Rollin' On Up
Roleplaying Log: Rollin' On Up
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Owen and Emery roll on up to the mansion while Atli, Toothbender and Brightwind burst upon the scene.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: August 17, 2019
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 18 Aug 2019 16:02
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits: dani
Associated Plots

The Xavier Institute is typically a bustling place of activity.

Really.

Truly!

But right at this moment it's more apt to be described as a ghost town.

We won't go into just WHY it's a ghost town and all the bad decisions that caused this to occur, but it is.

As such, even with the lack of movement there are still a few things that are a constant -

There's a nice long driveway that rolls up to the front doors of the Institute.

The timing is such that *no one* really answers the door currently.

And the blackness that surrounds the majority of the school is highly unnatural.

The shadows that encircle the school moves much like the ocean, with an ebb and flow. Unlike the natural ocean it's not the Moon that controls these particular tides; it's something far more dangerous and demonic.

A cursory inspection of the grounds definitely reveals those familiar shadows hold the touch of winter to them. Ice crystals can be seen upon the grounds, trees and plants, and when one nears the darkness the temperature plummets.

About the only oddity among the idly rolling gloom is a spark of gold. It's right at the edge of those shadows and it glints defiantly against the murk.

———

A ghost town, meloncholy and etherial indeed. Dark shadows, bleakness. The atmosphere is however ruined by the rev of the engine of a shiny black charger from whence blares the 2pac's All Eyez On Me. And this car has a good bass. As they roll up the driver's window tinted window slowly lowers, lights flashing in the darkness and there's the sound of slurrrrrping as Emery sits there, wearing a pair of sunglasses and lips wrapped around a red straw as he drinks from a white fastfood cup.

With a soft groan, he sighs and tilts his head back. "Not…this shite…again." He wears a pair of black tailored pants, black boots, long sleeved black t-shirt, his knife vest under a leather jacket, hair pulled back in a bun and he tsks softly. "If ye eat all the chips, I'll strangle ye with my shoe laces." It speaks to his companion.

So it was…gloomy and bleak.

———

What is the horrible sound piercing the darkness of the night? It chills you to the bone and makes small children weep for their mothers. It's Owen. Chewing. Loudly. Somehow he can be heard even over the impressive car stereo. Emery is possibly an actual saint, but like saint for the unrighteous, to put up with Mercer.

Dressed in combat gear, including the ubiquitous and useless boomerang patterned scarf, Owen is loaded with both boomerangs and triple-bacon-cheeseburgers.

Once the car has come to a full and complete stop, he surveys the creepy shadow tainted school. He sucks down some of his own fountain soda from the bucket sized cup and shakes his head. "Nope. Turn around. Fuck this." He shakes his head and says, "No. This thing nearly ate New York last time. I say we let it have the school, cut our loses and move on." Despite his protestations, he is handing Emery the last of the fries (there are three left!) and exiting the car to get a closer look. "And why is it I've never gotten any invite to this fancy-pants place before there's trouble?" He thinks about it for a second and then answers his own question, "It's probably the impressionable kids." Probably.

———

The music blares and while no one stirs at the school the mass of shadows around it does.

There's a sharpening of something upon the air and for those sensitive enough to these sorts of things they can sense how the shadow's attentions now turns upon them.

For this particular moment it's almost like a dog, or a wolf, head half cocked to the side as it watches these two men roll on up.

Foolish foolish prey. Just waltzing in here to be gobbled on up.

And so, the shadows watch and wait, and that golden speck continues to glitter. With closer inspection that spot of brightness resolves itself to be a golden lyre - a lap harp, if you will - and it just sits there. Waiting for someone to pick it up.

Surely it's a trap. It's always a trap.

And yes, Owen, that is exactly why you were never invited. Exactly. Why.

———

"Ye feckin' wanknobbin'." Emery calls out after Owen, because screw being quiet as he counts his three fries. But yes, he doesn't turn the car around. He just puts the car in park and leaves the engine running. There's a moment before he takes a deep breath, bowing his head and murmuring a soft prayer in Latin and crossing himself.

Then he exists the car, slipping a cigarette between his lips and scanning the area thoughtfully. The Irishman doesn't light up, just tucks the cigarette behind his ear and clicks on a flashlight. "Or maybe because ye are a dumbarse who'd look fat in a skin tight bodysuit. Cirque du Thickarse." He saunters over towards that golden lyre and kneels down. "Oi!" He whistles sharply for attention as he picks it up and gives it an idle strum. "If this angry bitch of a bear has taken up music…"

———

Owen doesn't really react to being called a wankknob, it's basically a term of endearment at this point. He shakes his head as he watches the shadows start to shift and move. He is too busy blinking and trying to figure out if he is actually seeing a wolf or just imagining it. He shakes his head and is almost too late to see Emery pick up the golden … small guitar? ukelele? Owen has no idea what that is.

He places a cigarette of his own in lips to light up. He then watches in horror as Emery picks it up and starts to strum it. "Oh come on?! Are you serious? That was the most obvious damn trap, I've ever seen. Even I knew it was a trap!" He then admits, "And I really wanted to trip it."

———

BEFORE

"Verily, I shall write her a song. Something about how her green is the most violent of hair colors. Or perhaps something about magnets. Toothbender! What rhymes with magnets?!"

The goat provides no answers, but does nudge a bottle of Grey Goose towards the Asgardian. As casinos go, the one Atli has been comped to is nice. For Reno. Not Vegas. Why? Well, she missed, and the goat is not accurate. "Hmm, a good idea. It will help me think."

NOW

The harp doth strum, casual and idly, but the heavens do not know the difference between a note and a song. Only that when this harp is played, champions answer the call. And so one does. BOOOOM!!!! Gold-white light pierces the heavens and rains down rainbow light before the two who have so brazenly strummed Odin's property. Brilliant in white, with mane that stands on end as he cracks through the sudden tear in reality high above, BRIGHTWIND comes to cal, wings outstretched as he swoops out of the rainbow light.

With a rope in his mouth.

And on that rope comes Toothbender, said rope wrapped around one of his legs so that the poor beast smacks against the ground as the flying horse comes in for his landing, but perhaps not as hard as Atli, who is the third in this link, the rope wrapped around her foot and smashing her along the ground until said rope gives free, sending goat and Asgardian into a tumble until they both slide to a stop in front of the waiting pair.

A moment passes, and then Atli lifts her head, leaves and grass sticking to her hair as she looks about.

"Verily, Toothbender, wake up. All of the spirits have been taken from us, and replaced by two pale men who look like they will probably eat you."

The goat does not respond, except to snore, still deep in the Bendy-Sleep.

———

"Mmhm." Emery is focused as he closes his eyes. "Stop bitchin' like a cranky fishwife. I'll let ye trip the nex-"

AND THEN THERE IS BRIGHTWIND.

The Irishman smiles slowly and his eyebrows raise as he notices Atli as well and the goat who last he saw was dancing in a bar. But he raises his eyebrows and spreads his arms. "THERE ye are ye beautiful winged bastard! I've been lookin' all over for ye!" He turns to smack Owen's shoulder. "Look! Look who it is. Why'd ye bring the lovely lass who looks like Boudica's Kin and the goat too?" He jerks his head towards the woman and goat, starting to approach carefully.

————

The entrance of a goat is surprising, but even more surprising is that Owen knows this goat! "Teethsmasher!" Nope. He looks at rope that's attached and then the other two arrivals. He eyes narrows at Brightwind, giving the horse a small nod. At the sight of Atli though he cheers again. "Fuck yes! Drunken reinforcements!" Which if you are asking Owen, are the best kind of reinforcements.

Laughing at the shadows, he shakes his head and says, "Now you're screwed!" He points to Atli, still face down in the grass and adds a slightly more hesitant, "Probably."

———

Brightwind mantles his wings for one glorious second and then upon hearing that goat-y snore, he turns his head to give Toothbender the stink-eye.

That stink-eye morphs into the winged horse prancing right on over to the goat and stomping a silver hoof right next to his head.

GET UP.

With that message delivered to the goat, the riderless steed swings back around to Emery and Owen. It's Emery that gets the majority of Brightwind's horsey approval as the winged beast high-steps over to the Irish man. His question prompts a response from Brightwind as the steed projects quite loudly, « The Bear has returned and it requires all of us to defeat it. Quickly now! We must ride! »

Owen's words about the harp are indeed accurate. It is a trap and in-between his bemoan about tripping it and Brightwind, Toothbender and Brightwind's arrivals, the shadows have been anything but idle. Tendrils of darkness burrow beneath the ground and creep towards the five of them.

Only, before they lash out at the small group Owen's words are heard by the intelligence behind the shadows.

The shadows are screwed?

That brings a spike of anger from the mist and while the tendrils continue their creep towards Emery, Owen, Brightwind, Toothbender and Atli, the first one to know just where the shadows are is Owen.

The ground beneath his feet simply BURSTS outward as the vines of blackness break free from the dirt. Then, like every horror movie that's ever been made, they try to enwrap the man to drag him into the forest.

A half a second later the same thing happens for Owen, Atli, Toothbender and Brightwind.

The shadows try to drag the motley group into their wintery domain.

———

"What fool thing…" Recognition brims across Alti's face like the glare from a flashlight pointed in her direction, and as she pulls herself up she squints at the pair before recognition, of a sort, kicks in. "Ah! Yes! I remember now! There was a bar, and I saw at least one of your hindparts! Yes that's right! It was where I met Cake Woman! Verily, how I miss her. I can imagine it now… T H E D A Z Z L E R' S signature, curving over her rump in just the right way to catch the-" Her brow furrows a little, and then she turns around to face the shadowy, horrible mansion.

"Hel's Bells. It looks as if Sloane Brightscale's mother has returned from the dead and given birth inside of the home of the X-People. Which means.. which means Worthington and the Firebird and all the rest might be in dang-"

And then a tendril has her by the ankle and is slamming her back and forth.

Toothbender only begins to rouse when he's being slammed about and then drug, to which he replies to the shadows: Not today.

Brilliant rainbow energy crests at the back of his hindparts, building up to a momentous explosion, to which Atli tries to protest that the coward goat might leave them to die but-

Toothbender powers through reality itself and probably ends up at the ass-end of Alfheim.

"Foolish goat! Your hindparts were needed here!!!!"

Welp.

Atli's going for a ride, at least for now.

———

The Irishman was reaching towards Brightwind, to reach up and rest a hand against his neck and lean forward to press his forehead against the creature's if allowed. "I've heard mate, we'll go and get your girl back, I promise." And just when that is happening, Owen's /taunting/ what they cannot see and Emery's head jerks up quickly. "Oh you wan-"

He tangles a hand in Brightwind's mane if allowed. flashlight dropped, and he draws the sword strapped to his back right as things are wrapping around his ankles and he's swearing violently, he thinks he saw a goat fart-nope out of the scene but. That. Nope. He's flicking a switch to ignite that godamn flaming sword.

———

"AAGH! My leg!" Owen screams in a very unheroic or manly manner as something bursts from the ground and wraps around his legs. He is starting to be dragged, thumping along the ground, his head bouncing off the dirt and grass. He might scream and make a fuss, but at least he can move fast enough to do something about it. A red tipped flaming boomerang is pull from his jacket and thrown wherever the shadows are dragging them towards, burning brightly against the darkness with flames shooting out of it once it's a bit away fro Owen's body. Granted he just threw a flaming projectile in the direction they're being dragged, but planning is not Owen's strong point. Swearing? He's great at that.

"MOTHER FU-" *bump* "SHITTY AS-" *bump* "CRA-"

———

The goat escapes!

But do the others?

That's likely going to be a negative.

Atli is dragged directly into the shadows by her ankle.

Emery hops astride Brightwind even as the Irishman and the winged horse find themselves being entangled with strands of shadows and Brightwind (for his part) doesn't allow himself to be dragged in. Oh no, instead he just gallops right for those shadows.

Owen finds himself likewise tangled up and as he's dragged in that boomerang is let loose. When the flames start it hits the shadows with a burning warmth and a searing light. It's enough to cause the shadows to shrink away and reveal a patch of non-shadowed ground and trees. It lasts up until the boomerang runs out of fuel.

And while that boomerang burns a small note of sanity with in the shadows, it doesn't stop the insanely large wave of blackness that comes crashing down upon the would-be heroes.

Then like all the other times before the darkness shifts and changes.

The world around the four settles into a wretched snowy landscape of New York City.

Black-feathered birds line the wires as they look down upon the four. Maggots crawl from eye sockets and beaks and in the distance the trill of a song-bird, the howl of a wolf, and the growl of a bear drifts upon the icy breeze.

Then the focus of the shadows is upon the four -

Owen: OH it remembers *you*.

Emery: AND you TOO, you Biter.

Atli: But not you, still something new to play with.

Brightwind: Welcome back, horse.

With those greetings given the darkness reaches out with dark psychic tendrils to pull the fears of each them out into the open.

To bring a little bit of their own personal Hells to the world about them.

———

Frustration and anger, nay, DRUNKEN frustration and anger spill from every part of her. For certainly these two who have summoned her require her aide, and here she is being drug to the depths of some frosty Hel like a fool. And worst of all, she is certain her best of feathered friends and their wards are imperiled. It is here that Loki's words come to the forefront of her mind, twisting there as if beset by some terrible spell. In reality, she remembers them only because they came with the gift of pecan waffles, and right this moment there is nothing in this world she wants more.

Atli had asked her sometimes aunt, sometimes uncle Loki how to solve all her life's problems, and they had replied in kind: 'What would Thor do?'

Her mind focuses on that answer. No, not two women at the same time! The other thing, from the OTHER THOR!

Storm clouds rush in overhead, rolling as if set free from a terrible prison, and with them comes the roil of thunder. Lightning coils over her arms and across her armor, and as her eyes burgeon with a terrible, vengeful light, the storm delivers to her Jarnbjorn Reforged, her spear bolting to her hand as lightning given form. But it does not cease, bolt after bolt striking the spear, setting it aglow, aflame, burning and sizzling in that terrible blue, and once the spear is charged with all the power she can call from her birthright she plants a foot against an oncoming rock which helps her get her other foot under her.

Not to pull away. No, you see, that is not part of The Plan.

And she does have a plan. She always has a plan.

The landscape shifts. A bent, fiery stick flies by. Atli raises her spear high as snow cascades around her and maggot-birds squawk in her mind.

"B Y J A P E R Y ! ! !"

Her battlecry splits the air as she launches herself TOWARDS those birds, thinking them the source of the sounds in her head, unleashing all her might on those pitiful little things.

But then they all turn into tiny little Warren Worthingtons that have maggot tongues and her eyes go wide as she obliterates her best of maggoty friends and goes crashing into the snow.

And for her, Emery and his flaming sword, and Owen and his many bendy sticks will shrink in the distance.

The goat is gone.

Everyone else is gone.

This is the Hel of Atli Wodendottir.

To wake up one day, and to find herself utterly, horribly, alone with nothing but talking shadows to keep her company.

———

The moment he's astride Brightwind, he's holding that flaming sword aloft. Just riding upon a winged horse, wielding a flaming sword paying homage to the tattoo'd wings on his back. Emery takes a deep breath, and lets the angelic influence of his mind seep into his conciousness as Samael's righteous indignation is tickled and he feels the shadows roll over him like thick, oil poluted waves of abominable existance.

Bird, Wolf, Bear…Samael just cocks his head to the side and his top lip curls in a quiet snarl. "You cowardly abomination, using deception to hide. I've tasted your soul, and now you offer yourself up once more a feast. You should've stayed banished." He speaks calmly in an accent that is polished and more British than Irish. He lets his fears wash over him, loss of life and all those he holds dear, with nothing there there is nothing left to lose and he takes a deep breath. "I will take it all from you this time…mark my words…"

———

Owen Mercer says, "Oh come on. For fuck's sake."

Owen sees the maggot birds and immediately starts scratching at the skin on neck. The winter landscape of the city brings back a lot of memories and they start to materialize into scenes. And while the first time the bear tried to terrify Owen it was all about not being wanted, it appears that something has changed.

Owen can see the trail of blood seeping out from the alley and his pulse starts to race. He forgets about the birds momentarily as the blood starts to pool at his feet. He doesn't want to go look, but he has to. Propelled not by his own desire but almost pulled along by the shadows he knows what he's going to find.

The alley opens up to reveal a burning Hell's Kitchen. The blood flowing through belonging to the crushed and burned bodies. There are adults sure, but somehow it's the children's bodies and body parts that stand out vividly against the crumbled brick and stone.

It's hardly a surprise when he starts to find the Defenders themselves. Luke is a broken man, suffocated under a collapsed building. Jessica is charred almost beyond recognition except for the telltale jacket and jeans. Emery's car is a smoldering fire, the outlines of mutliple bodies within, but Owen can't make himself look closer.

Daredevil and Six weren't killed in the explosion. Their bodies lay on a rooftop that Owen finds himself standing on. The same one he once watched them on in the aftermath. But here two bullets in each of their skulls ended that conversation, and their lives.

And the kicker? The final vision that will haunt Owen for the long forseeable future? It's him. Having gotten exactly what he was promised. His bag of silver in the form of all the synthetic heroin that he could ever want.

Lucky him.

———

The shadows take note of Atli's powers, but more importantly the fear that lurks within heart and mind and the blackness whispers soft words to the Asgardian.

'You will always be alone Atli Wodendottir.'

'It is your destiny to be bereft of true comradeship. True companionship.'

The shadows seek out Brightwind and the winged horse pauses in that forward march of his with Emery upon his back. His wings flare outward in a defensive move even as the images within his mind bring the horse to a full stop.

Riderless. No longer worthy to carry a Valkyrie.

A warhorse without a warrior is nothing.

Brightwind's head sags and his ears flatten downward.

For Owen his nightmare sprawls out before him and much like Atli and Brightwind, the shadows whisper words of encouragement.

'Family. Friends. They never last. Everyone always dies. You should join them otherwise you will be alone. Always alone.'

As for Emery, the shadows hiss at the other soul-eater within its miss. Kin, though not fully the same. Half-siblings, where one is light and the other darkness.

Where both know the tricks of the trade and while that sadness tries to ravage Emery he's able to withstand the pull of the desolation around the four.

It's what prompts a bolder response from the shadows. The sounds of Wolf and Bird stop and the only one that remains is the Bear.

It's a great thing, like before. Composed of shadows and darkness, with wildly glowing eyes. It rises up from the ground and it stares at Emery, then it lashes outward with yellowed-ivory claws.

While its claws and teeth have substance, the body of the bear is intangible at best.

For it’s a shade of its true self, an echo of what it once was.

———

"No."

It is all the Asgardian can muster against such a terrible future. Against her greatest fear, realized. That she will be here, at the end of space and time with nothing but her own failures to keep her company. That she was not Worthy. Was not able. Could not defend those she cared about the most when they needed her. Even King Thor had his three granddaughters when his time to wallow in his misery came. And what does she have, but shadows?

They twist and turn about her, the only movement in this endless, frozen void, and as she staggers and the panic begins to set in, the voices of those lost to Galactus, Butcher of Worlds call to her.

Everia. The first God she had ever known other than her sisters and her grandfather. The last of the Aaskavarian Gods.

Ultravision. The man of metal, lost at the edge of time.

Her sisters, Frigg and Ellisiv.

All taken by shadow, devoured at the very end of all things. Just like her courage is being devoured now. The spear tumbles from her hand, and the lightning leaves her eyes.

"No."

———

The shadows and the fear start to work against Owen as he watches this version of past events spin out. And he knows that's not what happened. Somewhere in his head he's sure that this is just some terrible version of events that was so damn close to happening. He shakes and tries to turn away and walk out of there, but he's confronted with more terrible scenes of Hell's Kitchen burning at every turn.

Finally, staring down at Frank's corpse, this time sans half his torso lost in a direct explosion Owen loses his composure and gets sick. He shakes his head trying to remember what did happen that night. He didn't choose this. He didn't help make this happen. But he can't find that memory, all he finds is the guilt of his part in knowing that this was coming and making a deal anyway. He can fear the dread covering him. The dread that he is exactly the worst version of himself that he wanted so badly to avoid. Even when he was surrounded by more noble and heroic, even virtuous (at least at times, in very specific instances) people he wasn't like them.

"Dani!"

He at least is able to clearly remember what brought him to this place. And exactly who brought on the last bout of soul crippling panic by dredging up fears that he could have never named on his own. It's not that he has much of a plan for what to do with that information but it gives him something else to try and focus on.

———

'Yes'. Breathes the shadows at Atli. 'Yessss.' It ends on a sibilant hiss and while it continues to feed and prey upon those fears, the shadows reach for that dropped spear of hers.

It begins to enwrap in the darkness and the freezing bite of winter, intending to subsume the staff into its darkness.

As for Owen -

He calls out that name. Dani! And whether he calls it out to invoke some sense of sanity, or to put blame where blame possibly belongs, the shadows react. They rear up around Owen and they hiss.

'She is here, Owen Mercer. Right here with us!'

An the shadows part briefly to show Danielle Moonstar, off somewhere in the distance, fighting a truer form of the Demon Bear. She holds sword made of metal and hoarfrost in her hands, and back and forth she goes with the familiar figure of the Demon Bear. It's only as the two continue to go back and forth that Owen's shout echoes within the shadows and names hold power. It causes Moonstar to turn, her attention momentarily off the Demon Bear and out further into the shadows, to where Atli and Owen fight and in that instant of inattention the Demon Bear strikes.

Yellowed claws of ivory slash downward at the Cheyenne woman and sink deep within her chest.

The shadows close then, like a curtain falling over tragic play, to obscure the fate of Dani Moonstar. Only a triumphant roar and a pained scream echoes out from the darkness.

With that moment of triumph the fear lessons, as the attention of the shadows shifts for a second upon hearing the victorious cry from the Bear.

———

As the shadows seem set to crush in around Atli Wodendottir, as that feeling of hopelessness and loneliness sets in to clamp down on her very soul, her equilibrium fails her. Tumbling to her knees, the shadows show her fanged maws. A painful end of misery and failure. Is this it? Is this the final moment? The horde seems endless, poised just beyond the horizon of her vision, yet crushing so close already she can feel them against her skin.

Until it glimmers.

All of them, no matter how personal their Hell, will see it. A flicker in the sky. Just beyond the frozen, shadow-laden clouds. Blue and red and yellow. Rainbow colors shimmering and twisting, and as the shadows seek to retaliate they are burned from all existence by their anathema. By the one creature in all of creation who, for better or worse, fears nothing.

BEFORE.

The dream was a good one. This time, Ben, Destroyer of Worlds, had conquered the whole of Ice Creamia, the land of endless Creamed Ice. Before him his enemy was smote upon the hillside. Rocky Road, a great warrior of some repute, and his ever-lasting companion, Butter Pecan. Next, Pizziana, because Ben could do what he wanted, and conquered the Dessert world FIRST. The massive goat-man and his warriors swarmed over the delicious fallen bodies of their enemies until… until Toothbender was woken from this very lovely dream where he had conquered ice cream land and had everything he wanted to eat!!! Blinking his hungover gaze downward at the tendril trying to drag him to Hel and feeling perhaps just a little gassy, the goat had blasted off elsewhere to make himself battle read. Which meant…

NOW.

Horns break through the clouds first, followed by the great, grey, shaggy hide of the war-goat and his rainbow laden hindparts, blasting Bifrost energy behind him as he repels it's fear-feeding power with a greater power of fearless stupidity. And the very last of the pizza he felt he needed to eat before coming to the aide of his best friend in the whole of the realms.

Atli hears the cry in the dark from Owen. A shout of a name that sounds like a whisper until she sees that rainbow streak cutting across the darkness and knows the lie cast all about her.

It rekindles her heart, shredding that lie to pieces and with it the bonds that had begun to encircle her arms and legs. Shadows reach for the spear, and Atli reaches into them, braving cold and death and everything that comes with it to curl her hand around her grandfather's greatest gift to her.

Once more she thrusts her spear to the sky, even as Toothbender dives for Brightwind, powering through shadows with his horns and leaving a wake of rainbow energy in his wake to use as a path through the darkness, until finally, the Goat is at the side of Owen Mercer, roaring his battle cry as he sets upon the evil all about them, and offering his back to this man he remembers dancing with in Luke's bar. What was his name? Right. Yes. Bootyshorts.

Toothbender is sure of it.

There is a terrible crack from the sky as another light cascades down, as Atli rips her spear from the dark and thrusts it towards the sky. Lightning reaches down to her with all her power and fury, seeking to burn the shadow from her form and the lingering fear from her mind.

"Verily, Bendy-Stick man, unleash Hel upon that which would seek to kill dear Valkyrie Moonstar!!"

———

The fact that the shadows part as he calls out Moonstar's name feels like enough of a breath that Owen can at least get his bearings a little bit. He remembers what it was like to be under the sway of these things. He remembers what it tried to do when he was pulled into the shadows before. He remembers those stupid black pigeons with the maggot claws. Argh. But then he remembers something else.

His gloves have been heavily modified for this trip. They were programmed before to help return his knife to him, but he's been tinkering. And so he has something special for the bear. As the curtain of black falls and he sees Dani get attacked he raises his hands which reveal mirrors in the palms. And these aren't just for applying eye-black, WHICH IS NOT MASCARA thank you very much. No, the mirrors are a variation on the Mirror Masters tech, combined with a little bit of his existing tech from a blinding light boomerang. The gloves light up and pass the light through the mirrors on each hand and concentrate it into a beam of light. He's sadly no Dazzler, but he manages to shoot one solid beam of light at the darkness where Dani was, hoping to rip through the shadows and slam the bear. His mask automatically shades his eyes from his own attack, something he realized was necessary somewhere around test 58. Yes, it took him 58 tries, blinding himself on most of them, to realize that was needed.

And once that's done he opens his eyes to see his former dance partner. He sees the goat and nods, riding a (probably drunken) goat into battle against the shadows just feels right. He pulls out his dagger and ignites it, grabs a horn and swings onto Toothbenders back and cries "For Ass Guards!" Close enough Owen. Close enough.

———

Does anyone really expect a goat shooting rainbows to find its way into battle?

Surely not!

But here Toothbender is.

The Goat is like the Northern Star, showing the way for those awash in shadows. The light of the rainbows breaks through the shadows and begins to breakdown the darkness that surrounds Owen, Atli, Emery and Brightwind.

For Atli, she raises her staff upward and brings down the lightning. Wherever those streaks of electricity falls the shadows burn away, dissipating with each bright streak of light.

Brightwind's head rises back up and there's a sound of anger from the horse, and perhaps thanks as well. Thanks to Toothbender for breaking the thrall the shadows had upon him and with renewed faith the winged-steed rises up and lashes out at the shadows.

Owen brings up those mirrors and the light pierces the veil of darkness. It shines solely upon Dani and the Bear, and where it helps Dani, it burns the Bear. Light will forever be anathema to the Demon Bear and with a howl of rage, the shade of the Bear turns its gaze upon Owen. If it were stronger it would break its attack off from Dani and focus on Owen, but It's not yet the right time. Instead there's the not-so-subtle promise in its gaze.

A promise to see Owen *later*. The shadows hiss at the man 'you die soon'.

Once that promise is made the Bear (and Dani) sinks into the shadows that cover the ground. Running from Atli, Toothbender and Owen Mercer.

Running from the rainbow, the light and fire and finally the strike of lightning from the sky above.

And while the group can't necessarily push all the shadow back, there is a true retreat to some degree. They push the shadows back far enough that one by one the shadows release them from their hold.

———

It might be true that Thor and share his bloodline are all fools. All of them, to the very last. I mean, look at Atli's father. He was so big a fool he got himself erased from existence before she was finished being born! But for all the failings of her line, for all the haunting guilt and the pressure to be a bit of a hero, she and her sister and her grandfather do one thing exceedingly well: Vengeance.

With a roar of frustration turned anger, the sky opens, cascading bolts all around to clear a path of Owen and his blasting beam of light.

"Verily, optic blast!" Calls Atli, helpfully remembering the X-People battle cry from the tales her grandfather told her, before several bolts of lightning rain down upon her spear to gather the energy towards her.

It is with a great leap that she sails through the air, lightning trailing behind her as she clears Owen Bootyshorts' Optic (Handsy) Blast, her trajectory taking her right towards Dani and the bear, steeped in terrible, crackling vengeance.

"Stupid bear! Have at thee!!"

But Owen's trick has already worked, the shadows receding. The bear disappearing.

Leaving only the spot where they were.

The X-Pool.

FA-TOOOOOM!!!!

Atli lands with the impact of a small bomb, just as Toothbender helpfully rears up to keep Owen shielded from the blase that turns the X-Mansion pool into a blasted crater.

———

The shadows start to recede and Owen looks around in surprise that his gloves didn't like catch fire or try and pull him into a mirror dimension like in test 72. And 34. But he's happy to celebrate the win and cry out "Hell yea optic blast!" Because he has no idea what that means either.

He watches as Atli takes a flying leap and destroys the pool. He rears up on Toothbender and calls out "Wooah goat!" Because that feels like the right thing to say when riding an animal. He then looks around and says, "Yea, that bear totally blew up the pool. That sucks." Because it's best to get your cover story straight as soon as possible.

But the lack of an Emery is immediately noticed. He extinquishes the knife and hops off the goat with a hip bump instead of a high five. It's possibly the only animal that he actually feels any affinity with, a drunken goat that has rainbow powered rocket hindquarters, that sounds about right.

"I need to find a very pretty Irishman with a very dirty mouth." He doesn't wait to explain why, or if it's one in particular or any will do, he sets about making sure that Emery also came out of the shadows.

He's his ride home.

———

The ground rattles from Atli's impact and somewhere in the Mansion, several heads turn and there might be a few sighs as well.

"Not again." Are the mutters, for surely this is the third or fourth time the X-Mansion has had to replace the poor pool.

The shadows continue their retreat up until they hit the trees.

There they stay a menacing darkness that wraps around trunk and limb. The shadows themselves become thick and barricade like. Almost solid if touched and it no longer welcomes any sort of visitor. Not while it licks its wounds.

And while Owen, Atli, Toothbender and even Brightwind are free the only one missing is Emery. There's no sign of the pretty Irishman beyond the car Owen and Emery rolled up in.

———

Without much afair the Asgardian pulls herself from the pool, her spear resting on her shoulder. "Yes. Good. Toothbender, stay with him and guard him against this immortal evil that… continues to cling to the ancestral home of the X-People. Do not worry, my friend. I have a plan. The goat will fill you in while I gather all the heroes of Midgard to smite this horrible place into oblivion, which should most assuredly get your companion back."

The goat will not fill Owen in on any plans, as the goat does not speak. Instead Toothbender lays back down and begins to dream of invading Porkchoplandia, where the spirit of delicious roasted pig is still alive. Atli goes on her mission.

Walking.

Well, at least a little ways. She begins to head towards the open grounds of the X-Mansion, while hitting something on her gauntlet. "Verily, Fair Rocket! I require your aide. Meet me on the Lawn of Drinking. All of the X-People are imperiled. Onory black mold has taken over their favorite forest and has captured Valkyrie and a man with a burning sword. We must fetch the Sorceress Supreme, or perhaps Lord Stark's Brother, Strange-Stark."

*This explains the many beer cans that often turn up on the south lawn.

And so Atli doth wonder in that direction, and after some bickering no doubt, a flying ship will be along to get her soon enough.

———

Standing in an unfamiliar land in the far, desolate reaches of some place people call 'Upstate' Owen looks around at the lack of tall buildings and all the greenery uneasily. It's spooky. No not the darkness clinging to the trees, the fact that he can see the stars. Like what? You can see space?! That's crazy!

He nods as Atli says the goat will fill him in. Sure. That's a thing, right? He looks to the goat and tilts his head as it passes out. Huh. That doesn't look helpful. He pokes it once, even tries laying down in the grass opposite the goat wondering if there is some secret goat language he's supposed to know. But after a while he decides that he should probably focus on find his Irishman.

He stands and wanders off towards the mansion. There might be someone in there that can help. Or at least something to drink.

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