Birds the Word
Roleplaying Log: Birds the Word
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Invaders from another world attack The Met, and three heroes make a difficult choice in an attempt to preserve life.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: March 04, 2019
IC Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 04 Mar 2019 05:39
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 somehow
NPC & GM Credits: Atli
Associated Plots

BEFORE.

NO REALLY A LONG TIME AGO.

A ruffling of wings felt but unheard. Black against black in a starless void. They call to it.

But then the fire warriors come, and the screams begin. The chanting ends without the coming savior.

All is lost…until…

NOW.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It's 5:15, and nearing closing time in The Met, and a great many of the Museum's many visitors have filtered out the door. With them goes the silent energy of people engrossed in what they say, school groups and guides finishing up for the day. It is those last few moments where the dedicated can almost be alone.

Maybe on a bench. Maybe up close, staring into the eyes of a painting that seems to stare back.

The Jewels of Poseidon exhibit has been open for a month, and may have been hard to get to until now. Five pieces of jewelry, blue, rose, green, pink, and violet hang in suspended glass, one after another on their own pedestals. Taken from the wreckage of the HMS Grande, these were long thought lost to the annuls of time, buried in a watery grave and never to be discovered again.

Now they gleam, without quiet chatter or warm bodies, without the distraction of anyone in the foreground or background, sparkling in the final minutes of the museum's opening hours.

And certainly, without what's happening outside. There's no controversy. No looming deadlines or frayed loyalties. No responsibility, and certainly no one from the protesters and counter protesters clashing in Central Park.

There is only quiet, and a much needed reprieve for those who might carry the burdens of the world as if they were Atlas himself.

—-

Namora may be mostly known as a vengeful daughter of the ocean, but then the short-lived people on the surface today forget that Aquaria spent many years after the war in New York as an ambassador for Atlantis. Art is something she had learned to admire about the surface-worlders and she had spent many an hour wandering the great museums of the world and the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art is something to behold.

Dressed in a somewhat old-fashioned brocade evening gown of silk brocade drapes her form, her blonde tresses piled high on her head in a high bouffant with a small silver tiara in it. It has a swooping neckline, a string of large black pearls in the space betwene bust and throat. She has no sleeves but elbow-length silk gloves that match her dress, a silver-and-coral bracelet on her left wrist. The dress is long, but it does have a slit up its side, emerald slippers appear and disappear as she walks.

Aquaria has had enough of the petty squabbles of the people here, interfering has even caused her personal harm. So, a bit of quiet time in the museum is perfect. Especially since she can have a look at these "Jewels of Poseidon". Something Namor might be interested in as well, she thinks as she admires them.

—-

Nico Minoru came here because she didn't want to sit in a damn damp mall all day and breathe protein bar farts. Also it's her rest day but she does not, DOES NOT, want to waste another precious day just laying in bed crying about how much it hurts. So, five aspirin and one cross-town transfer later, Nico Minoru is HERE.

She has mostly been examining the old costume and clothing displays and limping around. Nico Minoru does a really convincing imitation of an art student, especially when she feels like wet garbage (which she does - due to her intensive workout routine). She is circulating in a sort of vague way towards the exit, having filled out a good solid twenty-six pages in her drawing block, when

A woman in brocade with a tiara sweeps past her.

Nico briefly feels herself become background set dressing, spiritually. It fades afterwards, but, slouching and half-limping, she follows in the wake (heh heh, wake, like boats) of Aquaria, though she is like ten paces behind.

Maybe I should sketch her, Nico thinks.

But should I… ask?

—-

The last week has been good to Sloane L. Albright, agent of uncertainty. She's had time to heal — faster than before — and time to find herself, talk to new friends, and start really giving thought to her future… for good or for ill. Of course, when she left town, she was a bit of a wreck; ambulatory but exhausted, wounds aggrivated by insomnia and a mind working a mile a minute. She filed for sick leave, but she looks fairly healthy right now.

Dressed less as an art student and more like the trendy young woman about town, her hands are pushed into the pockets of a smooth and simplistic motorcycle jacket, a looping scarf around her neck. The majority of her ginger red hair is kept up and hidden in a slouch beanie, and sunglasses — most certainly not her favorite pair — are perched on her face.

She still gets stares — even with a good disguise, it's really easy to pick the girl with scales out of any crowd. With her eyes down and thought all over the map — specifically all over Manhattan, and the Triskelion, and her career, and her life — Sloane at first passes right by the woman dressed fancy, as well as Nico, though she doesn't quite register passing by the latter at first.

—-

It as a cascade in the air, a disturbance of oxygen molecules as they're peeled away from the space near the entrance, a kind of static ozone that sets the hair of the arms upright. The smell of honeysuckle hits a moment later, or something like honeysuckle if it could ferment, cast through the air with a pair of black butterflies that dance past Nico's head.

Then the front of The Met feels the impact of a beam of energy from on high. The sound is a hurricane, screaming not with some foreign tumbler of energy against air and stone, but the screams of people from across the universe, the screams that fuel this unholy occurrence. A dozen feet wide, it powers black energy into the space just a few short steps in front of Nico. But there's no heat, despite the damage to the ceiling and the front of the museum.

There is only raw, otherworldly power, one that might be familiar to those who have seen it in another, brighter form.

The Black Bifrost has come to New York, and with it purpose.

There in it's wake stand Six.

Three wear similar armor, blue and black and trailing half-capes that end in what look like feathers. Crests of hair sweep out in an arc to either side, and though the lower half of their faces are revealed and marred with black lipstick, the upper halves are covered in masks with a beakish countenance. Each has a rifle in hand, and it is certainly not something that can be bought at the local gun shop.

Two more wear full masks, and are a bit shorter, perhaps only five and a half feet tall. Their armor is perhaps even darker, with tattered robes intermingled with insectile plates. White masks with stoic, humanoid expressions peer back, with round, dead eyes, and sweeping, elegant, elfin ears. They each hold glaive that crackle with bluish-black light.

The final invader is in the front. A man dressed in a green breastplate and matching robe, a pistol drawn to one hand, some other device in the other, raised and swept in front of him. His face is exposed, sharp features and cool eyes looking out, his ink-blue skin standing out against his companions, who, all at once, stare at Nico.

Because Nico is right there.

"Get the jewel. Kill the rest."

And as they fan out he raises his weapon, pointing it at the slouching, limping one, assuring she is immediately drawn to the foreground in the moment it takes to squeeze a trigger.

—-

A lady with scales?

"Curious." Aquaria says mildly, turning from the display for a moment to look the person over.

"Greetings to you." she says. "I am Aquaria, called Namora." and she nods, as if she expects that Sloane will know what that means. Her turn brings Nico into her view as well and she inclines her head a touch to that young lady in return.

She lifts her hand to motion towards the butterflies drifing past Nico's head. "What are…" Namora starts to ask as the building is struck and shaken by the beam of the Black Bifrost. Though the mini-apocalypse is short-lived, it was intense.

Namora narrows her eyes at the beings that have appeared. "Clearly you have made an error in transport. Now is your opportunity to correct that mistake and return to your place of origin or any convenient adjacent dimension. You have ten heartbeats to comply. You will not have a second mercy."

—-

Nico hasn't noticed Sloane yet. There are bigger problems. Black butterflies flitter past Nico's head, which she watches, wondering briefly if she's about to have a seizure, when instead comes

THE BLACK BIFROST!

"Uh," Nico Minoru says, very small, as six are revealed before her. Three in armor, painted darkly with beaked faces. Two more, masked and nearer to her height, dark and insectile. A man in green with blue skin.

"Welcome to Earth?" Nico tells the man with the gun, before she is immediately shot.

Nico makes a 'ghhhk!' sound and pitches backwards, twitching as she puts a hand to her side. Something is burning and breathing feels weird and for a sinking and spinning moment she thinks, oh my god this is how it's gonna go, oh god, oh christ, please, i don't want to d-

"When blood is shed, let the Staff of One emerge," Nico's throat says, and her right hand comes up to grasp at the emerging weapon that slides out from between her breasts, alien and simplistic and heady with power. Oh this feels bad, she thinks, taking in a deep breath - which doesn't whistle - so that's good, Nico thinks, propping herself up on the staff, before she looks towards the elegant woman for a moment.

Blood dribbles out of Nico's mouth. Ugh, she thinks.

Then she looks back at the arrivers.

"No," she says to them.

The Staff of One is pointed. A spell is spoken aloud with crackling arcs of that unnatural, violant light. "None Of You Can Kill People Any More."

Nico wipes her lips with her sleeve. She looks towards Namora then. "Hi," she says. "Are you from… Europe?"

Back to the intruders (she still hasn't looked at Sloane). "So do you want to talk or do you need your ass kicked first?"

—-

She was actually on her way out the door until the woman in fancy dress spoke to her. Sloane stops, turning to face Namora with raised eyebrows and, honest to god, looking around at first as though she didn't expect to be the one spoken to.

"Uh, hi," she says, a little off-guard. "I'm Sloane Albright."

And then that sound. The smell, the light, the strange power that strikes down from the heavens— that is something all-too familiar to the young metahuman, her eyebrows raising and mouth opening to speak a short, "Oh no." She's ridden the Bifrost, sort of — at least on the back of Atli's war-goat, and however that all works. She knows the warning signs, except it's … black? And then, invaders emerge, rather than Asgardians. "Son of a bitch, I just get back to town—"

Pulling off the sunglasses first with a bandaged right hand, Sloane reaches behind her back and pulls a plastic canteen off her belt, giving the cap a twist off— and someone is already shot. Wait, isn't that—

Sloane hurries to stand at Nico's back, reaching out to keep her steady— but her eyes are locked on the invaders. "You alright?"

—-

The answer to Aquaria's warning is the shot that sends Nico reeling, followed by a sudden cascade of energy weapon fire headed in Aquaria's direction, two of the Bird Masked invaders showing their plumage as they leap into the air with capes trailing behind to rain that attack down upon the Aquatic Hero.

"We're from lots of different places."

The next shot is meant to pop Nico's head right off, but the blast goes wide. And then again. And again. Indeed, as the energy of Nico's spell washes over the room, the elfin insectile-dressed warriors can't seem to make contact with the few security guards who fire at them, bullets ricocheting off of their armor. Resorting to a brutal kick that sends one man flying and a shoulder-check that sends another guard over a nearby exhibit, one turns to the other and speaks.

"Illiswyn, ensuvia mechor!"

And Illiswyn's mask comes off, and she doesn't actually look all that different than Sloane really. Sure, her hair is an inky black, and she has no scales, but those ears are almost a match. Her skin is blue too, but much darker, different from the taller man's,who lacks the sharp incisors of the woman who stabs her glaive into the ground and twists her hands into an arcane ball.

Dark Elven magic reaches out along the cascade lines of Nico's spell, crackling until they web-way a trail back to Nico itself. The pressure of it is crushing, but finding it unbreakable, the Dark Elf makes an adjustment.

Another waves echoes outwards.

Now no one at all can die.

Oddly, the energy blasts heading towards Aquaria from the bird-people do not veer off, do not try to stop, for these are not energy blasts made to kill.

Shi'ar stun weapons are notorious.

The blue man at the front lifts his gaze to the odd woman moving back to back with Nico, his head tilting slightly as he brings that other device in line with her.

And the top of it lines up red. Confusion furrows his brow, and he points his weapon at her canteen, assuming the worst.

Pewpewpew!!!

—-

Namora's eyebrows go up in surprise as the invaders immediately murder someone right before her eyes, and after she warned them too! But, a moment later and the young lady is not dead. Instead she draws forth what can only be a mystical object from her own chest and graces the newcomers with her own sorcerous command.

"Europe?" Aquaria asks after a moment, a touch surprised that Nico is not sprawled on the floor in a heap. "Further south than that. Much further. Many fathoms below." It's not a secret who she is, or where she comes from, even if peoplehave forgotten her and even Namor is just a boogeyman story national security planners tell each other around command-and-control status boards.

The newly-made foes refuse Namora's generous offer and dare to turn their weapons upon her now! She dodges one blast but the other catches her, she hadn't really tried very hard to avoid them, perhaps a touch of hubris overcame her better sense? So, luckily it's a stun bolt and not a disintegration ray. Alien empires must have weapons that affect even the mightiest of people, but even so all this does is stagger her and leave a smoking hole in her gown.

The other two ladies forgotten for a moment in her blaze of rage, Namora rises from the ground, the wings on her ankles revealed as she does - to torpedo towards the fool that chose to give their life for shooting her, roaring in rightous anger as she goes.

—-

Nico jumps a little. "No, it's fine," she tells Sloane, "I had extra ribs for a reason."

She's kidding (RIGHT?)

"Uhhh I think that one's… doing magic," she continues, because that weird teeth-tensioning rattling electrical feeling reminds her of the few times she has had to be in anything adjacent to a magic duel. Brandishing the Staff of One towards the Dark Elf (Nico thinks that is what Drizzt is, so to her this is just a weirdo), she says to them, "HOW ABOUT - Hold on can you STOP DOING CRIMES FOR A GOD DAMN MOMENT - how about you EXPLAIN what you WANT? Or are you just… just…"

The blue man points a gun towards her.

Nico does not cast a spell on him. Not this time.

She hoists up the Staff of One and swings the ancient artifact old enough to be brother to Dormammu down to smash his gun hand even as he seems to draw a line on the proffered canteen. "STOP IT!" she cries.

"Hey, are you— oh thank God, hey, Sloane, she's like super and stuff," Nico babbles to her one remaining ally. "Is she registered? Do you have like an app for that stuff??"

—-

"Fathoms, so like — ocean? Like — okay, but —"

The canteen is shot right out of her hand; even if she tries to stay at Nico's side, Sloane has to pull her arm back and let the container go free to avoid having her hand shot or fingers blasted off. As Nico seeks sweet and bloody retribution for his crimes, the plastic blasts open wide. Within is no magic elixir nor chemical weapon, no strange power or djinn—

"Son of a bitch!"

— it's just water. Water!! Refreshing water.

Enough to be a primer in the winter.

Reaching out her hand, the scaly inhuman's fingers clench, the remaining water shifting from a wild splatter to a tightly-packed sphere, one that swells as she draws moisture from the air itself.

Namora charges on, and Sloane rears back her arm, lashing out with the water in her control— not throwing it directly /at/ the invaders, per se, but using it to create a slick of water across the well-polished and buffed museum floor, certainly making good shoes and traction an absolute /must/ if they want to stay steady!

"That's a really long story Nico and I'll tell you later!"

—-

The Shi'ar warrior watches in terrified awe as Aquaria shrugs off the worst of the weapons fire and powers into the air. It catches him off guard, catches him, in fact, in a position that would leave him broken in two by the power that races towards him. Well, except for that thing.

Magical energy shifts the blow to clip his shoulder, sending his weapon clattering away and his body head over heals to the museum floor.

The other airborne warrior turns to keep firing, until finally realizing this won't just do, and he lets a grenade go tumbling through the air.

Which , thanks to the spell, then zips right past Aquaria on it's way out the hole in front of the museum and into the sky where it detonates in a harmless, blue cascade.

Staring out after the grenade, as if he were looking into a hidden camera, the Shi'ar warrior slow-looks back towards Aquaria and swallows.

The man taking a bead on Sloane's canteen raises his free arm as the staff comes in, thinking Nico means to knock him into next Tuesday. It catches both arms in a cross, his gun send flying wide. And something else too.

That other device he was holding, which tumbles through the air to almost land in Sloane's hands.

And then the blue man comes forward, as the last Shi'ar takes off running, sliding on the sudden slick of water until Illiswyn waves a hand and lashes out with a purple wave of energy that creates a less slick path.

This does not stop the final bird-person form sliding, which sends him right on past the Jewel of Poseidon exhibit, and to a great, big, tapestry on the wall.

One, it seems, that depicts a cascade of black feathers with a red eye at the center.

The man, now relieved of his weapon and that other bit, draws a small object from his hip, which extends into a staff of his own, gleaming and metal.

"Eichor the Encore does not stop, human. My mission is my mission, and this is nothing personal."

And then he leaps in at Sloane and Nico, staff whirling this way and that. He seems to have picked up on the rules, superhuman strength and agility whipping his weapon around in a furious flurry, but not one meant to kill.

No, he intends to bruise deltoids, and perhaps strain hamstrings, or other such things.

That's right Nico Minoru, in Kree Empire, you don't go for a workout. Workout goes for you!

—-

Namora had expected to be flying through a red mist, so watching the Shi'ar warrior's body crashing to the deck surprised her for a moment, but inly until the other opened fire on her.

"Gahh!" she cried in pain. "I am QUITe finished with this and with you!" she says as she turns to face the other one. She notes the grenade flying away and a lightning flash of realization strikes. She smiles toothily at her other flying foe, clapping a close fist into the open palm of her other hand.

—-

WATER! Water bursts everywhere. Sloane's fist clenches and she uses her dark arts of mutant hydrokinesis (or so Nico thinks of it as) to strike against - "Are those people, uh," Nico says, belatedly seeing some limited resemblance to Sloane

BUT BIGGER PROBLEM: JERK IN FRONT OF HER.

The bird-people are sliding out. Nico recoils from her attempted strike and sees that this man before her has his own weapon, and it is similar to hers, and oh lord how much is she bleeding. She grimaces for a moment as she says, "Nico Minoru doesn't - GAHH!"

This is because she got hit in the side of the leg. Eichor probably can figure out that Nico's staff-whack there was, in essence, a brute force ploy. At this point she is probably an inexplicable anomaly verging on farce, and what's more, as she reels, bracing herself on the staff and getting a second strike that makes her hiss in pain through her teeth for her trouble -

She feels like an inexplicable anomaly verging on farce.

Before the third strike can come - which would knock her down, and which would probably leave only the questionable logic of her spell between herself and a shallow grave in the Meadowlands - Nico draws on magic again. She blurts out, "FALL ON YOUR ASS!" towards Eichor, with another silent flaring jacob's-ladder of magenta light!

Hopefully there aren't any donkey-themed pieces in the immediate area.

—-

Letting the water settle and slick across the floor for the time being, Sloane is quick on her feet, shifting her position to assume a more ready-to-fight stance before Nico asks the question.

And she just /looks/ at the mage, eyes half-lidded and frowning /so hard/. "Really?"

Before it turns into her vaulting off on a 'just because I have giant pointy ears' tangent, the water-slick seems to have done it's job, at least in part; one manages to create a channel where it's easier and safer to walk across the museum floors, another goes sliding right by, and — and also a device just comes flying through the air toward her, and she extends her hands to catch it, glancing down at it with a raised eyebrow. "The hell is this?"

Clutching the device in one hand, Nico takes the brunt of the attack with her staff, but Sloane is the one stepping in, extending one leg in a quick step to get some height— and leverage— before her right (bandaged) hand comes swinging down to throw a crushing blow at the staff-wielding man from on high, perhaps even giving Nico the window for her spell to be cast?!

—-

As Aquaria squares up and smacks a fist into her hand, the grim-faced Shi'ar does the only thing he can. He drops his weapon. His hands reach for his cape. And then, well.

https://i.imgur.com/ZGAilFr.mp4

Shifting back and forth with his cloak drawn up, he goes into a mesmerizing dance that creates an energy field in front of him, one meant to shield him from harm and distract his enemies. Synchronous with his motions are the sounds from that cloak as the energy barrier thrums an ethereal song, one meant to calm, maybe even subdue. But really, there's no telling what this sudden shifting dance might do. Does it buy him a spare moment? Protect him from unconsciousness? Will Aquaria get earwormed into hearing this song and seeing this ridiculous dance for days to come?!

The staff whirls. Eichor dances too, his one of de- His one of d… okay so not a dance of death, thanks to that spell. Maybe a dance of horrible boo-boos?

What as the universe come to.

The Kree soldier never has a chance to really find out as he's forced into a blocking posture with Sloane's blow raining down, and then he is suddenly swept off of his feet by a wave of magenta light sends him down and spinning, until he slows to a stop, on his ass, one elbow on one knee, his staff planted downward as he comes to a halt. Sloane's water laps all around him as if he were sitting on some far off, museum floored, alien beach.

Honestly, it looks for all the world like he was setting up for some sort of supervillain photoshoot.

"Eichor, I have it!"

The call comes from the other room as the last, unburdened Shi'ar and a Dark Elf companion gentle pull down the tapestry, the bird-person almost shaking as they hold it in their grasp. Eichor eyes barely move, he grits his teeth and looks to the object Sloane has.

"It helps me find things. Things I need."

Somewhere above he spots the Shi'ar trying to do his aerial dance. His jaw tightens. This is quickly becoming an indefensible position. And not from the heroes of Earth, his reputation is on the line here!

"We have what we came for. I suggest all of you let it go. I don't expect you to be happy about it, but the people in that green space not far from here will be happy to be alive, for I assure you if you impede us further, the Black Bifrost will cut through your magic and turn them all to crushed obsidian."

The threat rings out, his eyes shift. A little wave of water laps over his legs.

—-

"Is that your mating dance, alien?" Namora says with a laugh, suddenly amused. "Fly away home, little bird." she says. She threatened no mercy but yet she hasn't tried to smash this Shi'ar's face. They're disarmed, at least.

She looks down as Eichor speaks and the other foes reveal their seeming victory. the leader makes his own threat and she responds.

"The suffering you and your masters will feel will be legendary if you harm one more citizen of this place." she promises.

—-

Nico feels a mixture of shame and embarrassment at Sloane's look, her attitude, her feeling. She's really put her foot in her mouth there, hasn't she? But they looked similar to her. Nico knows nearly nothing about these aliens, none of them make sense to her except in so far as they are humanoid - apparently able to speak in a way she understands. Her face reddens, weakly (given the blood loss).

'Eichor, I have it!' calls one of the invaders.

Helplessness fills Nico. The power, the confidence of Namora's voice adds to it. Nico leans into it because she is struggling but also because she knows herself well enough that this is where she needs to be.

She doesn't look at Eichor as he explains himself. Perhaps he's a civilized person in the end. And that just makes it all worse, somehow. In the swirling torment inside of Nico's heart…

She raises her eyes. The plan has come to her. It's desperate and stupid, but, she thinks bitterly, maybe someone smarter than me can fix this later. To Eichor, she says, "You know that Stolen Gems Are Cursed," and stamps the Staff of One on the stone tile on the ground with a flare of magenta—

— but nothing happens other than the gem itself twinkling. It's not harmed. Nico doesn't try to blast them. She bares her teeth at him and says, "I hope you choke on it."

Which is totally not 'Become A Person Who Blew Up and Was Also Dead' or 'Eat My Entire Ass,' or 'shotgun', for that matter…

So it seems like it's all good for Eichor!

That mysterious gem may have a tiniest mote of magenta light sitting deep inside of a facet or an interior inclusion, but, ultimately, it's of no concern.

—-

Sloane's strike is /hard/, perhaps harder than what someone her size should be able to muster, but at the same time, the second that bandaged fist comes crashing down she immediately lets out a vengeful and furious noise through a tightly-closed mouth. Her hand was just about healed, but /habit/. Habit, and muscle memory.

Stepping back quickly, her hand stays close to her side, fingers stuck in a curled state as waves of pain ripple through knuckles, wrist, and forearm — and she clutches that device super tightly, keeping that arm behind her back at least partway. Trying to stuff it into her jacket pocket, her attention dips to the water lapping around the man's feet, then back up at him — and then a glance to Nico, and Namora.

"Yeah," she adds to the threats, both Nico and Namora's.

"If I ever see you again," she starts through a mild haze of pain, but just lets it hang.

—-

As Aquaria gives her reprieve, Eichor seems to nod in agreement - an accord struck, or somesuch. It is only then that he looks to Nico, still unmoving from his spot on the floor, lest such a move be mistaken for some kind of aggression. Of course by the time Nico is saying her peace and making her Curse, she will find only the Tapestry in their possession, for the Jewel they sought was no jewel at all.

The spell clings all the same, unseen, seeping into the fabric as the Dark Elf and Shi'ar Warrior return to the room, frozen in place at this, a kind of standoff.

Eichor speaks, regarding both Nico and Sloane "Where I'm going, everything is cursed. And I sincerely hope I never see any of you again." Then, he says a single word in his own language, when it seems all parties have agreed, and then the Dark Elf Witch says another word, and all of them blink out of existence.

It is momentary, and they appear in the spot where they had arrived, and then Eichor looks up.

The Black Bifrost comes again, a torrent of energy from another world that sends wind buffeting through the museum and whisks away the invaders, leaving behind only a single, reassuring sound:

Protestors in central park, chanting, and alive - thanks very much to a few, brave heroes.

For now, the day is saved.

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