Natural Selection
Roleplaying Log: Natural Selection
IC Details

After prising information about The Right out of Andrew Young, a vengeful Archangel follows the trail to Cameron Hodge, unaware he is in turn followed.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 16, 2019
IC Location: Somewhere in New Jersey
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 18 Dec 2019 04:28
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: None
NPC & GM Credits: Cameron Hodge by Warren
Associated Plots

Warren kept mostly to himself in the immediate aftermath of their return, locked in a distant room of the Institute as far from any other inhabitants as humanly possible. When he did emerge, it was mainly to ask about all the information that had been gathered with regards to what had been done to him. With regards to the lies that had been told to him. With regards to the ways in which he had been betrayed…

A little later, he was gone, winged out his window surreptitiously to some unknown destination. He wasn't gone long, though — only long enough to pay a certain Andrew Young a visit. It was a visit that Andrew Young will certainly remember forever.

Being pinned under a lethal array of neurotoxic feather-blades, one twitch away from ending up in a hundred diced pieces, makes a man very inclined to talk. And Young talked — extensively, blitheringly, at length. He's a member of The Right, you see, and he's sure Cameron is their leader, he'll tell Archangel when and where they're next to meet, if he's just let go…

He was let go. What state he was let go in is another story.

Warren came back to the Institute, and said nothing about where he'd been. He just disappeared again later, except this time he was a little more careless, and certain personages saw him go.

His destination, if he is tracked, appears to be some presumably-abandoned docks on the Jersey side of the river. Presumably abandoned… except as people draw closer, there are signs of activity, of product being moved.

There is no immediate sign of Warren.

* * *

Where Warren Worthington cloistered himself away to one room, Alison Blaire has been — somewhat more social.

Though avoiding her return to the public (the press of it, alone, fatigues her), she has been a careful haunt around the Institute, and acting strangely… put-together, since their breakneck return from That World.

Its reality, shuttered away from this one, is like a burden off her shoulders.

Even then, Alison's presence has been an exceedingly careful one, like someone whom, after her death, feels like a guest to her own body, her own life, and Westchester is no different. The rest of her time is regular, private visits to Warren, trying to be the staid foundation to all his new changes.

The night he, however, disappears is not missed by her. Though Alison does not talk about it much to anyone.

And then he disappears again. He does so without telling her where, and for what reason, and as time passes — Alison's nerve breaks.

Her outreach is the same text message to Dani, Tony, and Carolus. People who might have an idea, who have their shared trauma, who might know something.

< Warren's gone. He left his phone behind. I need help, I have a bad feeling, please. >

* * *

Good news! Andrew Young is still alive to remember.

Take the small victories.

Stark at least has learned that. The technowizard though does know that in current mindset that whole 'well at least he lived' can turn south pretty fast. Which is why he set his drones after Warren that second time he left. And why the inventor is currently arcing though the air, streaking in the current iteration of his suit towards that little spot near the docks after having gotten that text from Dazzler.

«Yeah. Been tracking him. I think I have him. I'll send you the location. Meet you there?>

That would be the text back towards Dazzler and the rest of the group.

* * *

Danielle Moonstar can't help but stare at the text message(s) that now light her phone up.

Then she answers, « Give us the coordinates as soon as you have them. Ali, Carolus, Brightwind can carry all three of us easy enough. »

Once the message is sent, Moonstar moves swiftly through the mansion. She stops at her room first and gathers a few things. Weaponry, mostly. Bow, quiver of arrows, and SHIELD issued gun. One day SHIELD is going to come for her standard issued gun, but that day isn't today.

Then it's off to Brightwind, who's already out in the yard, ready to go. It only takes moments to saddle the winged-horse and then Valkyrie and steed rise sharply into the air to gather whoever needs a ride.

Once everyone and everything is settled, and the location received, Brightwind rises sharply in the air again and arrows across the darkened night sky.

It's only as they approach the docks from on high, that Moonstar narrows her gaze slightly. Empathic senses reach out towards the animal life nearby -

You know, like rats. The conversation is actually pretty logical. Rats are intelligent creatures after all, and so, it goes something like this -

Dani: Rats!! Have you seen big bird? Big metal bird. Moonstar even sends a mental picture of a screaming metallic eagle along with those thoughts of hers. Such an angry bird face. So angry.

* * *

It will rapidly become clear to someone with Stark's level of technology, as he approaches, that whatever is being handled at these docks is very high-tech.

Chitauri tech, to be precise.

Multiple heat signatures indicate a handful of people outside managing the crates of Chitauri armor, and another group of people in a nearby building, clustered in a way that suggests some sort of meeting. There is no immediate sign of the deadly bird which the rats are telling Dani about. Up until, quite suddenly, a slight hiss of parting air and a series of fast-moving glints heralds a few dart-like items shooting towards the people standing by the crates.

To a one, they stiffen and slump over, succumbed to a familiar paralytic coating small, deadly feathers.

However, one of the felled people must have managed to hit an alarm before dropping — because a moment later, activity with the nearby building kicks up sharply. At least ten people, in those familiar Chitauri power suits Carolus and Gwen saw before, come milling out. A few cross over towards the crates and the downed men around them; the others jet up into the air with a thrum of repulsor energy, clearly intent on mounting some sort of watch for whatever the threat is.

They don't anticipate the threat to come from above.

A very familiar shape folds its wings from far up in the sky and drops like a falling blade, hitting one of the straggling power suits with a force and speed that shears the entire back half of the suit clean off. A scream trickles out distantly from the maimed armor as it — and its passenger — starts to fall to earth.

The others, very alarmed, start to charge up their weapons, turning to deal with the winged shape even now circling around for another go.

* * *

There is a moment of silence there as metallic winged avenger, wings spread wide, faces off with the power armor that works for the man that killed him. Death returned for them all. However, moment is entirely ruined when there is an explosion of light and sound from somewhere higher up and behind Archangel.

Trails of dozens of micro-munitions corkscrew though the sky, streaking by the winged one to strike towards the ground bound power armor.

Tiny but aimed by technology beyond the comprehension of most humans they seek joins, knees, elbows, hands, the weapons themselves.

Explosions ripple across the Chitauri power armor as the joins crack under sudden stress. Weapon capacitors overload and explode, helmet readouts blank out as exterior sensors are removed with the precision of a surgeon.

The men inside those suits should still be alive, but oh god are they not happy. Being 'alive' and being 'unharmed' is not something that Stark really feels like giving a thought too. At least not to these people.

There are going to be a lot of broken bones in their future.

There is a ripple in the night sky as the last explosion fades and the Iron Man armor decloaks.

"Man. Shoddy work really. Don't repurpose what you don't understand you asshats!" Stark shouts down towards the shattered power armors on the ground. "Idiots."

A pause.

"Also hi," This towards Warren. "I totally was following you this time."

And back to shouting down at the men on the docks. "Anyone else want to try anything /really/ stupid! I got more missiles if you do!" And the man shifts, arms pointed down at the security forces on the ground as the repulsors there begin to glow ominously.

* * *

Carolus Sinclair has been basically absent from the Institute since they returned. He had explained in brief that he was moving to a better-occluded home both because he realized renting was a sucker's game when you have as much money as he does, aaaaand because he wasn't comfortable with how easy it was for racists in power armor to just look up his place and fire an RPG into it in the middle of the night.

But he knows immediately that something is going on, because he has a residual connection to Warren that has, temporarily, strengthened upon returning to his own reality. He needs to go see Doctor Strange about that— and a few other things. Unfortunately, it gives him a Spidey Sense that applies SPECIFICALLy to Warren's mood and actions. He's learned how to filter most of that out by now, but when the intent graduates from standard issue bird dickery to murderous intent that would make a goose envious of that sort of unfiltered hatred, he's forced to do something.

Alison's text message receives a simple response:
Carolus Sinclair has shared his drive!
Accompanied by a Waze link.

By the time everybody's there, Carolus is too. As tempting as it is to start dismantling the entire operation, which he is /more/ than familiar with because he had to deal with these jackboots last time—

He, inevitably, winds up being the soft — or at least, P.R.-minded one — and when he appears in the sky it's to seize the man in power armor who is busily falling to what should have been his death.

Heaving a great sigh, he drags the flightless fool back up into the sky, ascending back to general proximity with Tony and Warren. Carolus is not stupid enough to let this guy loose on the ground where he might make the choice to actually keep fighting.

He's banking on the power armored goon preferring life to maybe wounding a mutant in exchange for probably dying a particularly miserable death.

"I appreciate and applaud your ludicrous nonlethal overkill." Carolus asides to Tony, /quite/ sincerely.

Warren, on the other hand, just gets a look. A what-is-this-fresh-hell kind of look.

* * *

One constant holds true: Alison is still avoiding Dani Moonstar. Emphatically so.

But these are one of those times she can compartmentalize her guilt, and upon receiving Tony's text and Carolus's …shared drive — with mingled surprise and relief, thank god, they've been keeping their own tabs on Warren, yet, why wasn't she similarly on the ball? — she convenes with Moonstar, and awkwardly gives her thank-you before they both mount Brightwind.

An unrepentent preteen lover of all things horses, if it were any other time, Alison would be positively thrilled about the ride there. This time, however, she is sombre, her thoughts elsewhere.

As they hold in the air, overlooking the docks, Alison's sharp eyes scout below while Dani receives directions from the wharf rats—

And then, distantly, the alarm. And then —


"I think we found them," Alison says, wan.

More of those plated suits take to the air — each of them wearing the same, hand-painted, macabre SMILES over their darkened helms — last-minute taking position against the two fliers, and arrival of two more aerially-inclined back-up. One rushes toward Carolus while he has some of his many arms full: jets raking the air as it tries to lock, and hold, his position under a laser aim. Searing bolts hiss, burning-hot, hairs away from him, burning light into the dark sky. Trying to line up a direct shot.

Another two converge — a little askance — at a pegasus, while Alison reacts a moment late, her eyes trying to hold on the familiar shape of Warren. She reflexively thinks of defending — but Dani is right there, CLOSE to her light, and she freezes. She can't do it, can't shoot anything, but —

She plants hands down on Brightwind, and concentrates. They cloak, light bending around them, rendering both woman and pegasus briefly invisible. Enough for the Smileys to hold in confusion, switching to heat signatures—

* * *

When that awkward thanks is given Moonstar offers own faint smile, and then words too, "We should talk soon."

But she's not going to push it, not when things are definitely heating up.

The intel from the rats is heard and Moonstar turns just enough to tell Alison the news, but Ali beats her to it.

It's not hard when the winged figure is scene, nor when the explosions start.

"Yes, definitely.

Comes Moonstar's agreement and while she could say something more those armored covered shapes fly towards Brightwind, Dani and Alison. "Looks like we've been found too."

"Brightwind -" Begins Dani, about to tell the winged-horse to take evasive maneuvers, but there's a pause when the Smileys hang their in obvious confusion.

That opening is a good one as ever and so, Moonstar pulls several arrows out and fires them one by one.

She aims (for the moment) at non-lethal areas, to destroy weaponry and boosters and she doesn't seem to mind when they drop out of the sky.

Their loss. They shouldn't have went with the losing side.

Once the two are taken care Moonstar gives Brightwind a slight nudge and with a flick of a wing, the pegasus flies towards Tony, Carolus and Warren.

* * *

Archangel scribes to a slow halt in the air, facing his opposition as it screams towards him. Metal wings spread, features shadowed by his own pinions, he looks the very picture of an angel of death returned to cast judgment on his killers.

…up until quite suddenly, a whole bunch of munitions shoot past him and totally killsteal. The power armor-wearing men on the ground crumple immediately, neutralized by Stark's superior technology; the crates they guard crackle, their contents similarly scrambled.

Warren whirls in place in the air, his pinions flaring almost like he's about to attack Tony too. Only the familiarity of the man's voice, which filters through his consciousness after a moment, stops him. The winged mutant draws up short. His eyes track between Tony, and Carolus (whose captive makes NO attempt to struggle, being somewhat smarter — or more self-preserving — than other varieties of his racist kind).

They were following him —

"I didn't need help," he snaps back, nettled by the look in Carolus's eyes. Nettled — and maybe shamed. "That's why I left alone. You — " His gaze flicks past them and finds Alison. "You BROUGHT her? There's a reason I didn't want her here. I just needed one life, tonight."

He turns, his keen eyes searching out the last armored figure to emerge from the building. Even from this distance, he knows. He recognizes.

"Just one," he says, as he plunges towards that figure, crashing full into the armored form of Cameron Hodge. His talons sink into the humming Chitauri plate, his wings mantling around them both.

"You look like shit, Warren," is Cameron's greeting, as his hands close on the deadly wings trying to impale him through, holding them at bay with a whirr of the armor's machined joints. He knows how many are here, and how faint his odds now are; he fights back with the strength of someone who knows he's now fighting for his life. "It's almost worth seeing you're still alive, to see you like this."

* * *

"No problem," Stark drawls towards Carlos. "And that wasn't me being overkill."

Which might be a scary thought for some. But then he's back towards Warren.

"Ok, first off!" Stark replies as weapons fire beings to lick up towards him. "I didn't /bring/ anyone. You really think that I could have forced her to stay away? I mean I just showed up and she lasered me out a window. What do you think she'd do if I told her 'oh no you can't go after Warren when he's being an idiot'."

Almost casually he bats aside one blast.

"Also that's a no on the surrender." He adds casually as there is a /fweeeeeeeee/ sound from his Repulsors. "Suit yourself."

There is a streak of light as repulsors crack off, this time meaning to none so gently remove parts of the attacking suits. Shatter legs, strip the weapons, again not killing shots but he's done being 'gentle'.

But then Warren is shooting off towards a new target and Stark jets off to follow. Close enough to hear that exchange….

"Cam! You asshat is that you, you are /so/ screwed." Stark shouts, though he doesn't get between Warren and his prey. "Don't kill him though!" This towards Warren of course. "I have…" A pause. "…um…maybe…like…twenty percent of a plan."

* * *

The last time Carolus fought these guys, he didn't really know what they were capable of or what to expect. He was blindsided, and he was caught in close quarters.

Not today.

As advantageous as it /would/ be to wield the armored man in his arms as a shield, he doesn't do it. As a matter of fact, he twists him deliberately out of the line of fire, easily holding him one-handed by the breached back of his armor with his auxiliary left hand. At night, out in the wide open air…

Trying to land a clean hit on Atlas is quite literally like trying to fight a moth evading a swarm of bats. It's not even an elegant dance; he's just an obnoxiously erratic target, gently and almost clumsily drifting away from the weapons fire. It doesn't look like it /should/ work, but at this distance and in these conditions a whole military unit directing massed fire at him and him alone would have a hard enough time landing a credible shot.

He is a completely different foe from the last time. Then, he does something that is on the surface inexplicable.

Carolus twists the helmet off of his "hostage", discards it, holds them up to one side of him /almost/ as if he merely had his arm around their back, and takes a selfie with them. He even manages a convincing genial smile.

"I'm going to put you down, you're going to leave quietly. If I smell you shooting, cutting, or otherwise doing anything but hightailing it out of here, I'm posting this to every social media platform I can find and having Mr. Stark over there make sure it trends so the entire planet can see you're a mutie lover who tipped me off to the KKK rally in Jersey."

"Also, maybe just be a nicer person all-around, yeah?" He pockets his cell phone and swoops into a careful dive, depositing the armored figure on the ground— not entirely /gently/, but gently as he can manage in the circumstances.

He diverts his flight path to circle back 'round, re-gaining altitude and following the general presence of Warren in his mind— not directly, though. Carolus isn't about to descend into that quagmire.

* * *

The nocked arrows strike true. It hits the boosters of the aerial Smileys, and with no quick, technological answer to the weapons' inherent magic —

They fall. Solidly. Their masses sail down — and crunch through the docks, too much force for splintered wood to bear, disappearing with a distant splash into the December-cold water.

With that, Alison releases the cloak, exhaling a long, strained breath — it's still a considerable feat for her, to hold her light-bending for long. Especially on more individuals than her own self.

"We need to get closer," she begs Dani, especially when — distantly — she years Warren's furious shout. Her expression flickers, but she holds whatever reaction in. She continues, to Dani: "Warren's not — he's going to do something. He's going to regret it." There's a reason why he's here, she knows, even if her thoughts don't seem to want to immediately connect it. It skips her attention, unnecessary.

Meanwhile, that unmasked Smiley —

The helm rips away, and that lurid SMILE melts away into… the young, shocked face of a man who looks a handful of years out of boyhood. Just a kid. And whatever hate that delinates the Right, it's not on his face right now: there's just a fix-eyed, frozen look of SHOCK that is immortalized into that selfie, when the moth-winged mutant does the last thing he ever expected in his young life.

Let go, he doesn't stick around wrong. Violence doesn't always need to solve things. The threat of social media shaming?

Just as terrifying.

As Brightwing swings down, closer into the fray —

And Warren mantles over an armored body —

And Tony says a name —

And that voice —

There is a strange, palpable window of quiet on Brightwind. Alison, who has been acclimating so well in the last few days —

Sits stock still. Skin clammy, drained bloodless. Her blue eyes unfocus. Alison, faced with an immediate proximity of Cameron Hodge, freezes in place. She cannot move. She looks like she might not even be able to think. Trauma will do that.

* * *

Brightwind for sure doesn't need any nudge from Dani, especially not when he hears Ali ask to get closer, for as soon as everyone drops towards the water, so too does the horse move. "On it." She says to Alison, acknowledging the need to get closer.

And then downward the trio goes as well, following after Warren and Tony, as Death approaches Cameron Hodge.

There's the sound of horse's hooves upon the ground, as Brightwind lands, and as soon as they're on the ground Moonstar quickly dismounts.

She doesn't yet realize Alison isn't right behind her, but Brightwind does and there's something there that causes the pegasus to flare his wings outward and upward. Mantled and protective, as those feathered appendages now become a barrier between Warren, Cam and Alison.

Moonstar, for her part, doesn't yet draw bow and arrow. Instead she flashes a quick look to Tony, then to Warren, and then upward to make sure Carolus is ok before finally her gaze lands squarely upon Cameron Hodge.

"Don't do it, Warren." Moonstar finally says, her voice holding a grave note to it, "Death comes for all oathbreakers eventually, but in this instance death would be too good for him, too easy."

"And I for one will be extremely upset if I have to guide his soul onward to the afterlife."

"Instead he should be made to suffer. He should *feel* the same suffering as everyone here has and death would take that away far too quickly."

* * *

"I am — not — an idiot, Tony!" Warren snarls in between dodging around lasers. The fact this is his only rejoinder kind of proves he has no counter for the rest of what Tony says.

But soon enough he forgets all about Tony — and everyone else — on seeing his intended prey. His clash with his old friend is tumultuous enough to require his full attention; Cameron's armored power suit is enough to put him on par with Warren's maddened. mutant strength, and the two struggle briefly in a brutally physical stalemate, slamming against the wall of the building.

There are yells in the background — screams. Archangel doesn't even seem to hear. The only thing he sees that isn't Cameron, with his preternatually sharp eyes, is a brief glance of Alison in the distance. Frozen. Terrified.

The sight enrages him enough to bodily twist and fling them both to the ground, Cameron first. The impact resounds with a sickening crack, stunning Hodge long enough for talons to rip off the heavy faceplate. In the next moment, one of Archangel's wings is poised right in Cameron's face.

Cameron laughs, choking up blood. Something must have broken on impact. He laughs even with the point of a primary feather, long and sharp as a sword, hovering over his eye. "Look at you. Look at what I made you. You're a monster, Warren. So go ahead and do it. Be what I've made you."

Archangel holds, for what seems like a long time. He clutches onto the fury burning in his every synapse. But he also looks into a face he used to love. The anger that brought him here, the conviction to kill… it drains away before the reality of looking an erstwhile friend in the eye, and stepping past some point of no return.

The others weigh in. Not to kill him. Not to make it as easy as a clean death…

His wing descends. The lethally-pointed pinion sinks into the concrete beside Cameron's head. With a deep breath he controls the screaming urges from his trembling wings, and for the first time since he woke up from the mental fog of Death, he lets the anger go,.

"It's not because of what he deserves," he finally says. "It's because of what I won't let him make me be."

And yet.

"Get up," Warren Worthington says. "Get up, Cameron. I am nothing that you made me. But you are not staying here." His eyes find Alison's. "You won't share a world with her."

His head turns towards Tony. "Can you still make a portal? Back there?"

* * *

Peer pressure wins the day, but Carolus can't help but be put off by how young this particular brainwashed power suited racist was. He supposes that the recruiting has to be coming from /some/where.

The closest he'd ever bothered to guess before was Louisiana.

At first he intends to come back in to speak to Warren, but by the time he does he can sense a change in the winds. Murderous intent ebbs away, and with it Carolus's own intent to come down in the middle of the fight and say some hurtful things that Cameron managed to get the gist of out first.

But there's still a wrong being done here, and a part of Carolus wonders if he's the only other person would consider it. He approaches the ground and ocmes to a hover, a few yards away from Warren and Cameron.

"Warren," Which he says with a certain gravity, no longer disappointed but still concerned, "that place isn't a garbage disposal for our problems. Whatever good we did, we've already done enough harm to it by being brought to interfere there. We shouldn't make him their problem too. And I'm not convinced that he isn't inventive enough to engineer himself an advantage in a place with so reduced a population."

"All of this and what came before," He gestures around, "is enough to put him in the Raft and then some. It's not quite the absolute height of irony, but it's close. And it's closer to home."

* * *

Stark flares his jets as he lands next to the carnage of the battle between the two once friends. "You always were an asshole, Cam. Now you're just racist asshole." Stark comments as his armor peels away from him. It leaves him standing there, in jeans and a t-shirt as he looks back down at the man in the power suit.

"You're so much more a monster than he is you know." He adds thoughtfully. "But you'll never see it. So…" A glance at Warren and there is a smirk. A vicious and somewhat cruel smirk. "…you want monsters. Fine. We'll show you real monsters."

A gauntlet forms on his arm as he begins to plug in commands, drones and bits of tech begin to spin off to form a roughly circle shape on the ground. It'll blow up one or two of his mini-reactors to do but hey. What are friends for.

"For the record, sometimes you are totally an idiot." He adds towards Warren as power starts to flow into the strange ad-hoc bits of tech.

One drone /vorps/ into oblivion. Who knows where it is going.

"See Moth-man. The problem is that if he goes to the Raft, there is a good chance of him getting out. Or him meeting up with someone there and running everything from the inside. Let me tell you about Fisk sometime."

And Warren is more likely to kill him than let that happen.

"All the rest are going to get picked up, I'll comb though all this with a fine tooth comb. And SHIELD. So anyone associated with it is going to be gone but this one…" A glance at Cameron. "…naw, I'm pretty sure the Raft isn't good enough."

* * *

There is not a sound from Alison Blaire.

Under the low light, her skin has broken out in a clammy sheen, and she's pale, paler than is healthy, and she thinks she can barely breathe, because —

That voice.

Over the past few weeks, she has gone through her own hell. Murdered, resurrected, brought to a new world full of death and universal hopelessness for her doomed kind, lied to, remade into the image of a would-be-God warlord, her mind twisted every which way until it thundered on frayed seams under his whispers. She suffered with guilt and fear for Warren. She suffered through the fear of facing Apocalypse again. And she — endured it all. Few shed tears, less emotional affect. She died, her live was in shambles, but she could handle it. She could take it, day by day, and keep herself frosty, facing forward, focused on the goal of doing what's right —

And, the instant she sees Cameron Hodge's uncovered face, it's all gone. She's no more. She's back on the marble floor of the penthouse, unable to move, as he tortured —

She can't hear anyone talk. The world sieves down. She's underwater, hearing sound through a heavy blanket of nothing. She doesn't realize her hands have begun trembling. She feels so cold. She never feels cold.

Brightwind senses enough. The pegasus pulls his wings and blocks off any last sight of Hodge, and it helps enough for Alison to breathe again. When Warren looks at her, her pale eyes tic back.

There is no judgment. Only something — of a plea.

* * *

Moonstar watches much like everyone else, to see what choice Warren makes.

And for the moment it seems the better choice is made versus just straight death.

The option of sending Cameron to the hell they all just visited brings on a thoughtful look to Moonstar.

That thoughtful look turns into something more at Carolus' words of warning.

But whatever she feels is tucked away as Tony begins to spin up and create a portal. That causes her to speak again, "Take his armor from him. Don't let him have any advantage there."

And with that said, Moonstar finally frowns slightly at something registers. Slowly she pivots slightly to look over at Brightwind and Ali and the mantling of those white wings. She can read and feel the emotion from the pegasus and it causes Moonstar to slide a look back over to Cameron for a moment.

"Break his legs too." She finishes with, even as she side-eyes Carolus, "That should make him less of a problem for that particular dimension."

* * *

"Now now, Moonie. I think we should give him at least a fighting chance." Tony drawls as he smirks in the woman's direction. "Don't worry. I got an idea. Someone find me a piece of paper though."

* * *

Sometimes you are totally an idiot, says Tony.

"I learned from watching you," is Warren's answer.

As to what Tony says to Cameron? Hodge laughs, the sound entirely without humor. "If I am, I became one to fight worse ones, species traitor."

It might have provoked Warren, earlier. But for now, he has withdrawn the killing intent of his pinions. Withdrawn his anger. Withdrawn the urging of Death that still flows in his veins. With that active choice not to kill, comes a certain control that he has not had since he first became Death.

The techno-organic corruption seems to melt from him. It does not leave him — it will never leave him — but it pulls deeper back into him, receding from the surface, the monstrous aspects of him retreating. The talons retract back into his armor, which folds up and seeps invisibly back under his skin. The death-blue of his complexion drains away, the rigid blades of his feathers relaxing into natural plumes. Only a telling silver sheen to his wings remains, to relate the fact that ultimately… the reappearance of Angel is no more than a function of self-control.

Yet it is a promising first step.

Warren seems intent on justice, however, even if he no longer wishes cold-blooded murder. Justice — and Alison's peace of mind and sense of safety. Carolus disagrees, dropping to a hover nearby, but Warren — for better or worse — does not appear inclined to be moved. He is looking, obviously and unblinkingly, into Alison's eyes. Reading the plea written there.

"Fisk went in the Raft," Warren says, his voice hard, "and Fisk came back out. I know you, Cameron," he says, addressing Cameron's defiant, bleeding face. "You were the smartest person I knew. The most resourceful. I relied on that, so many times. You'd find a way out too."

He looks momentarily pained, though, at Dani's cold words. "I won't…" he says, struggling against a flicker of blue already trying to creep back along the line of his throat. "I won't — do that." He wants to. He won't. "I think," Warren adds, his attention turning back to Carolus, "Magneto will already be a bigger problem for him than he will be for Magneto. Who owes us, really, if you think about it. But the bottom line, for me, is — look at Ali, Carolus." Warren certainly is. "I have to. Argue with me later, but — I have to."

"Warren — " Cameron begins, but the next thing he feels is Warren's grasp on the ruined edge of his armor.

"Warren, look at me," Cameron says. It is not a plea. It is not a demand, either. The closest thing it might be described as is a wish.

Warren doesn't look. He forces Cameron up to the flickering portal.

"If you are strong enough," are his parting words, "you'll survive."

* * *

Even if she cannot completely see what is happening —

— Alison seems to know.

She still cannot force a sound onto her glued-together, too-dry throat. She still cannot remember much motor control past her trembling. She has faced the arrogance of Odin, the obsession of the Beyonder, the will of Magneto, and even the judgment of Apocalypse, and yet, and yet —

It is Cameron Hodge that has her reduced to this frozen-deer panic, traumatized in a way that may never be endured, never be healed.

At the last moments, she closes her eyes. Though soundless, there are tears on her cheeks.

* * *

There is more to be said, but Dani doesn't say it, especially not when Warren seemingly reverts back to his feathered look.

Especially not when that blue returns from the words she speaks. There's a moment of guilt from Dani and in that moment she retreats back to Brightwind.

Then she returns and offers Tony a piece of paper and look, a pen too.

"Make it a good one."

Now she steps back and just watches Cameron be marched over to the portal, she watches and witnesses for all he hurt.

* * *

"Please do not mistake my deliberate rationality for emotional disapproval with the dispensation of Cameron Hodge, by exile or by death." Carolus replies, both to the sidelong look from Moonstar and Angel's request that he look towards Alison. He doesn't need to look towards Alison. Even steps removed from the actual event itself he can remember the feeling of horror and disgust he had experienced while Alison's murder was described to him.

It had made him feel less safe. He could not even imagine what Alison experienced seeing Cameron again— and rather unfortunately, he /can/ imagine some echo of what Warren had felt coming here.

What he had felt casting Cameron out.

But more than that, he feels a deep, existential dread for what this might mean, in the end. Would people understand, at all? Would the return of Warren Worthington and the sudden disappearance of Cameron Hodge register as a blip on anyone's radar— would it be dragged out into daylight? Would it pass unremarked? Was there a good option, at all?

Would this be /their/ road to Apocalypse?

He heaves a troubled sigh, the sound of his wings rising to a sharp buzz as he relocates towards Alison, setting down to one side of her and simply lingering as a friendly presence.

* * *

The portal bursts into existence as Stark stares at a screen that has flashed up into existence. Stark smirks again as he takes the pen and paper, writing down a quick message.

"This isn't pretty," Stark adds. "But sometimes, its necessary not to be pretty." A shake of his head. "Peggy would be so disappointed we aren't doing this more clean, but…" A shrug. "…we can clean it up later."

The inventor nods then. "Should be ready." He adds after a moment as the portal itself bursts into life.

There is no comment about the race traitor part, Stark just shrugs slightly. Grinning partly to himself. "'Human'. Ha. Pretty sure I don't qualify anymore." He mutters as Cameron Hodge is shoved towards the portal. There is a moment where Tony catches him, just long enough to smile. Its a smile without warmth, but with some amount of irony.

"You know buddy," He adds as he pins the note to the mans chest with a quick staple to the clothes. "This is all cause you made the lady cry." His voice quiet and personal.


"Yup. Good talk. See ya never."

And with that there is a shove as there is a beep from the drone.

And Hodge is…well…gone.

On the other end of the portal, he comes tumbling out. A little drone there wingwobbles as he tumbles to the ground, a note pinned to his chest.

'Leader of the Mutant Killers. Don't say we didn't do anything for you. GLHF. -Stark'

……and really. It is totally random that Stark dropped him off in the view of someone with iron hard abs and a fancy hat.

…he can't control where the portal comes out.

I mean really. What are the odds.

And with a pop, both the drone and the portal dissipears.

* * *

Warren has a whole lot of nothing to say, at first, in the wake of the portal closing. In fact, he seems to just be looking at his hands, at his wings, turning them slowly. That threatening flicker of blue has disappeared again, for now, and his feathers looked like they used to. He looks as he used to.

But for how long? And what would trigger Archangel again? He doesn't know. Not yet.

But he still feels it all there, within him.

"Thanks, Tony," he says, after a long silence. Perhaps it's better, for all his lingering conflicted emotions over his former best friend, that he was spared the knowledge of exactly where Tony sent Cameron in specific.

He looks up. "Let's get this cleaned up," he says. "And let's go home. There's some… other things I have to tie up."

The troubled silence stretches on. "We can talk about all this once it's done."

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