Zeroes and Ones

August 30, 2015:

Shift and Seikatsu meet with the Herald.

The Astral Plane

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Astral plane.

A place where all things coterminately exist. The only true infinity in Creation, a place dominated by thought and will and concept as much as by its own baroque rules of physics. Things live here, too- creatures of the abstract. They float on astral eddies, feasting off the latent thoughts of a billion billion beings from across all time and space and multiverse. The Astral is a place for hiding, if one knows how to do so. In a bedlam of silent infinity, where does one even start to look for a piece of solid ground?

For Reese and Shift, though, there is a strident, summoning beacon that calls to them. The Prophet and her first recruit, lured towards a siren call emanating from a vast, rocky mass of indeterminate size. The word 'battleship' springs instantly to mind, lit from within by lurid red, with clumpy Astral mass assembling a hull and the souls and forms of discorporeal creatures clinging to or embedded in the stony surface. It's an affront to the Astral plane, a 'thing', a floating mass of reality in a place where nothing persists beyond a need for it to do so.

And from inside that floating fortress comes the quiet bid to attend their new master.


Back at Moontree Manor, the silent beckoning and call was reacted with violence. She wasn't ready. She didn't want to go. She wanted to find her way out of this new role as the Prophet because, it was bad on the hair and on the psyche. Mostly the psyche. She didn't too much care about all of that hair.

But her soul was effectively and violently sucked from her, awakening within the plane.. and upon that ship with a start.. the use of her eyes were a shocking thing to overcome whenever she was traveled, and yet now was not the time to marvel at what she sees. The hair that floats was quickly shorn off with the rise and fall of her katana, the trendils of black melting away in flashes of blue as she stands alert.. waiting.

How far can they go down the rabbit hole before they needed to come up for air to live?


It's been an ugly few days for Shift; essentially both on the run from whilst simultaneously tracking his WAND overseers. The altercation with Poison Ivy left him angry, shredded, confused… and drowning in a bottle of George Dickel Barrel Select.

Such it is that his being, when drawn into the astral plane, does so with a fair bit of resistance. It was an unnatural thing, for a fragmented and incomplete soul to enter this place. Fire and ice follow him, with lances of light that shear out from his body and form crusting icicles wherever they find solid object. He opens his mouth to scream, and the sound that comes from within manifests as 980 voices at once, screaming in protest, until they meld together into the one voice that is distinctly that of Kwabena Odame.

When the fireworks settle, his silver eyes alight upon Reese. He comes upon her with foul intent, driven by animal passions and a survival instinct. "What is dis?" he demands. "WHERE have you taken me?"


Dark eyes lift as she surveys the scene from down below. The way that he falls was interesting to say the least; it speaks a lot to his character. Havoc, chaos. He was going to be someone to contend with.

As he lands, Reese immediately draws up a hand to press the palm of it against his nose, though she doesn't push nor smush, the other resting upon the hilt of her katana as her neck cranes left and right, gaze soon fixated as she lowers her hand to rest against her side with a relative ease.

"You're in the astral plane, Kwabena Odame." Her tone was even, her shoulders appearing to relax even though she was ready to strike him down from perdition. "We were called here and we came." She takes a step forward, preparing to follow the path that her soul is tugged, but she does stop, glancing over her shoulder.. the little pipsqueak of a girl unfrightened of this aspect of Shift.

"Do well to remember, whether bad or good does not matter here. Intent is as intent does. And if you approach me, Yogen-Sha or Takeda Seikatsu with anger in your heart and 'your' intent to do harm, son, I will strike you down with the fury of my fore-fathers and use this katana to fuck your face." The katana was soon ripped from her sheath, allowing the tip of her blade to drag against the ground as she continues to walk, calm.

"And I would like to see you try to come back from that.."


The fury in Kwabena's eyes is stilled only by the odd gesture of palm against nose. He glowers at the woman, chest heaving with such pent up frustrations. He's not a man who enjoys being in unfamiliar places; he survived on the Earth this long by his ability to observe and adapt.

Despite the wounded nature of his psyche, that contemplation sets his mind upon something other than malice. He looks away from the woman, observing his surroundings. He's been in strange places before… the Nowhere Market, HYDRA's arcane theaters… this takes the cake. He cannot even be certain that his genetic mutant abilities will work here.

Drawing a deep breath, he looks back into the eyes of the Prophet, and the viciousness drains. "I intend to replace what was taken from me," he informs the woman. "I will do whatever it takes to do dis. You can make your threats, but you should be wise not to deceive me."

That being said, the mutant follows Reese, observing his surroundings carefully as he goes. "Now, tell me about dis place, and what is going to happen to us."


The battleship swallows them both. There is a lurking hunger about the construct, as if it itself has some sapience or awareness; an endless, cavernous hunger that beckons all things on the Astral plane and consumes them endlessly. Even as an affront to non-reality, being solid and 'real', there is something incomprehensible about the place. Passages don't line up. The steps twist and bend. More than once, Reese and Shift see themselves walking ahead of them- or in once case, walking back from some encounter, Reese's face troubled but vivid and Shift's features somehow swollen and engorged with fresh vitae.

When they reach the heart of the vast construct, they find a man standing there. At first glance, he even looks human, with pallid skin and blonde hair. He stares at a wall of purplish crystal, the swirling depths conveying some intangible information to him.

When Shift and Reese draw near, though, he turns, and in an instant of clarity it becomes apparent that this is something barely constrained into the shape of a human. His eyes are a lurid red, a sullen glow escaping his lips like fire-lit smoke with each word he speaks. His clothing seems quite casual, a trenchcoat over a white shirt, but instead of shadows, his garb seems lined with swirling void of miasmic colors and energies.

"Undying Child," the figure addresses Shift. The tone is something grand and terrible. It is the voice that spoke through Reese in the park, but deafening, overwhelming, not remotely constrained by reality. It is a Presence, an awful, vast presence, and it has all the monumental force of a thundering mountaintop addressing a lone hiker. Beyond would-be gods or immortals, it is truely primal and hideously beautiful at the same time.

"Shattered and broken, scattered to the winds. I am Ka'amara, Herald of Our Father, May His Name Be Spoken In Silence," the shadow-man says, adulation making the words ring. "I am the shepherd of the broken and the despairing, I who gather them unto me and send my flock out to spread the First One's word. Adore the Grace of the Undying One, and you will know his blessing."


"But at what cost?" Seikatsu asks. Blade still dragging, echoing through the expanse of the astral plane. "Even those who are the most evil excersize a modicum of self control." They were closing in on the gazebo, her lips pursed as she intends to keep upon the path, the path a twisted and winding one, wrought with confusion and expectation..

"I have walked the earth for four hundred years. Trust me, Odame Kwabena, if I wanted to deceive you, it has already happened and been done." She smiles a little, then shrugs her shoulders. "But that was me in the nineteen thirties, you should have seen me in the seventies."

"This place is the Astral Plane. A crossroads in between the living and the dead. This is where the world lives and breathes, fueling her power from one entity to the next." She slowly draws her katana upright, then slams it into its sheath. "There are many beings here.. far too old, long gone and extinct.."

The explanation continues, though dies out after a time, their paths taken them to the destination as she takes that one solid step aside to allow Kwabena to approach. Thoughts were cleared, thoughts were nothing, eyes close and mind refocuses upon the hear and now, alighting upon the figure of John Constantine as the Herald speaks through his lips.


The longer Kwabena and Reese are in this place, the more anxious the Ghanaian become. He finds himself walking closer to Reese, not a word coming from his lips, and a growing sense of barely contained fear leaking from his person. He does listen to the woman's words, but there is no answer.

In this place, Shift is garbed as he would be in the field; his gunmetal gray uniform. It's a reflection of what's in his heart; the reluctant acceptance that he is meant for something greater than he's been. A thing that's been lost in recent times, not of his own doing, but something that still lingers deep within.

When the figure turns, Kwabena's eyes narrow in a speculative way, still investigating, trying to learn. When he speaks, however, it shakes the man to his core. His first instinct is to cower; and yet there is something wonderful about the horrors of such power. Something that draws at him, as much as it tries to force him to his knees.

But then, there is that call… a call to adore, to bow, to submit. It draws a narrow eye, and a hesitation. He finds that he recognizes the figure… from his first foray into the Nowhere Market, only this… this person who is speaking, this person is unfamiliar.

When Reese had admonished him on the nature of restraint, it fell upon deaf ears. The capacity for restraint was taken from him; it simply does not compute. Which is, in part, why he takes a single step forward, his eyes aflame as the inner beast rears its ugly head.

"I seek no grace, no… blessing." The word is spoken with ire. "I do not seek to be enslaved by some gift you offah me. Don't take me as some fucking fool, Herald. Every gift has a price, and I am unconvinced dat your price, whatevah it may be, is worth de gift you are about to offah me."

It seems the beast has yet to be properly tamed.


"Then you are of no use to me." And in that moment, with a gesture, the unearthly being obliterates Shift's spirit without even a gesture- just a flaring of ugly, sordid red light that utterly annihilates him. Shift has only time for a soul-wrenching scream of absolute despair and agony before he's completely blasted from existence.

"…Adore the Grace of the Undying one, and you will know his blessing," the Herald tells Shift after he and Reese enter the room. Reese is silent, and the proud Ghanian spits defiance at the Herald, despite the lingering wash of agony resonating through his very soul.

"…I am unconvinced your price, whatevah it may be, is worth de gift you are about to offah me."

"Then you are of no use to me." And in that moment, with a gesture, the unearthly being obliterates Shift's spirit without even a gesture- just a flaring of ugly, sordid red light that utterly annihilates him. Shift has only time for a soul-wrenching scream of absolute despair and agony before he's completely blasted from existence.

"…Adore the Grace of the Undying one, and you will know his blessing," the Herald tells Shift after he and Reese enter the room, a troubling psychic ache resonating through Shift's very soul. Reese is silent, and the proud Ghanian spits defiance at the Herald, despite the lingering wash of agony resonating through his very soul.

"…I am unconvinced your price, whatevah it may be, is worth de gift you are about to offah me."

"Then you are of no use to me." And in that moment, with a gesture, the unearthly being obliterates Shift's spirit without even a gesture- just a flaring of ugly, sordid red light that utterly annihilates him. Shift has only time for a soul-wrenching scream of absolute despair and agony before he's completely blasted from existence.

"…Adore the Grace of the Undying one, and you will know his blessing," the Herald tells Shift after he and Reese enter the room, a profoundly chill psychic ache resonating through Shift's very soul. Reese is silent, and the proud Ghanian spits defiance at the Herald, despite the lingering wash of agony resonating through his very soul.

"…I am unconvinced your price, whatevah it may be, is worth de gift you are about to offah me."


"Then you are of no use to me." And in that moment, with a gesture, the unearthly being obliterates Shift's spirit without even a gesture- just a flaring of ugly, sordid red light that utterly annihilates him. Shift has only time for a soul-wrenching scream of absolute despair and agony before he's completely blasted from existence.

"…Adore the Grace of the Undying one, and you will know his blessing," the Herald tells Shift after he and Reese enter the room, a screaming, wrenching pain resonating through Shift's very soul at the thought of defying this being. Reese is silent, and the proud Ghanian spits uncertain defiance at the Herald, despite the lingering wash of agony resonating through his very soul.

"…I am unconvinced your price… whatevah it may be, is worth de gift you are about to offah me," he says, struggling against the nauseating pain and clamoring warning in his mind.

"Then you are of no use to me…"

LOG NOTE: EDIT USE OF GESTURE IN POSE


It was a loop, the endless loop, of watching a train-wreck happen upon repeat. Reese meant it when she said that she was not a good person before all of this. She would have left Shift, to suffer the fate and remained there, clapped with glee that she actually had the eyes to see this travesty to take place.

Again..
..and again..
…and again..
….and again..

…..and again…

Each time that scene repeats before her eyes she could feel herself move. A hand lifting.. ever so softly.. piece by piece.. inch by inch by inch by inch..

Yogen-Sha, prophet of His Name Who Will Not Be Spoken..

Takeda Seikatsu, giver and keeper of life who taketh away due to new bond to the Darque-not bond..

Reaches out to grasp a hand upon Shift's shoulder, her eyes a blue glow, not to ease the pain but to deaden the nerves as the sweet courtesian that she once was tries to pull the dark man behind her as if she were protective of his very essense.

And she was.

"My Herald.." She coos softly, releasing the tall shoulder of the man as she binds her fingers together, her body at a half bow as she gives a gentle tilt of her head. "..please do not punish my ward further.. we.. we are regretful and humbled by your and our Father's grace." She doesn't look him in the eye, this body.. keeping the calm smile upon her face, allowing the bashfulness to bleed through.

"Allow me to humbly take a kneel in his stead and bare any punishment you must mete for his transgressions. He know not of what he speaks.. he's but a newborn, and we are eternal.. we walk with our father until the last star winks from the sky. And he is just now.." She glances back towards Shift.. and towards the Herald again.. "..coming into his own." And.. she blushes. For the love of god Reese blushes. If Nobunaga ever saw his granddaughter blush he'd shear her head off where she stood.


Again and again, Kwabena spits his defiance. Again and again, he suffers a fate not unlike the moment when he took the Mantle of Elijah in his hands.

Why had he done that?

He couldn't remember until now.

He'd done it to save a life. No… to save the world.

At first, his resilience is based upon his stubbornness. He'd not bowed to a God then, and he will not bow now. But as the time wears on, with each agonizing repeat of his vitriol, his spirit weakens. Eventually, he may have buckled, but the capacity for such a thing is simply not there. His respect for life, for others, his capacity to love, to trust, to consider something beyond himself, whether it be a person, a cause, even a Higher Power… all if it ripped from him, embedded into the souls of others. He bears not the ability to bow, to even recognize that help is being offered. And so, in his animalistic nature, he wrestles with the urge to preserve his life and his blatant defiance of all things. It's a struggle he may be fitted to endure for the rest of this torment, and where time has no meaning, such torment would be infinite.

When Reese steps forward, the cycle is broken, but for a moment. "I seek no grace," he walls. "No…" But there he stops, looking to Reese with the next word hanging on his tongue. Utter confusion has him transfixed upon her. Her actions, not unlike those of Zatanna, of Rain, Jericho, even that cop, Pezzini. He had difficultly comprehending why they would be so willing to help him before… now, the idea of someone being sacrificial has him dropping to one knee, both hands upon the ground, chest heaving with the agony of pain, and the agony of his confusion.

He looks up and roars, in primal desperation, "GIVE BACK WHAT WAS TAKEN FROM ME!" He would spit his fury upon them for the rest of eternity, for all the wrongs that have been done to him. He doesn't consider the penance this may be for his own actions, for that is another piece of his soul that was ripped away. "GIVE ME BACK WHAT IS MINE, OR END DIS!"


The spectre is suddenly in front of Shift, looming like thunderclouds on the horizon. A hand lifts, fingers closed, then opens, and on that palm of human-seeming flesh sits a coin-sized ember, glowing a lurid red. A tiny thing- a promise of the pain of knowledge, an apple from a forbidden tree.

"It is in my power to return those fractured parts to you," Ka'amara says, an infinitely long gaze looking down at the kneeling Ghanian. "You are one of the Undying, and where this universe would fracture you, I will rebuild you. Where you endure pain forever with no purpose, I can make your suffering have meaning. I will restore you to yourself and then raise you to heights no mortal can concieve," the apparition says, voice booming. "Accept His Grace into your heart and you will rediscover that which you have lost," it says.

The tiny coin, limned in cold heat, flickers in the being's palm, waiting to be devoured, promising to sate Shift's hungry soul.

The confusion, the inability to comprehend the real nature of what is happening, finally serves to break Kwabena's spirit. Without thinking, he reaches forward to take the item, placing it hungrily into his mouth.


It burns. It burns like a painful truth. And inside of Shift, something grows. His shattered, gutted soul start to fill out in odd ways, a latticework of energies that correct the greivous wounds to his psyche. It does not simply restore the missing parts of him- it replaces them. One by one, the feelings, all the feelings, start to return. Hunger. Joy. Frustration. The thousands of minute emotions and the delicate spectrum of them that a real person feels each and every day. But, overwhelmigly… there's a sense of affection. A parent to a child, almost, a sense of connectiveness to the vast and seemingly infinite being standing over Shift.

He rests one hand on Shift's forehead in benediction. "From my hand, you have partook in my power; you now bear a part of Our Father in your soul," the being tells Shift. "Know that this is but the first of many steps, the first of many feasts. I will restore you and raise you up, and you will know greatness for it."

The hand drops away, and those deep eyes turn to Reese. "I require the mortal shell of John Constantine," the being tells her. "It is hidden from my sight, by the magics of those who would prevent Our Father's return. Seek out their scion, Zatanna," he orders Reese. "She shelters in an abode that hides in the infinity of the Astral. Find my Martyr's body and bring it to me here, that I might reunite with it and the world will see Our Father in the glory of my footsteps upon soil once more."

Without so much as a dismissal, the being simply turns away and moves back to that swirling nexus of light and color, staring unblinkingly into their depths.

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