The Temple of the Acrocalypse!
Roleplaying Log: The Temple of the Acrocalypse!
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Where the team goes to check in for potential Apocalypse sightings in their world.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: May 10, 2020
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 11 May 2020 19:42
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

A few weeks ago there was a training session held by Dani. It involved a lot of sand and a structure semi-bured in the sand. Today's mission might bring back some deja vu, because it really does resemble it. Like *a lot*.

As such, the group stands before a stucture that looks suspiciously like a half buried pyramid. An arid wind blows and with each gust small little dervishes of sand begin to whril and spin. Even with only being here for a short period of time the sand already begins to creep into everything. Seriously. Everything. The poor Blackbird will definitely need a thorough cleaning out.

It's really going to be one of those missions, isn't it?

Spoiler alert: Yes, it sure is.

Either way, Moonie stands there calm as can be, her expression distant as she gazes at the half buried pyramid. "We get in." She says, "We scope it out. If we find anything dangerous we neutralize it." At the word neutralize Moonstar's gaze swings back to the group - sure her briefing isn't the most in-depth mission briefing but it really encompasses the whole point to this mission.

Destroy Apocalypse if this so happens to be his resting place.

"Clear?" Asks the Cheyenne woman as she looks at the assembled group and while she waits for any questions, or objections, her gaze turns back to the entrance.

It's not the best sort of entrance, being half-buried under sand, but it'll work. Everyone will just need to bend down a bit to get through said 'doorway'.

Really, it's totally going to be that sort of mission.

* * *

For the past few months, Warren has not been taking point on Apocalypse-related endeavors, for what might be somewhat obvious reasons. He has been present, certainly, but he's had a lot on his mind, and he's had a lot of things to get in order in his own head before he could do anything like 'reliably lead missions which have become intensely personal to him.'

All that said… people could make him sit out on missions related to trying to ferret out their native Apocalypse when hell froze over.

Still, it is Dani who is taking active lead on this particular outing. Warren is silent in the back line for now, for his part, because he opted to 'get dressed' on the way over, and he is taking a couple seconds to make sure Archangel is totally under control. Transforming is a painful and unstable process even at the best of times, and best not done in the heat of things while everything is possibly going to shit.

"Take care," is his sole offering. He seems calm enough for now, his eyes a neutral silver and his armored form very still. "Don't know who might be down there. We marked this place because of increased archaeological activity here recently. The names attached were… familiar to me. But things might not be one-to-one the same between that universe and this one."

His bladed wings fold more tightly against his back. "Could be civilians down there, who knows."

* * *

"Are there any curses?" is, yes, a question that gets asked.

Honestly, given all the weird, wild and wooly things out in the world, it's probably not that ridiculous of a question, especially if they're going to be infiltrating a sunken pyramid in the middle of the desert. There could be all sorts of horrible mummy curses!

No, the ridiculous thing is, of course, the one asking the question.

Roberto da Costa spent the entire trip over being perfectly harmless, indeed well-behaved to the point that it ought to have become suspicious. Sunspot was many things, the sort of person given to wild swings of mood and general outrageousness, but even as fast as the Blackbird is, for him to be quiet the whole way over is highly unusual.

Naturally, it doesn't last: In his stylish black and yellow New Mutants onesie with the big X pattern across the front, the Brazilian billionaire also had a bag with him the whole time. A bag he's left on the Blackbird, because he's already removed its payload, settling a distinctively weathered, wide-brimmed sable fedora on his perfect hair. Because if you're going to go climbing down into an ancient crypt, you've gotta do it right.

"I really don't want any ancient mummies cursing my handsomeness away," he adds by way of elaboration on his question. "Although in fairness it would have to be one really powerful curse."

* * *

"Clear." Carolus answers Moonstar, simply. He's in-uniform for a really specific reason, and the reason is… his skin is /incredibly/ sensitive, and the less room there is for sand to get anywhere, the better. A long poncho has actually become a greater part of his gear today— very simply, something big enough to cover his wings and further help keep the sand off, while /also/ making it passably comfortable for him to crawl around in tight spaces if he needs to.

His wings are passingly more convenient for that than Angel's are, since they slim down a great deal more when they're in a resting state. But they're also a lot more prone to aggravation— especially now.

He's been middlingly talkative along the way, though he spent rather a lot of time monitoring something on his cell phone.

"Is this a one-and-done deal, or will we conceivably be remaining in the area for longer?" He asks.

"Additionally," Carolus looks towards Warren, "are there any countermeasures these people might have which could reasonably be extrapolated based on your past information, or are they relatively low-danger?"

His antennae cant slightly towards Sunspot a moment later, in reaction to the other man's inquiries.

"Path of least resistance," Carolus replies to Roberto, "there's no need to make you ugly if it just gives you durian B.O."

It's hard to tell if he's joking or not.

* * *

This operation is to kill a sleeping monster that, in another dimension/time-track, mutilated that handsome American guy. This is how Hisako Ichiki understands it.

Sometimes she loves her chosen career path. (Will her illusions survive this experience? Who can say!)

She had listened to the briefing. She had not had a lot of input. It hurt Warren — and there were other topics going on. Activity. Plans. Maps to memorize. The reminder that things may not be identical even if they might rhyme.

"If he has a curse, that means he's actually dead, right?" Hisako asks as they debark. (Hisako is also in uniform, though hers, habitually, is short-sleeved. She walks out devoid of Armor, at least for now.)

"If the roof starts falling I'll try to catch it," she volunteers to Carolus.

("I'm serious about the curse question," she adds, mostly to Bobby.)

* * *

Not that the famously anti-heroic Dazzler was ever a gung ho X-Man, even lately, she's been perilously MIA where the team is concerned. Just out-of-reach enough to make it feel like the absentia is absolutely and utterly deliberate.

However, she is here today, dressed for the mission, even if the rest of her looks a little different than the world liked to picture her on magazine covers. Not as flashy in appearance as habit produced her, relaxed, and — quite possibly in the greatest shape of her life, as if she had finally forced herself on a regimented training schedule that was not just aerobics and dance routines.

Though Alison has never been accused as unfriendly, today she's not her usual self, quiet and strict, with half-an-eye always turned on the metal-winged Archangel.

Now, at the pyramid, she's so tense she could probably squat and squeeze out a diamond. Adjusting her gloves, Alison listens as she looks on ahead — half and half enmeshed in her own thoughts.

There is a prickle of movement at her collar. Little shapes that are small enough and familiar enough to be confused as bumblebees — however, at closer look, their tiny metal bodies are anything but alive. The design looks threateningly too Stark-like to be good news.

* * *

Ghost Spider doesn't go to X-Trainings because she's not an X-Person! Why is she here?

Probably to traumatize her more! Find out the long and short of it this time, fearless reader, on Into The X-Venture-Verse II: Hard Rock Ozymandias!

But we start on the Blackbird, which the upper body of Ghost Spider *really* clashes with, as she leans in one of the passenger hold seats, heels up on the bar and shoulders back against the bulkhead. As a spider, the most comfortable way to sit is to act like you're a 14 year old gamer in an uncomfortable office chair: and that's science fact. Between her back and the rest of the seat is a pastel teal backpack filled with hiking essentials, like slim jims and water bottles, and under her seat is a large duffel bag.

"Dibs on not opening any cursed sarcophogai!" She announces, when the matter of curses comes up. "Now, if we actually find the guy, after discussion with Warren, I've prepared some X-Pillows."

She unzips the duffel to pull out two large, white pillows silkscreened with a red X on it.

"Anyone else want an X-Pillow for, you know…" Ghost Spider fluffs one. "… Pillow related activities?"

She snorts, as she leaves the pillows out. "Really just a joke. If people didn't bring any bedding. I'm used to bringing pillows for long trips. Lighten up, guys! It's only an ancient tomb."

"I'm going to magnet up those curses, if my luck holds."

* * *

This is Ryan's first Apocalypse mission that he has gone on and he is coming fully decked out for any possible situations. He is in usual black combat boots, black pants, and shirt and a black hood over his head, just all black, since he has not yet gotten his X-men uniform finished quite yet. You see some belt pouches across his belt filled with equipment, a sword strapped to the back of his belt, some pouches strapped to the sides of his legs holding many knives. needles to say he is fully decked out.

Ryan is just sitting silently in one of the seats in the back of the Blackbird going over some of his equipment for most of the trip, talking a little bit to anyone who might have asked him any questions while they were on route to there target. As Dani is briefing the team and going over some of his equipment to make sure they are all good once more. "Understood" is Ryan's response to Dani's question. as he finishes going over his last bit of equipment, he will pull up his mask from around his neck to cover his mouth and nose to help keep the sand out.

* * *

When Warren speaks Dani looks over at her friend and nods in agreement with what he says. "Warren's correct. It could be something or possibly nothing at all, but we need to figure out what it is."

Then her good eye shifts over to Berto as he asks his question, and upon seeing that fedora the Cheyenne woman can't quite suppress the twitch of her lips.

Because yes, it's totally appropriate to wear a fedora and it totally offers a small spot of amusement in this otherwise serious situation. "Nice accessory, Berto." The woman says dryly before her attentions turns to Carolus and Hisako, and for a moment that same corner of her mouth twitches again. Both at the comment of durian style BO and more talk of curses. "I don't sense a curse, if that helps." Though can she normally sense curses? Possibly. She is a Valkyrie, after all. They can do that, right?

As to the rest of Carolus' questions, Moonstar returns her attention to Warren to see how he answers, and as she looks over to the winged man, Moonstar automatically looks to Dazzler next. If Dani feels anything about the change in her friend it's hidden deeply away. The only thing she does is eye her friend for a few seconds longer than normal. Then even more at the slight movement seen around Dazzler's collar and the familiarity of that movement causes Dani's eye to narrow slightly, then widen a hair with surprise.

Yes, she definitely remembers those bees.

Purposely Moonstar swings her attention back to the group at large and then over to Gwen-Spider and Ryan. Gwen's sense of humor garners another faint smile from Dani before she turns back to the pyramid. "Alright then. In we go."

The entrance itself is smaller than normal thanks to a build-up of sand and some may have to bend and contort to get inside. Once inside there's a noticable change in temperature as the rock insulates against some of the desert heat. The room the group walks into is rather spacious, almost like a foyer perhaps. However, sand is just about everywhere, including the air as dust motes drift lazily by with the glittering grit held within.

The walls themselves hold very little information upon them, no picotgraphs or hieroglyphs, only another doorway across the way. The doorway is dark and narrow, but once close enough and with enough light, the group will see it leads into a long staircase. Very long and it's definitely going *downward*.

* * *

Archangel's armored features turn towards Carolus as the moth-mutant asks his question. The motion is as sharp and precise as the turning of an eagle's head — though not because of any particular emotion invested in it, and more just in the sense that being in this mode seems to enhance Warren's avian qualities even more than usual.

"Expect some danger," he says. "But not significant danger. These people are his descendants. They kept his cult going through the centuries, built influence to ready the world for his return, so on and so forth. They're a diverse group, like most mutants, and they don't always inherit substantial powers. Most of them didn't, in fact. So, only the strongest of them got to lead."

His gaze turns away, his voice hardening. "Of course."

He falls back into his controlled silence after that, standing quietly under Alison's watchful eye, though one thing does get him to smile: Gwen's murder pillows. "Glad you came equipped," he says. It's very unclear how much he might or might not be joking about all the implications surrounding said pillows.

When it comes time to go in, however, he hangs back a little. "I'll go last," he says. His reasoning is obvious, though he doesn't explain it — one, more maneuverable people should be up front; two, some of their stronger defenses are the wings literally on his back; three, people less likely to suddenly encounter something that might trigger them.

* * *

Tony Stark arrives from the FRP Room Hub.

* * *

Hisako doesn't understand the pillows for long seconds, and there is a clear struggle on her face and in her soul as she considers how to deal with this. Should she ask? Is this some kind of American gag? like from some movie about Egypt or something? What is the deal. What is -

She abruptly realizes it.

"awk ward," she says under her breath.

She then nods once at Dani, before frowning anew as she realizes that by her own logic, if there is no sense of a curse, then —

Well, she thinks, it's probably like… Dormant or something. This is like staking Dracula or finding the monster while it's estivating. She takes a deep breath and lets it out as they approach the entrance; she slides in without problems, because only on the other side is it that she activates the glowing red form of her exo-armor!

Which does in fact provide some backup light. "I'll get mid," she calls.

* * *

Nice accessory, Berto.

"I was gonna do the whole costume, but apparently that's not mission-appropriate. Also, I couldn't find my whip." He frowns, thoughtfully, eyes narrowing faintly. "Maybe I left it in… Well, nevermind." Behold, the tribulations of the fabulously wealthy, having to wonder which of their many vast homes they forgot, er, a whip in. "But…" The Brazilian produces his phone which, a swipe and a few presses later, emits a slightly tinny rendition of a certain John Williams fanfare.

Still, there's an only mildly dubious reassurance from Danielle that there's probably no mummy curse, though the other New Mutant isn't completely sure that some of purported powers aren't made up. The only one he knows for sure is her psychic abilities, because she uses them to cheat at cards.

And yet…

"I don't like your prophecies, Mothman," Roberto grumbles at most half-seriously, though it would be a terrible tragedy if he were cursed with terrible body odor. "But hey, with any luck we'll be done here in no time and we can all have a pillow fight."

He pauses.

"Well, maybe Miss Spider and Dani and Armor can." Yeah, that sounds better. Once again, his wisdom and cunning and keen insight rule the day.

And it's with that sentiment, and the accompaniment of the immortal music of John Williams, that Sunspot leads the way into the crypt.

* * *

Ghost Spider slides nearer to the front even from her initially laconic pace, mask-lenses narrowing suspiciously. "Please don't invoke luck." She side-eyes at Roberto before her gaze carries on. "Warren's already made it hard enough, saying there won't be 'significant' risk of traps. And SOMEONE had to say the C-word!"

She means curse.

"So we're well and truly screwed. Al-righty. Let me just…

Pushing inside the the tomb, she immediately visibly recoils in a full-body way.

Stopping mid-step, her head cranes back around. "Yeah I'm going to go with a *hair* over 'not significant'. This place is like a christmas tree with danger for tinsel and big boxes of peril just under the tree. Pressure plate."

She steps around a floor tile which, to her, oozes red danger-potentia like it was made out of lava. Her hand brushes one wall, where her drifting digits stops on a small bit poking from the wall, and she moves around the line perpendicular to it like an invisible tripwire. "Blowdart? Bad air? It's a shooty trap, I think."

This carries on every few paces as Ghost Spider traipses through the first antechamber at a walking pace, contorting around terrible threats she can 'see' a little and 'feel' like hot irons drawing close to her skin. "This whole PLACE is a curse!!!" She calls back.

* * *

"How about we do the pillow fight and you go on the weird outfit missions," Armor grouses quietly in response to Roberto's remarks.

She then looks at Gwen again in moderate horror. Which resolves. Gradually. "She means curse," Armor mutters to herself.

probably

* * *

Ryan just sits there listening to everyone as they talk about curses and possible dangers and what naught, its always a good idea to expect the unexpected as he too is thinking about other possible dangers they could face. Then the spider girl pulls out a large pillow with X-on it, Which he can't help but give a small smile at that, though no one can see it because of his mask.

As the others start to roll out and head into the tomb, Ryan takes a position closer to the middle of the order, he could be more upfront, but figures he should hand back a bit to help pull some out of danger if something happens. well more like when something happens.

* * *

"You are one of the better suited to holding a structure up, Armor." Carolus replies to Hisako, genially. He doesn't know what her actual lift limit is, but he's fairly certain the surface area her exoskeleton has to work with is rather better than his own. Sheer scale /does/ have its advantages, after all.

To Ghost Spider, he says, "I'll take a pillow /if/ we're sticking around longer than I planned for. I don't need one for the other purpose, but I do appreciate the thought all the same." Apparently, he doesn't find this acknowledgement awkward at all.

His antennae perk lightly in reaction to Moonstar's remark on curses. He asks, "Are you capable of sensing magical fields in general? How all of that works is rather a mystery to me, but I have been interested in looking into it a bit further recently."

Eyebrows and antennae rise when Carolus turns his head towards Sunspot. He smiles, "I wouldn't worry about it. I am quite certain that we can produce… er, I don't know. Shi'ar extra-strength deodorant?"

"At any rate," The mothman clears his throat seriously, "I do not abstain from pillow fights."

He lets Hisako go in ahead of him, and then follows after. One eye is shut as multiple light sources come into effect, and that remaining eye remains firmly on Ghost Spider. It'd be easy to imagine he's just staring at first, but…

Carolus is also nearly exactly imitating the way she moves across the room. The only differences come down physical necessities from body type differences.

They're not very far in before he glances back at Warren and asks, point-blank, "How are you feeling?"

* * *

Alison holds Moonstar's eye a moment longer than is lately normal for her — though discomfort eventually has her look away. It's betteer than before, when she could barely stomach the guilt seeing that eyepatch, so maybe that's a start?

For once such an extraverted and person-focused ideal as the Dazzler, the Alison of now remains quiet, whether unused to or just more at ease to stay on the wings of all the smalltalk. Perhaps she thinks she'll lose her head if she lets her guard down too much, especially in a place like that. Perhaps she's just putting in her application to become the team's next cranky, solitary Logan.

When she arranges herself in among the group, she goes in among the last of them, just before Warren. Maybe to stay close for comfort. Maybe to just strategically place herself between the team and the unpredictability of Archangel. Who knows with Alison Blaire! Her poker face is as buried as the pyramid itself.

She does help with the lighting, bringing a bit of ambient illumination to one hand — though she's particularly mindful to cup it into her turned palm, keeping the light from Carolus's eyes.

* * *

Ah yes. X-men missions. Experts in stealth and clandastine missions. They are deadly ninja like forces that get in and get out under the upmost secrecy. While joking about pillows. And smothering people.

…its fine.

This is fine.

Regardless though. The pyramid is an obvious hazard. Its an issue. Its an obvious thing. It might have made some kind of headlines. Who is to say really. Maybe. Who knows. I mean it really doesn't matter to much.

Because what actually matters is that Tony put a tracker on Warren at some point. And thats why…

Those that have some kind of enhanced hearing might catch wind of it first. A sonic boom of something about the size of a man moving way faster than humanly possible. Then the ones that don't have it might catch the sound of repulsors flaring for a landing and the faint tunes of AC/DC drifting into the wind.

Of course /everyone/ hears the staccato voice of The Worlds Greatest Defender(tm) as Tony Stark strolls into the entry way looking like he was traveling to a party in Cairo. Which. Well. He was.

White on white tux, shiny black shoes, that cut and pressed look that only bespoke suits can get and a pair of mirror shades that are likely more than shades.

"Nice place you all found! Looks full of terrible dangers. Couldn't resist coming myself."

* * *

Ghost Spider, mid tomb-traipse, spins around on her heel (making Carolus, or anyone else following her extra contortiony movement through the trap-filled complex) and hops. "Um…"

"Hey isn't that Tony Stark? Didn't he kill a guy in a parade? Does he just show up to these missions? Someone tell him about that pressure plate, please!" She calls back, both hands cupped around where her mouth would be, were it visible under her mask.

* * *

Dani is definitely settled somewhere in the front. One, to keep an eye on Berto, and two, to keep an eye on the pyramid, and three because of the whole responsibilitiy thing she carries around like a weight.

"Let's be mindful -" Begins the woman, but Gwen-Spider definitely takes it to an even higher level, as the young woman starts to 'dance' across the room. While Dani isn't as graceful as Gwen, she does take note just where the other woman walks (or avoids) and Moonstar tries to follow suit.

However, before the group can start down the stairs there's a familiar sound and then a familiar snippet of music - other than Roberto's - and Dani glances over a shoulder towards the entrance. While Tony is always a wild card (so very wild) she can't help feel a touch more positive about their survivability now. If the temple does indeed turn out to be one massive trap.

Again, spoiler alert, it so is.

At Gwen's words, Moonstar can't help but say, "I don't think that was really him and Tony pretty much shows up to anything he wants. It's Tony."

And that pretty much explains it in Dani's mind!

Turning back to the doorway that leads to the spiral staircase, Moonstar steps forward. "Looks like we're going down." And while Moonstar normally wouldn't ask Gwen to take point on an X-Mission, the young woman's spidey-senses are a definite boon here. "Ghost-Spider, take point, please. You're the best thing we have at avoiding all the traps."

Thankfully, with Dazzler and Armor's additional light, the stairwell isn't too creepily dark. Just creepy in the sense that it's hundred percent likely to be booby-trapped.

* * *

"Traps?" Warren sounds a little absent, as his focus is currently on fitting his wings through the narrow entryway. "Oh, well there's always a significant risk of those. I was thinking about the countermeasures from the actual people, when I was talking risks earlier."

His voice shades a little cold. "And the people never impressed me. Traps, though… who knows? I encountered all this when Apocalypse was in full swing, and had no reason to be hiding in crypts any longer."

As they move forward, he stays a little tellingly close to Alison. It may be more for his own protection than for hers.

The reason for that is called out, with a sort of simultaneous bluntness and obliqueness, by Carolus. Warren is silent a few moments, as if unsure of the answer — or perhaps just unsure of which answer to give.

"Calm," he elects to say. "I know who I am, so that is…"

The distant strains of AC/DC gradually become less and less distant, heralding a new arrival.

"…is good," Warren finishes slowly, because somehow — even after all this time — Tony can still manage to surprise him sometimes.

"Tony," Warren greets, slightly aggrieved but not significantly so, "did you put a tracker on me again?"

* * *

Ghost Spider's dance is an acive overreaction pirouhette through the many traps and dangers in the first antechamber towards the stairs, but there really isn't that much in the ways of 'a boulder rolls down and kills everyone' traps. The things she finds and guides people past are pedestrian: the sort of things that one would expect. Perhaps they are there to put the group at ease with the relative inoffensiveness of murder darts, pressure plates, and dead drops into spike pits with skeletons at the bottom reaching upward with picked-clean bones.

They're standard. You'd worry more if there wasn't any!

More to the point, they're really no match for someone with danger sense.

And it gives Gwen the absolute heebie-est of jeebies.

"Honestly, nothing here is that *dangerous*. Except for the darts, anyone who could fly would breeze past this. Anyone with super-toughness could stop a boulder or a blade. Super reflexes could just walk right through and react as it comes. Iron Man could just actually trigger everything and it wouldn't be a problem, and it's actually really really throwing me off here.

"Maybe the point is…"

Ghost Spider stops at the top of the stairs, squatting down to rest on her toes as she considers, thumb and forefinger framing chin. "Maybe it's all smoke and mirrors. I don't want to get too deep into my own head here, but this is a super-duper mutant, right? Who wants to lead powerful mutants he chooses after scooping out all their them-ness for a whole bunch of him-ness. I'm practically jumping at shadows here - my 'vision', my feelings - and the whole place is just fogged with terrible things just waiting to happen to me. To us."

She points down the stairs. "But nothing here's that *dangerous*. Except down there. That place is oozing with it. I don't think I'll be able to feel specific dangers down there. It'd be trying to look for water by dunking your head in the ocean."

She skips the first step. "First step and every third after run hot. Please don't step on them."

Carefully, she skips the steps she indicated, side-stepping down patiently. "I'd say 'watch your step', but…"

"Actually I just did."

* * *

Hisako Ichiki flips the Coin of Ill-Advised Action and gets tails.

* * *

"If it's ancient, it would just be stone stuff, right?" Armor says, about the traps. "Anything but metal or stone would have like… rotted or something. Even bow strings go bad after a while, right?" She is guessing; she does not know. Her eyes turn round for a moment. Dani might? she thinks, and then

~*~*~* Tony Stark! *~*~*~

Hisako rises up about six additional inches.

This is actually because, seeing what Gwen is doing and realizing that the footprint of her exo-armor is actually pretty big (if also light), she is shrinking it down to resemble platform soles instead of broad foot planting. To make the pressure plates less dangerous, of course.

She looks at the Iron Man in silence for a long set of seconds.

It's suspicious. As she turns away a little, she asks Gwen, more quietly - perhaps gravely - "Can you tell anything we ought to do to handle it? I guess we can't just… collapse the place. He'd just wake up eventually, and all it would mean is he had to dig himself out."

* * *

"I'm not prescient!" Ghost Spider complains to Armor. "I've just… Got a feeling for things going south. Being hurt." Sure sounds like prescience. "I don't get a vision of the future, like, me stepping on a bad thing with a big glowing kick-me sign the universe tagged onto my back.

She points at a 'hot' step. "I look at it and get this feeling, like seeing… potential energy? Tasting it in the air, seeing the haze it gives off, jagged and threatening."

She shrugs, a helpless 'what can you do' one that would be perfect with a tugged lip but she wears a face-concealig mask. "So I've got bells and whistles going off in my head louder and louder the lower we go. Sorry. If people have tech sensors, they probably want to be up front."

* * *

Hisako looks back at Iron Man again immediately.

* * *

Ghost Spider realizes she asked for Tony up front, next to her, and doesn't like the way the danger gets softer while her forboding gets bigger. It's not a good trade!

"… Yeah, get Iron Man up here. If there's poison darts or gas or whatever, he's probably the best for it."

* * *

There is absolutely no hesitation on the part of Roberto da Costa when it comes to heading down into a trapped crypt, in fact knowing that there are traps just makes him head in all the more eagerly. You'd think, maybe, that over the years he would've grown out of that recklessness which so often put him in dire straits during his younger days, but you'd be underestimating the exaggerated sense of invulnerability that comes with being filthy rich and having awesome superpowers, one of which is itself being kind of literally kind of invulnerable (but not that invulnerable (it makes sense, honest)).

"Maybe there'll be something cool, like one of those rooms where the walls come in to crush you, or the ceiling slowly descends," the Brazilian suggests, with a kind of situationally inappropriate glee at the idea of at the very least something Goonies-tier happening. It's probably particularly concerning for anyone who isn't familiar with what he can do, since he's not overtly demonstrating his powers at all: Imagine if he was just, like, a Doug!

But he is listening to Gwen's warnings, at least.

And eventually he turns off the music.

"I wouldn't worry too much about Tony," Bobby says with casual Billionaire Familiarity. "He's probably just here in case there's a hot lady mummy. But I guess we could use him as a human shield, sure."

* * *

"Thank you, Alison." Carolus asides to Dazzler, /apparently/ catching that she was trying to keep him from being… well, dazzled. It's working, so far at least. He listens to what Warren has to say about his current condition in relative silence, nodding and offering a vocalized-but-not-spoken affirmative.

Tony's arrival merely gets a… look. It's a vaguely annoyed look, but not so much that he seems to feel inclined to say something about it. Ghost Spider offers up what little questioning he might have, concerning the events that took place at the parade.

But that's not for dwelling on today.

"I'm glad." He says to Warren, simply. Just as quickly and bluntly as he asked, he allows the 'hey are you feeling eXTRA murderous maybe' to pass.

He considers the stairs ahead, and Ghost Spider's advice on them. If there was /room/, he'd push his poncho aside and hover down. As-is, he's concerned he'd be slapping the walls or ceiling the entire way down.

Atlas moves to the side to allow Iron Man past if he wants to push to the front and take point. Failing that, he follows Gwen's instructions to descend after Armor, speaking as he goes, "Disregarding his M.O. in the other world, any 'real' trouble that will exist down here will probably be rooted in the sort of technology that was used in his ship. /That/ won't have meaningfully degraded over time."

"Unless he's awake, though, we probably can't assume that his strategy for facilities like these is to lure potentials in. If they're built to be 'easy' for people like us, it's probably because…"

"His /followers/ are preferably people like us. There is no need for traps for those he expects or wants to be visiting."

A pause.

"Armor, how does your exoskeleton interact with gases?" He asks.

* * *

Ryan has been silent since he entered into the pyramid staying and looking around to see if he sees anything unusual and also has been carefully watching where he steps with the aid of Ghost-Spider, pointing out where to not step, which is really helping him out.

Then the faint music of AC/DC gets louder and louder as one Mr. Stark arrives, Now Ryan has never actually met Tony Stark before, he only knows him by his reputation, though it seems everyone else here seems to know him to some degree. still, introductions can be done later if there is the time right now there is a tomb to explore secure up.

For now, Ryan will follow behind Atlas as he descends the stairs and just keep his eyes open for anything that might have been missed

* * *

"You say it like its a bad thing, Warren!" Stark replies with a wide and sharp grin as he strolls forwards, stepping over one of the pressure plates just completely casually. He totally didn't know it was there. Totally.

As he walks, seemingly entirely unarmored, the man just smirks though as he looks around. "Tech sensors, I can totally do that." He adds with a flash of a grin. "But I wouldn't want to step on any toes." He adds even as he looks around before there is a question and he turns to squint towards Gwen.

"Killed someone? Parade? What the hell are you talking about? I've been dealing with a space monster for the past like…month. I sware. Sometimes giant cosmic squids just do /not/ want to behave and then I have to invent something to tie them in a nice bow."

A shrug.

"So yeah no, not killed anyone lately. I super annoyed that squid though."

A glance around the room again as his glasses flash slightly, the tech in them starting to analyze what he can of the tomb.

One hand gestures for a moment and a few little drones seem to detach from his belt where they looked like simple little decorations just a moment ago as he sends them hovering off.

"Don't touch anything guys." He calls out to them as he strolls along with the rest.

"Also I have totally talked with a hot lady mummy. She was good company and I make a fantastic shield." A beatpause. "But Bobbykins you know I make a fantastic everything."

* * *

Something cool, says Bobby, while Alison Blaire's jaw tightens that much more. She barely stops herself from crossing her arms uneasily.

She still has not exorcised her own tension, which seems to be ratcheting up more and more by the second. The only thing that probably keeps her stable is her appreciable ability to get ice cold when others wield stormier tempers.

But it's easy to tell with a glance on her: she's not happy in here whatsoever, and is counting down the moments they either die painfully for their audacity, or leave it all behind them. Either or.

Her bearing does mollify slightly to Carolus' words of thanks, which she answers with a nod — before her head also turns to Tony's arrival. Alison greets him with a particularly dry look, though there's no heat to it. One of Stark's familiar bee-creations peeks out from under her collar, greeting its inventor with a familiar hum. Hello dad!

But she seems glad to see him here. The more firepower, the better.

Eventually, her head turns to Carolus' warning. Alison doesn't dispute it. "If that Celestial technology is here, we can throw natural law right out the window. Don't trust anything you see, or even feel."

* * *

"Oh, well, on the fourth there was a big parade where Lord Starkk killed 'Beck Twilight'." Ghost Spider finally answers, filling in Tony on DEFINITELY TRUE AND CORRECT FACTS THAT ARE NOT AT ALL FABRICATIONS.

"Had stormtroopers and property damage and violations of the New York ATC laws and everything."

* * *

"We should have just blown this place up." Mutters Dani mostly to herself as Gwen-Spider begins to point out the traps and why she has big concerns for going downward.

And while she hears the chatter around her, mostly Dani's trying to stay ahead of what they might encounter here. Especially at the mention of Celestial techonlogy, that just causes the Cheyenne woman's expression to turn completely grim.

And while the majority of the conversation moves around Dani, Armor's question about the viability of the bow string prompts a response from Moonstar, "Sometimes. It just depends on the conditions the string is exposed to.", which is as comforting as Dani can get in regards to the Temple of Doom they're exploring and the traps set.

With the shuffle of who's taking point and who's not, Dani finds herself squarely in the middle of the pack, and as the gaggle of mutants and non-mutants make their way onto the stairwell, the black-haired woman can't help but carefully ease past that first step and then every third. This isn't awkward *at all*.

Still, the group begins the treck down the spiral stone staircase. There's still sand within, but much less so. Just little piles trapped within the corners of the step, creating uneven footfalls for those who aren't careful.

It's only as the last person steps upon the fourth step, past the first step and then that initial third step, that something trips. Perhaps it was weight based? Or the amount of people upon the stairs? Or even how far the group is now down, but whatever triggered it the trap is now sprung. Tony and Gwen likely receive a few seconds of warning from spidey-senses and technological scans before almost simultaneously the steps beneath *all* of their feet crumble away and reveal a dark void below.

For those that can't fly (or web-sling) it's going to be a long dark drop downward into the darkness.

Also the doorway at the bottom of the steps collapses in on itself in response to the steps dissolving away.

At least at the end of the drop it's not hard stone they'll land on, but water.

* * *

"…you know Moony, we can just step right back out of here. I have some orbital weapons I'd love to try on it." Stark calls towards Moonstar as he keeps on with the scanning.

"'Beck Twilight?' I mean come on Webby. I'm tacky but I'm not /that/ tacky." Stark replies before he frowns slightly. "But you're right, those steps seem to be hollow for one. Going to bet they crack if anyone steps on them….and…" A pause. "…whoever breaks this seal will drink from the Nile." A pause. "Or something like that. I mean its all water under the stairs. So I'm going to assume drowning. Show of hands who is immune to that here."

Then there is a crack. The steps crumble. As Stark feels the floor give way he adds. "That question become much more important!" He calls out as he feels gravity overtake him. But then metal seems to almost unfold from under his tux, nanomachines flowing out to form around his feet as armor starts to encase his legs. Repulsors kicking on as the armor flows over his form and encases it in familiar red and gold armor.

He can fly and he reaches for Dani to make sure her landing isn't ENTIRELY face first in the water.

"You all take me to the best places!"
Nevermind he totally invited himself.

* * *

Hisako Ichiki flips the Coin of Ill-Advised Action and gets tails.

* * *

"Wait you have orbital weapons?"

Ghost Spider's lenses pop open. "That seems relevant for everyone, yeah, uh…"

The relevancy for Operation X-Pillow, OR, the relevancy for the weird tingling she gets on her arms on clear nights is not specified in specific.

"Cool, yeah. Actually, Webby's a pretty decent nickname. Better than most of them. Wait, they're made to crack? Crack, crack… Why'd they crack? Unless it's to drop you?"

"But one stair'd be too small to drop anyone, they're still too tight together. It'd have to drop—"

The whole darn staircase. "If you can't fly, start hollering!" Gwen calls, arms aiming out as she starts firing web-lines to brake her own descent, stretching down as she has to aim between tumbling debris.

Carolus can fly, Warren can fly and will get Alison if she can't, Tony can fly and is getting Danielle…

"Armor, how's that suit at falls and water?!"

Gwen's fall finally gains control as she bungees off a taut line, gaining hang before chasing Hisako down with a scattering of springy sprays to bounce on, though aiming in semi-controlled freefall is a task and a half, mostly succeeding in adding sticky cobwebs to most directions and angles on her way down.

* * *

Hisako looks at Carolus. "There's gas exchange but I can tighten it up… I have enough air in here for a couple of minutes, at least. I don't know if it'd be perfect, but at least it would take a moment to hit me."

Alison reminds them that all of this could be celestial technology and be some kind of super death stone. At that point Armor just sort of hangs out until Tony Stark catches up with them. She actually pulls up her legs for a moment to 'sit' cross legged inside of the armor, although it is not a long delay.

"Do you know him already?" Hisako asks Bobby, as they begin to descend the stairwell.

and

CRACK

"«FUCK»" Hisako declaims in her native language. Her next, equally ladylike maneuver is to smash one foot forwards, scraping a gouge in the stone and barely slowing her descent. After this she begins to topple forwards —

Except that the fall is long enough that she's able to reorient herself, legs down, in a loose crouch as she breathes in and breathes out and tries to estimate the duration even as the luminous flare of the repulsor rays in the falling well.

Then

SPLASHDOWN! She bobs absurdly for a moment in the exoskeleton, the reddish light of the glowing field casting out a radiance that goes about two feet into the murk of the water. Armor treads water for a moment, looking down - is there stone down there? She can't tell - and then, a moment later, the light flicks off, like a switch.

splosh. She leans backwards, floating for a moment, head firmly above water. "… Well," Hisako says, "at least it's not… cold."

She calls up to Gwen, "I'm fine! I just gotta rest a moment from the impact."

* * *

@emit
Ryan was being really careful to not step onto a trap, even using his telekinesis to help him make sure he did not misstep. Then he starts to hear the cracking beneath him, as the stairs are dissolving away. He tries to run for the wall looking for somthing to grab ahold of before he falls, but he is too late. the stairs dissolve away, Ryan starts to free-fall down into the deep dark.

As he free falls, Ryan tries to slow down his fall in any way he can, while calling out that he cant fly to see if anyone can help catch him, but it seems everyone who could is catching somthing else, unfortunately he can fly himself, nor does he have anything else on him slow his decent. So he just tries to steady his free fall using his telekinesis and then creates a telekinetic barrier around himself to help absorbed the impact when he hits the ground, hopefully absorbing enough that he won't die.

Soon after Hisako lands into the water she will hear another big splash as Ryan lands into the water and after some time he ascends back up from the water. Thankfully he can swim, but that fall certainly took a bit out of him.

* * *

"Please do not use an orbital weapon on a site that may be associated with Apocalypse. There is a nonzero chance that a technologically advanced response would provoke any of his technology that /may/ be present to come active in order to defend itself." Carolus says to Tony, and then the floor cracks underneath him. He takes immediate stock of who is around him.

Stark, fine. Ghost Spider, fine. Sunspot, fine. Moonstar, closer to Tony than to him. Armor, questionable in terms of mobility but she can take a vicious impact. Ryan, extremely questionable. Alison, closer to Warren than to him. Warren, Warren.

Demonstrating that his wings /aren't/ as flimsy as they probably look, Atlas rips the back of his poncho in two bringing them up. He darts backwards, grasping towards Ryan but meeting open air. In spite of having the ability /to/ remain above, he chooses to descend towards the sound of splashing.

It's better to keep everyone together.

Atlas spirals in towards Hisako's position. He hovers above the surface of the water dubiously.

"A couple of minutes…" He repeats back at Hisako, now /quite/ belatedly, "that could be handy in /this/ situation. I didn't expect it to come up so soon."

Carolus asides to Ghost Spider, "I prefer Spooky. Webby is good, but it's a bit nonspecific. Other spiders."

"Suggest another?" He adds, towards Tony. It's unclear if he's serious or just trying to keep things calmish.

* * *

"There's still time to just blow this place sky-high," Warren mutters, though mostly to himself. And probably also Tony. Warren doesn't sound surprised about the orbital weapons, after all. "Fly right through the damn thing…"

Perhaps appropriately, about that time, Carolus asks how he is. It doesn't escape Warren why the moth-man is likely asking him about how he is, and his wings fold a little more tightly with a sheepish susurration of razor-sharp metal. He answers, however, that he knows who he is — which is really the important part, when it comes to controlling the impulses threaded through his Celestial-loaded blood.

"He's asleep," Warren says, his voice quiet. "Deep. Alison helped, beforehand." He doesn't really say how, though he does finally reach to rest a hand on her arm in understated comfort; perhaps sensing her tension, but not wanting to undermine with too excessively patronizing a gesture. "I have charge of Archangel."

I'm glad, Carolus ultimately concludes at the answer. Warren seems equally content to leave the blunt exchange at that. His gaze turns a little puzzled at the tense exchange between Tony, Carolus, and Gwen, but now isn't really the time.

His eyes stay on Ghost Spider, afterwards, watching and following as she picks through the trapped antechamber with graceful ease. Her thoughts on the entire matter half-lid his eyes. "With him, I would always expect the point to be to winnow out the weak and welcome the strong. Initial traps will be potent enough to kill off the chaff, and to allow through a baseline of the worthy. Then, will be the more difficult ones — "

That's about when the floor gives out beneath them. Warren's wings scissor open immediately with an outrush of air, and he immediately grabs onto Alison beside him. He tries to grab onto Ryan too, the one other person he can think of who isn't already covered and probably cannot fly, but he's even less capable of tight aerial turns than Carolus.

Shifting Alison into his arms proper, he scribes tight little circles in the air as he descends down towards the sounds of splashing.

"Everyone okay?" he calls down. He can't hover in place so well as Carolus, so he continues to fly circles, peering around at their changed circumstances.

"Looks like the door's out," Warren calls down. "We'll have to find some other way."

* * *

Do you know him already?

"Yeah of course, that's what happens when you're obscenely wealthy, it's a small world. Once you've gone to a few of those creepy Eyes Wide Shut parties you recognise everybody under the mask and the robe anyway." Probably a joke, but who can tell with rich people? Besides which, Roberto doesn't get the chance to elaborate any further, or make any clever commentary about what sort of other, less flattering things he might think Tony could be fantastic at - Roberto da Costa is a firm believer in the importance of banter, one of the many reasons he disappointed his father - because finally, finally there's a completely ridiculous pitfall trap.

"YESSSSSSSSSSSS," exclaims the Brazilian mutant as he drops like a stone, unfortunately losing his hat in the process.

It was an accurate reproduction too, but once it hits the water it's probably doomed forever.

Midway through the fall, though, something… Changes. What light there is, even projected by others in the group, starts to visibly bend, angling towards Sunspot as the colour simply bleeds out of him, becoming a pitch-black shadow in the shape of a man, his eyes featureless lamps of golden sunlight. Motes of anti-light float around him, like bubbles of darkness floating in the air, each highlighted in their own golden nimbus like an inverted star.

And his fall slows.

And slows.

Aaaaaand slows, until he's basically standing on the water.

The water gets slightly warmer.

"That was great," the inside of his mouth is molten gold, like some solar furnace was burning inside of him. "I mean, needs more spikes with like, old cobwebby skeletons on them, but still a solid 7. I think we're all good," he calls back up towards Warren. "Unless there's a monster in the water, or something."

Does he tempt fate on purpose?

Yes.

* * *

"First off," This to Carlous. "Webbigail." A flash of a grin. "Second," This towards the hovering Warren as he jerks his head towards Bobby. "I like him. He's funny."

* * *

Gwen lowers herself down in the classic upside-down-feet-together spider-person pendulum, stopping above the water in the pose, which seems not only practiced but comfortable.

Sunspot invokes pit traps with cobwebby skeletons. "That was under the murder hole you dodged around in the dark about a quarter of the way through. Just like the movies, I was so happy."

She snorts. "I mean, happy, relatively, avoiding danger in a tomb is exactly how I spend my saturdays, and not at all re-enacting Dad Cop And The Ziggurat Of Death."

* * *

"He's a good kid. Like a little clone of you," is Warren's rejoinder to Tony, coupled with a smirk. "And," this to Bobby, "if there's a monster in the water it's all you, Sunspot."

* * *

That touch to her arm draws her eyes. Alison gives Warren a familiar look, the one that's pinched at the corners by her overactive worry circuits, a process that doesn't ventilate its heat exchange efficiently, as the woman looks dangerously wound-up.

It probably doesn't help that, on top of this, she still doesn't significantly trust her own light. Not since Moonstar—

But Warren reaches out, and Alison exhales as much nervous energy as she can. Especially as he relays her work in suppressing Death. "All I hope," she adds, "is we can just get in and out of this without any —"

The stairs drop out.

"—s h i t"

Alison's arm very nearly disappears out from under Warren's hand, as gravity perilously tugs her away. But he's faster, and prepared, and that swoop of inertia stops as she's grabbed out of the air. She can hear the voices of the team around her, and helpless from her position, there's little she can do but —

Focus her light, and try to illuminate the fall down. She's ever-present of Carolus' sensitive vision, and so diffuses it from its focus out through her hands, and suddenly it's like a starfield around them, little motes of yellowy-white light, just enough to help see those from being lost to the dark — and, eventually, see those splashing around in the water below.

Thanks to Warren, Alison stays nicely dry. She passes him a grateful look, hanging on as he swoops circles. Down the corridor, she spits out: "This is all such bullshit!" Congratulations, the rare Dazzler temper tantrum. "Tony, can you give us a read on any direction we need to be going? Please don't say it's deeper into this nightmare."

* * *

Tony doesn't even look at his scanners. "Its totally deeper into this nightmare."

* * *

"You could at least move the words around, man." Ghost Spider pleads lightly. "You don't have to be a dick about it."

* * *

"You're hilarious," Hisako answers Bobby as light is cast outwards. It's a little sour but 'lemon drop in the water glass' sour, not 'vinegar for breakfast'.

Hisako listens to the others, then, letting her mind unflex as far as it can. This isn't so bad, she thinks. It's probably filthy but how nasty can it be, this far underground? It isn't reeking, so that's half the battle, and -

Hisako turns her head as if to look over her shoulder, behind her. She almost says something when

There is a huge muscular splash—

— and Hisako disappears completely from view, with a streak of red left floating on the top of the murky water.

* * *

Carolus Sinclair arrives from the FRP Room Hub.

* * *

Gwen Stacy arrives from the FRP Room Hub.

* * *

Archangel arrives from the FRP Room Hub.

* * *

Dazzler arrives from the FRP Room Hub.

* * *

Orbital weapons platform? That brings Moonstar's good eye right on over to Tony Stark. There's words there behind that look of hers, a lot of them, but she doesn't get a chance to say them. Not when she hears Berto jinx them. Seriously. Jinx them.

The Cheyenne woman offers a hsst of displeasure to both Tony and Berto, but before she can even begin to say anything the steps crumble.

There's a momentary flash of 'I hate my life', but then the black-haired woman just falls. She doesn't scream, but instead tries to right herself so she doesn't splash down head-first. Thankfully, before she can hit the water Tony Stark catches her mid-fall.

Thank god for those that can fly.

"Thanks." Comes her quick response, before she says, "We need to get -" Welp, there goes Ryan and Hisako, and Berto, but Berto can totally protect himself she knows that much. "He's getting punched for being too cheerful about this whole thing." Berto she means, totally Berto.

As to Dazzler's question Tony has it right. It's deeper within the construct.

The water itself flows in something akin to an underground aquaduct. It's quite large to carry as much water as it can to this very desert-region. For those that can map such things with technology this aquaduct goes on for miles and miles, and beyond. There seems to be a whole tunnel system down here, cleverly shieled by pyramid and sand. The water current itself definitely pulls in one direction, further downward and deeper into the pyramid, but first there are much more pressing matters to deal with.

Like Hisako.

There's a large splash and then she's GONE. Just like that, but don't worry whatever grabbed her isn't gone.

No, it's there still. A big dark blob in the water for those that can sense, or see, or technologically ping such things and it's coming straight to the surface. When it breaches the water it's clear what it is. A big old crocodile. BIG OLE MUTATED CROCODILE.

Big enough to swallow a person whole.

It's jagged-tooth filled maw opens and then snaps at ALL the fliers it can reach.

CHOMP. CHOMP. CHOMP.

Then, as if Warren is suddenly acquired clairvoyance, the beast swings its massive head to the star-infused young man and tries to bite him in half.

* * *

had hit the water pretty darn hard, even with his telekinetic shell he created around himself to help protect him from the impact, he still hit the water full speed. Thankfully the telekinetic shell protected him from a lot of the impact, but still got the wind knocked out of him and taking some rising, possibly some hairline fractures.

After a few moments Ryan will emerge from the water and start to swim to the wall looking for anything to grab ahold of to help keep himself above water.

And then he his mental danger reader goes off as he senses somthing about to attack either him and or his teammates. But before he can say anything to warn the others, Hisako disappears. Then he sees it as a large freaken crocodile, the size head never seen before pops out of the water comping at the flairs in the air.

Though Ryan is still a bit winder and sour from the impact of the fall, Ryan Will raise his hand and try to lift up the crocodile out of the water and hold it up against the wall, keeping out if its element and allowing the others to take care of this thing.

* * *

Hisako Ichiki flips the Coin of Ill-Advised Action and gets heads.

* * *

The instant the disturbance begins to stir the surface of the water, Atlas ascends with great rapidity. Were they still on the ground and in more confined quarters, Carolus imagines that he would be fighting this thing from the inside of its mouth. Plausible, but less-than-good. For a split second he weighs a possibility in his mind. He saw a splash of red in the water when Hisako became the first person to be attacked. That's not a good sign, but…

But there would be a splash of red if it was merely her armor coming up, too.

With that split seconds worth of thought, Carolus elects reels back with a fist and darts forward into a charging punch to retaliate against the crocodile's leap out of the water by BOOPING IT IN THE SNOOT with all of the force that he can muster at this short notice.

A /man/ wouldn't survive such a blow, but he's fairly certain that a gigantic prehistoric crocodile can take it unless he hits it in some specific exceptionally lethal locations.

"Stark! If that suit of yours is rated for underwater use, please go check on Armor. Spooky, what do you think about trying to tie its mouth shut?" He calls.

* * *

The rare Dazzler Temper Tantrum passes over Warren without comment from the winged mutant. Perhaps he's used to it.

Continuing to fly tight circles, he peers downwards at the lay of the land. His eyes track the aqueduct until it is lost to conventional sight. "As long as we don't have to go underwater to reach the next stage — " he starts.

And then Hisako disappears.

Warren's instinct is to plunge downwards. It is a rather foolhardy instinct, but then many things about Warren have not actually changed. The fact he's carrying Alison with him makes him a little more cautious than usual, at least, which means when the creature responsible breaks the surface, he's quick to swerve before fangs close on one or both of them.

"You know what," Warren complains, "I don't think he's here, because he would come up with something other than just a — "

He cuts off as he dodges around the snapping jaws again. His patience frays instantly.

"Paralytic incoming," he warns, as he sweeps a wing around and releases a series of those toxin-laden feathers.

* * *

The inherent problem with having such a very cool, flashy, attention-getting… Well, everything, is that sometimes you get attention that is, speaking objectively, not good.

But Sunspot had never been one to fade into the background, not on a single day in his life. Not even when that meant being attacked by at totally badass giant mutant crocodile in the aqueduct beneath an extremely suspicious pyramid. In fact, maybe especially because it might result in something like that?

Neither threat to his existence seems to really find any purchase in Roberto da Costa's thought processes, whether we're talking about the possibility of getting bitten in half by a giant super crocodile, or the growing probability that Dani was going to make him walk back home.

It's hard to read his expressions right now, since he's turned into some kind of vantablack stellar anomaly that's devouring light rather than reflecting it, but those shining starlight eyes open wide before narrowing a bit, and then his mouth pulls into what is unmistakably a wide grin lit by the radiance of distant suns, and in wild defiance of Atlas' suggestion directed at the Spooky Spider, he decides to do exactly what you might expect somebody who can arm wrestle Asgardians to do: When it tries to snap him in half, he catches the encroaching jaws with his hands, the golden aura around his blacker than black form intensifying slightly, along with those bubbles of darkness that mar it.

"Did it swallow her or what?" he wonders, only a slight strain in his voice, though how much of that is because he's too cool to let it show is an open question. "Guess there's only one way to find out."

And thus, with terrible strength, he starts to push back against the jaws.

If anything, he's going to be disappointed when it gets paralysed by neurotoxin. But, life is hard even for Roberto da Costa, sometimes.

* * *

FLASHBACK FROM LAST ISSUE:

Armor apparently can hold a bubble of air in her armor!
The squad had just fallen down a hole!
CROCODILES IN ANCIENT TEMPLE RUINS, WHY

And you're caught up!

Flailing from her long hanging line, Ghost Spider windmill-arms upside down. That could have been her! She was danglig like bait over water and everything!

"Don't get bit!" She (un)helpfully hollers, firing a swing-line up to the cieling and gaining lateral movement as she closes in on the surface-broken modern dinosaur.

She swings clear of Archangel and past Robert, attaching to the crocodile's bulk with the brush of extra-sticky fingers with a loop of webbig to lasso the great beast's mouth shut.

"I read about this online! You can just hold the jaws shut, or something, right?"

Or something.

"Hang on tight, Sunspot! Wait, are you trying to hold it open or closed?" Gwen asks. stuck to the underside of the chin, she may not like her position, either way.

* * *

HISAKO ICHIKI:

Y O U D I E D

At least that is what briefly flashes through Hisako's mind as there is an enormous presence, a sudden snapping that sends a hot bolt of pain through her right leg. And then there is horrid, lurching, delirious darkness.

Part of Hisako panics.

But most of her - the core that has been trained, refined, drilled - does not. The sliver of her mind that gibbers in outrage is slid aside and Hisako tenses herself up, draws up her legs (against enormous, horrid pressure), raises her arms—

A heartbeat later, which isn't long, she realizes what happened, and where she is.

OUTSIDE

The creature's abdomen bulges outwards substantially, and there is a moment later a bloody cut between two great leathery scales, and afterwards the exoskeletal form of Armor, sheathed in luminous red (and with a great deal more 'decoration' than usual), kicks and lunges outwards and falls back down into the water with a majestic, enormous splash.

Her head snaps up immediately! - to see Roberto, Warren - what a relief: it didn't eat anyone else!! (Well, not yet - at least now there's a way out if history repeats.)

* * *

"My armor is rated for so many things!" Stark shouts back as he starts to decend. "Sorry Moony, gonna get wet here." He adds towards Moonstar as he drops her off and then dives right into said water. Lights on the chest, head, and arms of the armor suddenly cut on as they stab deep against the darkness.

The sensors on the suit stab downwards with the light, seeking Armor's signiture as they try to find out just if she lived or she died.

Which is suddenly above him as he snaps his gaze up towards the croc.

"Whelp. Found her!"

* * *

"What the HELL?" is Alison Blaire's stunning narrative as Hisako disappears under the water.

Not that she has time to think further on the matter, as an instant later, the monstrous crocodile (THAT SHOULD NOT BE THIS BIG) breaches the surface, and rakes its mutated jaws towards aerial snacks. There is little she can do save widen her eyes, hanging on as Archangel steers them out of reach, her expression a little bloodless-pale as teeth snap perilously close.

"I hate doing this," she complains out loud, and adds to Warren, "hold me still."

She outstretches one open hand, focusing, as — no visible light emits from her invisible field. But Alison is still manipulating light — its wave form, rather than by particle — as she aims her attack straight at the crocodile's nearest eye.

Microwave radiation enough to pop the organ with a liquid mulch, and force it enough blindness not to take subsequent strikes at the others around. Her expression is a wince, and her hand trembles with care. She really, really, really hates doing this. Hasn't trusted her light this way for a long time.

Thankfully, she doesn't need to do much more. Her aim breaks, and her attack stops when Roberto seizes into her line of fire, and she stops immediately. Seconds later — Armor forces her way straight out of the animal's gut.

Relief shudders out Alison's next breath, before her expression tightens up. This is all so gross.

* * *

Ryan's telekinetic grab and hoise brings the beast out of the water partially. It weighs a lot. A whole lot.

Think jurrasic park a lot, but the young man is able to tug the creature further out of the water.

Which opens it up to Carolus' attack. A great big boop to the snout. While it doesn't stun the creature it does cause it to roar - or as much as crocodiles roar. It's more like an enraged growl-howl and its head swings back to the Mothman to snap at him once more.

Snap snap snap.

Of course, going after Carolus leaves it periously open to Warren's attack. Those toxin-tipped feathers slice down into it's skin and body. It again roars a sound of pain and outrage, however before it can do too much Roberto grabs the jaws of the beast and then he flexes.

Slowly the beast's jaws begin to widen and while the beast tries to exert all of its strength against Roberto's own, only several things manage to happen at nearly the same time - Gwen attaches herself to the underside of the crocodile which only confuses it (what prey does that?!?!?), Warren's feather-toxin paralyzes the beast quickly now and finally Dazzler deploys her devistating attack against its eye. There's a low sound of pain from the beast, but sadly today isn't the creature's day. Not as Hisako finally reasserts herself by RIPPING through the beast's midsection. Really, it is pretty gross, and as the creature's torso violently splits open all of it's guts sploosh outward. Towards Berto.

Dani drops lightly to the side of the aqueduct, where she's able to mostly walk normally. At the sight of Hisako encased in her armor (and hopefully unhurt), Dani's expression turns to something of relief. "LEt's get everyone out of the water. Those that can fly stay in the air and those that can't we can walk along the aqueduct. Careful of crumbling stones, trip wires, or anything that looks suspicious. The current goes that way -" And she points downward the tunnel, where a shadow entranceway might be seen by the most keen-eyed.

It's also a safe bet to say all that's left of the crocodile is a corpse now. A corpse with a missing eye and when Dani happens to catch that her expression freezes for a heartbeat. Then she just forces herself to look away and down the dark and tomb-like corridor.

Only after everyone has been checked over (especially Hisako) and situated, does the group again move further into the pyramid. At the end of the aqueduct is an entranceway, an entranceway that looks almost normal. Until one spies the stonework that surrounds it. It's rough and faded, but the outline of a head, eyes and nose can be seen, and the mouth is the doorway that leads into the next room. The stone-carved visage might be familiar in some respects as stylized lines run along the 'face'.

Clearly, one has to go through the 'mouth' to enter the next room.

Nothing at all creepy with that!

* * *

Bid to hold her still, Warren obligingly positions Alison as he would a particularly blonde laser cannon. Which is effectively what she is. The resultant shot — makes Warren wince a little, and not necessarily out of sympathy for the animal. His hold tightens on Alison, in a wordless reassurance.

And after all that, Hisako… makes her reappearance!

Warren has frequent occasion to regret his extremely keen eyesight, especially living in a place like New York City. This is just another of those times it's not great to have literal eagle eyes.

"Oh," he says. "That's… disgusting. Everyone okay?"

Once the affirmatives come from all around, and only then, do they move on. Warren puts Alison back down, at some point. The tunnel itself is not eventful, but where it leads…

Warren goes unsurprisingly quiet at the stonework. His wings murmur restlessly, and their subtle whispering doesn't sound entirely like it's just the result of metal whetting against metal.

"Typical," he finally says, with a bit of apparent effort, and a lot of forced disdain. A bit impulsively, he flicks his wings and moves to go in first, as if to prove something.

* * *

Gwen is absolutely keen at holding the jaws of Sewer Croc. With her lasso of webbing, she can assist Roberto all day! It's a great team up, they bond between the flailing deathrolling of the crocodile big enough to swallow an X-Person whole.

That is, until it gets paralyzed, carved open, and then exploded, showering Ghost Spider's white (WHITE!!!) costume with… Thigs.

Things that aren't white.

With an expression of shocked disgust, she finds a bit of clear-er water to rinse off, dipping below the surface for just a moment to clean off the worst of the guts. She was already wet and gross.

Reaching the shore with the EXTRA COMFORTING (hint: actually it's not) motif of the path forward, Gwen has bigger problems. "All my ROAD SCONES have, like, crocodile guts and murder pool juice on them." The juice is water, Gwen. "Thank god for single use plastic packaging, though. The rest is fine. For…"

She holds open the bag, which smells mildly of Insides. "A given amount of 'okay'."

* * *

Stark explodes out of the water, the rush of repulsors that accompany him drying the armor in record time. The armored head scans the room, left and right before he looks towards the tunnels ahead and.

"…I'm going to bet there is more traps." He calls out as the helmet clamshells open to reveal that smirking visage of the billionare.

A glance up at the head before Stark just shakes his head. "See. People think I'm full of myself but I don't have anything on Pocky now do I?" He calls as he looks up at the remains of the face there. But then Warren is going forwards and Stark just shrugs and follows, scanners on high alert even as the man himself seems casual about it.

As he passes Gwen though he does peer into the bag. "Eh. I've totally eaten worse at a meet and greet. It'll be fiiiiiiiine."

* * *

Once this big freaken thing is down and the others have gotten safe and out from underneath thing, Ryan will drop the big crocodile and let out a big exhale of breath as he does, that thing was a lot heavier then he thought it would be and took more then he thought it would out of him.

Ryan continues to hold onto the spot he found in the water. "Can someone help me out here please?" He calls out loud, hoping someone will get him out of the water and back onto land. Once he is out of the water, whether someone helps him out or he uses his telekinesis to help bolster his jump off the wall to get back onto land. he will take a moment to catch his breath and grasp his hand around the side of his rib cage and do a self-check to see if any bones might be broken, thankfully it looks like none are. Afterward, he will start to follow along with the group, this time more towards the rear of the line, hoping to give him more time to react to whatever might be next, that and hopefully be near someone who can fly. Really do not want to fall like that again.

After walking for some bit they come across the next entrance that leads further into the pyramid, which just happens to be in the shape of a mouth, like the beast they just defeated. 'How coincidental and so not funny' is what Ryan thinks as he seas the entrance looking like the monster's mouth.

* * *

Carolus is snapped at, and runs a bit short getting out of the way— his outstretched arm is raked along the side by enormous teeth. It doesn't manage to hook on and drag him down, but it does pretty much tear a chunk of muscle out of his arm. He issues an involuntary yelp at the sudden intense pain, spiraling awkwardly in the air as he pulls up out of biting distance, a splash of red leaking down into the water.

His opposite arm — primary left — immediately shifts to staunch the wound, a steady stream of silk winding out from the palm of his hand and around the grotesquely wounded arm.

There's a moment when he seems poised to re-enter the fight, but… Hisako bursting out of the creature and its entrails spilling outward stops him cold in his path. He stares down, antennae rising and falling, his expression shifting from 'angry and in pain' to simply across-the-board upset.

He wonders when the last time something actually suited to be that thing's meal came through here.

His affirmative is more like an, 'I'll live.' than anything else.

He falls in towards the rear of the group this time, putting in more instant-personal-bandages along his arm. What was initially put there is already starting to soak through.

"Hisako— do you need bandaging? Or anyone else, for that matter." He offers.

* * *

Hisako is baptized in guts (which is also the title of at least one of the albums she had to throw in the garbage in the dorms) and she just kind of floats in the water for a moment. She feels herself throb a little in the leg. She answers Warren, thickly, "yeah," and then begins to tread water forwards. The armor seems to be at least vaguely buoyant, and from the power of her strokes, able to swim.

Ish.

Her eyes turn forwards, down the road, down the path. The route is adequate in its aqueductery. (Hisako's leg is bleeding but not dire enough for her to notice immediately; no doubt being in the armor helps.)

Carolus offers. "Uh?" Hisako then says, looking at him, then down at herself - then, as her eyes bug slightly, "Uh, yeah - here, hold on -" This requires some negotiation and a momentary lapsing of the armor to let Carolus get at the leg. (Hisako ends up leaning against the wall and hissing through her teeth.)

"So does Apocalypse do this kind of design thing himself," Hisako huffs, regaining her stride once her leg is wrapped up, "or is it his fan club getting excited."

* * *

This is going to be totally awesome, Sunspot thinks to himself. I'm going to wrestle a giant mutant crocodile.

He can already see it in his head, and it's extremely awesome. The rest of the group all watching with rapt, terrified attention, fearful that at any moment the croc might get the upper hand. Or maybe he'll just end up wrenching it apart from the jaw on down, as he—

Instead, he can feel it start to get weaker as Warren's possibly super evil neurotoxin does its work of paralysing the beast. And then it gets kind of crazy because one of its eyes boils and pops in its socket, which is honestly pretty gross to see happening from up close like that.

Fortunately, Bobby is in no real danger from the microwaves, and actually any splash from the radiation just peps him up a bit.

But then, the poor mutated beast starts to buck like John Hurt at a dinner table, right before Armor fully Kool-Aid Mans her way out of the thing's stomach, spattering him with crocoguts.

"Aw," Sunspot pouts, as the extremely dead crocodile goes limp and he just kinda drops it into the water. Smoke starts to rise off of the bits of monster clinging to his body, because his surface temperature is currently somewhere in the 'griddle' range. Who's hungry??

Eventually, though, he does take a quick dip into the surely gross but also less gross than being covered in monster guts water before emerging, back in his normal form. Somehow his hair tousels perfectly after the quick dip.

"Hey Hisako, that was pretty badass," the Brazilian billionaire offers, with a thumbs up and a trillion dollar grin, before eventually they wind up at a big scary face door.

"Don't think you call yourself 'Apocalypse' without a real ego problem," Bobby says, without anything even resembling the faintest whiff of irony. "But they're a cult kinda thing, right? So it could go wither way."

* * *

Hisako Ichiki flips the Coin of Ill-Advised Action and gets tails.

* * *

Amidst all the furor of the crocodile being split apart, Hisako recovered, and Sunspot dripping pieces of it valiantly —

— Did Alison catch that split-second horror from Danielle Moonstar?

Of course she did. Absolutely, she had to. Guilt, or existential unluckiness, always finds a way.

Her reaction is to self-consciously pull her sleeves down over her hands, pained and horrified, because — how else could that be construed by a woman who lost her eye to that same light? Alison hadn't thought of it, though she should have. The reaction was split-second, automatic — go for the eyes to save lives — and it sickens her more to wonder how deeply Famine sourced from her own thought processes and reflexive actions.

Either way, if she didn't before, now she's giving poor Moonstar a lot of space. Set down, she does a mental count of everyone, though her attention catches on Carolus silk-bandaging his own wounds.

She strays back to watch the way it is already soaking through with blood. "Are you all right? she asks, concerned. "You didn't nick anything arterial? I have a — it won't be a pretty fix —" light-based cauterization, "but tell me if it comes to it." Her attention similarly strays to Hisako, trying to take a field medic read of her wound. Should either of them stay behind?

Alison doesn't propose it. Moreso because she catches Warren pushing ahead, to be first through through that macabre doorway. She winces after him.

"'Cult' is putting it lightly," she answers Roberto, voice too-soft.

* * *

Carolus flutters down to bind Hisako's wounds. He's not using actual bandaging, and it feels rather nicer, although it's a bit tighter than would be expected of an ordinary bandage since it is a fresh string of silk 'settling' as he wraps it into place. It's a bit unorthodox, but they have recuperative properties— he put them to good use back during the invasion. The end of the silk snaps clean at a 'closing' impulse directed to his pores.

"Apologies." He says to Armor, as she hisses in pain.

His primary right arm is kept completely immobile through this— the process uses his primary left hand and auxiliary right hand.

Are you all right? Alison asks.

The mothman lifts up off the ground a little ways, and nods at Dazzler, "It'll be fine for the moment. My silk has special properties, and it's better if I let it sit. I'll let you know if I start feeling bad enough that I'm worries about the blood loss. I could do with a painkiller, but I doubt we have the kind of dosage I would need."

* * *

Warren is the first to see the new room. It's a large one. A large square room. The ceiling is high enough that those that can fly could fly if they so wished.

The exit to this particular room is across the way. It's innocent seeming enough. Just cross the room and you're there.

Only that innocent seeming room changes as swiftly as the others. Scans and hyper-sensitive hearing will quickly catch on first, as a mechanism within the walls release with a quiet thunk. That thunk causes the doorway they just entered to abruptly close thanks to a solid stone wall slamming down into place. While that stone wall likely isn't enough to give the group that much trouble, the next mechanical ker-thunk does.

Portions of the ceiling above retract to reveal giant and very pointed spikes of rock. The first one slides down and drops toward the group, trying to impale or slam into anyone nearby.

That first dropping spike seems to be a herald for the rest as dozens upon dozens of sharpened tips begin their own brand of countdown.

And even as the rest of the spikes begin to rain on down, there's another set of clunks and clinks within the walls announcing another forthcoming trap possibly.

* * *

"Oh, hah," Hisako answers Bobby, sweeping a hand through her hair (which has managed to not get reptile guts in it, yet). "Thanks, I was freaking out. How do you think it got so big down here?"

To Dazzler, Hisako gives a big ol' thumbs up. "I'm not putting any weight on it or anything like this," she explains. (The injury seems shallow if broad; the 'silk' is absorbing blood but not a ton of it.)

"… so, though," Hisako says, "isn't Apocalypse like… Hebrew, or Aramai… c? or something? This is Egypt," Hisako continues, "and —" Stone grinds against stone and she looks upwards before leaning suddenly forwards and to the right, as if to pin Carolus down! No, not pin - to cover him as a huge stone spike plummets for the back of her neck!

It strikes and makes her grunt as the psychic exoskeleton bears up the tons of ancient sandstone. The spike begins toppling gracefully back the way they came, Hisako raising her head to look ahead as mechanical noises intermingle with the rumble of stone!

* * *

"So! Good news bad news." Stark calls as he looks up. "Well good news for Berto over there. Since. Man. I know you really wanted to have the whole crushing wall trap. I mean…would the roof be an acceptable alternative to the walls though? Cause it is totally coming down to crush us."

A spike glances off the armor as he talks. Then another. And still some more. They hardly do more that strikes sparks after the nanotech though.

"So….might be nice to get though this part quickly. I mean I'm pretty sure we can totally break it…" A pause as he scans the length of the wall nearby. "…machine is right there."

"I mean I could do it but…just doesn't seem fair I take all the fun."

* * *

Ryan is one of the last few to enter into the room, with him being more at the rear of the group. As he does he looks around the room and it just looks so easy to go through, too easy in fact as Ryan figures that there is no way it would be this easy after that last trap they went through. That's when he starts scanning the room more closely looking for any traps and getting ready for when this next trap goes off.

And sure enough he was right. The door behind them is sealed off by a stone and large spikes start shooting out from the feeling. Ryan will lift his hands up over his head and create a telekinetic barrier around himself and the others that nearby him, causing the spikes to either fall away off the shield or crumble on impact if they are brittle enough. "Those who can get to me, I can cover you from the spikes!" he yells out, hoping others can get others who might have difficulty with this trap under his shield. It's a bit strenuous for Ryan es each spike hits his shield, but he holding on, he has had harder stuff hit his telekenetis shield then this before.

* * *

Carolus flinches away at the sudden motion of something descending— but before it's necessary for him to do anything about it, Armor's exoskeleton provides an umbrella. He sighs in what /might/ be relief. The less he has to exert himself right now, the better.

"Based on what we know," He replies, "I think that he probably predates known civilization. Egyptian appears to be a common theme, but were I to take an actual guess I would expect he is from ancient Mesopotamia. Geographically speaking not that distant, but there is a distinction."

"Truthfully, if he weren't committed to the ideals and methodology that he is, he would be fascinating to speak to. As it is…" He leaves unspoken what everyone already knows. They're here to kill the man in his sleep if they can.

* * *

People probably owe Gwen a new costume in spirit - in practice, it is a marvel of science (and probably Pym-tech?) and color theory both, able to look ghost-sheet white after a cursory hose down. This is, for a costumed hero, extremely important!
Fashion is the true endgame.

"I thought he got called Apocalypse because he is one. He had a pretty biblical name besides, too. So probably not far off."

Tony gets a 'really, you have?' look, as she shrugs, picking up the Insides-gooey sachet of scones and considering tossing it. "Is it littering if someone leaves trash in an ancient temple that we may vaporize from orbit after? Just asking for a friend." She wonders, closing up her backpack and carrying on. Just one more room to go!

"Hey, I think the danger let up. We may be past the worst of i-"

Ker-CREAK goes the gears above them. "I hate myself sometimes. "Gwen deadpans, tumbling forward as Hisako heaves up one of the pillars, knocking off the giant stone spike (which requires a sidestep itself) and providing a safe space in her red armor's '''shadow'''. "I really don't want to test my luck holding that up, it's made to stop powered people - Iron Man, do your… science… stuff! Or laser it!" She thinks about it for half a second. She recoils in horror at her own decisions. How COULD she?! Also it sounded really stupid! "Well, maybe not 'laser the whole cieling off', ok, I admit that's a boneheaded plan!"

She can feel the pillars - how they fall, the potentia of the gears and the creaking, stabbing drops. She could do it with her eyes closed - she does not because of the murder spikes.

* * *

"He spoke about originating from the Valley of Kings," Warren says, his voice tight. He's still up ahead, forging through the room without any apparent care for the obvious trap it likely is. "So he's not older than civilization. He is not that grandiose."

A pause. "Though certainly grandiose enough to claim 'the Valley of Kings' in the first place, and not just Egypt, or Akkaba, or similar. There is an Aqaba in modern-day Jordan, but I wonder now if that's not a red herring…"

He shrugs, with a rustle of his wings. "Either way. He's certainly fascinating conversation. But that's part of what makes him so dangerous. You listen too long, you might start to feel what he has to say is compelling."

He should be paying more attention to the status of the rest of the group. He should be paying more attention to their environs. But he's not, and it's transparent that it's because of their surroundings, and all that they imply. He's on edge, and nervous, and —

— that at least equips him to respond quickly when a sudden ominous noise creaks from overhead.

His wings open and angle with a ring of metal, covering himself and Alison in a fanned shield off which the descending spikes glance. He winces as the heavy stone jars his back; it's probably not a very sustainable shield. "To the other side," he says. "Quickly."

His head turns to the menacing noises emanating from the walls, as he starts to take his own advice. "Ryan, you might want to be ready to shield us from the sides as we move."

* * *

"They probably feed it anybody who shows weakness," the Brazilian says, to Hisako's question about how the heck the crocodile got so big. "Maybe give a big villain speech while they do, you know how it is. So when it saw something people-shaped fall down the pit it probably thought 'oh hey, it's lunch time'." Sadly, Armor was the very last lunch poor Acrocalypse would ever get to enjoy.

But you know, even if they're having fun and joking around, and Roberto is trying to not think about how he brought that hat all this way for a joke and then he lost it in that pit, they go getting trapped in another trap room. A trap room with a falling… Parts of its ceiling! It's at least something, as Tony points out.

"Crushing roof is absolutely a classic, dramatically lowering as we frantically try to find a way out," Bobby muses. "Falling spikes is a good twist, though." A chunk of spike rock that might've caved his beautiful head in instead crashes against Ryan's telekinetic barrier, because telekinesis is the better psychic ability set, obviously, because it doesn't help you cheat at cards, Danielle. On the other hand, it definitely sounds like something else, something probably much worse than spikes, is going to happen.

Warren suggests moving to the other side with a quickness, and that sounds like a perfectly good idea to Bobby, so…

He powers up again, intent on grabbing Ryan like the soon to be extremely busy telekinetic weighed approximately a couple of grapes.

"You just focus on the shielding, guy, I'll do the moving."

Teamwork!

* * *

Alison's attention lingers momentarily after both Carolus and Hisako, concerned, but determined to trust the stranger, healing qualities of that moth-silk. That, and she's privately relieved she might not have to employ her own field dressings against severed arteries. Giving contact burns to anyone, cauterizing or otherwise, feels vaguely it could make her sick.

Not that she has much time, either, to dwell.

As the group enters the room, of course — of course — the ceiling greets them by dumping a crapload of falling spikes down onto their bodies. Alison even has the audacity to look up, cringing at the sight, until Warren's outstretched wing replaces her view with shining metal, and the echoing rings of those Celestial feathers absorbing the shocks and strikes of the rubble.

She can only flinch, helpless in this regard — her power suite can do so much, but it's near useless for things like these.

Time for Alison's other superpower: common sense! "Everyone hurry! Out of this room!"

She doesn't miss Warren's wince. She grabs his arm, declaring herself his guidepoint out, while trying to usher others in their direction. Her blue eyes stray to the walls. Did she mention how she utterly hates all of this?

* * *

Much like Tony Stark predict those clunks and clanks sound louder until finally the room simply shakes as the ceiling starts to move.

And yes, it's totally moving downward so that it can CRUSH everyone within.

Also impale them too, cause you know, two-for-one is always fun.

Much like everyone Moonstar moves to find some safety from those spike. She ends up near Roberto and Ryan, and while she totally DOESN'T cheat at cards ROBERTO, she does give all her teammates a quick once over. Making sure they're all up and moving, especially those that are hurt.

The rest of the run across the room is pretty low-key (as low-key as one can get when the ceiling is dropping at you) and nothing more seems to trigger as the team crosses from one side to the other. There's enough time for them to make it out before the slam of the ceiling against the floor causes a *boom* to echo throughout the hallway they now stand in. There's only one way to go. A short walk down the hallway to another entranceway. While the carvings around said door don't resemble a face they do resemble writing. It's a mishmash of heiroglyphs and then some other form of writing interspersed between the Egyptian script. Odd scripture aside, the room the group enters is clearly some sort of audience chamber.

The wide room clearly leads the visitors to the throne that sits within it. A large thing inlaid with stones that are all various shades of blue and black.

The walls themselves are also carved with the glyphs and pictures detailing a story of some sort. Of a man and possibly death, or re-birth, and then a king and ruler.

* * *

There is a throne…

And there are voices emanating from somewhere behind the throne.

"I swear to you, we have observed all the forms." An old man: his voice cantankerous and thin, but still strong. "But he is not here."

"Elsewhere, then." This voice does not source from a human throat. It sounds like boulders rendering down into gravel — like the erosion of a mountain. "The search must continue. He should have woken long before this. The world is a shambles. It wants correction. What I have seen, in my own short time awake, grieves me. You ought have called for succor, years ago. Have you all grown complacent while he slept?"

"You understand…" The first voice is more wheedling now. "We do not dictate when we wake our lord. There is a cost to do so for — trivial reasons — "

Ice coats the stone of that voice. "Do you call this a trivial reason? Regardless, we must be gone. Some fools have disturbed the temple…"

The voices are fading. Whoever the speakers are, they are leaving, and quite rapidly.

Warren's feathers are practically all standing on end. He immediately tries to cross the room, to get to the other side.

* * *

The roof comes down and Stark just keeps walking, almost casually. The man doesn't even hurry that much only stepping out of the room just a moment before the ceiling crashes down. He looks back for a moment before he grins behind his helm.

"Well that was fun."

But then Warren goes FULL PUFF.

…and he doesn't go full puff unless things are really bad. Or Alison is in a super hot outfit. He doesn't think that last one qualifies right now but he's been wrong before.

And add to that voices.

"Well that seems important. Boys?" And his little drones suddenly zoom forwards, streaking across the room to try to get a view of the voices behind the throne. Careful to not hit walls of floors, on the lookout for tripwires.

Maybe the'll make it. Maybe they won't. But that won't stop him from trying.

* * *

When Archangel yells out to Rayn to get his shields ready for attacks from the side as well, he changes his telekinetic shield form into a sphere surrounding him and the others with him no attacks will harm them from any direction.

Then Roberto calls out telling him to focus on the shields and he will handle the moving, Ryan wonders what how he intends to handle that part. "Roger that." he says in response to Roberto and eventually he, Roberto, and Dani get across the room however Roberto decides to 'handle the moving part'.

"Thanks for the help." Ryan says to Roberto before he starts looking around the room, of course, he seas the throne and the glyph telling their story, but he is more focused on finding somthing that might warrant danger that needs to be neutralized. Then he hears the voices up ahead, then seas Archangel go flying across the room quickly. To that Ryan sprints after Archangel to help back him up with whatever he is planning on doing.

* * *

Their quick flight, those telekinetic shields, and Archangel's Celestial wings all play their parts to spare them some fate in that room, Alison among the group — she barrels free, unharmed save for a layer of dust through her hair, blown forward as the ceiling CRASHES down behind them.

She coughs against the stirred dust, glancing behind her, her quick eyes making a body count. One less, where is —

Tony comes in leisurely after, absolutely unhurried.

Alison gives him a dry look.

But they proceed, as she does so carefully, taking considerable pain where to place her feet, and frowning anew at the heiroglyphs that picture the entranceway. The light cast from her fingers, dimmed to little less than five fingerpoints of flickering white-blue candlelight, helps beacon a way.

And then — that throne.

Alison turns her hand to cast light on its severe, ornate shape. And that's about when the colour goes out of her skin. Trauma in replay, no doubt, as she gazes off, knowing immediately what it all means, and for whom that seat waits empty.

She was hoping, hoping, HOPING, it wouldn't be repeated here, and maybe their world would be spared having to repeat what she's already seen, and it's like

every
single
fear

has just been given first breath.

The voices leech across the room, and the light trembles, because Alison's hand is shaking.

"Ozymandias…" is all she murmurs.

Warren starts forward, vehement action where she is frozen terror. It snaps her out, and she tries to reach after him. Too late to touch him.

* * *

"Alison."

Carolus comes up behind Dazzler, resting his left hand against her shoulder as he advances— it's both comforting and urging. He might've picked her up and caught her up to Warren, but he specifically doesn't do that even though it was the first thing that occurred to him when he saw her hesitate. They're different people— they need to take this at their own pace. So he matches hers, and for these fleeting moments (and he is sure they will be fleeting) that she's separate from Warren, remains available to be leaned on literally or metaphorically as need be.

"Breathe." He urges, gently.

* * *

There is only so much Danielle Moonstar can do, but if there's one thing she's always been is a fighter.

As such, when Warren and a portion of their group breaks off to address those voices, Moonstar moves with them even as she looks to Alison as she moves past. Then Dani calls forth bow and arrow which offers a magenta glow even as the Cheyenne wonders if her psychic weaponry will be enough.

It probably isn't, but it'll have to be.

* * *

If there's one thing superhuman strength is always good for, it's toting and carrying. How often do you figure Colossus has to move furniture for people?

Fortunately for Sunspot, the towering metal Russian is usually the first guy everyone thinks of around the Institute when they think 'powerhouse', and so he gets to slip through the cracks. Or he'll just say he hasn't gotten enough sunlight lately, he simply can't possibly do any feats of tremendous strength. That one works sometimes, too.

Though when they've just been out in the middle of the desert, nobody's going to believe the Brazilian isn't chock full of DEADLY COSMIC RAYS, so here we are. Though he still has to pace himself a bit now that they're underground, with no easy source of resupply (except for the lady who converts sound into light).

"No problem," he assures Ryan. "I'm used to carrying this team on my shoulders."

That's a joke, see. Because he's usually pretty irresponsible, actually.

Anyway: Spooky and actually very fascinating throne room, the interior of which Roberto at least has the forethought to be recording on his phone (which he'd originally only brought for the theme music gag) and which is almost fascinating enough that he doesn't notice the sound of somebody talking, though really the way Warren and Alison respond would make people take notice anyway.

Which is why about a second later he tosses his phone at Carolus, a noted responsible adult, and starts flying after Warren.

* * *

Tony's drones are faster than the rest, and zip into the antechamber behind the throne. They capture a fleeting image of the departing figures. One is an old man, looking like any other random person one might see on modern-day streets, though his features are indistinct due to the darkness and the fact heavy stone doors are already closing behind him and his companion at the opposite end of the chamber.

His companion does not look modern at all. He is draped in heavy robes that suggest some ancient culture long gone to dust, though that isn't the most unusual aspect about him. The most unusual aspect about him is that he seems made, entirely, of stone.

They do not look back, not even to the commotion of the group's arrival. Perhaps they are banking on the party being distracted by what is left behind:

An altar, ornate and blue-black, veined with glints of silver that seem to match Warren's wings. And upon the altar, several sacrificial bodies. They look like laborers, like local contractors lured with promise of work… and then used as fuel for whatever ritual transpired here.

At the foot of the altar lays another body, different. A young man, as modern and prosaic-looking as his elder who has just departed. He pants shallowly, clearly in the last phases of dying, though there is no visible mark of injury on him.

"I was… promised…" is the last thing he says.

Archangel is not at the altar. He isn't talking to the man on the floor. He is unresponsive, mutely furious, attacking the closed doors at the far side of the room with his wings. Breaking stone flies everywhere.

* * *

Rolling into the final room with a totally superflous dive that ends with her at crouch-level for actually beholding the throne, Ghost Spider sees an—

Empty throne room, and the grinding of the way forward.

She pulls a soggy, Insides-smelling X-pillow from her backpack, and sighs. "So… I'm not going to get to use the pillow, am I?"

* * *

It feels like hours that Alison spends standing there, frozen in some repeat state of rigor mortis, lost in some dark maze of her own thoughts. Her pupils are too-narrow and her skin too-pale, and she's probably not all here right now — no driver seat left to something like the twisted and terrifying evidence that Apocalypse exists here, and they are going to bring him back.

Panic cloys her in place, and there's no way she can wade out of the dark place her mind traps her, errant, semi-repressed trauma she's been courting for months without any real resolution —

But the touch to her shoulder helps. It brings her back, and she can breathe, and realize where she is. Warren's out of her eyeline, but she can't immediately think straight to remember where he went.

Alison's head jerks to the source of the voice, and her eyes focus on Carolus. Recognition gentles her down. He's telling her to breathe. It sounds like a good idea. Breathing, and then — moving, flanking the initial few — Warren, Roberto, Tony's drones — who disappear into the antechamber. Toward the sounds of metal wings raking into stone.

She nods quickly, doing so, trying to snap back to a better frame of mind — as her eyes fix finally on that altar, where the last body expires from its pains. Despair wades into her expression.

"We can't let this happen," she begs.

* * *

The shroud of death that surrounds the man brings Dani to his side and carefully, the Valkyrie kneels next to him.

"I know." She murmurs to him and then, "I'm sorry.", and there's not much more to be said or done for him.

Mindful of the victims and the lack of visible wounds on the one that just died, Dani slowly rises to her feet and turns her attention to Warren.

"We need to get out of here." Moonstar says, "Before anything more triggers and we're trapped."

* * *

Stark frowns even as Ali and Dani make their way towards the body and the sound of slashing wings. He looks down at the mess and shakes his head. One palm raises up and the bright white beam of his scanners cut though the darkness. "I'd recommend not touching the metal stuff till we can get a clean up team or something." He calls out. "Just a suggestion. From. You know. Previous experiance."

There is a shake of his head though at the man that seems to be expiring. He was promised. And he lied too. But that is a talk for a different day.

"Warren, buddy." He calls. "Mooney is right." Yes he's pronounced it three different ways so far. Its how he do. "I mean I can punch my way out if it drops on my head but not sure that applies to everyone. And I think /most/ of you look better unflattened."

Still he is staring at that alter, at that metal. The narrowed eye as the drones return. "And I got pictures of our friends. Thats something at the very least."

* * *

'And I got pictures of our friends'.

Ghost Spider perks up. "Hey, Iron Man. If you maybe, maybe not had an orbital satellite pointed at this temple to laser it, as you may or may not do, you'd need a *really good* camera on that gun, right?"

The Spider points at the path Warren beats on. "Because if they come up above ground, we're in the middle of nowhere. You may be able to find them. But Dani's right, Warren."

"Let's get out of this hole and grab some lunch before we need to be dug out. We can have a good brood sesh after, I'll get the Norwegian stuff." She means music, not booze. Easy mistake.

* * *

Eventually, Archangel calms down. Tony's voice, Alison's voice — both seem to help call him back. There isn't much left of the door once he does, but — the people he was trying to pursue are also long gone by then.

He stands there a long moment, wings drooping, head bowed slightly. Likely reasserting control over himself. Or…

He turns sharply, walking past Dani and the dying man without a spared look for the latter.

"He was weak," the winged mutant says briefly. "The weak ones always die first."

His wings are trembling slightly, still, whether with exertion or something else. But they still, with an apparent effort, as the others advise leaving now and brooding later.

Good advice.

"All right," he eventually says. "Let's go."

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