top of her.

"This means we win, right?"

***

So far, this little adventure has all been well within Illyana's area of expertise. She's been able to play the calm, unflappable, and very probably irritating, voice of experience while getting to watch Domino deal with other-dimensional nightmares with the bare minimum of preparation.

That all comes to an end when she reappears next to Neena and finds her cackling away to herself. That gets the first completely genuine look of surprise, and although it vanishes quickly enough as Illyana scrambles to her feet. It. Was. There.

"Just checking." Says Illyana, unrepentant, and the warehouse vanishes in a flare of silver-white light.

Back in the mouth of the alleyway, Illyana watches the warehouse finally collapse over the ruins of the cairn, and finally answers Domino's question without turning to look at her. For once her tone seems entirely serious. "We win. At least for now. There are always things scratching at the walls of reality, and some of them always find their way in."

As the sirens start in the distance Illyana finally looks away from the wreckage, turning to Domino with a half smile. "So what now? Want to get a drink and tell me why I found you in the middle of a pile of dead bodies?" The half smile becomes a slightly evil grin. "Or do you want to know what else is out there?"

***

'You'll get used to it.'

Probably not after having survived three N'Garai, a collapsing building, and Illyana.

Once more through the portal the scratched, battered, and only slightly bloody Neena Thurman slumps backward against the alley wall in a way which will leave a life-sized ichor outline of her once they leave.

It was fun! It was terrifying. It was disgusting and it was exhausting. As Illy goes serious for a moment Dom holds up a single thumb, keeping her head ducked to focus on the ground with some heavy breaths. Fighting N'Garai, quite invigorating! Who knew.

When sirens can be heard she straightens up with a look out toward the street before turning back to Magik. That same hand returns to hold up individual fingers marks the progression of her thoughts.

"Shower. Drinks. Red pill."

The hand goes back down then soon repurposes itself in picking some more gore and debris off of her gear. "We never had our Talk about Limbo and right now it's looking like a sucker bet that you're going to be tagging me for more of these antics. I want to hear all about it, preferably over an obscene amount of tequila. Before that happens I need to go set myself on fire for a few minutes."

***

Illyana's doing that thing where she watches Domino for a reaction again. Shower, expected. Drinks, she can get behind. Red pill? The grin widens a little more.

"I'm that obvious? I must be slipping."

Illyana's adopted a rueful tone, and isn't even trying to make it convincing. Even so, she pauses for a second or two, blue eyes still locked on Domino, as the blue lights begin to play across the buildings nearby. And then…

"Deal."

One more brilliant flash of light, and the alley is empty.

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