Mercenaires Sans Frontières, Part 2

July 30, 2015:

Domino and the Hood close in on Bonita Horatio's apartment, only to find that her mission is better defended than anyone could have expected!

Meanwhile, Dreamraker discovers a nasty, yet adoring surprise in Bonita's dreamscape!

Can our heroes successfully kidnap this innocent doctor before their bodies and spirits are crushed?

Bahrain

Sand. Oppressive heat. The scars of recent terrorist occupation and giant robot liberators.

Characters

NPCs: Vertigo, Dr. Destiny, Merlyn, Bonita Horatio

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

LAST TIME

A figure with a skull for a face stares into Dreamraker's soul from beneath the red-tinged lights of Arena México as Bonita Horatio's subconscious vanquishes all comers, lucha libre style.

Meanwhile, Dr. John Dee sends a text message with one hand while cradling an eerily luminous ruby in the other; wisps of hair fall to the bed around him all the while, ignored. The wig he wears for day to day interactions sits near the satchel he carries everywhere.

Our 'heroes' prepare to kidnap Bonita Horatio from the comfort of an SUV in the middle of the night. One of them is high as shit; luckily, all they have to do is slip into her first floor apartment, grab her and pop out again, all with the help of the Hood's trusty invisibility and teleportation cloak.

A cut of ten million dollars is just a hop, skip, and a jump away…

NOW

Merrill Lynn - a newer medical tech with an almost aggressively pointed soul patch - strides out of his tent with a baseball cap pulled low over his head and a quiver slung across his back. His attention flits between the dimly lit camp, the darkness surrounding it, and the little flip phone in his hand as he shoots a text out: "how many?"

Meanwhile, a green-haired nurse texts, "where are they," on her own flip phone after setting her brush aside. She leans out of her own first floor apartment in scrubs patterned with trippy, colorful rings, peers both ways down the hall, then begins working her way towards the scar on the opposite end of the complex to step outside.

THE DREAM ARENA

"Tonight's card is sold out," the skeletal figure calmly states. It— he— speaks in a chorus of voices drawn from Lynette's pre-Seonaidh dreams. The strange, unpleasant ones. "You really shouldn't be here."

The stands begin to ripple and fade, as if responding to the figure's decree. La Hija del Mysteria fights on as if nothing is happening, but she, too, grows distant and ghostly as Dr. Destiny attempts to draw them both out of Bonita's dreams.

At no point does the ruby tinge to the arena's lights flicker, or even dim.

-

"We're keeping her here in Manama," Dom tells Parker after passing him the gun. "Unless you heard otherwise? S'what the warehouse is for. And hell, this might be cake, it might not be. For what we're getting paid, I'm assuming not, though, yeah?" The chalk-white woman flashes a grin at the cloak-toting man. "And yeah, Domino's me. Pleasure. Plan is to go in together, unless somebody really wants to argue against it."

Lynette's comment about Neena's get-up earn a small smirk, "We can talk about that later. And seriously, don't touch the damn coke again until after we're done." The latter bit is added in an annoyed mutter. "We all good? Great. Let's go." Not really waiting for an answer, the merc starts to move away from the SUV and in the direction of Bonita's building. "Can you cloak all of us?" Gets added as an afterthought, blue eyes cutting to Parker again.
-

Delving deeper reveals the horror buried within Bonita's subconscious mind, in that place where dreams and nightmares linger. Lynette pulls up, eyes hardening, teeth biting down lightly upon her lower lip beneath the burka.

"…. shit."

The curse comes out derisively. "That bitch has defenses." For a moment, she appears to brood on this. Should she enter the dreamscape fully, it will only be a matter of time before she can no longer concentrate on moving… walking… dodging an incoming knife.

A derisive look is flashed to Domino in regards to the cocaine. "You lot may need to find a closet for me to pass out in," she quips, then turns forward. Her eyes grow glassy, as if she weren't really here; the motions of her body now paced more languid, as if she were sleepwalking.

THE DREAM ARENA

Drawing herself into the dreamscape is painful, for the creature within has suddenly made its attack personal. Childhood memories, terrible memories, are drawn to the surface, to the point that when the Dreamraker merges her own subconscious with that of Bonita's, she appears as a pre-adolescent child, naked, with a blanket protecting her. She looks up at the skeletal figure with tears in her eyes and a pout upon her face, as if she should call for her mother at any moment.

This expression, however, is soon replaced by a look of adolescent rage. The blanket is ripped into dozens of shards, while the child ages in the blink of an eye. Black and purple leather, tight to her body as the skin itself, wraps around her naked form like serpents, until the avatar of the Dreamraker is complete. Her eyes turn from brown to a fiery blue, and a heavy wind rises from the wasteland, blowing past her and toward the creature with increasing ferocity.

"I belong here." Dreamraker's mouth may move, but the voice comes from dozens of voices in all directions, the heavier syllables causing the ground to rumble. "Who dares challenge the Master of Nightmares?"

Purple and black arms rise, and lightning begins to crackle from black clouds forming high above; purple blasts of plasma that curl from the sky between her fingertips in a menacing way.

-

"Nope, I got told just the bare basics," confirms Hood, checking his new gun with expert eye. He pulls out the magazine, counts the bullets, puts it back in. Safety on and the handgun goes to a pocket. Pretty visible now, but he plans to be invisible most of the time. He offers the women a smirk and vanishes, "lead on," his voice sounds distant and muted, but apparently he is still around. "I can't cloak anyone else, but I can teleport you two back to the SUV. Even back to the airport if needed."
-

<doctor_dee> she's beautiful
<merlyn> who? we need intel. give us a heading. something.
<doctor_dee> such rich delicious dreams
<vertigo> uh, wow, this guy is pretty crazy
<doctor_dee> oh i've got to meet her i've just got to i'm coming master of nightmares
<merlyn> jfc.

There are advantages to most of the camp being asleep, such as there not being anyone to question the guy intermittently jogging and skulking past the tents with a quiver on his back, a bow in one hand, and a phone he's furiously texting on in the other. Merlyn hops from cracked rubble to (almost) solid ground effortlessly as he approaches Bonita's complex; he has a ways to go since he's coming from the stretch of tents in front of the hospital, but if he's lucky— if they aren't already inside… he may just have a chance at spotting them.

Eventually, he perches on a jutting chunk of wall and pulls up the night vision binocs dangling from his neck to give himself a better look.

<merlyn> two bogies.

The phone goes into a pocket. The binocs come back up, this time with straps coming around to secure them to the archer's face so that both hands are free. He breathes in, eyes narrowed on Domino as she approaches the complex. Fingers reach back, an arrow is nocked, and—

*THWIP!*

— it slices through the darkness towards the albino merc's position.

A split-second later, another follows.

<vertigo> okay but where
<vertigo> ugh fuck both of you

Vertigo steps out in her psychedelic scrubs, annoyed and lacking the benefit of night vision goggles. She sweeps the darkness for signs of intruders anyway, but when this turns up little more than barely legible shapes and figures, she decides to abandon finesse in favor of bringing her hands up and broadcasting a psionic signal on the 'holy shit why is everything spinning aaaaaaa' frequency. It's weak relative to the results she might get from focusing on a particular target or group of targets, but still enough to potentially ruin one's equilibrium— even if they're invisible and happen to be in the effect radius by accident.

THE DREAM

Dr. Destiny's shrouded figure gains bulk, height, and heft as those clouds form. He'd been perfectly content to watch the girl writhe in psychic agony, but this— is so much better.

A blood-red sun peeks through black clouds. Even though the stands are gone, it's only now that he begins to stand, the folds of his cloak shifting around his body so that it's almost - but not entirely - hidden from view. What snatches of him can be seen - beyond the skeletal face that now peers quite plainly past his hood - suggest a chimeric form: the great, grasping arm of the monster that once haunted the space beneath Lynette's bed, or the darkness of her closet; a torso dotted with a thousand judgmental eyes; the endlessly stretching legs of a wannabe dancer who had a bad run-in with a factory machine, even stronger than she remembers them.

"The Lord of Dreams," is his response, whispered in Dreamraker's ear in a rush of hot, excited breath like a forbidden secret. His jaw does not move. "Emperor of the Land of Sand and Sleep."

From behind Dreamraker: "It is an honor to be in your presence, O Master of Nightmares." A hand touches her shoulder. A hand, or - if Dreamraker had any childhood pets - a paw. A fin, perhaps.

"And a pity that we didn't met before now."

The clouds begin to retreat. The formless ground beneath them splits, darkens, then begins to blow away in swirling dust devils; Doctor Destiny is trying to compliment his cruel, red sun with a cruel, sun-blasted dreamscape meant to grind the young oneiropath's defenses down.

"Why are you here," he wonders as his voice rises to become a howling gale sweeping across the desert, "save to tease me?"

-

"Defenses? The hell are you talking about. Is she a telepath or something?" Domino hisses after catching Lynette's curse, pausing her stride for a heartbeat to glance back at the redhead. Muttering under her own breath, the mercenary casts another look around as she starts moving again. Aside to Parker, she grumbles, "Catch her if she starts to fall over." A look accompanies that comment. Right. Invisibility. She nods when he speaks again.

Neena's a bit on edge after Dreamrakers mutterings, but it's not exactly unexpected. Folks don't pay ten million dollars for a job that's going to go off without a hitch. She is however, not on edge enough to be expecting to need to suddenly dodge an arrow. Which is no good, because her power really, really works a lot better when she's aware of what's going on.

Kevlar and similar materials are generally designed to stop bullets. It's pretty hard to stop bullets and things like knives or arrows without losing a lot of mobility. And Dom relies pretty heavily on that. Merlyn's arrow thuds into the mutant's side, sinking a couple inches into her abdomen, but luckily not hitting anything vital.

The impact sends Neena staggering to the side a step with a grunt of pain, but she's been to enough rodeos that she's immediately reacting. An arm reaches out, snatching at Dreamraker's wrist, while her other hand draws a gun from beneath her coat. Dom lurches into motion with a hiss of pain, yanking Lynette forward, towards the building, and hopefully out of the way of the second arrow. A couple of silenced rounds get squeezed off in the vague direction the arrow came from, more in an effort to provide distraction than to hit anything.

And then Vertigo's psionic broadcast has Dom's already pained gait slowing to a stagger as she shakes her head and mutters a curse under her breath.
-

Parker hmms at Lynette's words. What was she doing, anyway? Besides drugging herself up. He turns to ask Domino and an arrow hits his invisible back.

This is a good thing, really, because the Cloak is pretty much indestructible. But the arrow still carries a lot of kinetic energy, which means Parker yelps, falling to a knee, stunned by the pain for a second. That is going to leave a large bruise, if he survives.

"Ambush," he groans, rolling away just as Vertigo hits the area with the dizziness wave. But this is a psychic assault and the Cloak shields him some. What he sees is Domino going down and the crazy druggy being pulled down. Great. Wait, she is still shooting, that is good.

It is dark, and he is not sure where the attackers came. One of them might even be able to see him. So he scrambles for cover and pulls his gun out, looking in the general direction from where the arrow came.
-

THE DREAM ARENA

There comes a momentary wince at the voice in her ear; this onslaught was personal. Yet, the Dreamraker has mastered more than two or three minds; indeed, in her greatest feat, she'd controlled and manipulated thousands of dreams, spread across Manhattan and the five boroughs.

"I think not!" Dreamraker's usually imperious tone is shaken just so, but as the landscape changes, she does not fight. Instead, she grins. Wickedly.

"I came to play."

THE CAMP

"I came to play," murmurs Lynette in a sing-song voice as Domino snatches her up. Her eyes flutter as the arrow whizzes past, and a gasp escapes her mouth. "Not her," the Scot answers, "Another, an invader! Seonaidh…"

She staggers forward and collapses, breathing heavily, eyes wide open beneath the burka and staring up at the skies.

THE DREAM ARENA

Dreamraker's arm rise into the air, and the purple lightning casts out in every direction. The minds of those sleeping in the camp are suddenly ripped by a powerful surge of oneiropathic energy, torn from their individual dreams and thrust forcefully into this arena. The avatars appear at once, scattered around as an audience for this duel.

THE CAMP

Those sleeping begin to toss and turn, minds locked in forced REM as their dreams are merged.

THE DREAM ARENA

"The Lord of Dreams," mocks Dreamraker, while blue fire spreads from her eyes to her limbs, lifting her into the air. "More like a child, playing in a sandbox of worms." Her arms lower, and tongues of blue fire stretch out, enveloping those avatars that were brought, unwilling, into this merged nightmare. As one, each dreamer manifests as their own worst nightmares; ranging from monsters to abusive fathers, from rapists to predators, all of them twisted machinations of their own selves.

"Shall we begin?"

Arms are thrust toward Dr. Destiny, and the collected mob rushes him with a roar of malicious intent.

-

Merlyn is already gone from his original perch, darting across— and then, when Domino fires, behind— rubble. His gear is dark, but the green catseye glow of his binoculars flickers in the dimness of the camp; spotting him in motion is difficult, but far from impossible.

As soon as the gunfire subsides, he hauls himself onto the low wall he'd ducked behind, darts along its edge, then leaps towards a hill of broken architecture a few yards away.

He has no idea that the Hood likely has him in his sights; even if the gang leader weren't invisible, he'd be too focused on firing a arrow that whizzes through a hole a few paces ahead of Domino's entry point. The arrow hits a doorframe inside at just the right angle to ricochet into a slicing angle across the corridor Domino and Dreamraker are heading towards— through.

Whether this actually works or not, his landing will be an unpleasant one: one of those silenced rounds dug a trench along his side, and while he is enough of a pro to keep moving in spite of it, he's going to pay for those acrobatics. But that's alright; if he picked his shot correctly, Domino will be down, and the breach will be over.

Well, maybe Domino will be down. It was a pretty shot, but not the most accurate.

Vertigo had the presence of mind to look for a hiding place once the shooting started, but maintaining her nauseating broadcast meant that that hiding place needed to be relatively close to the action. So, she's huddled under a few massive, but stable-seeming chunks of rubble near the outer edges of the scar.

It is entirely possible that Domino'll run by her on the way in, at which point she'll probably be forced to go for the merc's ankles.

THE DREAM ARENA

"How wonderful," echoes a gust of wind. The dust it carries swirls into a column a few feet opposite Dreamraker; the column coalesces into Dr. Destiny. This is not his doing, but he doesn't panic. Even when the camp's collected nightmares are given form by their Master, even when they turn as one to charge him, he greets this turn of events with a slow, shuddering breath of anticipation rather than fear.

"Such power— such raw, unbridled control over the stuff of dreams— !" he rhapsodizes. A roaring father ten feet high with a belt made of thorns lashes him, bringing him to his knees. "Su— such— vividness— " The ground opens just a few feet behind him, exposing a lifetime's worth of one man's jilted loves and their grasping, grabbing claws.

"The world— must see your art— !"

The cracks in the parched earth of the arena widen. Nightmares from the edges of Dreamraker's mob slip into the yawning gaps even as more pile onto Destiny's avatar, tearing at it. Rending it.

It's possible that he could save himself; it's likely that he doesn't care to.

THE MISSION

The red light on one of the tents' roofs intensifies until it's shining a pale, bloody moon into the sky. The ground dries and cracks in patches, asphault and rubble giving way to dead earth just as readily as dirt or sand.

There is movement in the camp: tent flaps rustle ominously, offering glimpses of horrible things beyond. Long shadows stretch across the apartment complex within and without, twisting into new shapes whenever nobody's looking.

And things begin to tumble, creep, crawl, or fly from the cracks in the ground as an array of nightmares collected from the camp are birthed into the world.

They don't immediately turn towards the gathered combatants, busy as they are with the business of entering reality, but if they're given any time at all in the waking world… who knows what they might do?

-

When Lynette stumbles, Domino releases the other woman's wrist, rather than let herself be dragged down or slow again to help the redhead. Gotta look out for numero uno, and Neena's already got an arrow sticking out of her side on top of now feeling like she's got a serious case of motion sickness. That now free hand immediately presses to her abdomen around the protuding shaft, blood streaming steadily from the wound, though a whole lot slower than if she dared yank the thing out right now.

Merlyn's attempted trick shot whizzes harmlessly over Dom's head as the mercenary goes down in a tumbled mess just inside the doorway with Vertigo wrapped around her ankles. Lucky, kind of? As she hits the ground, the arrow is pressed deeper and turns in the wound, earning a sharp shout of pain from the mutant before she manages to tear one leg free and tries to plant a boot solidly in the other woman's face twice. Regardless of how that goes, Neena is immediately twisting to vomit up her lunch onto the floor, from the combined psionic nausea combined with the fierce pain caused by the arrow.
-

THE DREAM ARENA

A gay man is flogged by a hateful mob. A woman is scorned for touching another man when such things are outlawed by her religion. A black man is beaten by white-cloaked cultsters while a noose is prepared. Such things and worse are played out as the mob's nightmares lash out at everything there is in this place; some things so horrible they cannot be shown to the reader.

THE CAMP

As the nightmares come to life, those dreamers that are trapped in the Dreamraker's clutches begin to have bodily reactions to their nightmares. Some of them vomit, and of those, a handful begin to choke and asphyxiate, unable to prevent it for they simply cannot be woken. Blood pools from wounds made visible by this dark magic. In one tent, a young man's heart simply ceases beating. Lynette, while powerless save for the brute rawness of her Glasgwegian upbringing in the real world, holds virtually limitless power in the dreamscape. Eventually, this power simply must bleed over, and bleed over it does.

THE DREAM ARENA

While the onslaught continues, the Dreamraker begins seeking out those kinds that are still awake, drawing them in one by one. It's a slower process, but as the nightmare expands, so does her power. This would usually weaken the dream, but with the power of Dr. Destiny further fueling the arena, the power of it only grows stronger, making the merged nightmare inescapable.

Perhaps, even, for him.

If she's lucky, perhaps some of those assailing Domino and Hood would be captured and drawn to sleep, but regardless, one man within the arena turns to run away, his feet carrying him far from that awful place.

THE CAMP

A man stumbles into a wall, clearly sleepwalking. However, as he draws near to the invisible Hood, he begins speaking to the air in his direction. "Hey, it's me. 'Raker. We don't have much time. Gotta get the bitch and get out." A pause. "Oh, and don't leave me behind, for fuck's sake." The man slumps into the wall and collapses, groaning and moaning in his sleep.

Not far from where Domino and Vertigo struggle, Lynette lies very still in her costume, essentially playing dead. However, her left eyelid begins to twitch, and her chest rises and falls beneath the burka.

THE DREAM ARENA

Dreamraker begins to roar. Purple energy lashes out from her fingers, her eyes, even the jagged tips of her cloak. Where it strikes ground, the ground disappears. Where it strikes the dreaming avatars, they are impaled with it. But soon enough, the arcs of energy begin to converge upon Dr. Destiny, growing in power with each new mind that is ripped into the merged nightmare.

"Go and share this with the world, then - that you… were no match… for me."

The air sizzles, and blinding light begins to pour in from the cracks and shadows. The powerful oneiropathic surge is mounting… it's only a matter of time before it all crumbles.

-

Meanwhile, no one is firing on the invisible Hood. Which, mind you, is his favorite way of doing things. He spots Merlyn when he shoots another arrow and aims with his handgun. But realistically, he is not going to hit from this distance at night. He is good, but he is not Bullseye.

So instead he runs forward and up, getting some height and keeping his gun aimed to the archer's last known position. If he shows himself again, he is definitely going to open fire. Along the way he spares a glance at the women, just in time to see Domino kicking someone in the head. Going alright, it seems. And then everything goes to hell and monsters start popping up from the ground. "And this is what happens when I leave Brooklyn," he mutters bitterly.
-

THE DREAM ARENA

Purple light jets from the ground like fire as Dreamraker's energies converge on Destiny. In his fascination with her, he'd all but abandoned any attempts at actually fighting her— and simply gawking at a dreamsculpter of her magnitude is a sure path to ruin. His shrouded avatar is pierced from a hundred different angles and purple light lights vacant sockets.
THE MISSION

A small, purple blotch inches across a corner of the flickering blood moon.

THE DREAM ARENA

"Match you…?"

Destiny's words come from the nightmares holding him down as Lynette finishes the job of rending his avatar to pieces. "Why, I merely wanted to admire you, Master of Nightmares."

Pieces of his avatar fall to the ground, shatter, and embed themselves in very fabric of the nightmare.

"To taste… your power…"

Destiny's voice is a sepulchral whisper, and then it's gone— and he's stuck, overwhelmed by the forced he sought to tangle with.

CAMP NIGHTMARES WITHOUT BORDERS

The awful, scratching things crawling through the cracks between the Dreaming and Waking Worlds break down into points of dim, red light— which winks out of existence in a matter of seconds. The dead earth recedes until there's no longer any trace of its presence.

The camp's nightmares may well continue through the night, but at least they'll be confined to their own psyches.

A couple kicks to the face takes the fight right out of Vertigo as reality reasserts itself. Her power is potent, but she herself is not exactly built for fighting; normally, she has people for this sort of thing. The green-haired mutate slips into unconsciousness, freeing Domino.

Merlyn, meanwhile, takes several rounds to his lightly armored back when he darts from cover to get away from a mound of caterpillars with human heads boiling from the Earth. The fact that the otherworldly insects vanish as he hits the ground offers no comfort at all; he doesn't even know where the hell those shots came from.

His rep will probably suffer. These are his last thoughts as he, too, falls unconscious, bruised and broken and bleeding due to one of Robbins' rounds making it through

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