Mindless Fun
Roleplaying Log: Mindless Fun
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

A favor gets called in. Zombified people are involved.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: November 15, 2019
IC Location: Gotham Underground
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 16 Nov 2019 01:51
Rating & Warnings: R for language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Fortune often works in mysterious ways. In Domino's case she isn't given much time to sit around and be bored lately. If it isn't dealing with Limbo, mobsters, arms dealers, teammates, or the fallout from walking away from the mercenary scene, it's people 'calling in favors.'

No, really. This has -nothing at all- to do with her former life as a mercenary.

..Okay maybe it does a little but it's a -favor.- She's not getting paid for this gig! So it's okay. Really.

Honest!

She was just about to leave Gotham with another car full of equipment when the message had come through late last night. It should have been simple. Straightforward. Done in a matter of a couple hours, -tops.-

If it was so easy then they probably wouldn't have tapped a soldier of fortune to do the work for them. Not to mention calling in such a 'favor' so that they could get someone else to do the legwork without having to pay for it. Lucky her.

It might come as a surprise to Illyana when there's a sudden disturbance in Limbo's force as another piece of Vellum goes up in a flash, the demonic writing almost cheerily proclaiming 'Wish you were here' with a completely uncharacteristic heart drawn at the bottom. Maybe Neena wanted to see if something like that translated into Limbo-ese.

The good news is that she isn't decked out in restraints. She looks pretty normal by murdery adrenaline-junkie albino standards. Upon bamfing into Magik's domain there's a 'yoo-hoo!' whistle called out from her. This time she's already got a pistol in both hands held at low ready. Y'know. Just in case. Totally standard operating procedure for teleporting into Hell and all.

"Hey Illy, come out and play!"

***

Since Domino's last unscheduled trip to Limbo began with her nearly being eaten by frog-dogs, continued through discovering that Illyana is, at least at times, an actual freaking demon, and ended… well, at least the bloody vengeance was wreaked by Domino… Illyana's made a couple of refinements to the transportation ritual she taught the pale lady.

She doesn't arrive in the wilds today. She doesn't even arrive under the boiling, orange-red sky that might be starting to become familiar. Nope!

The moment she arrives, on a circular dais of stone that's slightly raised above the floor, silver white light blazes from all around. Sigils ringing the dais, reminiscent of the ones on that other circular stone platform, seem to catch fire all at once. Where the markings on that other platform were worn and obscured, these look freshly cut, the edges sharp enough to draw blood. There's a very faint shimmer in the air around the edge of the dais, reaching up to curve over Domino's head, but there's no sensation of heat.

Slower than the immediate burst of light from the runes surrounding her, torches flare into life, this fire orange-red rather than silver-white, adding a little smokiness to the air along with their inconstant illumination. The chamber is of a reasonable size, and looks like it's been recently cleared, given the clean, or at least cleaner spaces on the dusty, stone-flagged floor. Whoever cleared it hasn't gotten around to removing the chains that descend from somewhere up above, swaying gently and giving the occasional clink.

And for a couple of minutes - that's all Domino gets. Glowing sigils. Flaming torches. Chains. But then a trapdoor is heaved open, letting in more light from up above, and Illyana walks unhurriedly down a now-illuminated spiral staircase of stone. She's reading from a piece of vellum with a faintly puzzled expression on her face, but tears her eyes away from it when she reaches floor level and crosses to stand on the other side of the circle of glowing runes.

There are no horns. There are no fangs. There are no glowing golden eyes. There's not even an outfit of leather and silver that might befit a demon queen. No, Illyana is wearing a black tee shirt with the words 'Good Morning. I See The Assassins Have Failed' in bold white letters on the front, black skinny jeans and boots. She looks from Domino to the vellum and back again, and asks,

"Did you draw me a picture of a demon presenting its master with it's enemy's…" She looks at the vellum again, frowning. "Spleen?"

Her eyes flick back up to meet Domino's. There's a gleam of interest in the blue, and what's probably mischief as well. "What are we playing?"

***

Uuuuh. -Huh.- Ssssoooo… Given where Neena now is, and how things have been shaping up in this neck of the woods lately, and putting all of those pesky little pieces together, somehow she just..shouldn't..be so surprised to have wound up inside of a giant rune-etched bubble in what sure looks like a torture chamber.

"Very funny, Illy." She doesn't expect the words to carry all the way to the named target. They don't have to.

With a distracted motion Dom checks the watch under her wrist then folds her arms together and starts pacing a lazy circle around the circumference of her new 'cell.' Much like with the gun still in hand she's oh so quickly (but perhaps not QUITE quickly enough) learning to always be prepared and expect anything to be waiting for her on the other side of the portal.

Fortunately she isn't waiting long. As Illyana makes her appearance Dom makes a 'what gives?' motion before pressing a most important question:

"Why am I in a giant fucking hamster ball? I feel like a zoo exhibit."

Following this, "Oh hey. I have a coffee mug like that." The shirt. Because of course she does. She's got a box -full- of sarcastic and offensive mugs. It's what gets her through the average day at Xavier's.

Stopping beside the outer reach of the peculiar globe she experimentally 'pushes' against it with the barrel of her sidearm.

"I mean, I'm flattered. Really. The decision to take on the responsibilities of pet ownership is a big step."

A spleen?

"Yes. Yes it is totally supposed to be a spleen. Spleens are funny," she lies in level tone. ..Half-lies. Spleens -are- pretty damn funny.

Then it's blue eyes to blue eyes, directly looking at one another through the Hellish Snowglobe. Neena smiles but quickly reaches around to nonchalantly scratch the back of her neck with the pistol. "So..totally random question, but what do you know about cults which transforms all of their followers into mindless zombies?" She pauses while feigning perfect innocence. "Asking for a friend."

***

"Don't you like it?" Illyana asks, the very image of innocent honesty. "I made it just for you." Her head tilts to one side, her expression best described as thoughtful with a side order of evil. "After last time I didn't think I could trust you not to get eaten. I never thought about selling tickets, though. Next time, maybe."

Illyana is unsurprised that Domino is apparently the Queen of Sarcastic Mugs, but does spread her arms out to the side with a smirk to really show off the message emblazoned on her shirt, while Domino tests the circumference of the circle with her pistol. Traditionally, cold iron disrupts magic… but those are fairy stories. The best the metal of the gun does is raise some silver-white sparks as it slides across the surface of whatever barrier Illyana's magics have conjured.

"I'll get you a name tag, but you seem to be able to find your way back here already." Chances of Domino living to regret that pet ownership comment: High. Illyana gives the vellum one last glance as Domino lies to her, then looks up and shakes her head with a knowing look.

The amused light in her eyes fades away as Domino answers her question. "I know they need to be stamped on, hard." She says, the teasing tone gone from her voice. She steps up to the edge of the dais and puts her hand right through the magical barrier, palm up in a silent invitation.

***

Ah, well, okay. There is that. Domino's brows rise in unison as she casually looks off to the side. "Enclosed for my protection. Cozy. Though not very private." Considering it's a transparend sphere and all. "But if you're going to start selling tickets I'd better be getting a minimum fifty percent cut."

Huh. Well -that's- kind of cool. Sparks from the metal, no apparent wear to the finish. Not that she was trying all that hard, but… While looking over the front of the gun she says "Other than the knowledge that I'm stuck here until my gracious host decides to let me out I think it's a move in the right direction. No part of me feels like being demon chow whenever I warp my butt into the abyss."

With the sarcasm quota met for the next couple of minutes the albino looks back to the part infernal with an upward turn of her chin. "Stamped on sounds like my kind of business."

As Illy's hand passes through the barrier Neena gives her a high-five, catching the queen's hand in the same motion just in case physical contact is required for her to step on through the barrier. Best not to think about it too hard, just act on it. Unlike the lost opportunity they very nearly had during her last visit.

"Here's the deal. I know a guy. Told me his cousin went missing in Gotham. Spent the night looking, got a lucky break. Found something which I would have been all too happy to have never experienced in this lifetime. Turns out I scored a major timing win on this gig by first connecting with someone who seems to understand the game better than me."

Here she points directly at Magik.

"I don't know what's behind it but I do know that someone would be -very- happy to get his cousin back in one piece and with half of a brain more than he currently has, so. Feel like touring the Gotham underworld with me? Oh—and before you answer, two things," she catches herself while pointing to one of her own fingertips with the front of the gun.

"First, we can't kill these people. If they're all brainwashed loons that's not -quite- enough to go against my conscience. Two," the barrel shifts to the middle finger as she gives Illyana a most critical stare.

"What was that scream before you found me last time?"

***

Well. A move in the right direction. Isn't that interesting. Illyana had created Domino's so aptly named hamster ball for the reasons she suggested… but those weren't the only reasons. Last time, Illyana had let Domino glimpse not only the reality of ruling Limbo, but the reality of Illyana herself. And it had ended… inconclusively. Unsatisfyingly.

Now, when Domino arrives, as long as Illyana allows that to continue, she won't arrive in the middle of Illyana's business, and Illyana will have time to choose how to receive her. There's a message there, but not the one that Domino's taken from it.

Did Illyana rattle the pale lady that much last time she came here?

Illyana's fingers close on Domino's hand and she's pulled through the barrier - which until this moment hadn't given a fraction of an inch - with less resistance than fog, albeit with a faint tingling sensation. Depending on how much metal Domino's decked herself out with, there might also be an unfortunate element of the magical equivalent of static electricity, too. As soon as Domino's out of the sigil-bounded circle, the silver-white light dies, leaving just the less certain light of the flaming torches to chase shadows across the walls, and across Illyana.

The sorceress lets go of Domino's hand a moment later and gives her some space, but she's still listening intently. "You're learning quickly enough." She tells Domino, and is already starting to nod when the other woman's 'two things' halts her. The first one gets a snort. "One of us is carrying guns." Illyana points out. A beat. "A lot of guns." She observes. A beat. "It's not me." Really, the implication that she'd just start killing indiscriminately is unfair, but she's more amused than offended.

Two, though. That causes Illyana's eyes to narrow as Domino fixes her with that stare. Really, if she's going to get accusing, she should have done that while she was still behind that magical shield. "That was a minor demon with ideas above its station being dropped into an abyss of torment. Hopefully it'll have learned its lesson by the time it climbs out." The words are delivered in a flat tone, but then Illyana raises a hand to rub at her horns. Wait. No horns. "Demons plot. They scheme. They seek advantage. When I spend time on Earth… well, when the cat's away." A mirthless smile. "It had found some sorcerous texts. Mostly junk, but it was too stupid to realise. Started raising an army." She shrugs. "It doesn't hurt to remind them why I'm in charge now and then."

***

Whew! "Okay that -really- tingles" Domino remarks with a slight head to toe shiver upon passing through the shield. "Damn, I just—" she pauses while patting down the various areas upon her person containing the majority of the metal. "Needed some waking up." Considering the world she had recently departed from was just cresting at four in the morning.

'One of us is carrying guns.' "What, doesn't everyone?" comes the 'innocent' response with yet another outward sweep of her arms. "Look, I believe in being prepared and no one ever said I couldn't incapacitate. One of these is even non-lethal, I think…" Dom thinks aloud while making a show of looking around and patting the various holsters. "Shit, did I remember to bring the ICER—yeah, here it is. Also," she sobers up quickly while looking directly at Illyana again before concluding "-Demon.- The 'no killing' label is something of a prerequisite. Prove me wrong."

Not that she seems upset about it but there are some bases which are good to cover!

Point two. This one's a little more difficult to judge but she figured that would be the case. It's a strange situation to be in the middle of on the best of days. Illy's behavior can't really be condoned any more than it can be faulted. When one has all of Hell to look over then wouldn't you rather have the person who can keep things in check rather than allowing invasions and all of that fun stuff? She isn't torturing -people- and it'd be kind of a stretch to think that she's abusing animals. Just where -does- one draw the line when it comes to hellspawn?

What would Domino do if someone tried to aggressively take over her way of life?

..Right. Can't judge Illyana.

More importantly though, Neena is gauging how much truth is in the other woman's words and whether it seems like she enjoyed putting that other beast in its place a little -too- much. "Quite the unruly bunch," she agrees in a level tone. "You've got your work cut out for you around here. Pun maybe intended."

A slight nod from the pale lady seems to conclude the subject. "Okay. Target is the old Gotham subway. They're using one of the stations as a rallying point. I didn't recognize the street names, they must have changed with that whole twentieth century thing rolling through. How we put a stop to this doesn't matter and whatever fancy deviousness might be behind their resulting zombification isI can't believe I'm saying thisyours to deal with. Whatever it is, it'll be way beyond me. Sound good? Then let's go raise some proper Hell."

***

As Illyana draws Domino through the sorcerous barrier, her eyes seem to drift off target, focusing on a point a couple of inches above Domino's eyeline. Possibly pulling an albino carrying enough hardware to start a small war through a magic snow-globe takes some concentration.

Or possibly she's seen that the magic field that grounded itself in all the metal Domino was carrying… didn't only ground itself in all the metal Domino was carrying. The pale lady's short hair was already spiky, but now… well, let's just say that it's more so. A lot more so.

Illyana's arm starts to move, unconsciously, hand rising, but when Domino launches into her attempt at an 'X-Men don't kill, even if they're demons' speech, Illyana notices what she was about to do, and turns the motion into folding her arms in a faintly rebellious manner. Her expression becomes fixed and stony, but there's a small tic working at her jaw no matter how tightly she tries to keep her teeth clenched.

There's a quiet snort that might be intended to sound derisive but doesn't quite get there before she answers, "So all I have to do is not kill anyone?" Her voice is tightly controlled. "And NOT lend you my sword next time you ask?" She smiles when she says that, but as the expression broadens she seems to find one of the dangling chains interesting and looks away, reaching out to idly wrap the links around her hand with a twist of her wrist.

Domino's pun gets another snort, but Illyana's apparently happy to table discussions on how she runs her realm for the time being.

Illyana listens to the mission briefing with all due seriousness, an odd brightness in her eyes, and at one point it almost looks like she bites the inside of her cheek. But she nods at all the appropriate points. "I get all the fun jobs." She says, so very obviously not complaining since the 'fancy deviousness' seemed to particularly catch her attention.

The by-now familiar sight of one of her portals irising open floods the space with suddenly bright light, and Illyana stands silhouetted before it - and hesitates. "Dom." She says. "Neena." She adds, and then, very deliberately, reaches up and runs a hand through her hair.

***

"Hey. That was a different situation," Neena tries to counter in regards to the soulsword 'episode.' "Those guys threw me in a trunk, remember? They didn't score very high marks on the 'innocent' bar. Cultists have a much higher probability of being idiots rather than homicidal maniacs. ..Usually."

Sometimes.

Okay she can only push her luck so far when it comes to playing the murder card.

Through the lecture it's looking like Magik is disinterested, or distracted somehow, but what she says is still on point enough that Dom seems to believe that the Limboling is paying attention. The toying with the chain is noticed, getting an entirely casual "Maybe later" from the albino. Eh, why not double-check?

"Well I thought I'd try to ante up and take you somewhere nice this time. Figured an underground subway station in the seedier parts of Gotham at ass-thirty in the morning would be a goodwhat? Yeah, that's my name. What are you"

The last time Magik put a hand anywhere near Domino's head it resulted in acute healy pain. She just about ducks back here as instinct kicks in! But..wait. What's..going on with her hair..?

A knife is pulled from her combat harness. Who uses mirrors, right? It's held up. The light catches the polished steel.

A barely restrained snort gives way to a bark of laughter! "You mean it isn't glam metal day?" is asked with a quick headshake which somehow only serves to poof it out all over again. "Who says you can't have fun in Hell! God, I'm rocking an afro," is said with an amused sniff.

And she's apparently allowing Illyana to play with her hair now. This is a first.

***

The magical residue clinging to Domino's hair crackles faintly across Illyana's fingers as they brush at the other woman's dark hair - but she doesn't have time to put anything to rights before Domino is pulling away from her, leaving her hand hanging in mid air. From the intent look on Illyana's face, it momentarily seems like she might pursue and force battle with Domino's suddenly bouffant hair, but she doesn't miss the way that Domino flinches.

Illyana lets her hand drop back to her side. She could have drawn the lingering magical feedback away from the pale lady, but now she'll just have to deal with it on her own! "I would have told you if I was going to hurt you." She says, a slightly sulky tone in her voice. Despite the odd, and probably not entirely reassuring phrasing, at least that's been true so far.

Illyana's sulkiness doesn't last. It really can't, once Domino gets a look at herself in the polished blade of her knife. So edgy. From the evil, evil grin that spreads across the demoness' face, it's abundantly clear that the reason she was so distracted while Domino was giving her lecture… is atop the other woman's head.

"I would have said something." Illyana lies nonchalantly, "But I didn't want to interrupt."

Trying NOT to laugh when Domino shakes her head and makes the situation so much worse is a challenge, and there's just the possibility that the Queen of Limbo snickers a bit. "If that's all the fun you think you can have in hell…" Illyana says, shaking her hand free from the chain she'd ensnared herself with in a deliberate chiming of metal links, eyes flicking back to Domino to prove that she really had being paying attention earlier. "…you're very much mistaken."

With a final snicker, Illyana steps back through her portal, leaving Domino - and her afro - to follow.

***

She didn't want to interrupt? "Awwh, you're so thoughtful!" Domino teases with a toothy grin. She's still trying to mat down the ragged levitating mess of black when Illyana suggests other forms of ..entertainment. It's enough for the albino to hook one brow upward, the laughter reforming into a smirk. "Behave. We have another game lined up for today."

If she had been guarded or apprehensive before the experience with her hair sure changed the merc's demeanor in a hurry. Falling back to her more traditional Devil may care attitude she gives the sidearm a quick roll around an index finger before disappearing through the portal alongside Miss Limbo 2019.

Darkness follows. The air is heavy and dank, the sound of dripping water echoing in the distance from several locations. Sound carries far in two opposing directions but immediately closes in everywhere else.

Then Neena flicks the gunlight on and a spear of brilliant white lashes out against an ancient looking curved brick tunnel. A tube, like an artificial artery buried deep beneath the streets of Gotham. A vein which is no longer connected to the urban pulse above them. These tracks have not been used in a very, very long time.

"Right. Welcome to a slightly more cozy hell." Her softer voice still carries into the darkness ahead and behind the two, swallowed into infinite shadow. "Don't ask me how I found this place."

With a motion of Neena's head, she explains "A couple hundred feet that way is the station I had mentioned. They're active today. Doing -what- I'm not sure but it can't be anything good."

Then she pauses, turning to shine the light behind them. Then forward again. "Or was it that way..?"

Um.

"Just—hang on. I thought of this before gating out." Her words are distracted while shining the light around, taking the first few steps forward.

"If I were me, which I usually am…" The light glimmers off of something shiny and metallic on the floor like a smooth golden nugget. "Ah, there's the little bastard." Stepping closer reveals a single bullet left on the ground, apparently pointing in the right direction. She picks it up and drops it into a pocket. "Waste not want not. Where was I—counted at least two dozen heads before backtracking. Got anything good for crowd control?"

***

After the glowing, silver-white of the portal sending shimmering light to flicker across their immediate surroundings, the darkness when it's extinguished is indeed profound. Despite the utter blackness, Illyana's breathing remains calm and even. Darkness without is far less of a concern than the darkness within… and she's used to being the demon in the shadows. She reaches out with senses that don't rely on light…

The sudden illumination from the stabbing beam of Domino's gunlight doesn't quite make her hiss and shrink back, but it does make her blink as her eyes re-adjust to the brightness. It might not be immediately obvious, but at some point in their trip between dimensions her wardrobe underwent a change. Gone are the ripped jeans and the sarcastic top in favour of something a little more businesslike. A well-fitted, blood-red jacket in a slightly military style over a tight black jumpsuit, with black leather boots lacing up almost to her knees.

She answers Domino in kind, her voice also low in deference to their surroundings. "Hey. Limbo can be cosy." The darkness, the age of the place, the smothering feeling of the weight of the city overhead… and she still can't be entirely serious, it seems. "I'm guessing not AirBnB." Illyana's tone is still light, but there's a faint edge of curiosity in her flippant comment. If it's relevant, Dom, share.

Illyana steps up beside Domino as she indicates a direction, not crowding her, keeping enough separation for her to easily swing a sword. Just coincidentally. "What did you see?" She begins to ask, but Domino's confident display of navigational skills is already beginning to fall apart. Illyana folds her arms, shifting her weight comfortably to one hip, and watches Domino search. "I'd ask if this was the right tunnel." She says, the quiet tone not really obscuring the mocking edge to her words. "But I was responsible for getting us this far." As she's watching, she's reaching out again, in case she has to try to find what they're looking for herself, but eventually Domino comes up with the goods.

"I have some tricks." Illyana says, all false modesty. "Question is, is that the 'make the crowd run in one direction' kind or…" She smirks. "The 'keep the crowd in one place until we're done with them' kind?"

***

It's all going fine and well (aside from nearly getting them both turned around) until Domino turns around to properly face Illyana. It's the first time she's given the other woman her complete attention since the portal jump. At least she knows enough not to shine the light directly at Illy. That would have been rude. Also there happens to be a chambered firearm attached to it. She hasn't had a reason to point a gun at Magik's face for a while now.

Gosh, it's been -weeks!- They must be doing something right!

"Apparently so," she dryly replies to the notion of having tricks. "I'm not entirely sure at what point you decided to duck into a closet and completely change your outfit. Total improvement, though."

To the question, "I'm not sure. Past experience would have me leaning toward the 'make them run away' option so we can try to find the off switch, buuut..since I'm here to -find- someone I don't want them disappearing while we're shutting it down. Maybe you'll get to play with some chains, after all," she teases.

With a little more friendly banter out of the way she takes point, keeping the light at a downward angle so it doesn't get too far ahead of them and risk alerting anyone that something is coming. The tunnel gently sweeps around to the left, descending a little further into the earth.

It isn't long before sound can be heard up ahead. A dull shifting, scraping sound. A peculiar undulation of what might be breaths. And..whispers. Whispers coming from one person standing in a hooded robe. His arms are held wide with what sure looks like strings of fresh blood flowing from his palms down toward elbows then beneath the broad grey sleeves.

Surrounding this individual is a circle of men and women standing still but looking somewhat uneasy on their feet. That's where the shuffling sound and breathing seem to be coming from. Zombies don't breathe though, do they..?

Dom stops and lowers to a knee, palming the light until only only a thin trace of twilight-bright haze can be seen between the two. "That's something new. Oh look. Another circle. Pattern recognition," she absently jokes. "Is this going to be a case of 'break the circle and end the spell' or would that be causing more harm than good? I mean, I'm flexible. We could just break it and see what happens."

***

It's probably a trick of light and shadow - Domino's gunlight not exactly flooding the tunnel with illumination as it is - but Illyana's eyes seem to gleam when Domino compliments her on her outfit change, and that might be a considering look on her face, too. It might be that this particular trick doesn't just work on Illyana herself.

"Stop trying to turn fun into work." Illyana tells Neena, putting on a mock-aggrieved tone, but she nods. "Fine. Keep them down here until we can sort through them." Illyana snorts, quietly. "Nothing like making life easy for ourselves." Outnumbered, determined to stay that way, and definitely no killing. This is sounding more and more like an official X-Men mission all the time.

Despite her words, Illyana falls in behind Domino automatically, almost with an sense of anticipation in her movements. She's starting to sense something, like a noise just beyond the edge of hearing, and the further they walk the stronger the sense becomes. She knows they're going in the right direction before the tunnel curves, and well before that whispering comes into earshot. Illyana's cautious, 'listening' to her more supernatural senses rather than attempting any kind of active divination. If they're up against a true adept, she doesn't want to give herself away before she has to.

When they find what they're looking for, Illyana hunkers down beside Domino automatically. She's not been trained the way Domino has, but the pale lady isn't exactly dragging an inexperienced civilian along with her, that much is clear. "Yes." Illyana breathes, mostly to herself but Domino's close enough to hear. "This definitely needs to be stamped on."

Her eyes are fixed on the ritual, drinking in as much detail as she can, and she doesn't look away from it when Domino questions her. "Circles can keep something in." Her lips quirk at that. Domino was the something most recently being kept in. "Or keep something out." Her eyes shift toward Domino. "The trouble is telling which."

"I can get their attention…" The evil smile is back. "But I can't guarantee which way they'll run. We need to get closer."

***

Neena grins slightly at the rib of taking all of the fun out of the moment. In truth she is trying to approach this like it is official X-Men business. There hasn't been an abundance of trust between her and the team lately and it seems like a good way to establish a -little- more of such a rare commodity.

Although if these 'zombies' really are normal people caught up in a bad situation then even her conscience can't justify turning them into bullet sponges. Some of them (heck, maybe all of them!) are fools but it's difficult to justify murder due to being an idiot.

'Circles can keep something in, or keep something out.' "I guess he couldn't afford one of the higher end hamster balls" Neena deadpans. Telling which one it is? "Let's go ask him."

Dom may have all of the spec ops training but she's putting some faith in Illyana's ability to stay hidden in the shadows. She should be inherently good at it! The way is led closer to the old subway platform, up a narrow set of stairs then over to a crumbling round brick pillar. One of a dozen such supports which keeps the ceiling from caving in.

Something's wrong. Magik would feel something like fingertips at the back of her neck upon stepping onto the platform. A faint shimmer of energy, barely there and easily missed over the energy coming off of the robed figure and the living-not living circle. She may even notice a single black candle set before the robed figure ignite with an eerie blue flame.

Then the chanting stops.

"She is here…"

As one all of the zombies turn their heads to stare directly at the pillar with dead, empty stares, seemingly able to find the two mutants right behind their cover.

The voice returns, slow and level, reverberating with a hypnotic element. "Bring her. Bring them both."

Domino gives Illy a wide-eyed look. "I think we got their attention."

What may seem puzzling at first is that the zombie circle doesn't break. Instead there are more which appear out of the darkness. Coming from other shadowy nooks upon the platform. Stepping through old brick archways and side maintenance passages. They had been waiting.

Waiting for Magik.

Did Domino just sell her out..? Or were they BOTH sold out?

***

"Don't ever say I don't give you the best." Illyana replies, equally deadpan, and inclines her head toward the robed figure. "After you." She says, generously, with no outward sign of trepidation.

She moves well, and quietly too. Even in those heavy boots, she hardly makes a sound. It's not any training that Domino would recognise, more a sense that Illyana's been a hunter, and that it's settled bone-deep into her. That's what she's doing now, stalking prey… or at least, that was what she thought she was doing.

It turns out, not so much.

Illyana had a spell of concealment ready to go, just in case, but the moment she steps onto the subway platform she knows it's too late. It's like she's just stepped onto the strands of a great web, and the spider in the centre of it must have felt the vibration. She glances sharply at Domino, but she's no telepath and speaking now would ruin any chance that they're still unnoticed.

She was right. It's already too late. The voice of the robed figure just confirms it.

Behind the pillar, Illyana glances across at Domino. "You think?" She says, heavy with the sarcasm. Her eyes narrow, and the pale lady gets a long, searching look. Illyana's not just trying to read her with her eyes, either. "Last time you were here." She says, in a too-casual tone. "Are you absolutely sure you didn't talk to this guy? Maybe listen to his oh-so-compelling voice for a little while? Maybe tell him some things you forgot to tell me?"

Forgot. That could mean two things. Deliberately… or not. Illyana can't forget what happened last time Domino came to Limbo, but the man at the centre of this horror show clearly isn't the idiot amateur she was hoping for.

Illyana steps out of the now dubious concealment of the pillar, a sword of shining silver in her left hand, that arm and shoulder now covered with armour. "I don't like to be brought." She says, giving the sword a light practice swing that's as much warning as she's prepared to give. "But if you want me, I'm right here. Come and get me."

***

That look… Domino's gotten plenty of looks from the LimboQueen but never one quite like THIS one. "Hey—what you're gonna try to pin this on -me- now?" she hisses under her breath. "You heard the guy, he's muttering in crazytalk over there! I couldn't understand a word of it if I tried!"

It would seem that trust is a rare commodity even outside of the X-Men. Frankly, Neena's not surprised.

The stare which Illyana gets in return would suggest that 'this isn't over' and 'we'll talk about this later' and other such messages of warning and/or promise. For the moment they have bigger problems, such as being surrounded by a mob of mindless people who apparently want to lay so many hands upon the two intruders.

Illyana has her sword.

Neena has her counterfeit ICER.

In the enclosed space the sound of three rapid shots is deafening. Three of the walkers stumble and fall from hits to the chest but there are plenty more coming.

Way..way more coming.

"That worked" she decides before taking many more shots, dropping them as quickly as she can! It creates a small gap within the masses but more soon take the places of their fallen, walking right over the knocked out bodies.

Illyana won't fare much better. It's her they truly want! Mindless help seems to be the best help because not a one of them feels any sense of survival instinct. They'd probably walk straight into her sword if it got in the way. Once they get within swinging distance they all start to bring their arms forward, mindlessly reaching for the demonic one.

Dom's already well into her second magazine but they keep closing in. The only way to retreat now would be up or down.

"I think it's time for one of those tricks you were talking about!!"

***

Well. Domino's reaction seems genuine, and Illyana has a lot of experiences of lies and liars, starting with Belasco. She could be telling the truth. But even if she is, that doesn't mean she hasn't betrayed Illyana.

"You think you need to understand magic for it to affect you?"

Illyana has neither the time nor the inclination to sugar-coat it, and surprise at Domino's naivety comes through. You don't need to understand it, Neena. You don't have to have agreed to it. You don't even have to remember it.

Do you even trust yourself, now?

The answer to Illyana's challenge from the robed figure? …is not to answer it at all, and leave the heavy lifting to his thralls. "Coward." Illyana tells him, her voice dripping with contempt, and her sword comes up into guard position. It looks very much like the first of those shambling figures is going to be introduced to the sharp end of that faintly glowing silver blade.

Domino gets there first. The gun's report is sharp and loud, but Illyana only winces slightly. "I hope you picked the right gun." She tells Domino, while making a complicated gesture with her off hand. A shield of magical force flares into existence between her and the closest assailants, giving her a moment more before the Soulsword needs to come into play.

"You might not like it." She tells Domino, and from the far side of the circle comes a flash of light, and then the howling starts. It sounds like wolves with a side order of eternal torment. A good half dozen… things… that look like big, flayed dogs have arrived. Illyana's still looking at Domino, and now she's grinning. "But I'm pretty sure you don't want me to leave you here." Without warning, she grabs the pale lady and drops them through a portal at floor level, as the zombie-alikes break over them in a wave.

They reappear on the other side of the scrum. Illyana's tactics are pretty simple. Demon dogs to get everyone looking one way…

***

"Well then it doesn't matter what I tell you, does it!" Domino barks back "Maybe I -am- affected and I don't know! Maybe I'm secretly an interplanetary ninja assassin sleeper agent waiting to cut you apart!"

God, what if she really IS..? Not the ninja assassin thing, but… What can she do about it? Nothing at the moment, that's what!

Magik's shield helps to keep the corrupt at bay long enough to work out her portals but Dom's in no such position to give herself some space. This level of crowd control requires a lot more able-bodied people and some pretty specialized hardware, she can't keep up with the demand. Right before Illy grabs hold of her a couple of the zombie dudes have done the same, starting to pull her toward the mass like they intend to carry her over their heads like some demented mosh pit.

"Dammit—!"

Suddenly: Portal. With howling. Hellhounds. And a modified perspective.

Neena spins about on her heel and looks every bit as surprised as the robed figure when they're staring at one another through the living dead circle still shielding him.

Up comes her ICER.
Down comes a zombie arm.
The shot misses the cultist and ricochets, striking a candelabra and tipping it toward the circle.
Fire erupts beneath the feet of one of the possessed forming the circle.
Fire..appears to be a spell-breaker.

A sudden *BWRMF!* thunders outward from the circle, knocking all of those bodies making up the circle flat. Half of the cultist's control seems to go with it.

"No—! No you fools! My control is absolute! Get them!"

He's lost control of his 'followers.' Now they're lashing out at -everyone.-

***

Illyana doesn't reply to Domino's anger. Not in words, at least. But it looks like there might be a smirk tugging at her lips at 'interplanetary ninja assassin sleeper agent'. That's right. Domino's furious and Magik thinks it's funny. Right now they have bigger concerns, but… this can only end well.

Illyana knew what she was aiming to do, but Domino still gets a shot off while the sorceress is bringing her sword up. And then there's fire, boiling up around one of the possessed. "That's on you." She tells Domino, and then…

*BWRMF!*

Illyana just has time to take a half-step in front of Domino and bring the Soulsword up, splitting the magical blastwave on the razor edge of the blade. The only thing that's blown backwards is Illyana's hair. She even takes a split second to look over her shoulder at Domino. "Nice shot." She concedes.

Then she's running. Her demon-dogs are hungry, and in this sudden melee, someone is going to get bitten. Silver-white light flares here and there, as Illyana's portals snatch the hounds back to Limbo, but one is close. One is leaping over the fallen bodies of the possessed and going for the cultist's throat.

Illyana's tempted to let it happen.

A portal irises open not six inches from the cultist's face and the demon dog vanishes into it. But it gave Illyana time to close the distance. "You might wish I'd let him eat you." She tells the cultist, and rams the Soulsword through his gut.

The Soulsword both is and is not a physical item. It's solid when Illyana wants it to be, but when she doesn't, like now, it passes through solid matter - like flesh - without leaving a mark. What it does still do, is disrupt magic. Painfully. Illyana's going for the win with one move.

Of course, she didn't tell Neena a thing about that.

***

Furious? Neena? Maybe 'mildly irked.' She's vocal and 'in your face' about a lot of things. It's when she stops talking that the rage has really taken root. But Illyana still got under her skin, and that's okay. She'll be returning the favor at some point!

'That's on you' soon followed by 'nice shot' earns Illyana a lightning fast sheepish grin from the albino. At least her hair is looking better. More 'back-swept hedgehog' than 'found the live wire.' But then Magik is suddenly running and the pale lady is left standing there wondering what just happened and what the heck should she be doing. Aah!

The one hellhound leaping for the cultist very nearly gets shot as well before blinking out through another portal. Instead the round skips back and catches one of the possessed right over her own shoulder before he could make a grab for her.

With all of the 'zombies' aimlessly going after anything that moves (including each other!) it's easier to make some breathing room. Dom's just starting to reload again when she catches the flash of Magik's sword..just before it gets buried clean through the cultist.

"ILLY!"

The ICER is made ready so quickly that she's got the sights leveled at the half demon's head before the empty mag can hit the floor. A second later all of the possessed hit the floor as well. There's another sensation of a wave of 'something' washing over everyone, more like a velvety brush than a powerful shockwave.

All of the threats are down.

The cultist is very much alive and very much not bleeding.

Domino looks around then reluctantly lowers her aim away from Illyana's head, instead training sights on the mass of downed bodies in case one of them begins to stir again. "Okay -what just happened?-"

It starts with groaning. Hands slowly coming up to heads. Confused mutterings. The pistol darts from person to person but no shots are taken. None are needed. Those whom had been possessed are starting to come back to their senses.

"I knew I tapped the right shoulder…" is muttered to herself.

***

The Soulsword is pulled out of the cultist with a flourish that looks tailor made to flick excess blood from the blade. Of course, this time there's no blood, but the reaction is still automatic. Illyana's done this before.

The sorceress gives the cultist a shove, but really he'd have been on his way to the floor if she'd just let go of him. She lets him fall, thudding to the ground. She doubts he's going to be up to very much very soon, but she puts a boot on his chest anyway to make sure he'll get the message as soon as his senses return.

She heard Domino's shout, of course, but it's only then that Illyana looks up - right into the muzzle of Domino's ICER. She blinks, and then refocuses on Domino's eyes, her own absolutely steady despite the threat of the weapon. She smiles, and actually seems pleased - with herself, and with the reaction she's provoked in Domino. "Just when I was thinking we made a good team and it turns out you still want to shoot me in the face." Illyana says, putting on a rueful tone. "I can never catch a break." She waits until the ICER is lowered, and then flashes a quick grin.

"Your trick with the flammable thrall gave me the idea. The Soulsword disrupts magic. And he…" She adds a bit of weight to her foot on the cultist's chest, spitefully, "Was the only one throwing magic around." She shrugs. "It was quicker than asking them to form an orderly line." Illyana looks down at the cultist without any particular concern, then glances up at Domino's muttering. Her eyes are half-hidden by her bangs, but she heard. "Down in the dark and dirt, nearly getting crushed by zombies? Please, if you'd picked anyone else I'd have been jealous!"

Illyana nods to the felled cultist. "I can get the rest of them back to the surface if you want to ask this one any questions."

***

"Well I can't have any of that," Domino flatly replies about potential jealousy matters. "You know you're the only half-possessed girl for me. Also you enjoy staring down my guns -way- too much.

It seems so weird how quickly such a big problem could be completely eliminated. If Dom knew it would be so straightforward she wouldn't have burned through so much ammo! While a lot of those people are coming to the ones which had been ICED aren't so fortunate. Their recovery will be measured in hours rather than minutes.

She's not going to feel guilty about this. NOPE! It's non-lethal! She did what she had to do at the time. Though there's still the matter of the cultist. Just one singular cultist… She had been expecting at least a COUPLE more.

Illy's offer to ferry the others out is met with a nod. "That would save us a lot of trouble."

Then it's over to the robed guy. There's a quick check for weapons or the like on him, made a little more difficult through the heavy robe. "No accounting for fashion, these guys," she mutters before grabbing him by the shoulder and rolling him over.

Is Illyana gone with the first batch of civilians? Neena's kiiind of hoping that she is. Because beneath the hood she recognizes the person behind all of this. It's enough for her to drop an extended F-bomb under her next breath.

Suddenly she isn't sure what to do anymore. The ICER remains in one hand. A wickedly curved Karambit sort of appears of its own volition into the other. From there she sort of freezes, torn between the habits of an old life and those necessary to survive in the new.

As soon as the decision is made the response is immediate, standing and emptying the ICER's magazine into the downed cultist's chest as quickly as she can pull the trigger.

To hell with saving her bullets.

***

Illyana shrugs. "It keeps things interesting. If you ever stop threatening to shoot me, I'll know you've got bored." She seems remarkably sanguine about having guns pointed at her head on a regular basis. Maybe she thinks Domino is just doing it for effect and wouldn't actually pull the trigger.

Maybe she hopes that she would, if it was ever really necessary.

"I won't be long." Illyana replies, and portals begin to open all around them, scooping up the unconscious and semi-conscious victims of the cult. Another portal appears for Illyana once they've all been deposited in Limbo. "I'll drop them off at a hospital and come back." She smirks. "Don't wander off." And with that, she steps through her portal and the station is empty save for Domino, the cultist, and that far off sound of water dripping.

Domino's all alone while she makes her decision, and executes it.

The echoes from the rapid ICER fire are still fading when Illyana's voice reaches Neena. Seems she can make a quiet entrance when she wants to.

"Let me guess." She says, her tone carefully neutral.

"You found who you were looking for after all."

***

Dammit.

It may not be healthy that Domino would feel -less- awkward if Magik had come back in time to witness her murdering someone in cold blood instead of putting him to sleep for the rest of the week. Someone like Illyana would probably not need to hear justification for making a kill. Instead, there she stands with shoulders taut, head forward, and a different weapon in each hand while looming over the spared soul.

That she let this guy live is one matter. But there's more to the story.

"Someone set us up, Ils."

Head comes up. Weapons go away. She turns to face the other woman. "He knew I was going to be here. He also knew that YOU were going to be here. How do you suppose that happened?"

She has a theory. Illy can probably read it in her eyes. Whatever she's thinking of she's rather nervous to talk about.

"Someone knows that we're working together. I don't know what they want you for but that -also- can't be good." A quick sigh gets pushed out. "We should get out of here."

There are people she will need to have a chat with.

***

Illyana wouldn't judge, it's true.

What Illyana would do is make Neena's life hell for an indeterminate amount of time, just because the pale ex(?) mercenary gave her the 'X-Men don't kill' speech before this little excursion.

Yes. Even though Illyana can see the unaccustomed nervousness in Domino's eyes - or maybe because of it. The demoness doesn't like seeing it there much.

"I'd figured that much out for myself." Illyana remarks dryly. She tilts her head to one side. "Why don't you tell me?" She asks. At least she doesn't sound like she's accusing Domino of anything. Not anymore. Setting fire to a thrall and ruining the bad guy's ritual does a lot to restore trust, it seems.

"It never is." Illyana agrees, not making any move to leave just yet. "We can go, but we're going back to my place. And we're going to talk." There's a grim amusement to her now. "You're not shutting me out of this." Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Illyana nudges the comprehensively ICERed cultist. "What are we doing with this one?"

***

Getting lectured by an infernal. Domino sure dodged THAT bullet. But not the double-tap. Illyana's sounding like she's putting her foot down on the matter, though not before asking a more immediate question of what to do with the cultist.

"Leave him. He can find his own way out of here." Since she's already made the decision to not be the one responsible for his demise. Maybe a giant mutated rat will find him. That would be fortunate for her.

Besides. At the moment she's way more interested in focusing on Magik. A few slow steps bring the albino nearer. A brow hooks upward. "But I have to ask… Are you using my own threat against me?"

Because she could totally respect that move while simultaneously looking totally irritated because of it. Not that it stops there being a silent challenge issued forth. Would Illy act upon her decision?

Yeah. Total sucker bet. But it's still fun to push her buttons. Dom has to get her entertainment where she can.

***

Illyana looks unsurprised by Domino's decision, but she's not above a bit of pettiness. "Fine, but I'm taking his toys away." A portal opens under the area where the circle was, and the black candle, as well as any other unburned paraphernalia of whatever ritual he was conducting, are whisked off to an isolated oubliette in Limbo. She'll dissect that mystery later.

A different mystery has her attention right now. What Domino's trying not to tell her. Illyana holds her ground as Domino approaches, her stance a little slouched. A lot more comfortable that Domino seems to be, despite having been the target rather than the delivery vector. She has to look up as Domino gets close, but being shorter is a minor irritant.

"Is it working?" She asks, completely unrepentant. She's not backing down. "If it's not, I have others."

The look in her glacial blue eyes doesn't have any give in it, despite her flippant tone. Illyana holds Domino's gaze until she judges she's answered the other woman's challenge, then calls a portal. "After you." She says, stepping aside. This is a first.

Maybe she doesn't trust Neena to follow her in.

***

To a normal person it might seem like a stand-off between the two, like all that's required for them to start throwing punches at one another is a random spark. Except that these two… They aren't normal.

It's no surprise that Neena's always been a very private individual. She may offer some details in order to keep everything moving in the direction that she wants it to but a full on explanation, or less likely a confession, is pretty darn rare.

It might seem a little odd then when the question 'is it working?' is met with a black lined smirk. "It really kinda is. But don't let me stop you."

As the portal opens it does so in her peripheral, choosing to retain that direct line of sight with the quasi-infernal. She could be something a team player, take the portal and explain her thoughts on the situation. Or she could ignore the portal and either risk being lost down here forever or get portaled against her will.

"Alright," she says as innocently as possible with a playful showing of hands. "Just don't put me back in the hamster ball."

There's a quick spin about on her heels then she hops backward through the rift.

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