The House Of Mystery: Pyramid Power

August 06, 2014:

Constantine and the House gather a grab bag of adventurers to recover a scroll from a pharaoh's tomb.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

A turn of a doorknob, a glance over the shoulder passing through an archway-

And here one might find themselves, in the foyer of the House of Mystery. The doors to the main room are open wide, done in the style of a palatial mansion from late 17th century France.

"Welcome, welcome, one and all!" Constantine calls from a landing in a piping British accent. Standing in his ragged, stained trenchcoat and with a cigarette dangling from his lips, he hardly looks like the image of a world-weary dimensional traveler. And yet with a burst of energy, he leaps onto a bannister and slides down the wide rail, popping his hips and landing easily on his feet. "Welcome, welcome welcome, to the House of Mystery," he says, wringing his hands together eagerly.

"I'm glad to see you're all here. Yes, excellent, I absolutely-" he taps the side of his nose, "meant to pick you all up at once, but-!" he says, throwing a finger into the air and walking towards a table covered in bizarre magical accoutrements. "-I am a man on a mission, and it seemed easier to just pick you all up at once. Roll call, please, Constantine, present!" he pips up, smiling brightly at his own wit.

*

"Not. This. Again." Fenris groans. He'd been visiting the workshop of his friend Eight, had gone to examine a storeroom and then… this.

"Constantine, we meet in this manner entirely too often. And the last time I visited this place it took me three days to recover." Three days he'd spent in Stark Tower, which hadn't been unpleasant but… still.

"What is it this time?"

*

The heavier-set salt-and pepper haired gentleman clad in a tropical shirt, shorts, and steel work shoes blinks a few times as he ends up in the foyer of some mysterious mansion. Well, he IS looking for employment, though perhaps not as a butler or maid — those skills are probably well beyond him save for the fact that in a distant sort of way they revolve around customer service. He blinks at the introduction — for a half-second he was anticipating the fellow introducing himself as 'The Doctor' and various time-shenanigans would ensue. Still, maybe he can meet someone here he can get a job with?

"Ah, hello there? Jim Reha, looking for a job, nothing illegal, please? I'm a hard worker and have decades in customer service and am a veteran. I'd have my resume but I'm taking a break from the job-hunting?"

Well, at least he thinks on his feet enough to offer a brief snippet about himself.

*

The hulking biker behind Fenris stands deathly still, looking quietly around for a moment before lifting a massive gloved hand to its helmet. The voice is, too low. Devoid of much intonation, and utterly Russian in it's accent. "This, is not the expected destination Fenris." Rolling that helmet off to expose the utterly inhuman visage beneath. That shemagh comes free next, exposing massive hydraulic rams, exotic composites, high carbon armor steel and a myriad of cameras and a simple dotmatrix display where a face should be. Forming a bright green question mark, as Eight looks around. "I presume you know the one responsible for this, outcome?"

*

Bruce Banner keeps himself separated off from the others, his arms wrapped around himself. He's wearing a t-shirt and jeans and a pair of slippers, having apparently not been exactly expecting his sudden arrival. He'd been just stepping out of his workshop to have a cigarette out in the night. Eight, he recognizes at least, nodding to the man-machine, but otherwise recognizing no one. Well, he recognizes Pepper Potts. He reads newspapers and he's…well, he occasionally speaks to Tony Stark, but usually through encrypted e-mails or at clandestine meetings. Miss Pott has not been personally present (and probably kept unaware). Banner is, after all, a federally wanted fugitive, albeit a classified one. "Bruce." he says simply, just to avoid being called 'hey you'.

*

Pepper Potts is walking back into her office after a meeting and…

"Oh god, not again." Pepper looks at everyone assembled, then turns and promptly walks toward the front door without so much as offering a hello to Fenris.

*

Constantine moves things about on the circular table with no particular apparent order or method to his madness. He stops, writing hastily with a quill and pen, setting whirligigs into motion, scattering dice across the wood. "Sixes!" he declares, moving around in quick, somewhat erratic motions.

"Ah, good to meet you, and you, and you," Constantine says, shaking hands with Jim and Bruce. He comes up short at Eight. "Well. You are an odd duck," he says, puffing at his cigarette. He reaches forward experimentally and poking gingerly at Eight's chest. "More machine than man, eh?"

"Pepper! The Perfectly Punctual Pepper Potts," he remarks, rolling the consonants around, blithely ignoring how Pepper 'nopes' her way out of the situation, heading towards the now-closed front door.

"I love alliteration," he confesses to Jim with a grin. Because why not? It seems like the kind of thing Jim should know.

*

"Fenris, my good fellow, Old Wolf, good to see you again," Constantine shouts over the sound of a teakettle, snapping a finger and pointing at Fenris. "And an excellent question. I've been looking!" he declares, hurring to take the teakettle down and pouring some into a teapot, which he then empties over his left shoulder. "All through time and a lot of space, for the missing pages of the Book of Sins. And, I think I found one," he declares, spinning a top on the table and walking away from it.

*

"In Egypt. About a thousand years before the Greeks had the notion of democracy," he explains, pointing a finger at the door. "Or, if you like, two-thousand years BC. And we are here," he says, brushing past Pepper to throw the doors open.

The view of the Pyramid of Khufu is remarkable, light flooding the doorway. "The Pyramid of Giza, as it is commonly known, where Khufu concealed one of the missing pages of the Book."
"The Book?" Fenris rubs his eyes. "Miss Potts please don't wander off." He'd have to go looking for her then and this place is maddening. "The Book we recovered from here last time or THE BOOK." The bad one. The source of all the troubles. Yeah, that book. "Is it still there?"

Turning to Eight Fenris shakes his head. "This… place, if it can be called that, has a mind of its own. And sometimes draws people here for its own reasons. Usually including Constantine over there."

*

The prospective employee 'Jim' glances briefly and warily at the strange Russian-accented cyborg(?). The fellow who is rather stiff in addressing the host directly gets a squint, and then 'Bruce' gets a once-over. He's cogitating on the Pepper Potts as she's announced by 'Constantine'… THE Pepper Potts? Stark Potts? No freakin' way. After a brief moment he regains his composure then listens to the briefing.

Okay, Egypt, ancient times, pyramids—try not to freak out there, son. Easy does it.

"You *think* you've found one. If you haven't found one, and it is something else, what sort of opposition should we be anticipating? And if it is the page of that rather ominous sounding book, ah, so, what kinda safeguards are we gonna get to deal with it? 'cause 'Book Of Sins' doesn't really sound healthy?"

*

Eight is, as hard as steel to the touch. Swiveling it's head down to face Constantine. "I am no man at all, I am a self aware electronic intelligence. My name is Eight, Constantine. It is lovely to meet you, though I must confess that this magical side is typically beyond my realm of experience." Glancing casually towards Fenris for a moment, before casually stuffing its hands into its pockets. "Do you suppose recording this would represent any undue hazard, the Collective would find this all very interesting."

*

Bruce Banner peers and looks around him, finding the scruffy guy in the coat's claims not only dubious but bordering on insane. Book of Sins? Ancient Egypt? What in the hell was going on here? Even allowing for the possibility that he was looking at ancient Egypt, this didn't look like much of a time machine nor did Mr. Constantine strike him as the sort to have the capacity to build one. Still, it's important to maintain calm - probably just some sort of delusion. Question was, did the delusion belong to them or him? "Look, I'm not really sure what I'm doing here. I'm a scientist. I don't even believe in the psuedo-religious term 'sin' as an application towards human morality." When Eight mentioned magick, he barely suspends rolling his eyes, "Magic. Right. Sure. Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. I'm with Miss Potts."

&

Pepper Potts stops with a gasp and recoils slightly from Constantine when he brushes past her, then looks out the now open front door incredulously. "That's… that can't be real." She's now clutching the tablet and file folder in her arms tightly to her chest. Her purse is back in her office, and she's feeling its absence. When Dr. Banner says her name, she looks at him and shakes her head quickly. That's not why she's DONE with this before it starts, and she doesn't want this mild-seeming man to end up on Fenris's bad side because of his skepticism.

*

"Yes, THE book," Constantine tells Fenris, rubbing his hands together and striding into the blazing sunlight. The pyramid, less than a thousand yards away, fairly glistens in the sun, covered in this era by a shining casement of white limestone. "And good questions, Jim, I like your style," Constantine says, snappointing at Jim. He utterly fails to /answer/ the questions. "And no, of course not, record… ahoy," he tells Eight, sounding very dubious about the idea but carrying the instruction off with no small measure of false bravado. "It's not as if we're muddling with the entire course of human history," he adds, in a breathless mumble.

Constantine smiles gamely at Bruce. "It's quite all right, chum. How does that saying go? 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic?'" Constantine offers to Bruce as a consolation prize. "And let's say that good and evil are relative terms on the sliding scale of morality, justified and held in juxtaposition," he asides, "so therefore, the only real sin would be increasing the entropy of the universe by shattering all the barriers between Earth and the various dimensions that exist simultaneous adjacent to us, bringing forth the utter end of all things and allowing that which is of the Void Beyond to undo existence as we know it?"

He waggles a hand. "Let's call that /The/ sin, and we'll get on about stopping that from ever happening," Constantine proposes.

He starts heading for the Pyramid with a long-legged stride, coat swinging behind him, and letting people either dawdle by the solitary, closed door standing quite anachronistically in the middle of the desert, or follow the British madman towards the Pyramid of Giza, and some artifact of inestimable horror. "And, Miss Potts, if you'd bring the book-?" Constantine calls over his shoulder, no doubt in reference to the utterly vile looking book that is now sitting in the sand a few feet from Pepper- the same book she'd locked up in her office in Stark Tower. "Hate for some local to find it."

*

After a short but sweltering hike through the desert sands, the small party was at the entrance to the pyramid. In this era, it's clearly marked and accessible, an archway that a wagon could pass through.

Once inside, Constantine reaches for an utterly mundane matchbook and starts striking up torches, passing them out to anyone who reaches for one. "Everyone take a torch, the ambience here is lovely," he says, ignoring the gold-engraved images and bas-relief hieroglyphs that decorate the wide hallway. His match doesn't go out- in fact, it slowly burns as bright or brighter than the torches, apparently not singing Constantine's fingers.

"And don't touch anything that looks… trap-y," Constantine adds over his shoulder in a wary tone of voice, squinting into the darkness. "In fact, best not touch anything," he adds belatedly, leading the way into the tomb.

*

The tall, vaguely- wait, strike that - very predatory man that Constantine introduced as Fenris yanks a silver necklace off his neck. In an instant it has become a relatively unreasonably sized sword. Especially given that he's wielding it one handed.

"Am I to expect more… bookworms, Constantine?" He grumbles. "I do not believe anyone will object to a recording, Eight. And Miss Potts, I do beg your pardon but…" He reaches out and grabs her wrist, tugging her along. "Please stay close. Inara would be most distressed were something to happen to you, as would I. Comes to that…" He glances down at the oaken rod at his side. "You should take the Rod."

*

What adventurer DOESN'T take a torch when one is offered one? Sure thing Jim's going to grab one of those, while keeping an eye out for odd or suspicious plates on the floor, holes in the wall, heck, pretty much everything. The ancient pharaohs were known for their lethal and many traps on their tombs, and a pyramid to Khufu sounds like it would most assuredly have kits and kaboodles of them. He's not a spec-op spy or anything, but he is going to keep an eye out.

Olay, Fenris-guy is going to watch Miss Potts. Less danger there. As he moves through, though, he's keeping an eye on the hieroglyphs. He can't read them as far as he knows but any signs that are painfully obvious like "Horrible Death Here" might have universal meaning.

"Well, crap, forgot my big Swiss Army Knife back at the room."

*

Bruce Banner finds himself following along, although he recognizes Constantine's doublespeak patter for what it is. Whatever his skepticism, though, he's in this situation, for the moment, and might as well behave as though it's real until he's offered evidence or shown otherwise. It isn't as if the remarkable hasn't been a part of his life already.

He lights a cigarette as they step out of the door, the jolt of nicotine helping to keep his nerves under control. Hopefully, whatever this mess is can be cleaned up without having to involve that most notable remarkable circumstance. He's managed to go a couple of months without an incident, almost a record. He's not particularly fond of all the sand and such, but he'll make do. And, once they're into the pyramid, he can't deny there's a certain something fascinating about ancient Egypt, the hieroglyphs. He liked Indiana Jones plenty as a kid, and there's a certain childish part of him that enjoys the idea of that sort of adventure. So long as the end of that adventure isn't him demolishing said pyramid into rubble. He doesn't seem particularly concerned about Fenris' transformation, "I take it you know how to look for traps and the like then, Mr. Constantine? Or did I read too many tales of derring-do as a boy?"

*

Eight declines the torch as Eight follows along, otherwise mutely. "I am hyperspectral, Constantine. There is little I do not see independent of any lightsource."Off comes the jacket, and down goes the helmet at the Pyramid's entrance. Exposing all that, well Eight's built like a fucking tank. A panel under it's right arm swinging open, and a belt fed carbine pressing out into it's waiting hand. "I am equipped to scout ahead if this is desired." Glancing around as that question mark fades from it's face, no there are other things to stare at now. Namely the small dog sized mechanical spider thing climbing from Eight's backpack. It's been painted red with "Chairman Meow" stenciled in bright yellow along it's "head".

*

"Nnnno, Sandworms, maybe," Constantine tells Fenris absently over one shoulder. He stops at an intersecting corridor and takes a right, makes four paces, pivots on the ball of one foot and with a pointing finger, goes in the other direction. "Or giant scarabs, that would be rather entertaining, wouldn't it?" he asks Fenris with a flash of a grin.

"And yes, looking for traps is quite easy, any fool can do it," Constantine tells Bruce. "Finding them without setting them off, now, that's the tricky bit," he adds after a comically precise pause.

"This is quite interesting, really," he adds, tapping a finger along the hieroglyphs. "The great Pyramid at Giza, Khufu's eternal tomb. Quite wrong, of course," he adds diffidently, nodding at Eight as the machine offers to let 'Chairman Meow' do some scouting. "He didn't die, he was killed," Constantine says, letting that rather ominous statement hang in the air. "And they built this pyramid to contain his corpse…. and the thing he was buried with."

*

Pepper Potts is reluctant to step foot out of the House, but the tall man with the necklace-turned-sword doesn't really give her a choice. Sure, she momentarily debates slamming across the face with her tablet and head back into the house and try to get home. But, seeing as he's considerably taller and she's all but jogging to keep up with him as he tows her along, she loses her chance quickly enough so ends up just accepting the rod (she still thinks of it as a wand) and then wondering what to do with her files and tablet. She's sure as heck not leaving them lying around here.

*

Bruce Banner keeps his hands tucked in his pockets, making sure not to touch the walls or anything and allowing others, be they Eight or Constantine himself to take the lead. "'Thing'? I'm not finding that a reassuring term, Mr. Constantine. If you simply meant inanimate object 'thing', I suspect you wouldn't have been nearly so ominous or vague. So I'm guessing you're implying there's some sort of monster or creature lurking down deep inside the Pyramid. A creature towards which we are dutifully making our way, for purposes still at best vague and, at worst, completely unknown."

*

"Ah hell. It's the Doctor with less of a moral compass." It's a bit of a mumble by the heavy-set fellow, then a wince at the prospect of sandworms or scarabs. Enough with the creepy crawly, already, gods.

"And with strange aeons, even Death may die?" He intones that prominently on a lark, though he's honestly afraid of the answer he might get.

Back to the almost obsessive eye out for traps. He tries NOT to think of the ones he may have missed.

"Are we operating under any sort of authority here? I mean, if we're legit then we have reason to be here and we're not…" He doesn't utter the word 'grave-robbing', but it is heavily implied.

*

"Sandworms. Lovely." Fenris hasn't let go of Pepper's wrist… though he has slowed down in due deference to their height differences. "You know if you're good enough with that, you cold probably just float your files with you. Maybe not your tablet. Wouldn't want you to drop it." It's probably a good idea not to leave either laying around though. They might come to life.

*

Constantine turns in place, frowning at Jim. "Authority, of course! We're here, we have a plan, there's a book of unfathomable darkness following Miss Potts around," he says, gesturing with his match at the book that is clearly attached to the group- at the moment, conveniently propped up on a sacred gold altar. Little whispers seem to come from it, indistinguishable from the sounds of the party proceeding through the gallery. "And we've torches," he adds, waving his ever-burning match around.

"Torches are cool."

Constantine looks at Bruce, rather nonplussed. "You know, it's rather a bit rude to fathom all the unfathomable Things we might blunder into down here. Spoils the fun for the rest of us," Constantine sniffs. "I like my nameless horrors to be surprises."

"Ah, here we are," he says, as they emerge into a sweeping, high-vaulted hallway. "The Grand Gallery," he explains, his match flaring light into gold-lined corners. "Not far now," the Brit declares, lighting another cigarette up and tucking the old butt into the pocket of his duster. His voice echoes effortlessly around the gallery. "We're off to the King's Chambers, where his Majesty, the Pharoah Khufu, was… laid to his eternal rest. Well. As eternal as it gets. /Well/," he amends, again, wrinkling his nose.

"As much as you want to call it 'rest'," he says, jutting his jaw forward a bit. "…Old Wolf, do keep that blade handy?" Constantine asks of Fenris, before moving deeper into the pyramid. He stops at a pair of massive doors, shaking out his match and tossing it and his cigarette aside. "There, that'll drive some archaeologist batty in a few thousand years," he mutters. Constantine gently pushes on the door, then presses his palms against the unyielding surface and mutters something in a language not spoken on Earth for three millennia. The doors give on silent hinges, opening into a room easily thirty feet wide and perhaps half that long. It is occupied by one thing- a cloth-wrapped man sitting in repose on a throne, his face concealed by a gold mask and the icons of the Pharoah held crosswise over his chest.

And in his lap is a scroll- a single sheet of paper, which on closer inspection is not papyrus, but something disturbingly reminiscent of human skin.

"The Great Traitor, Khufu," Constantine says quietly, as the group enters the room. "The first of many fools who attempted to compile the Book of Sin." He eyes glue on the scroll in the corpse's lap, and he settles himself into a deceptively relaxed posture, hands going into his pocket.

"….so who's going to get that scroll for me?" Constantine asks the group, not taking his eyes off the mummy.

*

Eight extends a hand to let "Charman meow" scuttle along it, before springing to the floor and scuttling quietly out of sight. "Fenris, I will protect her. I am the least capable entity here, affairs of magic are well beyond my grasp. I can however, be a large portable shield she can stay behind. You are better utilized in the thick of things." Glancing suddenly towards where Chairman meow just scuttled off to. "Several traps have been identified and disarmed, please be advised I have not completed a complete sweep of this facility."

*

Pepper Potts looks up at Fenris. "What? Float my files? Like, with 'wingardium leviosa' or something?" She's not struggling to keep up anymore as Fenris has slowed his pace. "Don't you have, I don't know, a dimensional pocket or something you could hold them in for me?" When Eight speaks up she turns to look at him just in time to miss the little critter scuttling away. That's probably for the best. She looks the automaton up and down for a second, possibly intrigued.

*

"How do we even know that is the real McCoy and not a decoy? I mean, seriously, if I was going to set up this whole elaborate place, I'd put it in a featureless wooden box off to like, the side or something, and make everyone GO to that and probably get disintegrated or possessed or God knows what, right?" Jim eyes the scroll warily, even as the report about traps comes in. He considers that description about capable and thinks about that for a moment. He's a somewhat pudgy out of work customer service guy. LIke he's more combat effective?

"I know, no drama, no excitement, but you gotta admit it makes a bit of sense?" He scowls for a moment, murmuring to himself "..and all it takes is just a subtle shift in point of view, to make the wrongs of Man seem good and pure and right…"

He holds off on grabbing it for the moment.

*

Bruce Banner steps into the room along with the group, looking across at the cloth-wrapped man in the gold mask, "Boris Karloff, I presume,' he mutters, lighting another cigarette. Luckily, he's not claustrophobic, although he can definitely feel a certain amount of tension going on. He's uncomfortable with all the mystic mumbo jumbo, further and further away from the measurable, sane world of science and reason.

Of course, some of his own science has had some fairly unreasonable results.

*

Fenris does not, but he does have another idea. Pricking his thumb on his blade he presses a drop of blood against his scarf. The end of it animates, stretches and grabs the files and tablet quite securely, tucking them in against Fen's side. "There. That should do. Now look sharp. I'm not sure why you keep ending up here, but we'll try to ensure you get back in one piece."

Fenris grins over to Eight. "Bring that large knock-every-thing-in-sight-over gun with you, my friend?

*

Constantine lifts a little whirligig from his pocket, not looking away from the corpse. Much as a man might regard a hissing cobra. The whirligig spins and twirls, a complex little clockwork mechanism with no visible discernable purpose. "My bibbity-bobbity detector," Constantine tells Jim. "It goes 'ding' when there's stuff." Indeed, it goes 'ding' and Constantine pockets the device, wiping his fingertips on his jacket. "Well. I suppose we best be on about it, yes?" he asks, turning to look at Pepper with intent, brooding eyes. "And miss Potts… as much as I discourage people from heeding the whispers in the dark, I might suggest that you claim that page," Constantine suggests to the woman. "The Book of Vices knows what we're on about. If anyone is best suited to claim the scroll, it is likely you," Constantine tells Pepper.

*

Eight offers Pepper a nod, as a simple emoticon resolves on that dot matrix "face". A :) face, in pale blue. "Fear not miss, I am capable of stopping a direct hit from a one hundred fifty millimeter depleted uranium penetrator and maintaining at least ninety percent of my combat capability. If I am to fire however, I would warn that my carbine exceeds safe human hearing levels. Covering your ears, and keeping your mouth open will absolve you of any danger of injury." Swiveling it's head towards Fenris for a moment. "I am not equipped with my rifle at this time, the carbine or the shotgun is what I normally carry depending upon conditions. Considering the enclosed nature of this space, firing the rifle would cause overpressure injuries to every human present so the Carbine is a more desirable weapons platform anyway. I am however, limited with logistical constraints to my capacity for suppressive fire. So be advised, I have already adjusted my aiming matrix."

*

"Blimey, you can do all that?" Constantine asks of Eight, looking surprised. "I thought you were just a glorified toaster oven," he says with a short chuff of amusement.

*

Pepper Potts glances over at Bruce Banner and waves some of the cigarette smoke away from her face before focusing on the embalmed pharoah and the scrolls there with him. She seems particularly drawn by the one that Constantine pointed out, but then startles as Fenris's SCARF yoinks her files and tablet. She looks from her files to the tall man. "Warn me next time!" she practically hisses. And then, with a slightly withering glare aimed at Constantine, she steps over rather primly and plucks the scroll from the mummy's lap.

*

Bruce Banner crosses his arms over his chest, brow furrowed, "Pretty clear at this point that you weren't bringing me along, Constantine. You were bringing -him-. I don't like being anybody's pet weapon, much less the holster for it," he says with an irritated sigh, "If Eight's accuracy doesn't cut it, I suppose I'm the giant clusterbomb that just blows things all to hell. You better hope I go off when you need me to, though. Maybe he's not in the mood to come out. I'm feeling pretty mellow right now," he says, leaning back against a dusty wall, fatalistic as he takes in the woman approaching the scroll.

*

Jim glances over at Pepper, squinting at her worriedly. "You'd be surprised what they can do with AI these days, Mister Constantine. Why, you'd almost think… no, strike that, you'd be hard pressed to make an argument against their sentience." And then Pepper grabs the parchment all in one go. He steps up a bit. Hell if she doesn't have the balls the rest of the group seemed to be lacking.

*

Constantine holds his breath as Pepper snatches the scroll up. And he holds it for a long ten count. "….good," he says finally. "That went exactly as I expected it to," he informs everyone, a bit of his swagger returning to his posture. "Miss Potts' possession of the Book of Vice seems to have kept Khufu asleep."

He looks to Bruce, seemingly insulted. "I brought along the foremost scientific mind in the modern era for his profound insights into the world around us, Doctor Banner," Constantine tells Bruce. "Not just because he happens to be one of the few things in creation capable of handling an abyssal horror from beyond the veil of reality."

And just as he says that, the corpse of Khufu starts to move. And rise, becoming disjointed, less and less humanoid with each passing second and turning into something that is utterly alien, utterly disregarding bilateral symmetry- offensive not only to the nose, but even painful to look at, as if it existed in more angles than an individual could properly percieve from one perspective.

"Ah, ok, so /this/ is what I was /really/ expecting," Constantine says, making ushering motions for everyone to start back out the way they came in. "Just for clarification, I was quite prepared for this eventuality, so let's just… run out of here before things start to get… oh yes, it is definitely time to run," John informs everyone, before starting to bodily shove anyone near his weight class towards the hallway. "Eight, my dear sapient, do try to slow it down while we make our tactical withdrawal! I believe if Doctor Banner feels inclined to lend some muscle, he'll want to be somewhere else than under a few hundred thousand tons of stone!"

*

Pepper Potts doesn't have to be told twice. When the mummy starts to move, she looks briefly horrified as she backs away. But as it starts to look less and less human…. yeah. She might be able to face down the Partisan armed with only her cell phone, but that right there is serious NOPEVILLE. This time, she's the one grabbing another by the wrist, and as she isn't really paying attention, it's Bruce's hand she snags as she turns to run.

*

"Neve a dull moment with you Constantine." Fenris moves up beside Eight and directly in front of Pepper as Bruce snags her. He twirls the sword with a flourish as his voice begins to echo with power.

"All leaves are fallen. All the grass is brown. All the nights are longer. Sun goes down…"

The blade seems to gleam in the cold light as Fen prepares to do battle with Constantines bizarre luck yet again.

*

Bruce Banner shakes his head, pulling his fingers free of Miss Potts, "Thanks for the thought…but I'm the one to slow it down. Eight, keep them safe!" he yells, before taking one long, last hit of his cigarette before he tosses it aside, "Fuck all that," he says, "If I'm going to be dragged through all this crap, you're at least going to give me the chance to finally die," he says and the anger that he keeps inside, the self-hatred, the rage against the machine that he swallows and stifles, that he doses with THC and Vicodin and a bottle of vodka a day, that great and burning anger inside Bruce Banner that has a single, green pulsing heart at its center…he finally relaxes and lets it loose.

He gives a groan as he falls forward onto his hands and knees, "RUN, YOU FUCKERS!" he howls as his skin splits at the back, baring jade-green flesh. His hands start to swell and grow, the tips of his fingers dragging furrows in the stone as they ball into fists. His features warp, growing pugging and brutal as he looks up at the strange, inhuman and impossible thing climbing and growing in front of him, 'You want a fight, you son of a bitch? Well, then…" And he rises up to his feet, back arching, vertebra popping as he rises to nine feet in height, his musculature grotesque, oversized, a jade giant in every way, "FIGHT HULKKKKKK!"

*

Jim takes a glance around and winces. A stream of profanities start to come out of his mouth and he shakes his head. "No. Start it. Now."

It is unclear quite who he's talking to, but he gets a bit taller, a bit darker, and two limbs start to extend out his back. "I've got your flank, Eight."

"Rest of you get the hell out of here. Go."

And as almost a counter-signature to the mummy altering, the changes speed up, becoming some bird-thing. Tengu, perhaps?

*

Pepper Potts had already started to run when Bruce pulled away and she stops to look at him and … that was a bad idea. He's going all kinds of green. And then the normal looking man starts growing wings…. yeah. Outta here. But, did she keep track of the route they took to get here? Let's hope so, because she's running and she's not looking back.

A hand replaces Bruce's, and Constantine is hauling Pepper along with him. Or she's hauling him. It's a close call. "Strategic retreat, blokes! Strategic retreat!" he calls repeatedly, even as the tentacles start to thrash and lash out, bulging, amorphous appendages slamming into the limestone and attempting to grip at the combatants with needle-sharp prickles in place of suction cups.

"Miss Potts, I think it's quite time we quit this location in favor of more strategic territory. To wit, literally anywhere that's not here," Constantine tells Pepper.

The chamber is simply too small for the fighters /and/ the unspeakable monstrosity. The sheer mass of the expanding beast (even despite the extra dimensions) inevitably starts to push people back towards the Grand Gallery, and towards the exit.

*

Eight rolls it's shoulders as the mummy begins, well "unfolding" seems to be a good term for it." Understood, be advised. All safeties have been disabled, there is a considerable noise hazard." Eight moves smoothly, and seems for all the world sort of unhurried. It's face plate flashing over to a bright yellow skull and crossbones as that stubby bullpup carbine swings up to shoulder. The stance opens up, as it braces up and leans into that thing. Now let's be frank, that carbine? It doesn't look like much, even if it's got an ammo chute running into eight's torso and a great big ejection port.

"Hey, elderjackass! Fuck your shit motherfucker!" The noise, is what folks tend to remember. You can -feel- every round go off in the very pit of your stomach, it's the sort've loud that bursts ear drums and makes people bleed. The flash is brighter than a thousand suns, and well Eight at war? It's old fucking testiment shit. Eighteen hundred rounds per minute, fired with the sort've raw mechanical precision even super powered marksmen could never hope to even approach. The Recoil lifts sand and dust, and the muzzle flash turns it to glass in mid air. It's enough energy to roll Eight back onto it's heels, all thirteen hundred pounds worth. Rolling a tight pocket of fire around on the beast's head. Empties hurtling an easy sixty yards to the side, presuming they don’t have something like a stone wall to embed themselves within. Still, five hundred rounds doesn't take long to exhaust. Leaving Eight's armored shell to steam, as the cherry red carbine clatters to the ground beside it. Useless now.

*

Eight's shotgun blasts rip great gouts of blackened flesh from the being and send gory green spatters against the wall. Tentacles and proboscii go flying as the machine cuts down the Ancient Old One, blasting it into a messy, misshappened lump of gory ichor. It makes a hell of a mess of things, but from the way the blob continues to squelch and quiver, Eight hasn't put it down hard enough to outright stop it entirely.

*

"Crows are in the brances… wolves are in the wild… Others in the shadows. Goodbye, child."

Fenris stops twirlign his blade as power focuses around him and swings in a mighty, glittering arc at the nearest Bad Thing (tm). Then he begins to back. "Time to go, as the man says!"

*

The avianoid's hands extrude talons, with which it slices at the nearest of the tentacles that have not been vanquished by the wall of Holy Firepower most righteously and vigorously applied. "You've clearly been sitting for too long. It is bad for the heart and mind and clouds reason. A good walk every decade can clear that up."

However, it is most assuredly staying away from the avatar of pure rage that is frothing nearby. No need Hulk Smash Bird, thanks. It works on covering the exit of folks… and hey, staying the way out of that glittering arc, too. Woosh.

*

Pepper Potts does NOT stop running, no matter what she hears. She turns corners without bothering to try and remember if they're the correct direction, and is probably getting herself well and truly lost.

*

Eight jerks that empty feed chute free and just tosses it casually aside, before heading out the way it's compatriots fled. Thigh panel swinging open, as Eight withdraws it's revolver and gets to cracking it open. Leaving those translucent cased rounds to tumble to the ground, before it can produce a reload of red striped cartridges it shoves home. Armor still smoldering as it snaps that revolver shut. "Be advised, prelimary combat was ineffective. I have exhausted my primary weapon, secondary weapon systems on line." Moving after, well wherever Pepper went really. It did say it would protect her right?

*

The amorphous green mass snaps forward in a sudden burst of violent motion, lashing out at Bruce and slamming a half-ton of amoeba-like form into The Hulk. The impact is enough to make the pyramid shake, bringing down dust and crumbling limestone from the ceiling. There is plenty of room for Jim to make a withdrawal as well- Constantine shouting after Pepper and trying to get her onto the right path, while simultaneously indicating which direction Eight should take to get out.

*

"Miss Potts! This way!" Constantine shouts after Pepper, loudly, pointing out towards one of the other cross-corridors as she heads for a dead-end.

*

Hulk lets out a primal roar, not paying much attention to whatever the puny humans or machines are doing at this point. Hulk doesn't have much of an attention span, and what does exist is focused on the Thing That Should Not Be. He's not particularly caring about space or architecture - stone is just something that gets in his way briefly, to be ploughed through and left in his wake.

Nothing subtle about Hulk's approach. When the thing lands atop him, hammering him into the stone, Hulk roars as the stone beneath his feet cracks and, seemingly impossibly, he pushes up, lifting the dead weight of the thing atop him and hurling towards the opposite wall, "HULK DISGUSTED!"

*

"It would seem that we would be 'bugging out'" the strange being offers to Fenris, throwing wings up to help ward against falling rock and debris and alien entity-gunk. "Let us try to catch up."

He gives a glance at Hulk and the thing he's fighting, and attempts to speed up a bit. Definitely do NOT want to be around if that big guy finishes off the thing and is still pissy.

*

Fenris is quite happy to let Hulk and Eight do the bruising. It's really, quite alright. He'll keep backing, because really, this is a bad time to start an apocalypse. "Constantine! Is the house going to let us out as last time? Or does this get… tricky?

*

"Do you really want to stick around and debate possibilities?!" Constantine demands, as The Hulk lays into the Old One and utterly crushes it, even as the group flees the pyramid. From the outside, the Hulk's battle resembles more of an earthquake than anything- limestone plating falling down the side of the pyramid, taking the hard, smooth edges and giving them a more familiar, jagged appearance. Constantine runs into the sunlight, gesturing frantically for people to follow him out and towards the bizarre, solitary door standing in the middle of the desert.

*

Hulk grabs a hold of the Old One as he leaps after it, the crumbled wall through which he smashed it falling apart, raining stone all around. He spins ones and then hurls, throwing the thing through room after room of pyramid, shattering them with the boneless body of the thing to land in the sand outside, flying up into the sunny, burning sky in an arc.

Hulk quickly follows, leaping to land just short of the thing, head cocked as he watches it squirm, seeing if there's any more fight left in the old blob as the desert heat beats on his jade shoulders.

*

Pepper Potts looks over at Constantine and moves to follow him as best she can. She's not exactly wearing running shoes here. But, even in heels, she catches up with the insane Brit quickly enough and is glad to have someone leading the way. Running through corridors randomly is never a good thing.

*

"We should not abandon our allies in this time." The strange bird-thing sticks out greatly in desert sun when it gets outside, almost pure obsidian in comparison to the sands, blue skies, and not much else. That being said, it is not going to get stranded here, either. It does try to stop a couple of times to make a claw mark on the pyramid, but almost as if possessed the hand that is about to make the claw mark lifts up. To the house…and hopefully some sort of safety, then?

*

Eight follows along quietly enough, still a little charred black but otherwise back to whatever passes for normal by now. Dipping a hand to let Chairman meow scuttle up amongst it's shoulders without missing a step. "In the future It would be advisable to offer warning of such adventures, I have armament sufficient for the threat encountered but I do not carry it with me routinely. In addition, combat drones would have been very desirable."

*

Constantine and the others get far enough away to be well clear of the HulkQuake, which shears off the limestone plating on the pyramid and sends some of the great bricks to the ground. Constantine winces and holds his hands to his temples, looking stricken as The Hulk batters the Pyramid at Giza into an unfamiliar, dilapidated form instead of the smooth-sided one so well depicted in pictures. (Because we're making a new timeline here!)

Hulk banishes the Old One to the scorching heat of the sun, where it shrivels and dies and eventually turns to smoke and shade, trickling back to the pyramid and presumably to sulk and suffer in the shadows within the ediface.

*

"Well…. so that did not go /quite/ as planned," Constantine admits to the group, finally. "I think we rather broke the pyramid."

*

Hulk chuffs heavily, kicking the smoky spot where the monster was. If anything, the monster seems disappointed that it didn't get more of a fight out of the bird-creature, cracking his massive neck as he turns and marches back across the sand towards the gathering of 'allies', his bare feet leaving massive dents in the dunes in his wake.

'Puny pyramid,' he mutters, then stops and stares down at Constantine, his Cro-Magnon brow beetling over his black bead eyes, "Coat Steam. Take Hulk home. Now."

*

"Nothing ever goes as planned. It is a hell of a notion. Even pharaohs turn to sand… like a drop in the ocean." It is a bit singsongy from the bird-man, but not quite singing. It goes really quiet for a few moments as the big guy shows back up. No need the smash. Nope. And it likes the name. This fellow is now 'Coat Steam'. "Yes, please, if you would, Mister Coat Steam. Return us to a proper location in the space-time."

*

That makes Fenris almost giggle as he goes from backing to full on 'withdrawing'. "An exit would be most timely. And we already know my portals do not work at all well here."

*

Eight reholsters with a artful little flourishing twirl, before looking skyward. "If it were night, I would be able to discern the date. Unfortunately I am not equipped for daytime astral study, does anyone know the precise date? I am, alone. The collective, I cannot contact the collective unfortunately. It is, most unsettling."

*

Constantine gulps a bit at Hulk and gesture towards the door, which grows wide enough- quickly- to let the Hulk in. "All right, let's get everyone home," Constantine says. "We got what we came for- at least, I hope we did, and it's not just his dying notes on which girls he wishes he'd dated while alive."

Constantine gestures towards the door, opening it with a skeleton key and letting everyone precede him into the House of Mystery- to be returned from whence they came.

*

Pepper Potts does NOT step through that doorway, not until she shoves the scroll at Constantine. "You are officially persona non grata around me now." Once that's dealt with, she watches to make sure everyone else steps through okay before going through herself and finding herself in her office again.

Without her tablet or files.

*

Corvinus tilts its head and glances to Pepper, squinting a bit and nodding before glancing to Constantine. "You require further enlightenment. We will meet again, Mister Coat Steam." Not bitterness, not frustration, just a loaded promise.

*

Fenris looks at Constantine. "We'll have to talk. Later. Right now, I'm just glad no one was horribly savaged." He sighs as Pepper leaves. "I still have your… files. No matter. I know where to drop them off. Eight. Shall we repair back to normality?"

*

Eight peers after Fenris for a moment, before looking skyward silently for a moment. "This is very odd, Fenris. You have the strangest friends." Then quietly, Eight's off. Striding quietly after Fenris back to… somewhere.

"Through the door, tap your nose twice, turn twice to your left, and you should be back home," Constantine says, following everyone into the House of Mystery and letting them find their way home to their respective reality. He cradles the scroll of human flesh gingerly in his hands, regarding it with the enthusiasm one normally reserves for radioactive waste.

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