Hungry for Nightmares

October 11, 2015:

A starved Baku drags a lost soul out of the Dreamscape and in to the Astral Plane

The Astral Plane

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Beyond the lower planes where-in the harmless dreamer traverses lie a deeper realm or higher in which the Astral Plane is truly manifest. Within this domain beings of light, dark, chaos, order and the unknown roam. It is a realm of the mind and the psychic. A place dangerous to the unwitting and untrained.
A shift in the swirling yellow mists before the astral projection of Jean Grey opens up to reveal a landmass of ectoplasmic plains and fields. Almost like a video game the end of this expanse is visible as it cuts off in to nothingness again and luminous golden fog.
Pain? It is projected from this place along with fear. Terror strong enough to soil the astral realm with what feels to be a chill cutting wind that lances through bone, rattling it like wind chimes. Even if the X-Men is not here in any real physical sense it is still a 'felt' sensation.

The golden fog beyond the expanse of the field seems to thunder and glow with her own interpretations of that pain. Meditation in times of need does this, allows her to practice, to travel, to seek an inner peace that she couldn't find just from a nap or a simple walk in the park. This is something deeper.

In the astral, this plane she was normal. Not the fiery spirit she projects that burns the ground beneath her feet and the skies above her head, a simple being wrapped in green with eyes as white as snow. A lift of bare feet from the ground and a pull towards that bone chilling pain, a familiar pain is met with a touch of apprehension and a hint of worry.

Every, almost everything in this place.. while perceived as not real, is as real as it could get. "Who are you?" The voice echoes, it was hers, but it did not come from her lips.

The golden mists plume outward and a shadow behind them erupts forth. A giant bear with gleaming hell red eyes and a spiral network of white tribal like designs along it's brown to black furred body. It's teeth gnash and snap out at her and the word, "BACK!" roars forth before it starts to pace sideways facing her. "This dreamer is lost and sick, are you the source!?" Spittle and froth are pitched towards Jean's astral self as the bear bellows out again looking as though it will thunder forth and trample her under it's massive frame.

The plains and fields around them start to curl upwards, the stalks darkening from yellow to orange and soon black. The skies above no longer orange but turning purple and grey as lightning crackles through it. Darkness descends.

Jean lands with a start, fingers clenched into a fist preparing to defend herself against whatever may come. She was tense, it shows through the language her body presents, her shoulders shrug upright in slight as the bear manifests.. it says back, and so she does. She takes two steps, forcing those shoulders to relax and hands unclench, drawing in a breath.. and then out.

"I am not the source." She says carefully, drawing her hands up to shield from the spray but.. really, nothing else matters. Her real self can't feel it. Not yet. Remember that, Jean. Her eyes alight upon the surroundings as it begins to shift, turn and twirl right before her eyes, a bold step taken forward even though she tries.. at least tries to appear submissive in the face of anger.

"But let me help the dreamer. -We- can help him find his way. -We- will cure him of his illnesses." Another step, her hand reaching out. "We can try, for the dreamer and maker of this plane.."

A low snarl and the bear shape is dropped in a lava lamp like swirl and reformation to reveal a tall, broad shouldered man whose features are a blur as if they're not projected properly. Chalk white skin is outlined in black and red tribal design and those hellish red gleaming eyes. Fingers trail out in to long slender blades. "No, you are not it are you. It… is different. How are you here?" Could be any number of methods. Turning away from her the shadowy Astral person stoops and lightly digs fingers in to the soil, "He hides from me because he is afraid. I cannot seem to coax him out so I can lead him back to safety. The longer he hides the less time I have here and the thing that pulled him from his dreams will return… I can only guard so long. Perhaps you will have better luck."

It was two steps forward, and another taken back as the facade begins to swirl, forming into a man that causes her to relax even more, the slight of confidence shows as she gives a slight nod of her head. "It's not me." It certainly wasn't. Her appearance here is happenstance, a wrong or right turn into the ethers, purely by chance or fate. "I don't know." She confesses. "Maybe I was called. Maybe something pulled me here. Maybe the dreamer brought me here to help you protect him. I'm not sure."

"Do you have any idea where he is? The direction, the sense of the dreamer. Anything that could give clues to where he is so I can bring him to you." At least before time is up.

The man-shape tips its head up as though sniffing the air, "All around us. This dreamer is a latent, I don't think he is aware of what he is accomplishing. The hiding."
The black plains now look dead and more of a bog than a field of luster. The protector walks in a large circle as if stalking prey.
"Child, we are here to help you. You are lost and away from the safety of the veil that separates this dangerous place from a safe one. If you don't show yourself we can't bring you back home."
The ground rumbles and the word /home/ invites a change, the crackling of earth and a small set of rooms appear first a small bedroom appears and then what appears to be a trailer hitched up on bricks with a large cactus on the front porch. Halloween decorations hanging limply off the rails of the wood ramp leading to the trailer doorway.
As the small house appears something in the thunderclouds beyond roils and rumbles, a serpentine like motion through the darkness as something even blacker than the mists stirs.
"We must hurry, do you feel that?" Psychic pressure. An entity of great power is drawn to this little cluster of psuedo-reality.

Perhaps Jean understood then where she was pulled to. The dreamer was all around them, she possibly could have happened to find a doorway into the latent mind of the person, a person who called out for help and didn't even know that they had. This was almost a new avenue for her; to dreamwalk into anothers psyche and experience the pain that they felt, the tug and pull of it all connecting at this point, place and time. Is this was Xavier does? Form bonds without even knowing the person or seeing them face to face?

Arms soon wrap around herself as the scene changes yet again, keeping quiet, calm.. no need to infect startlement into this astral, the 'house' soon erected upon a brickmasoned stand that has her already upon the porch. She felt it. And it was /pulling/.

"I'm going inside." She states matter-of-factly, faith in that it was the right thing no matter how much it hurt. "We'll need your protection."

The pace wasn't far or long, for the image of Jean flickers in a zigzag shape, flashing from one point to the next until her hand was pressed against the door with a gentle touch that allows it to open with a soft creak. "Dreamer?" She calls out softly, one foot in.. "Everything is going to be all right.."

"Go, I will watch over you." The manshape twisted to transform in to that glowing inscribed bear again sitting down in front of the trailer like sentinel. "Please hurry."

The door at first would not open but then it sounded as though a chain was unlatched and the door opens to reveal a room, musty with old furniture. A recliner sat in the corner large like a throne with spikes and bones coming out of it, a bloody note in the center reads DO NOT SIT. Across from the recliner is a tv seated on old milk crates. Bright, colorful images swirl across its screen. Smiling faces and laughter. Some sadness too, an envy, a longing. The room remains dark, a hallway extends down the left and to her right a small kitchen where it feels warmer but not like the child. Just a warmth, a confused warmth. The faint smell of cigarettes, burnt food and coffee is predominate.
A thunderstrike and a rumble outside causes the door to slap shut behind her and the house darkens. The faces on the tv turn to sad faces and the screen sparks off, fizzling out. That cold wind from earlier cuts through the trailer, the warmth feeling is cast away in an otherworldly shriek.

There was a slight familiarity to this place. Something once seen on a television show that she's possibly watched a long time ago. Eiditic memory still works but played at the back of her mind as the laugh track ensues when a drunken man stumbles through the door to fall to the ground… no, not now.

But the inner decor was something left to be desired, an old haunt with blood and possibly bones make the cavernous trailer, a step taken forward and turned as she surveys the situation with a worry upon her brow. The thunderstrike causes her to jump; the slamming of the door draws out a shriek and her hands upright to shield and block whatever came out into the darkness.

Nothing.

Just the sound of her own heavy breathing and the thud-thud-thud of her rapid heartbeat as her hand reaches upright and fingers alight with flame to bring a reddish glow to the trailer within. Terror. "Please.. I know you're afraid." Jean murmurs quietly. "But everything is going to be all right. Let us help you.." She takes another step forward, paces careful, free hand at her side as the air around her fingers waver in preparation to push back the night..

"If it is a home you seek, I shall open mine to you, but you have to trust me.."

The rapid pit pat of footsteps down the dark hallway and a door way opens. This doorway leads to a small room, a cot in it with bedding, a bookshelf and a dresser. Paper scattered around the room with drawings etched across them on. Over and over a strange creature with tusks and an elephants head menacing eyes and a predator cat like body. In the corner of the room is a nightlight. The only illumination in this room. The closet is closed firmly, latches and bolts lined up and down it.
The storm outside the trailer rages on and the building trembles almost as though it shivering. Then several roars and howls are heard. A returned challenging roar erupts from the front - that familiar sound of the bear shifter.

The room was broached and entered with care, light slowly dimming upon her fingers so that the fire doesn't catch to a stray paper that just may or may not happen to float by upon the gust of wind that traveled through the place. The bookshelf was lightly touched, if there were row of books she couldn't see the names of them within this light, but the drawings themselves were more pronounced. With a crouch and bend, she clenches her fingers into a fist, snuffing out the light, one taken up and studied, soon folded and tucked within her top against her heart. Never know when that'll come in handy.

Though, the wind and storm picks up outside, the thunderous roars and howls has her springing to her feet to rush towards the doorway. But she stops, hands upon the frame of the door as a few steps were taken back, green eyes alight upon the locked and chained door, her hand reaching out with attempts to use her telekinesis to either open, break, bust open the door to find out what was inside.

She had to trust that the bear, the man figure, would protect her and the dreamer. Or.. assume that it would..
A small form bursts forth from underneath the cot and runs at Jean with hands outstretched, "No! Baku! No! No! Monster!" If she doesn't move the little boy will ram in to Jean's chest and cling, trying to stop her yet curl in to her so she doesn't open the closet. Outside the sounds of a fight are transpiring, thundering bodies and roaring.
The closet doesn't budge but as she assaults it the child begins to whimper and cry out. Pain inflicted on him in the process as the woman pits her will roughly against the youths. She is of course winning and several of the latches peel away. Something inside that closet whips about and stirs, thrashing enough a claw peeks its way out of the top of the door space.

Jean would not be moved. Even as the boy slams into her and clings, she drapes an arm around him protectively, holding him close. If there was a monster, she would seek to reveal it, she would drive it out and perhaps defeat it to save the child from this misery. "It'll be okay child.." The fight grows stronger outside, but Jean presses on, tearing latch from spigot of wood from sliver. She takes a step forward, even glancing up at the claws that fight to get out, her hand tugging at the shoulder of the babe to put him behind her even if he tries to resist.

"Let me be your shield!"

There was that need, that inherit need to be in three places at once. To be over encompassing, to assist with the fight outside, to provide shelter for the child, and to fight the monster that carries fear upon it's back. But.. the question was.. is this monster the child? Are they one in the same? He hurts..
The child lets out a cry as the wall fo the trailer is ripped aside and a serpent like creature thrashes a loop of it's body outward in it's attempt to coil around the great bear. They continue in their titans roll towards the center of the plains and the kid weeps. "Baku will eat." Sniffling in to Jean. "Nowhere is safe."
The thing in the closet thrashes more in it's attempt to free itself. Apparently Jean must act somehow, some course of action at this point hinges on her.
Jean draws her hand down and crouches, keeping both arms around the child as she stops upon it's assault of the door and the wall all together, watching in abject horror as the bear and the serpent fight in thunderous coils and swipes. In between the thing in the closet, the bear and the serpent, she was at a loss of what to do, but that doesn't mean that she'll stop. She'll never stop. "I'll be your sanctuary.. trust me.." She murmurs quietly, moving at the crouch to shuffle the kid back into his hiding spot, drawing down the blankets upon the cot to shield and blot out outside to keep him covered and safe. And as she does so, she explains. "This is your sanctuary, this little corner. And this.." She holds out her hand as a little ball begins to swirl, forming itself into a living flame which was set down upon the floor before the boy. "Is your light. For in the face of darkness, there is always a light to guide the way, even if it isn't as apparent as this." She tugs the sheet down to complete the small ritual, then slowly stands.. approaching the tear upon the wall that sits next to the nearly opened closet. She was going to let the beast out.

Acceptance. Baku will eat. Accept it. For it is truth. The bear will continue to fight, it is truth. The monster wants out, it is his truth. And her truth is..

Be a martyr. She wouldn't be herself if she didn't sacrifice herself for the world of a small, unknown child.

A final blow is delivered to the door of the closet with one hand, as the other reaches out to draw the splintered wood -inside-. It seeks to build and barricade the small child, protecting the dreamer from the sight of the horrors that is to come, and to take them all on with an ounce of faith.

"Take me instead!" She cries out, arms aloft and beckoning. Calling upon the monster, the bear, the serpent. Baku will eat, it's the truth. The monster possibly will tear, rend and maim. Another truth. And the bear.. "Take my sacrifice and leave the dreamer be!"

Baku does indeed exist and the closet Jean just climbed in to was it's doorway. Dreams is what the creature feasts on and the X-Men just offered up her nightmares which seem to be aplenty. Once inside the closet with the Baku and child the youth is forgotten and Jean finds herself face to face with the elephant faced, sharp toothed and very tusked entity; its snout ruffling over her face before clamping down and claws bite in to her sides and she feels herself being pulled beyond her own mind and flesh.
As the world descends to darkness she finds herself waking up in a golden field with two shadows standing above her. The fields rustling.
"She is okay!" A child's voice squees forth.
"Yes she is and so are you." A deeper voice. The tall chalk-white skinned Native American extends a hand down to Jean, a hand bladed at each fingertip and sheathed in a metallic skin.

Plenty was an understatement. The nightmares were a constant for her, the cause for her to not sleep, to stay up upon days on end and only sleep for but a few hours that most would require more for. The screams of a billion, the way they presumably died, her own deaths, and the deaths and losses of others. She has seen things that possibly many of the other x-men haven't, and she has suffered in silence even more. For once eyes closed.. possibilities were realities, and it was enough to feed a monster until he's full and to the brink of exploding.

But then there was the pain, the pain that her real self possibly felt and cried out with, until it was all silent and dark. Eyes slowly open to a soft breeze that touches her cheeks, the visage of the man and the child both together. The light in the dark place.

The hand was reached for and grasped, used as an anchor to bring her to her feet, a tired smile upon her face as she looks upon the two. The first to be assaulted with a tight hug and a lift was the child, who was spun in a moment of laughter and joy. "We did it!" She says in celebration, allowing the child use of his feet as she turns towards the Native American, her hand outstretched again yet this time with the attempt to clasp her fingesr around thick forearms in a formal/informal shake.

"You as well." Jean says to the man, a slight nod given. Not one of approval, but because she was glad.
A chuckle escapes the warrior and he nods his head towards the kid. The child rested against Jean is all grins but slowly starting to fade away, drifting as the plains around them likewise unravel. "I think the sun is coming up…."
"He is waking and drifting back to the lower planes. He had no place to be here." The handclasp is met and then the man ruffles the child's hair, "Be well young traveler."
A hug is given to Jean and the boy vanishes from the astral realm leaving her and Ripclaw standing on a rocky slope adrift in the space of white on white mists.
"You are powerful. More so than I in these regards." Arms wave around. "The Baku or Dream Eater was satisfied but that child's nightmares seem to also be his reality… something the Baku couldn't take so it became greedy."

"It always does." Jean admits, giving the child one last hug before he vanishes, watching the space where he was for a moment, her thoughts going to Ripclaw's words with a slight nod of her head. One foot lifts to plant upon an idle rock which moves, both hands lingering at her sides as she explores the horizon with but a look and a slight glance towards the taller man. "No, not so much." Jean confesses. She wasn't as strong as she liked to be, even she had her faults. This one was just a means to give it all up in the face of something or someone good.

"Hopefully the Baku will be satisfied for a long time coming. And if not, I'll seek it out again until a permanent fix could be realized. Better me than the child." Speaking of. "Perhaps we could keep equal watch upon the child to make sure those nightmares do not stop his potential. Nightmares for all children shouldn't be reality, they should be cast aside as soon as they wake and forgotten about. Or shared at campfire story sessions to scare their friends." She chuckles a little, that foot dropping now as hands draw behind her back.

"I meant what I said." She states, looking away. There was no shyness there, but curiosity. "There is a home for people like us. Like you. Even though I am not taking great care in readily accepting someone I do not know into that home but.." She waves her hand slightly. "..there's an aura of protectiveness I gleam from you. Safety. And a certain calm I cannot quite place my finger on."

"No point in wanting vengeance on a creature only following it's nature."
Ripclaw pauses, "I have no way of finding the child again to aid him further but you're correct. He could use some help. A lot of sadness for someone so young." A light grin appears, "Like me? Do you know what a creature or person I am as well? I am here because I was trained years ago by a wiser man than I and it is, likewise in my nature." She has nailed him on the protectiveness, the desire to help others but perhaps not in the same capacity she presumes. "I am the Ghost Warrior, you can call me Robert."

"No, perhaps not." Jean murmurs, it was a thought, after all. "I have a way of finding the child if that was his true face." Dreams were weird like that, after all. "But either way, his psyche should have left an impression. A hint or a sense of him if he's near."

She does shake her head, though. "I don't know what creature or person that you are, no. But anyone willing to risk limb and life for an innocent is someone I'd rather have with me." There was a sidelong look then, and a slight grin. "Or I'd have his back any day of the week."

As he introduces himself, she reaches out to lightly pat his arm. "Robert. I'm Jean Grey. And it is an honor." At least they have that in common, the means to walk the astral and being trained by someone far older, and far wiser than they. "With us, you can appeal to your nature far more with many that share the same if you wish it."

"See, I assessed right, more powerful than I. Psychic pressure is heavy here and yours is quite potent." A curve of the lips and the man gives another of those feral yet handsome smiles, "Jean Grey, it is nice to meet you. I will hopefully remember the name when I wake from this trance." A cant of his head towards the swirling mists of the Astral Plane and he looks back towards the woman, "Speaking of, my time is near. I'm losing my focus. Probably hungry or the neighbors are banging on my door again for the loud music. Until next time, Jean." A casual stride in to the enveloping fog and Ripclaw waves over his shoulder before vanishing from sight.

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