Winter Green Overture
Roleplaying Log: Winter Green Overture
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Poison Ivy and her new best friend Loki go to rob a museum, which doesn't work out super well for Poison Ivy, or for the museum. On the up side, lots of free purple quartz for the gift shop.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: January 20, 2019
IC Location: Metropolis Museum of Natural History - Bakerline, Metropolis
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 21 Jan 2019 07:45
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for stray cusses and extensive kissing.
NPC & GM Credits: GMed by Yours Truly, Poison Ivy
Associated Plots

PREVIOUSLY…
METROPOLIS ARBORETUM

Pamela Isley has been here for four days. She has, for the most part, not been noticed - she has her ways - but the presence of the enclosed spaces for tropical plants to survive up in the reaches of Delaware have hosted her at times, and at nights, she enjoys the pleasures of the wetlands.

She doesn't know why she is here.

It feels important to be here. She has hypothesized at times that there is some magnetic function in Gotham City, some great cycle or circular force that has drawn her THERE, to that particular part of the eastern seaboard, across the continent from where she was born and raised. Why Gotham? Why not New York - Hartford - Boston - New Orleans - Atlanta - the list is long, America having three-score such urban blights on once mighty soil.

That feeling has moved. Into Metropolis for now. She wonders… there are stories saying that the Earth's magnetic field is changing, whether due to the actions of Magneto or the simple slow course of the world's burning core…

"Why, hello there," a voice cut sweetly through the thoughtful silence.

Pamela Isley glanced over her shoulder.

"You probably won't believe me — and why should you? — but I am quite the fan. So why not relax?"

Poison Ivy raised an eyebrow.

"I think we have so very much to talk about."

THE WETLANDS, NOWHERE IN PARTICULAR

"So, then," Poison Ivy said as she drew her fingers down along the line of Loki's jaw. "Let's review."

"These meteorites… they're not *just* residue. They're not *just* the garbage from wherever-it-is. You're telling me that somehow they got irradiated, but before then, they were the part of a planet's crust. A life-bearing planet."

"I feel like you're making fun of me," Ivy said, leaning closer. "And I feel like you're pushing my hot buttons… but I have to admit that you're doing it well. And you wouldn't lie to me, even so, would you?"

"You couldn't," she breathed. "Not now." She pressed her lips against the cheek of the god, overlapping the faintly reddened space she'd kissed before. Just to be sure.

"I couldn't," agreed the God of Lies, a faint glow of green tinging at his gaze. His voice a calm, subservient drone.

"Not ever."

* * *

TODAY
METROPOLIS MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
8:14 AM

"Well, here we are," Poison Ivy says from the back seat of the black car. She waits for the driver to come round and let her out.

"I understand you have your own interests… but I'll get what I'm going for, and a little sugar on top. Then we can meet up, and I'm sure between the two of us we'll know how to leave. Won't we? I expect the Justice League are going to be occupied, and I've checked Twitter: the man with the S isn't even in this hemisphere…" Hopefully.

Ivy slips out as the door is opened, sliding out of the silk coat she'd stolen last night and letting it pool on the car seat. "But if you need me, or I need you, just whistle."

Her attention turns towards the museum, a stately block of marble with a glittering butterfly garden further in, away from the street.

The car pulls away. Ivy's stolen phone buzzes. "Hm?" Looking down, she punches in a $500 tip and then pitches the phone over her shoulder, into traffic.

"I'll see you inside," Ivy says, her gaze intent on the humidity-soaked panes of glass on the butterfly garden. She walks that way, humming tunelessly, as something presses with wet inevitability against one of those panes of glass…

METROPOLIS MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
8:18 AM - that is to say, NOW, and after the fleeing staff has had time to run, scream, abandon the Big Belly Burger franchise in the atrium, and generally raise a hullabaloo -

Poison Ivy reclines in the stout upper branches of the cultivated moriche palm that had been part of the regional wetlands exhibit. The moriche has bloated, long stems distorted into long smooth shelves. Several orchids are now growing along it, and just below Ivy, a cacao tree has taken root, intermingled unnaturally and parasitically with the great palm.

Poison Ivy cracks open a cacao fruit as the tree crashes through the glass window separating the butterfly center from the museum proper. As colorful insects spill out with hopeful enthusiasm, Ivy consults a slightly rumpled and damp paper map. "Now, if we're lucky -"

A butterfly lands on her nose.

Poison Ivy lets out a rich and joyous laugh as the walking palm tree crosses its way towards the main entrance, smashing over the spread-out tables of the Big Belly franchise and ripping asunder the security gates in front of a gift shop.

What is going on here?? MMNH doesn't have any rare plant exhibits!

Perhaps she's going for the exhibition on the cultures of the Arctic circle, down in the basement?
The "Mesozoic Alive! Brought to you by Roxxon" on the first floor?
The gems and jewels on the second?
The "First Metropolians" exhibits, and their natural treasures, on the third?
The roof level planetarium-observatory-space camp?? (Thankfully, Space Camp is not in session!)

* * *

SOMEWHERE ELSE IN METROPOLIS, BUT REALLY ONLY A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY…

"Why am I not surprised that some of your routine is still in place even after agreeing to abscond with me to Metropolis for a weekend?"

The normal grouse isn't there though, Zatanna Zatara left in relatively good spirits. The day before has seen them crossing the bridge from Gotham to the City of Tomorrow on Tim Drake's gleaming red ferrari, checking in one of the most expensive hotels in the country, and decidedly not doing anything they had planned on their Friday night itinerary - something that they, perhaps, are trying to make up for today, having risen sometime at six in the morning and going out for a run. It was the best way for her to get to know the city, at least in her experience, and while Tim knows the city well, she doesn't have the knowledge base he does, having only visited a few times, and only for performances. She simply doesn't have much of a tie to the city as she does Gotham.

They are presently ensconced in warmer confines, the scent of fresh coffee, scrambled eggs and pancakes on the open griddle surrounding them. Bibbo's Diner, apparently, was a local favorite, famous for its apple pie and devil's food cake, and the interior was as inviting as its exterior, a clear homage to the old-style diners in the fifties, with its neon-pink sign and chrome framing. She had ordered eggs, a Belgian waffle with some fruit, and coffee.

She's still in her workout clothes - an insulated, fitted hoodie, warm yoga pants, socks and sneakers - all in black, of course, though her sweatband on her left wrist is dyed a deep purple. Cheeks flushed from the cold and exercise, and her long, black hair pulled in a ponytail, she's still grinning at her companion when something catches her eye from the stack of menus by their window. She reaches out…

…and withdraws a playbill. Her eyes light up in recognition. "I didn't know the production made it to Metropolis," she says, showing it to him. The cover is almost entirely in black, with a white border and yellow typeface.

BATMAN: THE MUSICAL

"Okay, before you say anything, I hear it's surprisingly good."

She would say more, but her fingers suddenly freeze before she can open the playbill and tease him about who might be portraying him on the stage. For a moment, her ice-blue eyes look far away, focused on a point past his head and beyond.

* * *

"It is way too early to be doing this…"

"Nonsense. You wake up earlier for sports practice, don't you?"

"Well, yeah, but that's different…"

A dark-haired teenager walks backwards along the sidewalk so he can face the older man he's apparently accompanying, heaving a sigh as he stretches his arms out over his head which morphs into a yawn by the time he's lowered his arms again, hands sneaking back into the warmth of his jacket pockets. "Anyway," he continues, seeing as how the professor doesn't seem inclined to budge from his earlier point, "Just because I gotta wake up super early for football doesn't mean I like getting up super early and what the heck is all that noise..?"

He turns about, slowing to a stop as he looks down the block where people stream out of the museum. The screams are the least of the unusual sounds coming from that direction. Beside him, the professor stares on as well, brow furrowing in growing concern.

"Oh my… Well, that does seem to put a damper on those plans," the professor says carefully. He holds back a sigh when he glances up at the teenager and the inevitable expression of growing interest that spreads across the youngsters face.

"Are you kidding, Prof? Things just got way more interesting! Let's go check it out!" Ronnie grins down at the man and then nods down the nearby alleyway, waiting for the professor before he starts to dash towards it.

Professor Martin Stein watches him and sighs, shoulders sagging. "So much for a quiet walk through the museum," he laments, moving to jog after the younger man then.

* * *

Trouble in Metropolis? There's usually trouble in Metropolis and usually the city has its own set of defenders, but with nothing better to do, the SHIELD agent known as Mockingbird decides to stick her nose where it doesn't belong.

A quick tranport later and she's there. Nothing at the museum is of critical importance (it's not an attack on Wayne Labs or Stark Industries or even STAR Labs) and so there's no need to send a whole strike team. No, this will be recon-in-force. Well, a force of one. That should be enough, though.

White and black and yellow, Agent Morse has brought along her usual gear and added a SHIELD needler in a holster on her left hip and a miniature grappel launcher. She switches the optics in her goggles to thermal, the smart system overlaying this information on top of the normal view.

"What're they doing here?" Bobbi wonders, though she has no idea if 'they' means one super-alien or a team of super-humans. "If it's the Wrecking Crew I'm out of here."

* * *

BEFORE

Well…

Here we are.

The Metropolis Museum of Natural History. A simple but elegant tribute to Metropolitan architectural finesse. A bevy of historical treasures rest within its marble bosom. Truly, it is remarkable. Truly, it is—

"Very quaint."

These are the strangely subdued words of one Loki Laufeyson as he emerges from the sleek black depths of Poison Ivy's ride. Dressed in his very finest black three piece suit and black tie affair that has almost certainly just been conjured through the mad mysteries of magic, his green eyes glow with a faint, subtle hue of leafy jade that does not quite match the rest of that green stare as he observes the museum entrance.

A smudge of red decorates his cheek as he stretches hands leisurely over his head.

"Well then," he declares with a level tone that lacks his usual, blithe indifference. Fabric starts to spool out into ribbons of glowing green. Flesh and bone follow suit soon after.

"I suppose it's time to get to work."

Before his entire body becomes a swirling mass of jade, swimming its way through the foundation of the Metropolis Museum of Natural History.

~*~

His footfalls are hurt through the freshly-emptied gem exhibition long before his body is even fully formed.

Magic suffuses this place as emerald ribbons spool into a fully formed trickster god, still mid-stretching his arms. As the glowing ambivalence of his gaze cracks open, he turns to look around him. Tilts his head.

"Eh," he decides.

"They'll have to do."

He leans in. Whispers something to a violet crystal, something secret. A little story. It makes the smooth surface blush green as that crystalline mass begins to resonate a sweet song…

… and grow, larger and larger, infecting other jewels, massive hands forming out of its glowing surface as the God of Mischief fades away once more to let his mischief take root in peace.

There's more work to be done, after all.

Somewhere further away, but not as far as you might think, a little green rope tugs on senses imperceptible to most. It's a little beacon that goes off inside a certain magician's head. Like morse code for magic. Simple, rote, methodical. Like something activated automatically under a certain set of conditions.

A quiet urge resonates in Zatanna Zatara's head with a very simple message that starts off so very faint, but only gets louder and louder over time:

S O S

Encouraging her — helpfully pointing her — in the direction of the Metropolis Museum of Natural History.

In distinct, recognizable shades of green.

* * *

"I know, I'm a harsh taskmaster," Tim replies to Zatanna. Honestly, she's just lucky he didn't also try to make her do any parkour while they were about it. That was another important part of getting around a city quickly when you can't fly or teleport or whatever, and given the Princess of Prestidigitation's strong opinions about swinging across the city on a grapple line (she is opposed) it's always good to explore other options. "Maybe I should've packed some weights too, the hotel gym was pretty disappointing…"

Like the witch, he was in his own workout gear, runners and black windbreaker pants with a clinging athletic shirt and an insulated hoodie of his own. It was, of course, civilian identity appropriate, so it was just black, grey and white and there was a Wayne Enterprises logo on the back of the hoodie.

In front of him is a stack of pancakes with fruit, and a glass of pineapple juice.

Honestly their coffee looks too weak, to him.

When Zatanna grabs a playbill, of all things, from the stack of menus and other papers by the window of their booth, he frowns curiously. When he sees what it is, his frown just gets deeper.

"I'm actually offended," he says. Wasn't Batburger bad enough?

But it becomes clear immediately that she's looking at something beyond, looking past him in a kind of unfocused way that suggests it's not because she just saw a cockroach on the wall and is about to freak out.

"Zee?" Tim asks. "What's wrong?"

* * *

There were heroes, there were villains and there were victims and bystanders…what did that leave? Well, Amelie in this case. It might have been a little cliche, but the immortal found a little charm in places like the Museum. It was a standing testament to the fact that plenty of things existed long before she became immortal and plenty may well last as long as her, if not far longer! She'd been up on the third floor, casting her eyes over the history and treasures of the 'First Metropolians' when the screams of the evacuating citizens came in the distance and a frown crosses her lips. There were no sounds of gunfire or threatening shouting, both of which tended to indicate more mundane threats, which meant either the building was on fire (and she couldn't smell smoke) or something a little more 'unnatural' was happening.

A sigh, the French woman murmers something under her breath before she reaches to the small of her back and draws the small firearm she'd had concealed there. Most of her toys were in her safehouse, the rest were outside in her car…she'd have to make do as she moves towards the sounds of confusion and panic only to have her eyes widen at the sight of the palm tree.

That was new.

* * *

"There's trouble," Zatanna murmurs, her eyes refocusing on Tim after hearing the clamor of that mystical SOS. Pulling out her smartphone from the inner pocket of her insulated hoodie, she pulls out a wad of bills, paying for breakfast and ninja-ing the bill from the adopted scion of one of the wealthiest families in the world. "It's Loki."

By the way she says the name, she is not talking about a professional skiier, Olympic snowboarder or hockey player named Loki. She lowers her voice. "There's something going on in the Museum of Natural History."

And she clearly intends to go; not just the fact that anything involving the God of Mischief should concern any magician, but the fact that he was asking her for help - and after what happened in the Stark Gala about a year ago, at the very least, she owes him one for preventing her from killing hundreds of people.

* * *

Metropolis is the City of Tomorrow, so maybe it had its brush with absurd, racist legislation and Jean just missed it; maybe it's simply too evolved to ever bother in the first place. It doesn't really matter: what does is that it's a city that lacks:

A.) Racist-ass legislation
B.) Entrenched organized/Arkham crime problems

… which makes it great for a woman just looking for a minimally dramatic change of scenery.

METROPOLIS MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
8:14 AM

Jean Grey lifts a fresh Big Belly Biscuit towards her lips.

METROPOLIS MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
8:18 AM

Sparks of psionic fire flutter through the air around Phoenix, gently wiping away the memory of that time a woman's light grey sweater and jeans turned into shimmery gold and green space lam?. The woman's hovering, wide-eyed, and frowning at the… … tree… stamping through the food court.

"What," she calls after the redheaded ecoterrie, "are you even doing here?!"

She would give chase, but besides the gentle memory-tweaking, she's got her hands full with mitigating the effects of a palm tree stomping through a restaurant by way of magenta bubbles.

* * *

Well Rockslide was told by several people that he needs to get more culture. And according to the folks that told him that, watching British wrestling does not count as getting culture. But they have funny accents so it has to count dang it! Anything that involves funny accents is culture, at least according to Santo Rule #56.

Of course he picked Metropolis, because a city that basically worships a flying strong guy has got to be a cool place to be. So hey he was checking out the nice stuff, trying to get his so called culture. "Really I don't get it, it's just old stuff, give me some modern technology any day, that's where it's at!" Of course the large mutant is getting his fair share of stares, cause even covered up as much as he can, including the large hoodie that he's wearing, well he stands out.

But then a palm tree is smashing it's way through the museum, "YES!" Hey most people are yelling and Santo is happy he gets to fight something. Plus smashing up a museum means he gets extra culture, or something like that. It's Santo logic, don't question it. But he gets to fight, and he thought this would be a boring trip.

* * *

What ARE they doing here? It's a very good question, and one without an immediate answer. When examined through a thermal scope, Poison Ivy is visible on the upper reaches of the bromeliad tree she has turned to her will, although the plants themselves are unusually warm as well - probably goaded into a metabolic frenzy by the command of their fell mistress. Or something like that.

Poison Ivy, seated in her high perch, seems to figure out where she wants to go, although she - obedient to her rhetoric - carefully folds up the map and tucks it into her bodice. The great tree takes a left turn towards the grand sweep into the museum halls proper —

And Ivy pauses, looking to see that figure running *towards* them. "Huh," she says, scooping up some of the pith of the cacao fruit and sucking it off her pinky finger.

At this point something gets wild right near her.

Poison Ivy's eyes turn towards the rising of the Phoenix, in all of its flaming, nascent glory. She pops her finger back out of her mouth. "Did you grow out your hair?" she asks her. When Santo cheers for her, Ivy winks at him, perhaps misinterpeting what is going on.

"Now if you'll excuse me," she tells them, even as the great palm tree… steps inside the museum, and makes a right.

While this does break immediate line of sight, it is not exactly hard to follow, between the root damage to the floor tiles and the shedding leaves and scraps of bark from the unwonted exertion of the plant. Also, occasionally a cacao fruit drops off.

Where Ivy is NOW, just inside, is one of those vast open spaces with a pendulum in it, demonstrating Foucault's proof. The great pendulum swings as inevitably it must, the little plastic blocks that it will eventually knock over all new and freshly set up for the edification of school children and the Metropolis public. Balcony access is visible to every floor.

Ivy stands up on her perch and cranes her head upwards, as if she's looking for something on a higher floor. The tree maneuvers around the edges carefully, not interfering, yet, with the great pendulum on its hundred-foot wire cable. "Hmmm… Let's see…"

* * *

There's a sudden streak of light that comes blazing through the tattered remains of the demolished museum entryway.

"CAN YOU SMELL WHAT FIRESTORM IS C— Okay, nope, no- not even gonna finish that one. Sounded a lot better in my head," Firestorm says, scowling as he comes to a halt in midair, hovering above the remnants of the opening carnage. And people. There are still people here, he notes, and one of them is ON FIRE and it's not him!

"Whoa! Hey lady! ….nice, I like your style!" says the kid with the flaming head.

Ronald, there's a trail! interrupts Stein's voice in his head, and so the other blinks, tearing his eyes away from the fiery figure in green and gold to look down…and further into the museum. "Oh. Yeah. That's… Weird. Super weird. Onwards—!"

Pumping a fist, Firestorm hurtles ahead and after the palmy path. "So what're we dealing with, killer plants you think, Prof?"

The nuclear man spins around at an internal shout from Stein, craning his head towards the red-headed woman who's commandeered a plant for a ride. That's different, definitely. "Okay lady! I need you to step away from the palm tree!"

* * *

The tactical situation as seen so far goes through Mockingbird's mind: a palm-tree Huorn cradling a Gotham crazy in green; a large rock-man in a grey hoodie, and a woman in colorful spandex. It's pretty clear who the culprit is at this point and she doesn't seem to have any allies.

"Well, at least the cavalry is already here." Bobbi tells herself. She comes out of her concealment, revealing herself to the other heroes. "If you two stop Treebeard there I'll see if I can give Flower Girl a quick nap."

Her voice fades as a man with a flaming head appears and tells Ivy what's what.

* * *

There's trouble.

Well, there usually is, in Tim's experience.

It's Loki.

"The trouble is low key?" he asks, perhaps not entirely seriously. But clearly it's low key enough that people haven't started screaming and running and trying to get Superman's attention. No, the trouble is at the museum. Of course, the way Zatanna puts it does make it sound like Loki is the trouble. Which does make sense, given what he's the god of.

The fast hands of a stage magician get the bill away from him before Tim can pay for it, and that she pays for it out of her magical phone app leaves him wondering if she's storing the money in there or if she's magically counterfeiting by copying a picture of bills. It's a though problem that'll have to wait, though, because there's more immediate problems to be dealt with.

  • * *

Which is why when Poison Ivy looks up, there is someone crouched on one of those balcony railings, the unmistakable outline of cape and cowl and two featureless white eyes gleaming in the dim light. The cowl doesn't have any ears on it, at least, and the visible chest logo is not a bat but a stylised bird's head in profile. So, hey, it could be worse.

"Doctor Isley," says the crouching figure of Red Robin, his voice carrying a light electronic blurring. "Aren't you out of season?"

Sadly, his plant-themed line gets totally stepped on when Firestorm busts in and also confronts the sinister Poison Ivy.

"Hn," the Red Knight mutters to himself. Hopefully Loki isn't the tree.

* * *

Doctor Isley, aren't you out of season?

"Who's Doctor Isley?"

The words filter in from the comm array embedded in Red Robin's cowl, while the magician has portaled herself into a different part of the museum in an attempt to look for the God of Mischief. While familiar with Gotham City, she is less familiar with its rogues gallery - at the very least, not their real names and identities. She largely knows of Pamela Isley as 'Poison Ivy', who controls plants in a manner that reminds her of the Swamp Thing (and really, she wouldn't be surprised if she was somehow connected to the Green like he is) and who can apparently seduce men and get them to do her bidding.

But Red Robin seems familiar with her, whoever she is, so while he takes care of whatever it is that is rampaging in the food court, she silently picks her way through the other wings of the museum in search of the God of Mischief. She has no costume to speak of, not like her companion, but she's done what she could to disguise herself in short order, because she's certain any major museum has surveillance systems - her workout gear has been transformed from black to a deep marine blue, her hood has been pulled up to her head, and the domino mask Red made for her is on her face, her ice-blue eyes hidden behind featureless white lenses. Within them, the world is broken down digitally - it's still something she's trying to get used to.

She cups her palm upwards, whispering softly: "Ikol dnif."

And with that, she breathes, shimmering motes of light escaping through her gentle exhalation, slowly coming together to form an iridescent, white-blue butterfly that takes off in an illuminated streak through the halls of the building in chase of its intended quarry.

* * *

There's something wrong inside the Metropolis Museum of Natural History.

It becomes more and more apparent the deeper one gets past the entryway; subtle enough, at first, that some people might not in fact notice. Little, glimmering shards of pulsating green crystal thrumming here and there along the walls, so small and rare at first they could go completely missed.

Like an infection growing more intense at its source, though, the further in one goes, the more prevalent those rocky masses become, crackling with a sickly sing-song of minerals as they jut from corners, walls, ceilings — illuminating the space around the Foucault pendulum in an offputting, pale jade glow.

Heroes, of course, arrive to confront the plant-based menace, as heroes are often so wont to do. And, as is narratively appropriate, they varyingly demand her surrender or make jokes or some varying combination therein. Pamela Isley, thusly cornered, will inevitably surrender or have just enough punches applied to her such that she surrenders slightly more involuntarily.

This is how it rightly ought to go.

And let us enter the spanner in the works.

*schlrk*

It's a strange sound. Like something hatching out of a mountain. The sound of metal and plaster and marble splitting apart is oddly fluid as ceiling just above the railing that Red Robin perches on, begins to literally -peel apart-.

Tim will have all of a second to react before something immense and heavy PLUMMETS through the space he's occupying, destroying the railing like it was made of tissue.

The collapse is a resounding one; the ground quakes, the foundation trembles. The pendulum groans, but continues its unending swing. And there, situated between Ivy and her daring assailants, rests what looks like a large, rocky egg. It lingers there, for a moment, unmoving. Before an immense hand stretches out from its bulky depths. And then another. And slowly, the jagged, rocky golem unfurls to its full height, deep dark mineral plating illuminated in the light of the museum. Blank face turns towards those trying to get in Poison Ivy's way. It looks sort of cute, in an awkward, evil Baymax sort of way.

Which is when, of course, it splits apart down its center, its insides opening up to reveal itself full of those churning green jagged crystals.

Crystals that then fire off like horrifyingly pretty projectiles at /anyone/ in its way. Killer geodes. Could there be anything more evil??

~*~

Zatanna's butterfly flutters off on illuminated wings. It soars with the beat of little, white-blue wings, creating an easy trail to follow through thickening green crystals — a path that will slowly but surely lead towards the Arctic Circle exhibit in the basement. A likely place to look.

If she can reach it.

* * *

"I will not excuse you."

This would have probably sounded better if Phoenix hadn't followed it up by… hovering there while Ivy stomped inside the museum and made a right. She has learned over years of experience and heartbreaks that just letting everything go when telekinetically managing collateral damage is a risky proposition, so magenta bubbles gradually unravel and barely visible lines of scintillating force between arrested objects and the ground slowly trickle out of being as she insures that nothing'll wind up broken that oughtn't be.

But once she's done her duty as a responsible mutant-American, then— THEN, dear reader, there is a rush of air as psychokinetic flight carries her into the museum, to the right—

— towards the palm tree— through its legs, if she can manage to weave through them. Before she ever finds out whether she can or not, she'll also try driving the monster back from its path with a forceful telekinetic THRUST against its chest, because at the end of the day, flying through its legs is just to confuse it.

"What's this— what is it about"

An inch, maybe an inch and a half; that's about how long the geodes that end up stuck in Phoenix's neck and shoulder are. Clear space became something much, much worse with just a little twist of mischief, and now…

An inch, maybe an inch and a half. It's not much, 'til it's multipled a dozen times over, plus sorcerous velocity.

"AaaAAGUH!" goes Phoenix when mystical buckshot rips through psychic protections that weren't nearly well-considered enough and sends her spiralling, bleeding several feet backwards.

* * *

Okay there is a big palm tree, okay palm tree is up Santo's alley. So of course he does what he does best, charges at the thing. Plus does destroying a palm tree actually count against the no killing rule that they are supposed to have. "Hey, future toothpick, your mother is a?" okay damnit he can't think of a funny thing made out of wood. He has so much good stuff for killer robots though!

So what does Rocky do when he gets close to the tree, well he goes to punch the thing of course. Cause well he doesn't have a battle strategy besides punching stuff. "Hey this is fun! I need to try and get culture more often! Maybe I'll take in the opera next!" He's always wanted to know if the thing about the fat lady is true anyway.

Of course as he's distracted by Treebeard, well the geodes go flying and embed themselves into his skin. But hey he's a rock, and they're rocks, so well does it even count as doing damage? "Look, I'm going to be a sparkly rock! I have got to go clubbing now."

* * *

Poison Ivy's consideration is interrupted by the arrival of the fantastic Firestorm, who gives her a clear instruction. Ivy leans back against the bromeliad for a moment, and the tree settles down… which is revealed to not be exactly what it could be, as the tree extends deeper roots down into the museum's flooring, breaks into a water main, and begins to extend upwards.

"Sure," Ivy tells him. "Just give me a -"

Her eyes turn back upwards.

Her lip pulls back for a moment, slightly baring her teeth. "/You/," she says, her voice withering. Then the sneer turns into a grin, if not a friendly one. "I like to pop up where I'm not expected. But I'm surprised to see you here, Boy Wonder! You've /grown/."

The cacao tree warps near her, branches elongating outwards and dipping and swaying in an unnatural way. One branch finds its anchor point - the second-floor railing - and the others twine together, leaves and shoots and strands accelerating to form a path suitable to walk if you're brave enough. A small shower of half-ripe cacao pods falls to the floor, throwing scattered seeds.

"I'm surprised you're in Metropolis. Volunteering? Or have all the bad little boys and girls back home gone to New York City to register?"

At this point there is a huge CRACK and the palm tree begins swaying forwards. "Oh, balls," Ivy says, as her attention returns down to the PHOENIX, the tree tumbling forwards but starting to grow anew as it does - the huge limb ends up leaning against the steel cable of the pendulum, elongating outwards as an orchid falls, as another small shower of cacao pods descend, before something snaps through her and Ivy's head tilts upwards to see -

"Oh, how GORGEOUS," Ivy cries out. "I love it!" And then she steps out onto the cacao-mesh weavery she had made, putting her, for a few precious moments, all the way out in the open, because the entire 'fabric' stretched out quite a bit in the course of the tree falling downwards.

She has to move carefully. This gives her time to explain. "Are you getting confused? I was counting on it. I'm shocked any of you were in the area - I assume you're forming some sort of Bird Brigade." She leans over, her head fully exposed along with her neck and part of her upper body. "The natural world always seems still and static to the casual eye, until with a sharp, sudden SHOCK-"

Good timing, Santo! The lower reaches of the palm tree, already damaged, are swiftly reduced to flinders and the entire tree collapses over with a noise known only in the agony of the rainforest. It takes the pendulum length with it, although the cable does not pull out of its mounting up high.

This means Poison Ivy no longer has a counterweight. Naturally, she falls. Less naturally, all that shed fruit erupts upwards, the hopeful shrubbery… buffering her fall, if not breaking it.

Thump.

Ivy grimaces. She looks upwards. Her eyes turn towards Rockslide and Jean, and then back up towards the others. "Well," Ivy says, her voice rich with irony, "I suppose that's it for me." She holds her arms upwards, wrists pressed together. "Come and arrest me." For some reason her lips just changed color but that's probably just bruising.

This may seem vaguely familiar to Red Robin.

* * *

Another foe appears - a very handsy rocky egg that would make a very profitable action figure if it were the right size, made of plastic, and not trying to kill people. Als, this one is none of those things.

Mockingbird shows off her enhanced agility as she dodges shards of emerald pain flying in her direction. "Oof. the hell is this now?" she complains when she's upright again. Well, there's no sense in making herself more of a target, so she lets the others get mashed if they want to while she draws out her needle pistol and looks for a good firing lane so she can give Dr. Isley a nice nap.

* * *

The thing about Gotham's super crime community is that it's a fairly small world, and people don't tend to fall out of it this side of the grave, almost like there was some sort of outside force ensuring that familiar faces would encounter each other again and again. As a consequence, anyone who's done time as part of Batman's even smaller community of costumed vigilantes has almost surely had at least one run in with the big names. Especially the various Robins, given how closely they worked with the Dark Knight as his proteges.

So it's not that surprising that Ivy would recognise him as having once been the Boy Wonder. The current one is much shorter and awfully stabby, anyway; there's no way even someone as detached from humanity as the mad botanist could think they were still all the same kid.

Probably, anyway.

"It's just your lucky night, I guess," the Red Knight answers Ivy's actually probably rhetorical question.

And then he almost dies.

The distressing reality is that this isn't an unusual occurrance for him, but fortunately his finely honed Robin Sense(tm) twigs him to the fact that something big is coming down on top of him. That finely honed sense is actually all of his senses, in this case mainly hearing. The heavy, falling object smashes through the space where the vigilante was, his black cape fluttering in the air over the pendulum, before he catches the remains of the steel cable and sticks there through some manner of bat-trickery.

"Crazy person," he mutters into the comm line with Zatanna. "Big into plants. And mind contro—" He cuts off, realising. Oh, right. Right.

"Don't get close to her!" the Gotham vigilante shouts down at the others. But will it be too late?!

* * *

Red Robin's entrance serves as a momentary distraction as Firestorm glances up to note he's not quite first to the roundup. But with Ivy seeming to cooperate, the nuclear hero glances back towards her, although green as he is, he's not so convinced that she's about to give up so easily. It'd be nice! But…

Suddenly— firebird! "Oh, there she is!" he gasps, sounding maybe a touch smitten but he's actually more impressed that there's someone more flashy than he is. And then there's…what, some rock guy? Punching the tree. He taps his foot in midair.

"Right, right, I know Prof, less talking, more— oh crap what's that?!"

The enormous blob of green comes down and out of reflex Firestorm flies back, even though he's well away from its range. And then it hatches, leaving him still uncertain as to what to think of the strange glowing monstrosity until it splits open and fires off glowing green shards.

"Whoa! What?!" he yelps, curving backwards and looping about to try dodging projectiles. "Why are they glowing?!"

I'm not sure, Ronald. They're not radioactive, are they?

"Doesn't feel like it- hold up!" Firestorm brings up his hands with a flare of nuclear light, blasting a focus of nuclear energy at the geodude. Not Rockslide.

That Robin guy's yelling though. "What?!" he shouts back at him, once he manages to find where the guy is hanging around.

* * *

And the small magic butterfly takes off, the acoustics of the museum carrying the sound of violence to her ears at every step she takes away from it and towards the stairs leading down to the basement where the Arctic Circle display resides (and quite possibly all the cute penguins she wanted to see). As she moves, ice-blue eyes slant towards the walls, at the growing veins of crystallized emerald green, crawling over plaster and stone like discarded spiderwebs. Zatanna pauses for a moment in her run, taking a few steps forward to examine the crystals briefly, before she continues on forward.

There's a loud crash filtering through Red Robin's side of the comm that makes her wince, that makes her hesitate for a moment and looking back to where she has just been.

Also did he just say mind control?

"Be careful," she tells him, continuing quickly down the steps leading to the basement, following where the butterfly leads. "I don't like the look of all this crystal. I'll be back up there as soon as I can."

She jumps over the last few steps, taking her down to the basement level. Eyes roaming around the new floor, she continues on forward - it's just as empty as the floors above, save for the few superhero types that Ivy's visit has attracted.

"The question is always why though," she murmurs, turning to look at the colorful museum map mounted on the wall, and larely talking to herself - Red's busy, and she's not about to try and distract him when he needs all his focus to keep himself intact. "What the hell does she want in a museum, I didn't really see anything in the attractions list that would attract a plant lover. Almost everything here's fossilized, and the botanical gardens are on the other side of the building…"

* * *

Bleeding from a dozen little wounds is good, actually, because it means Phoenix has something else to occupy her when Ivy goes for the Cross Counter; it it means Red Robin's warning gets to her with plenty of time to spare.

This is what she tells herself, because it also means having to decide whether she wants to remove a dozen little green shards or not, pretty much on the spot. Focusing on the positive helps her focus, period; a wavering will is worthless.

"— hhhhn— "

Bleeding from a dozen little wounds is good. It's good. It's good. It's good. It's—

"— nnnggRRRAGH!"

god, they were in there deep— !"

A dozen little gren shards; a big, green trickstrix.

"… maybe just… augh, fuck," Phoenix clamps a hand over her neck and grimaces as the shards swirl around her head, "put your hands up,"

for several swift rotations, then snap from where she's hunched and bleeding on the ground like a swarm of glittering green teeth poised to take a bite out of Ivy from a dozen different angles,

"and tell us what this is even ABOUT!" is her counter-offer. It'll be is punctuated by that glittering swarm coming to a halt within inches of Ivy, if she doesn't move.

* * *

The ground shudders with every step that mass of minerals makes as it advances upon those gathered like Cerberus zealously guarding the gates of the underworld. Or Garmr, if you want to shirk the mainstream get more apt with your analogies. The point is, it is moving; its rocky body closes around those shimmering, resplendent green crystals growing inside of it almost protectively as it makes its tremulous march, only coming to a stop before the spiraling Phoenix. One massive hand lifts, three fingers clenched to a hammer-like fist.

And it is just when it is about to swing down with apparent intent to squash Phoenix much like a bug that Firestorm sweeps in, awash with an intense surge of nuclear flame.

Good timing, Firestorm!

Raw, radioactive heat ripples powerfully around the thusly named Evil Geode Baymax also occasionally known as Geodude (Not Rockslide). Rock -splinters- apart into a rain of brownish-gray rubble as the arm it was about to bludgeon Phoenix with simply explodes. Debris flies…

… and then starts to pull inward yet again as if compelled by magic, reforming on the creature's shoulder as it -whips- the tendrilling limb at Firestorm to try to swat him away.

This aggression, of course, only lasts until Poison Ivy decides to surrender. The Geode That Walks Like a Man suddenly pauses mid-assault when she offers her wrists, and then just sort of… stops still, like a statue.

Which certainly lends credence to the idea that she's giving up and isn't just there to sell the lie. Of course. After all…

Who would do such a thing?

~*~

"That is the important question, isn't it?"

The voice is one that cuts in just as Zatanna Zatara makes her way into the vast exhibits of the Arctic Circle — and a surprisingly varied place it is, full of ancient indigenous artifacts, cross sections of cultures new and old from Inuit to the Norse and, of course, super cute penguins. Like look! That one, right there! An adorably stuffed emperor penguin.

Wearing a viking helmet.

Captaining a crew of lesser stuffed penguins decorated with glowing green crystal.

Cutely (menacingly) brandishing a spear.

Sailing through the air on an enchanted, oversized umiak.

Currently crashing through exhibit after exhibit like a runaway train barreling right for Zatanna spear-first. One of them is wagging their freaky little teeth-laden tongues as they go.

So cute!!

And there, sinking in through the ceiling, floats on Loki Laufeyson, lounging impeccably on the open air as his enchanted penguiny minions see fit to ruin Zatanna's childhood. A soft smudge of red still lingers on his cheek.

"Not that I can let you do anything with it," he says, voice oddly hollow as a boatful of evil penguins chases the wayward Zatanna down,

"But it does seem a fun topic for debate for us to while away the hours with."

Because even apparently under someone's control, Loki is as Loki does.

~*~

Meanwhile, as Ivy is presented with a terrible host of floating green bits, little images flicker through her thoughts, helpfully supplied like little bursts of inspiration. A location. An object, protectively cocooned in crystals. Second floor.

Just where she needs to go.

* * *

Hey Santo did good for a change! See people get to cheer his name, without adding in, 'You're embarrassing us.' But the tree creature is down now. Santo does what Santo want's to do of course however and he starts walking towards Ivy, cause hey she's surrendering all nice like.

"Isn't this the part where you start to go into the speech and curse us?" That's the usual rule of course. If the spores are doing anything to Rock Dude, well he's not showing anything. See more proof as to why being made of rock is the best superpower. That and he always has rock hard abs, chicks dig the abs you know.

"Okay lets get you to your cell now, okay?"

* * *

Bobbi gets an excellent line on where Poison Ivy is. She even pushes herself up to sit upright and turns to look at her, smiling with her wrists held together like some kind of Amazon. Then Red Robin has to go and *spoil the surprise*, and that's when she gets up to her feet.

To be confronted with a dozen crystalline shards and a cheesed off Phoenix.

"Well," Ivy says, spreading her arms apart and holding them as if in surrender, "I'm certainly not going to argue with THAT."

"Here is what this is about," Poison Ivy says - "and you know, I think I recognize you. The Chitauri, right? I watched it from the common room. Good work. I know you probably don't get that often."

"Appreciation is so hard to come by, isn't it?"

"I'll answer you with another question. Are you familiar with the theory of panspermia? I hate the name, but the principle is plausible, if something of a failure to explain anything. Perhaps life came to Earth, in ancient days, from another star, from another planet. Simple prototypes, hardy bacteria. That's the only thing that could have possibly made that kind of an aeonic journey. Doesn't explain much, does it? It certainly doesn't give God the kick he deserves. But," Ivy says, her voice lowering, "imagine if the infalling material was much more recent. Instead of billions of years ago, hundreds of thousands."

"For complex life it would be nearly as bad but you can, I trust, get a feeling for my reputation, for my passions," Ivy continues, staring at Jean. As she speaks the air smells a little sweeter… sort of…

Oh no. Red Robin can see the faint pinkish discoloration in the air. It has been going downwinds towards…

TWO people!

To Bobbi Morse it hits in the reptile brain, the place where protectiveness dawns, the place that impels a mother to flip a car to save her child. The limbic system nervous projections oriented towards the one redheaded woman, against the OTHER redheaded woman. Protect (that one; Ivy); stop (that one; Phoenix).

To Firestorm it's a lot more classic: 'whatever this lady says sounds like a really great idea!'

Ivy takes a deep breath - and sighs towards Rockslide. She seems nonplussed in what she sees in his features, even as her eyes flick to the side several times. Ideas. Images. Is this what I've been feeling all this time? Ivy wonders: was it this man, this /god/? Was all of it leading up to THAT? Will that damn buzzing be OVER WITH now?

"With that kind of attitude I'm surprised you're not made of jade instead of basalt," Ivy says to Rockslide with a smile. Two in one day! This one doesn't reach her eyes. "I only really have one thing to say to that."

Ivy turns her head and pivots herself about thirty degrees, her upraised arms suddenly seeming a lot more like a ballet pose of anticipation. Straight to Firestorm she says, "Take me to the second floor!"

* * *

Suddenly, she realizes just what all that green crystal might be for.

Like mystical batteries, it brings perfectly preserved carcasses to life, and somehow dons them in viking gear and leaves them acting like the conquerors of the sea during the Middle Ages. The moment the words leave Zatanna's lips, what she hears first is the crashing of that oversized umiak through the other displays.

She can't do much else but leap away in a dodging roll, barely missing the spearpoint as the murderous Emperor penguin and his zombie-penguin horde attempt to run her over with a boat, which honestly doesn't make much sense but is really par for the course for her, who attracts weirdness wherever she goes. In that fine shower of wood and glass, chips of them bouncing off her insulated hoodie, her rolling forces her hood down, her raven ponytail escaping from its confines.

"POTS!" She attempts to command the penguins, holding up a hand palm-flat.

The man himself comes down from the ceiling.

"We can certainly debate about a lot of things," she says, catching her breath as she finds her feet, slowly standing up. "First of all, I don't know if it's because of the viking thing that you chose this exhibition to show yourself, but Emperor penguins don't really wear helmets and they don't need boats to swim. Second of all…"

She gestures to her own cheek, where the red smudge stands out on the God of Mischief's pale skin.

"…I don't know who you've been making out with, but Plumberry is so last season. Seriously what are you even doing here? Breaking in a museum in broad daylight is beneath you, and— "

…and then she remembers what Red Robin said about mind control.

That's the tricky part in the end, isn't it? To try and do that when the other person is clearly going to resist you, and possibly throw more zombified creatures at your direction.

She takes a deep breath, and dives down deep within herself in an attempt to find that ephemeral green thread, and reaches for it. Once she establishes the link, the real work begins.

* * *

"Yeah! That's what I'm talkin' ab— Ow!"

Getting caught by the snaking arm of rocky debris, Firestorm goes spiraling downwards towards the cracked ground.

Ronald, are you all right? Professor Stein asks anxiously as Ronnie sits them up, if somewhat dizzily. "Ugh, yeah, 'm okay Professor," he mutters. "That didn't work out so well. …wait, what's that? Perfume?"

He sniffs, brow furrowing as he gets to his feet, and his eyes go slightly out of focus although with them being so white and glowy it's probably difficult to tell. The unusual state of Firestorm doesn't however go unnoticed by his internal passenger. Ronald? Ronald, what are you doing?

Slowly taking to the air again, if only a couple of feet, Firestorm turns towards where Poison Ivy is, practically acting oblivious to everything else going on about them. He squiiiints a little before blinking at the plant lady's order, a goofy smile touching his face. "Yes ma'am! Right away!" he chirps, zipping on over to scoop her up and make good on flying her up to the next level. Because that's what the nice plant lady wants, right?

Ronald!!

"Prof, what're you yellin' about? I'm just helping out!"

Did you forget already? She's the villain here!

* * *

Why is she trying to fight Ivy anyway, Mockingbird asks herself? Wouldn't it be useful to have a contact that is so powerful? One among the criminal element of Gotham? Surely SHIELD could use Agent Ivy if Bobbi played her proverbial cards right.

This suddenly makes a lot of sense. Interestingly, a small part of her shouts at the rest of her thoughtful brain that it told her so. She SHOULD have worn that respirator, but noooooo. Sadly, that part and that thought sinks down, down, under the weight of the mind-control spores. Bobbi looks down at her hand, the one with the trangulizing needler gun and she takes a bead on the redhead wounded by the crystals and fires off at Jean's center-of-mass. All they'll do is make her very sleepy. But, that means plenty of time for Firestorm to get Ivy out of harm's way. Ivy mustn't be harmed.

* * *

"Okay, great," Red Robin says to himself. It is, of course, not great.

See, his keen detective skills told him that.

"Hey!" the vigilante calls down again. "Rock guy!" He is, presumably, referring to Santo. "Can you disable the woman with the gun? Just… Bear hug her, she's under Ivy's control." He might not even need the direction, since Bobbi was shooting one of his teachers, but the Gotham crimefighter doesn't really know that. Instead, he's got to deal with something else, because Firestorm is cheerily helping the world's deadliest botanist out.

The heavy cable that used to hold up the pendulum swings again, this time being guided by the mass of the red and black clad figure dangling on it. Each sway costs valuable time, time that Firestorm definitely wasn't about to waste, and so as soon as he thinks he can chance it, Red Robin lets go.

Lets go, and flies right at the back of the Ivy-toting Firestorm.

"You should probably know that Doctor Isley is a love 'em and leave 'em type of gal," the Red Knight remarks, his voice now slightly muffled, but he's not just attacking with tired idioms, oh no. No, he's also attacking with the ancient technique of trying to land on Firestorm's back with both booted feet, to get close enough to slap a yellow disc on the other hero's back. The impact is enough to shatter the thin barrier inside the disc, that keeps the contents of its two small chambers apart: Once they meet, once they mix, what follows is a rapid cryonic chemical reaction. See, because Firestorm's head is on fire, the solution is clearly ice.

Of course, his voice is muffled because he's now wearing a respirator of his own.

* * *

The world momentarily flashes magenta around Phoenix; in the next moment, there's a tranq dart hanging in the air a few feet before her chest.

And that's not all: Ivy's getting away, because the guy with the flaming head has decided that he's on her side.

"Please don't."

The low, tightly voiced request comes after she traces the dart's firing trajectory towards Agent Morse, setting her eyes on yellow lenses. The dart and the shards continue to hang; they don't orient towards Mockingbird, yet.

"You're making a terrible— "

… Can you disable the woman with the gun?… she's under Ivy's control…

"— oh— damnit— ! Okay— "

Magenta light pours from her eyes, lighting the space around her and glowing between Mockingbird's ears.

Please don't, it tries to tell her. Impress upon her.

Please don't.
PLEASE DON'T.

PLEASE. DON'T.

* * *

"Oh? Do you live in a world of pure necessity?"

The question comes, abysmally bland as ever, as the boat of penguin conquerors crashes violently into a display full of polar bears like they had a vendetta with it before Zatanna's spell stops the flat. It's an old tale, the polar bear and the penguin; factually inaccurate, of course. But after all…

"Good stories need a lie or two to be interesting, Zatanna Zatara. A farce, especially so.

"Otherwise, we might have to grapple with the grim reality that there are no penguins in the Arctic."

It's a farce, after all. All the way down to its core.

Whether the MMNH has made a grievous factual error or Loki in fact found penguins elsewhere to drag in to this mischief will forever remain a mystery. The simple fact is, it might have all the hallmarks of a trick, but lacks any of the spirit to it. Like someone going through the motions because it's what they're -supposed- to do, following the most basic behaviors of what it means to be -them-.

There's little chance for Zatanna to ruminate over the possibilities, of course; hot on the heels of her realization over Loki's unfortunate state that the penguins and their boat begin to tremble. Glow. -Resist-. Pots, Zatanna had commanded.

But they seem very egregiously offended by the very -idea- of potsing.

"The charming Ms. Ivy asked for a simple favor," explains Loki, with none of his flare for misdirection. The umiak starts to yank backwards in stuttering movements. Resisting. Breaking.

"And really, how could I say no? It's something about her way with words, I think."

The penguins tear free of that polar carcass just as Zatanna seizes on to that green thread that led her here. Once she binds it. Once she opens a channel.

Loki Laufeyson's glowing green eyes crack open just a sliver; black brows furrow in consternation. A frown presses at his lips.

There is, of course, resistance. A yank of the thread in an opposite direction. Like tug of war.

"… I don't know what you're doing here, but it's really rather unfortunate."

There are many things the god could do in this situation. Perhaps it's simply unfortunate that Poison Ivy stumbled upon a god that plays games. Because as that link opens between he and Zatanna, of all the things he could do—

The God of Mischief just sends that horde of penguins hurtling towards Zatanna again, a threat to her concentration and potentially her life.

"I was growing rather fond of you, you know."

A little game of chicken, played with penguins, here in a tribute to the Arctic Circle.

~*~

And, elsewhere, as Firestorm whisks Ivy away, as Tim shouts out hectic commands, as Bobbi bears down on Jean with tranquilizer in hand —

The geode construct of ultimate evil comes to life once more in a hideous, churning groan of moving limbs, raising both hands high above its head to try to -hammerblow- them into Rockslide with artificial wrath. Its midsection splits open again, revealing a mass of blistering, glowing green crystals. Ebbing like a core. Growing brighter like it was intending to smite Santo with a surplus of sorcerous might with that exposed core.

That exposed, vulnerable core, that seems to give it life—

* * *

Well he was going to help Jean out anyway. Even though he is sure she pokes around his head during Santo Time. Of course all hours of every day are Santo Time. But well she is like a senior X-Person, that just means she's old. She does need help, maybe, but hey he's got to be good here.

Santo doesn't go for the bear hug though, cause well who knows how much she can fire at Jean before he reaches Blonde Gun Lady in time. Hey he's made of rock, he's not built for speed. Instead he points his hand at Bobbi, aiming more for her stomach, and just lets his hand go flying.

"Hey lady, why don't you leave the flaming red head alone. Like really, she has a lot of other issues to deal with, and doesn't need to worry about that!" Hopefully this is enough to get her attention, and well doesn't hurt her too much.

* * *

A vaguely confused look crosses Firestorm as he seems to be carrying on a one-sided conversation. It could possibly someone via comlink but there's no signals to be detected. Villain? This hot plant-lady? "But she's so prettyyy…"

Engaged in trying to knock some sense into Firestorm's head, even Professor Stein fails to notice that they've got incoming until Red Robin comes swinging in. Barely catching the movement out of the corner of his eye, the nuclear man glances over just as wonder boy slams into him. "Hey! Foul!" he shouts out of reflex, even though this isn't football here. Wait, what was that—?

Stein echoes the question in his mind, just as the disc explodes and starts icing over.

"Wh—"

His trajectory to the second floor wavers, but then that's what happens when you've suddenly got ice build up on the engines. Or in this case, building up on everything. Hope you're cozy, Ivy!

* * *

Mockingbird's attention is mostly taken up by the conflicting impulses battling in her brain. DO it. Don't do it. Do it. Don't do it. Luckily, her enhanced reaction time saves her from a full-on rocket punch from Ben Grimm Jr… but the fist still hits her and sends her sprawling.

In a heap with a proverbial ton of bricks atop her, Bobbi plays dead, just to see what else might come her way. Besides, Ivy is safe, right?

* * *

"I appreciate it," Ivy says as she is scooped and taken upstairs. It is a close ride at least, but perhaps she can't make that kind of a leap. Of course, things are complicated when -

"Tch!"

In comes the Red Robin. "Mind your own business," Ivy says as he then does SOMETHING. Ivy feels an unwonted surge of cold and she cries out, "What are you DOING -" Because then the ice comes and the impromptu midair-a-trois smashes into the railing.

Ivy is in front. She can feel one of her ribs do SOMETHING unpleasant as the iced over thrusters of Firestorm bring them in down and low. The railing, thankfully, is one of those things with brickwork and masonry around panes of glass, meant more to keep children from happily leaping to their deaths and requiring Superman to power-dive in through the top to save them. So this is perhaps the sixth pane of glass Ivy has smashed through today.

In hindsight, Ivy thinks in the instant before impact, I should have called Selina.

Impact.

Ivy goes limp and rolls forwards. She rebounds in a tumbling heap and lands on her back, again, hair splayed out and eyes struggling for focus as she stares upwards. She stands out because she has gone partway into the gem exhibit.

The influence of what Ivy put on Firestorm starts to dissipate. There are no doubt dozens of subtle complex long chain molecules degrading, but that's the long and the short of it. It helps that she's some distance away, now, but she has also stopped trying. From her back, Ivy's head tilts and she looks Red Robin dead in the eye. He can see with painful detective clarity the exact moment when Ivy sees his respirator, and the little cruel sneer of recognition.

Then she rolls forwards, grunts, and breaks into a run into the gem hall.

Which is now quite *literally* the gem hall. Ivy is a green-and-red point in a fantastically overgrown confection of glittering amethyst and purple quartz, grasping onto hand holds of stone grown from god-knows-what and rooted god-knows-where. "Come ON - where IS it -"

It's like a maze, and what would normally be dark halls and extremely high-quality fiber-optic lighting is now… a whole bunch of purple living quartz (well not literally living), putting a surreal, poison-sick cast over the entire affair.

Ivy seems to know where she's going. The good news is that it seems to be somewhere IN here and not "the emergency exit door."

* * *

The fact that there's no penguins in the North Pole is a grim reality, but ever the expert storyteller, despite knowing full well what and who Loki is, Zatanna can't help but listen - it isn't something that can be taught, but rather ingrained in the man's complicated nature. One can't help but listen, one can't help but get carried away.

If her blood wasn't so spiked with adrenaline, and if it wasn't for the fact that her companion might need her, and thus can't do too much dawdling around, she would let herself. That is what Magic is, after all, the universe's pure, creative potential. Beautiful. Terrifying. Limitless.

And stolen.

But that's another story altogether, isn't it?

"You're a thousand years older than me, Loki," Zatanna says ruefully, lips twisting up in a faintly rueful smile. "You have to know that no matter how wondrous the lie, it'd be more disastrous for the likes of me to get too enthralled by it." But he might beg to differ, after all.

The boat and its horde of penguins resist, and she can't continue pushing that while the real work is reaching past Ivy's control and to the god she has under her sway. So she drops it altogether, and as the homicidal carcasses flap towards her, she opts for the past of least resistance. There's only so many points in which she can divide her focus.

"Dleihs," she whispers, erecting a mystical barrier around herself, letting those attacking her just slam into it, and batter against it. It should give her enough time, because she has to deal with yet another piece of resistance…

I was growing rather fond of you, you know.

She manages to grab ahold of that ephemeral emerald thread, twist it tighter and pulls it back. The line pulls taut, but in the end, that is what she needs. Veins of white-blue illuminate her skin from underneath, framing her jaw and reaching the ends of her domino mask, where light starts spilling from its black edges. She's doing it carefully, very carefully, finding no choice but to dip into the endless well of her and let it out slowly.

"Ikol." Her voice echoes strangely, a thousand voices speaking in time with her own. "Eciov ym ot netsil."

Her 'grip' tightens on the thread.

"Ti fo tuo pans!"

And she yanks, like reeling in fish with a line, to forcibly drag Loki's consciousness forward and break out of Ivy's control.

* * *

On the bright side, Red Robin is able to help Firestorm chill out.

On the downside, the crashing.

Like Ivy, he's careful to go limp before the impact, careful to roll with the momentum as it carries him away from poor Ronnie, winding up in a low crouch; with a twist of his wrist, his battle staff deploys, leaving him armed as his gaze - hidden behind those white lenses in his cowl - meets Ivy's. He can see every line of that sneer as it forms. Between his cowl and his respirator, the taunting grin the vigilante gives in response can only be discerned by hints.

"You okay?" he asks Firestorm, hoping that the nuclear hero is able to fight off Poison Ivy's influence under the sudden change of circumstances (like the ice, and the getting his head smashed through some glass) but he doesn't linger long before he chases after Ivy into the maze of quartz. His suit's onboard computer is already trying to analyse it, to figure out what in the world was happening - mentally, he makes a note to take some samples - but the Red Knight's direct focus at the moment was to deal with the dangerous botanist.

"Whatever you're after, Doctor Isley, you're not going to leave here with it," he warns her. "You know we're not going to let you."

* * *

Firestorm has had some pretty awkward and rough landings. This is the first time he's had one due to being frozen over. Everything from his perspective is muted and cold but jarring as they collide with the railing and plummet back to the first level.

Shards of ice break off upon impact, and thankfully nothing else as inwardly both Ronnie and Stein are glad that Firestorm's composition has proven tougher than an average human by far. That's not to say it doesn't still hurt. For a moment the flame-headed man remains prone and still under ice, although strangely enough the ice encasing said flame doesn't seem to have affected it. But nor does said flame seem to be doing anything to melt it either.

Ronald, are you all right? Professor Stein asks, practically simultaneous with Red Robin's own query. You need to get out of this. It's just ice, we went over this before.

There's but a groan in response as Firestorm just tries to get his thoughts straight. But he's conscious and very much not liking this Ice Age experience. He can't quite flex his fingers but he doesn't need to when he can still think! The changes wrought to the molecular structure are but a few tweaks, the ice already melting here, disippating into steam there. "Uggh, oh man," he groans, slowly pushing himself up. He runs a hand over his face, feeling his thoughts clear from the Poison Ivy-induced haze. "Right. Okay. I'm back in the game, Professor," he reassures Stein, getting to his feet. Glancing back where the others are and hoping they've got things under control with the rock monster, he then turns and launches himself after Red Robin.

"Dude, next time couldn't you do something less, I dunno, cold!" he calls after the fleeting flap of black and red. He pauses briefly to eye the violet crystals surrounding them. "Wait, I thought she was a plant-type. So what's with all the minerals?" he asks aloud, even as he resumes pursuit. He feels a little bad at dropping the ball with watching out around Ivy and feels he needs to make it up somehow.

If it's crystal though, then he can try to manipulate it. He just has to see where Ivy is first..!

* * *

— well.

Now Mockingbird definitely won't.

Ivy's getting away, but… there are other heroes. There are other heroes who aren't inexplicably helping Ivy, even… and the signs of plants, crystal monsters, and heroes of all stripes crashing show throughout the museum.

So instead of chasing the botanist, Phoenix closes her eyes, lifts up off of the ground, and pulls her legs up so she's 'sitting' on air. Little whorls of cosmic fire billow out from her chest, tasting the world around her…

… rolling over it…

… /fixing/ what they can of it as magenta sparks shoot through the flames and Phoenix points her will towards (re)creation.

Doing construction work for free so people will be slightly less afraid of you: it's good, actually.

* * *

Amelie heads to Union Station.

* * *

"Oh, I think that'd really depend on the lie. Don't you?"

He, of course, begs to differ.

Though it's a position he doesn't see fit to defend — not when he's so busy with other things, such as driving a boatful of murderous penguins straight into Zatanna Zatara's personal shields, or, perhaps, getting into a metaphysical altercation over the state of his consciousness. What goes on in the world of the physical is something bizarre, as the penguin hoard and their emperor overlord CRASH into Zatanna's magical barrier with a FLASH of white-blue power that crackles against the wild, chaotic churn of mystical green that keeps that boat and its passengers together. Still, it starts to splinter, bit by bit, wood cracking off in segmenting fragments as the magically-empowered vessel pushes, and pushes, to the frantic flailing of its mighty penguin viking crew.

It all looks completely absurd, especially when juxtaposed with the sight of Zatanna and Loki.

Just standing there.

Or floating, as the case may be.

But there is so very much more going on beyond the flesh, even as arcane energies thrum beneath Zatanna's skin. As light begins to spill from her, a long green thread of fate unseen by mortal eyes grows ever-more-taut with each exertion of will. It shines bright, a thing echoed in the burn of the God of Mischief's green gaze as he grips more tightly, as he listens to the thousand thousand echoes of a thousand thousand wills uttered in unison.

Zatanna's barrier begins to hairline fracture. Crack. Loki's teeth grit.

Magic, chaotic and unpredictable and all coming from no where else but the trickster god himself, pours outward as that line of green brightens and sears like a brand on the soul —

Ti fo tuo pans!

"guh"

-yank-

The sound of a barrier shattering heralds the widening of Loki Laufeyson's eyes with that last, powerful pull. Light flares blindingly bright. For a moment, all holds still, the outcome terribly unclear (for the sake of suspense, of course).

And then the God of Lies falls from his perch of air, hitting the ground with a meaty thump of ultra-dense flesh and bone.

All at once, the magic he had used to animate the museum ceases. The geode golem stops its rampage, seizing up and falling apart; and similar mystical enchantments throughout the grounds crumble away, defenses, back up plans, and handy wards meant to protect Poison Ivy's prize all falling apart in an instant…

… including that boat of penguins, crashed into the ground past Zatanna's shattered barrier.

An upraised spear tip perhaps a millimeter off from her throat hanging there for all of three seconds before it, and its inanimate emperor penguin lord, topple over with a lame whud.

* * *

There is not any of the lightness in Ivy's tone when she answers Robin. "Oh, don't WORRY about THAT, you jumped-up chicken strip, I'm not going to NEED your permission to leave!"

Ivy didn't plan for Firestorm. She had a plan for Superman, but Firestorm is a novelty to her. There is an organic red flicker through the gaps of some cases and a sudden shift of crystal makes her yelp - there are several more darting motions -

Red Robin gets a map from his onboard computer, the logics finding the MMNS app and pulling the raw data. While obviously provisional the interior of the gem hall is a lazy sort of figure eight with several 'islands' containing individual samples and their details.

Another clear shot. The crystal lances outwards in sophisticated lattices. Fainter, thanks to the distance, Poison Ivy calls back, "Should I be afraid that you've LOCKED ME IN WITH THIS? Ohh-h - and in such a GORGEOUS package -"

Ivy stops abruptly.

"… It's dead? But…"

The cage tightens around her with a dozen crystallic tones.

When Red Robin and Firestorm pick their way through the jagged crystal maze to where Ivy is, she is on her knees, face pressed against a glass plate (another one!) that has not been destroyed, but seems to have been partly 'eaten' by an intrusion of that purple crystal. A convenient fusion of amethyst has encompassed the sample in there, which looks about the size of a small watermelon. In the light of the museum display, it has an unpleasant glow. It is also faintly radioactive — mostly alpha particles (the least dangerous if you don't eat them) and some kind of low-key EM decay product.

"It's dead?" Ivy says, as if confused and disbelieving. "I knew it wasn't going to be in great shape, but it's not supposed to be DEAD."

The sample is pretty well gummed up, though Red Robin can pull a photo of its original form and the text of the display card:

sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide with fluorine-astatine intrusion - This sample was found embedded in sea mud by a Nova Scotia trawler.
The crystal's structure was protected by friable material which melted into the pseudo-sedimentary metamorphic form seen at the base.
Did you know: While its crystal form is known only from meteoric bolides, this mineral is named for the Jadar Valley in Serbia, where large monoclinic deposits have been found.

* * *

Meanwhile, out in the atrium, where a thousand points of magenta light and flame begin to sweep up and pick up the pieces - as psychokinetic eddies pull in stray butterflies back into a damaged but not demolished habitat -

A college student in the gift shop has his phone out and is taking video.

"Uh," says young Mr. Schyuler, before calling to Jean, "This is cool, right? Like, to take this? Cuz…"

("I can like, keep you out of frame if you want.")

* * *

As she pulls, the barrier shatters. It blows her back from where she's standing, skidding across the floor and over broken glass. Somewhere ahead of her, Loki drops, a tremor that tells her enough that he has managed to come into himself; she can practically feel his magic unwind, the glow from those emerald crystalline veins receding. Even the noises coming from the upper levels have stopped, or gone faint. She doesn't know, but she's worried for Red.

Though by how he's speaking to Ivy, it sounds like he's still alive.

"Ugh…" Zatanna groans, rolling over and pushing herself up on her palms; flesh digs into broken glass, but the pain is helpful, grounding her back to the present. After a whispered word, once she's managed to stand back up, her wounds start to close, and clean up the blood underneath her.

She has learned the folly of leaving these pieces of her in a scene.

Zatanna winces as she looks around the shattered display cases, the ruined exhibits, the penguins that shouldn't be there, much less in viking warrior gear, but that doesn't stop her from running over to where Loki has fallen, righting him up and pushing him against the wall to rest there. She tries to wake him, though, slapping his cheeks a little.

No response.

"There goes asking you what Doctor Isley wanted from the museum," she sighs, using a handkerchief to rub the lipstick print off the man's face.

With that, she gets up, fixing her eyes on the map of the museum…

"Loki's down, he was being controlled, just like you said," she patches through the comm array as she starts back up the stairs again. "Where are you, Red? I'm coming to you."

* * *

Green eyes open just enough to see Mr. Schyuler. Phoenix wasn't oriented his way when he approached, but by the time he opened his mouth, there she was: facing him, eyes shut 'til he was done.

"Keep me in," she offers as a fresh tide of ancient flame rolls up her neck, flickering— not quite obscuring, but definitely baffling a casual observer's sense of everything about Jean's face save a beaming smile.

* * *

Dude, next time couldn't you do something less, I dunno, cold!

"Nope," the respirator-muffled voice calls back. The cryonic charge seemed like the best solution, anyway, compared to trying to electrocute Firestorm, or just hit him really hard in the head until he snapped out of Ivy's control. Most efficient, certainly. None of the available options would have been particularly comfortable.

Poison Ivy's hostility isn't really surprising, considering they were trying to foil her plans and throw her back into Arkham, so the vigilante doesn't respond to the woman's bluster; it would be ideal if he could find an alternate route to catch up with her without betraying his own location in the first place, and besides which Batman was always pretty down on engaging too much in conversation with supervillains outside of approved circumstances (getting them to keep monologuing so you can spring a cool plan, or under ideal circumstances finding a way to talk them down).

Right now, though, Firestorm's got the proverbial magic touch to use all that crystal to lock Ivy down, which is admittedly pretty handy if not a little deflating to the vigilante's hopes of a tense cat and mouse chase and showdown.

"What's dead, Doctor Isley?" Red Robin asks, still using her 'real' name to, again, keep from engaging with the delusions. "These crystals… What did you come here to find?"

Zatanna's voice on his comms distracts him, but only a little, his head cocking birdlike.

"We're on the second floor, in the gem hall. The doctor is in custody thanks to… Some guy with his head on fire." Sorry, Ronnie. "Wait… She was controlling a god?"

That's… That's going in her Batcomputer file. Holy cats.

* * *

It's not too hard to pull back a few crystal extrusions here and there to allow them passage once they've got Poison Ivy pinned down. Firestorm grins over at Red Robin as though expecting some sort of praise or at the very least a pat on the back. A high-five? With none forthcoming he holds back a sigh, sliding his hand back down as though to pretend it had never been brought up in the first place.

"What's dead?" he echoes, tilting his head as he folds his arms, standing just off to the other side of the psycho-botanist. "Was all that for…some kinda mineral sample?"

Red Robin gets a scowl then. "Uh, the name's Firestorm," he informs, although the further inquiry to whomever Robin's speaking to does have his eyes widen. "I'm sorry, what now? Where's a god factor into all this?"

* * *

"Yes, of course, he's the one who told me this was here," Poison Ivy answers Red Robin without looking at him. "I knew it would be in bad SHAPE but this isn't bad shape, this is… It's like it's fossilized, but…"

Ivy trails off, staring at the weird rock. She is monosyllabic henceforth.

Meanwhile, Mr. Schuyler uploads 'MS FIRESTORM & EL HIJO DEL BENJAMIN TAKE DOWN POISON IVY'

text: red robin and her bro were there too, it was wild. #daycrew #metmonarchs

* * *

We're on the second floor, in the gem hall.

The familiar whiff of Zatanna's magic is instantaneous, sneakered feet taking her out from the portal that connects the basement to this newest location, looking for the most part intact and clad in her modified workout gear with the shifted colors and her domino mask. It closes behind her, so she can respond to Red Robin's query in person.

Wait…she was controlling a god?

"I had to wake him up," she tells him, reaching into her back pocket to produce the handkerchief that she used to wipe Loki's face, handing it to the black-and-red-clad detective, who will probably make better use of it. "It looked like he was making out with her before then, maybe? I mean, lore has it that Loki's pretty gender-fluid but I think after a thousand years, he probably knows how to properly apply lipstick by now."

There's a curious glance at the gem hall, though, interest in her eyes - gems are often useful for spellwork.

It's the current arrangement that doesn't quite parse, however, and that does draw her attention to Ronnie. That bright, million-megawatt smile turns his way, and a wave. "Hi, I don't think we've met." She's come across many capes over the last two years, she doesn't recognize this one. "New friend?" she asks Red Robin.

Firestorm.

"Pleased to meet you," she says, but doesn't introduce herself because she doesn't have a codename either, on top of not having a costume. And then she turns towards Doctor Isley, who is—

"…holy shit, it's Poison Ivy! What's she doing here?"

Doctor Isley = Poison Ivy. Got it.

And then she takes a look at the rock that inspired this entire thing, furrowing her brows a little bit.

* * *

Nope, there's definitely no high five forthcoming from Red Robin.

But at least he gives Firestorm credit!

"Nice work then, Firestorm," the vigilante says, with a slight nod for the fusion hero. He still doesn't apologise for freezing the other guy, either, instead taking the offered handkerchief from Zatanna, and stowing it in an evidence bag in his utility belt. Of course, he busies himself with taking a few samples of the crystal growths while he's about it, because there is clearly something strange afoot in here.

"It looks like she'd managed to secure the cooperation of Loki, the Asgardian god of mischief." And lies. And evil. And probably a bunch of other unsavory things. "And he told her about… Whatever this is." Dead, she called it. Fossilised. Something that should be alive…?

"Something to look into, anyway. The police should be here soon, anyway, and we can hand the good doctor off to them. What about Loki, though? Should we call the Justice League?"

He really does seem like a Superman and Power Woman kind of problem.

* * *

Should we call the Justice League?

"Chances are by the time they all arrive, he'll be gone," Zatanna tells Red Robin quietly. "His magic can break through mine if I tried to hold him, and even if the Justice League does come in and book him, they'll find that he was being mind-controlled. He'll be out in a day. My recommendation, we channel our efforts into more effective avenues like…"

Well, whatever Red Robin is doing, collecting samples and poking at this object of interest. As always, she leaves it to the Bat-detective to do forensic analysis, but she will be the last person to say anything to the contrary about there being something strange afoot here, because there is.

* * *

Ah, the mysterious person at the other end of Robin's comms! And not, you know, a disembodied voice of a professor in your head.

Firestorm grins at Zatanna and waves, even as he tries to keep up with the leaps and bounds that the veteran heroes take in the pieces of this odd incident. He's got a lot to work on here, he realizes, but at least Red Robin does tell him he's done good. That's enough for him! …and he supposes he can forgive the guy for giving him the cold shoulder early on.

"An Asgardian god…" That sounds terribly out of our league, Ronald. Firestorm nods just a little at that. "Yeaaaah, I'm thinking the same, Professor," he murmurs to the air, oblivious of any odd looks he may get for it.

"Well um. I'll try to help with clean-up and stuff while I'm here if you've got this end covered." He starts to back off, shooting off finger-guns in salute. "Put in a good word for me with the J-El!" he says, partially in jest as he turns and flies back off. It couldn't hurt, right?

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