From Hells Heart I Strike At Thee

June 03, 2016:

The X-Men telepaths launch another attack against The Lord Of The Deep with interesting results. (emits by Rowan and Ulani)

White Plains - New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

They say that minds are the most potent weapon of all. It’s a metaphor that’s more truth than symbol even for normal people. A clever man is, all other things being equal, generally much more dangerous than a strong one. For people who can turn their minds into literal weapons, it’s a truth that’s ever present and not always pleasant. Dangerous weapons are, after all, highly sought after commodities these days.

What the wits who propound such pithy sayings don’t often mention - possibly because they do not know - is that the mind is also the most dangerous battlefield. Those who step into a war risk life and limb, body and to some arguments soul. Those who step onto the battlefield of the mind gamble with their very personhood, their sense of self. To face defeat on such a battlefield is to be obliterated in a manner that is no less existential than its physical counterpart. Or at least, in the worst case scenario that’s the case. As is ever true of battle and war - the possibilities are endless and strength of mind affords many defenses.

Half an hour ago the Blue signalled their mutant allies that they were launching their final assault on the Lord of the Deep. This military campaign is meant to break the monster’s armies before pressing their attack on the beast itself. For that to succeed, a simultaneous psychic attack must be pressed on its defenses to stretch it to the breaking point. In an ideal world this would end in the banishment or destruction of the ‘Lord’. The world is not perfect, alas, and the potency of their foe cannot be overstated. The Blue hope, in this case, to seal it up in it’s hole both physically and mentally until such time as it can be dealt with properly.

The reduction of the Lord of the Deep’s psychic network, at least, has significantly weakened it’s psychic defenses, forcing it to risk more of it’s mind and power with every exertion rather than spreading it through a distributed and difficult to attack collection of physically separated psyches. It means that the telepathic warriors of the X-Men have a real shot to take the fight to the beast itself and with it distracted by the combined onslaught of the armies of four undersea nations, they’ve a very real chance of winning as well.

Their enemy awaits on a battlefield that exists only in the mind. Once more into the breach.


The psychic contingent of the X-Men have been doing all they can to lend themselves to the ongoing war against the Lord of the Deep’s psychic network, to back up their allies beneath the waves. They’ve even reached the point of coordinating assaults with Cerebro to locate the notes, and teleportation to reach the targets in time to make sure they can find and eliminate their targets. Jean Grey assigned Emma to the task of Ambassador, so the White Queen has taken this assignment on personally, coordinating herself, Elizabeth, Rachel and Jean however she can, as the resources available in this war.

Now, the time to strike has come again. Warned ahead of time, they have marshalled additional resources, and they are splitting up to strike the targets once detected and narrowed down. And Emma has made sure they are all on hand for this, because this could well spell the end - for good, or ill - for this war beneath the oceans. “We will draw on the mercenaries as needed. But first strike should be ourselves, and our Blue commandos. We know what we’re getting into better than anyone else. Keep your shields up; better to take out the targets physically, if you must, than to make an opening our Enemy can exploit. Because it will. It has already tried, and I am sure it will again.”


The Blue Commando's, the elite of The Blue, are already mustered. Admittedly there are only three of them but three, very strong, very fast, waterbenders who have been in this fight from the start. They know what to expect.

They're also armed with the latest in Blue weapons. Energy weapons that have been developed in the course of this war - designed to inflict the most possible damage on The Lord’s minions and mutates.

Lio, Kupua and Mikhala are not far from Emma, checking their gear while they wait quietly for the action to really get going. Their expressions likely say it all - grim and stoic. It's been a long war for The Blue.


The Lord of the Deep has a propensity for throwing curveballs and has been taking even more care to protect his remaining agents. New York - the area if not the city - seems to retain some kind of importance because the Lord has sent another pair of agents there.

Fortunately, with Emma about, finding them isn’t too hard. They’re in White Plains which is not exactly next door to New York, but it’s not halfway across the country either and a reasonable drive from Westchester County.

They’re holed up at the outskirts of town in an otherwise quiet three story office building that’s under renovation. The power dial seems to have been turned up to eleven, though. Even out here Emma and her escort can feel it thrumming. This is a side effect of the Lord having to invest more of himself in each individual conduit. It stresses them more, burns them out faster but these are desperate times and no one can deny the raw potency it brings to any confrontation.

And apparently, they’re not going to remain passive. There’s a sudden deep booooom felt more than heard and all the glass on the top floor shatters at the pair of telepaths levitate out and over Emma’s people. Well, Emma and the Blue, rather. Behind them twenty or so more mundane cultists line the now ruined side of the building and open fire on Lio, Kupua and Mikhala with assault rifles. The fight is officially on.


Betsy tugs the half-mask that protects her lower face upwards, leaving only her purple hair visible— coiled into a tight bun and pinned out of the way. “I feel it too,” Betsy murmurs to Emma, stopping alongside her. Clad all in black and grey, she blends effortlessly in with the shadows— and projects a tangled web of psychic chaffe that helps hide the women’s presence from the Lord of the Deep. No psychic chatter— in this case, spoken conversation is safer.

She staggers at the ‘boom’ and Betsy flings a hand up overhead, scowling in concentration. She staggers into a low, balanced posture and deflects falling debris with the expedient of a flickering shield of amethyst energy. “I think battle is joined,” she observes in a dark tone.


Once Emma has a location, she moves everyone rapidly to one of the waiting choppers. They land far enough away not to have audibly alerted the Enemy, and then Emma just buys a small car lot’s available stock of SUVs on credit, loads everyone up, and they roar onto the scene at high speed. Sure, they could have driven the whole way in armored SUVs that would make US Army Hum-Vs look flimsy, but that would have taken too damned long.

Anyone getting the impression that Emma is cranky is paying attention properly. Good for them.

Once they’re in place, Emma is just getting ready to consider using her diamond form to take out the doors when the telepathic BOOM just about levels her. Grimacing, and trying to ignore the feeling that she’s already on the verge of bleeding from her ears, the platinum blonde telepath checks her body armor with a tug, and advances on the building. . o O (Choose your target. Good luck.)

With that last message to Elizabeth, pale ice blue eyes flare, and Emma directs some of her laser-scalpel-accurate telepathic strikes against the mind of one of the two conduits, slicing at the underpinning that allows the conduit to continue to sustain that power and not be erased by it. She’s powerful enough that there’s a chance she could actually punch through those defenses of his with main force; but that’s just so gouche. Emma is a woman of consumate skill, so she sets about to use that skill with lethal precision to turn the conduit’s own power against the Lord of the Deep by causing the conduit to collapse early, burnt out and useless.

Assuming she doesn’t end up a bullet-riddled corpse first. She’s trusting the Blue commandos to manage to deal with the cultists.


Debris rains down on the Blue Elites as they take cover from the weapon fire. They might be tough but bullets are bullets and can still penetrate the seafolks’ skin. Kupua lets out a very Blue curse as she's winged by one of those bullets.

"By Appolymi" Mikhala breaths as she raises the futuristic looking hand cannon, ducks out from behind the cover she's found, takes aim and lets off several energy beams at two of the cultists firing at them. Nothing else is spoken as bullets fly in her direction again.

"Hold them down, Kupua, Mikhala" Lio starts to circle to the other end of the building. This takes him out in the open for a moment, as he dashes between columns of a neighbouring building, sending out gouts of energy fire as he does. Hopefully, the cultists won't realise that he's trying to flank them and reach the water hydrant he can see.

Kupua takes a few moments to recover her breath, blood running down her arm, before stepping out from behind the cover she's found and wreaking havoc with her own hand cannon. "Make it quick, Lio. These weapons are good, but there's an awful lot of cultists."

——

Some debris rains down, anyway. The rain of glass shards that starts ends rather abruptly, but not because it’s run out of glass. Indeed more than half of it just stops mid air and floats back up.

And then it hails back down. Hard. The two floating telepaths are driving it partly at the Blue but mostly at Emma and Betsy. Glass isn’t the only sharp thing they have to throw either. Emma’s consummate skill and precision in telepathy pays off. There are a number of ways to burn out a telepath and none of them are pretty. There’s a risk to this gambit, though. For about thirty seconds her target’s going to be turbocharged. The Lord of the Deep realizes what’s happening. It can’t stop Emma. That conduit is going down and it’s going to hurt, so the beast plays a gambit of it’s own. It has a short window of manifest power in which to take out the White Queen.

And it’s going to try. Emma’s target ‘locks swords’ with her mind and tries to make the flame out mutual. It’s the kind of Kamikaze gambit that the Lord of the Deep wouldn’t have considered a few weeks ago. But desperate times…

Betsy isn’t ignored. Not by any stretch of the imagination. The other conduit - a vaguely asian man in his early thirties with eyes aglow and all trace of human expression gone from his face replaced by inhuman focus and insane rage - lands not far away. The air shimmers around it as shards of pure mental force form like throwing spikes. They hover over both shoulders for a moment before rocketing toward the telepath-ninja and leaving the faint smell of brine and rot in their wake.

Guns versus Blue is not a winning proposition. Most of the guns aren’t aimed at the two telepaths (that’s what the Lord’s Conduits are for after all) and the brief exchange sees the cultists lose half a dozen men and women. They’re not out of tricks though. As Lio begins a flanking maneuver two vanish back away from the edge of the building. Moments later several flaming bottles arc out and down toward the two remaining Blue. Molotov cocktails are not the height of sophisticated weaponry but they’re cheap, they’re easily fabricated and they’re frighteningly effective with a little bit of effort.

Burn them all, the Lord of the Deep seems to say.

Your efforts are brave. This may be the first time that anyone has ever associated a voice with the Lord of the Deep. It echoes out from nowhere, manifested in the physical realm by pure will. But none can deny me my ascent. It is foreordained. The seas will consume you.


Where Emma stands to fight, Betsy breaks into explosive motion the second the two conduits start to engage the two women in battle. The Brit’s response is powerfully, shockingly kinetic— she breaks into a swift sprint at the descending conduit, eyes hard over the hood of her half mask. She snaps a long, ebon-black blade into her left hand, and in her right, gathers up a fistful of energy.

The woman’s long strides carry her fleetingly over broken terrain and obstacles like a hurdler, and she closes in with a quick twist and defiant leap and roll, surging her whole body up and over the hurtling icicles flung at her person.

In the last stride before being in range of delivering a blow, Betsy flickers her psionic will through the air in front of her to spatter the conduit’s face with actual heat from discharged psionic energy. She attempts to use the momentary distraction to cover her real attacks— a slashing blade with her katana to make an opening, and a short thrust with her psi-blade to try and stop the Conduit’s heart with a swift blow.


Emma’s gritted-teeth response to that booming voice’s message? “That would be why I am firmly inland, and not at all dressed for bathing.” Yes. Emma Frost let loose with a quip.

Be stunned.

The pale blonde telepath staggers beneath the abated rain of glass shards, and falls to a knee — and that’s the End of the World, right there, with MUD ON HER WHITE PANTS! — as her nervous system rebels at the assault initiated by the supercharged conduit’s power. Her will is mighty - staggering, in fact - and her defenses are substantial indeed. But there’s no guarantee, right now, that she’ll be able to hold up to this. If she could transform into her diamond form, she would be immune to the attack, largely. It would just wash over her. But she can’t let go long enough to change. She decided on her attack, and now she has to try to bear up under the brunt of the assault she made into reality.

Blood dots the White Queen. Her only good luck is she hasn’t been shot. Yet.


Molotov cocktails are frighteningly effective and the ones thrown by the cultists explode into towers of flames in front of the two Blue women. These incendiaries are large and pack a whallop, causing the females to fall back. Mikhala is caught with one right in front of her and the explosion catches, causing her clothes to blacken and skin to redden.

Uttering a hiss of pain, the dark haired Blue skitters back and looks over to her companion. Without words, they reach an accord and water is pulled from the very air - landing on the flames and dampening them.

That though, cost valuable time and has left Lio without the suppressing fire he likely needs so very much.

Reaching the hydrant, the male Blue opens it, letting out a torrent of water. "Now!!" he bellows to the others, turning to face the remaining cultists and shaping at least some of the water into a number blades. Blades that are sent flying with precision into the group of cultists nearest him.

——

Say what you will about the cultists they’re not stupid. The fire from the assault rifles shifts slightly. Some of it is still directed at the two Blue women, aiming to force them to take cover but a lot more of it begins to kick up around Lio. They know that if those high tech undersea weapons get into the right positions it’s over for them despite having numbers and the high ground. They don’t mean to let that happen.

The attempt to fry Emma’s mind is savage. Viscious. It’s considerably powerful and there’s no small amount of vengeful spite behind it. It is, though, above all other things brief. The mind conducting it cannot sustain it. There’s one final push of mental combat and then the conduit shuts down and simply drops from the sky. Dead. What condition that’s left Emma in is an open question.

The combat near the Brit, now that’s a considerably more physical thing. Mental shards fly by her, some close enough for her to feel the air disturbed by their passage. It takes quite a powerful intellect to make psychic force manifest so viscerally. The sudden flick of heat though has her opponent giving a step back - instinct that the Lord of the Deep is unable to override. A shimmer of hardened air and will coats the right arm as it comes up to stop the katana dead in it’s swing.

The psychic blade, however, is unanticipated. It’s a good move, and it succeeds because of one simple thing: hubris. The Lord of the Deep is a godling. Even wearing a meat puppet it was unable to conceive that Betsy might land a blow, much less a telling one. The light goes out of the conduits eyes and it drops to the ground. Dead.

INSECTS!. The voice is nearly deafening and there’s a horrific psychic pressure. Maddened beyond reason and under assault from multiple quarters both physical and mental, the creature lashes out. It’s will manifests and it lays into Betsy and Emma directly. It has never done so, certainly not on the surface, without a mortal mind acting as an intermediary and that it is doing so now speaks to its rage for while this move is powerful it is also dangerous. Not only does it divert its attention at a critical moment but it exposes the beasts own mind to counter attack. Should Betsy and Emma find a way to weather the initial onslaught they’re now in a position to hurt this thing as no one has hurt it in untold eons.

And say what you will about the X-Men, they’re rather hard to simply stamp out.


Betsy slams the blade home and it severs nerve endings with an oversurge of power, amethyst sputtering around the intangible point of entry. She turns to Emma and takes two long steps— and then drops to one knee, gasping in pain at the immense force clenching her brain in half. Charles had never turned that level of force on her— Jean had never applied that sort of leverage.

Her jaw drops and her cheeks hollow in pain, eyes rolling upwards and promptly filling with amethyst fire. But her reflexes are solid and Betsy starts wrapping her will around her in baffle-like layers, trying to deflect the immense weight of that psychic thrust.

She makes her way over to Emma and puts a hand on Emma’s shoulder, her back curling as if seeking protection from the weight bearing down on it. “Emma! Can you hear me?” Betsy calls at her friend over the maelstrom of force and fury, trying to extend that projection of mental focus over the White Queen as well.


The redoubled momentary assault is borne out, and Emma drops to the mud. When Betsy reaches her, the Brit will be able to see blood along Emma’s nose, a bit from her eyes and ears. She bore up under it. She did not fall. She was not snuffed out. But it was closer than it should have been, and she is staggered to say the least.

Then the Beast reaches out on its own, and Emma flinches. The attack is not as direct, it is spread out more, a torrent of energy rather than a white hot beam of it, and it rushes over her defenses. The instinctive nature of her white tower of iron will is the one thing that saves her, because she never let it go. It never falls, but must be deconstructed and torn down.

And it was not down.

It takes long moments for Emma to bear up under the Lord of the Deep’s direct assault. But gathered together with Elizabeth, she peers up, almost blindly, towards the sense of that enormous psychic weight. “From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee.” she quotes, pitthily if breathily, as she links hands with the Brit ninja, and wraps her will around the psychic blade of the other, and hurls that power like a lance of purple-white energy right up into the heart of that attack, aimed with all the might and precision she has to bear.

It is no assault of Xavier. No blow from the Phoenix. But it should not be discounted.


The trio of Blue aren't aware what's happening to Emma and Betsy and even if they were, there's not a lot they could do about it. Their job, is to distract the cultists and keep them from shooting the two pyschics. Seems like that's what they're doing.

As the weapons fire focusses on Lio, he shapes the water he's bending into a shield. Just in time, too, as the bullets impact it with something akin to a metallic /thud/ - that's how effective the inate Blue Elite skill is. That's not enough for the male commando though, as he hangs his own energy weapon around the edge of the shield and opens fire.

With the fires extinguished and the cultists distracted, Kupua and Mikhala move fast breaking cover and closing the distance between them and the enemy's line, straifing energy fire, back and forth.

——

YOU WILL NOT PREVAIL Betsy and Emma can feel the fury of The Lord as it presses its attack trying to overcome Betsy's 'baffles' and so angry, it doesn't even consider trying to deconstruct Emma's white tower of iron, just batters at it with its will.

It's like a sword fight in Emma's mind - blades held 'in the bind' - neither one gaining more than a little advantage over the other, until the White Queen’s will takes hold the psychic blade and … strikes.

AAAAAARGHHH the beast roars in the two psychic minds. They feel it, the wound they've inflicted and feel the creature withdrawing, leaving itself vulnerable. With it in retreat, can they seal it in - to wherever it withdraws.

The combined attack of The Blues has an impact on the cultists. Another half dozen drop as they're hit by the energy weapons and the rest slowly begin to retreat. There's not much for the trio to clean up.


Betsy sets her jaw and flings her will in to support Emma’s as the White Queen forcibly takes over her psionic weaponry. She wraps her brain around Emma’s as surely as Emma’s fingers close on Betsy’s hands, and their powers blend together— Emma’ s immense focus and raw power reinforcing that psychic blast, making it ‘more’ of a weapon than Betsy’s individual gifts can manage.

She drops to one knee when the power fades out, the Lord of the Deep flailing in ignominious retreat, and grips the dirt for balance. “Emma, I-I need a mo’,” Betsy gets out, a bit faintly. She leans against the ground underfoot with a palm, a few hairs falling loose and partially covering her face.


“You are not the only one.” Emma responds to Betsy, offering a light squeeze of the other woman’s hand before she withdraws. She settles in the mud, furious but at the same time glad just to be alive and able to think at all. She’s going to need hours, if not days of meditation to restore her mind to proper order, and medication and sleep to let her brain heal. Hopefully, however, all will be well. For now, the Lord of the Deep has been battered back. She can only hope that effort has created an opening the armies beneath the waves can exploit.


As Emma and Betsy withdraw from the connection, they'll feel the seal go in place. They've dealt The Lord of the Deep a grievous blow and certainly created an opening The Blue and their underwater allies can can exploit.

Lio, Kapua and Mikhala finish off the last of the cultists. When the authorities get there, there might be some questions asked. Like what sort of weapons could create such damage and why is there so much water?

Kapua's bullet wound is still seeping blood and Mikhala's skin is starting to blister. Lio assists his two fellow commando's as best he can as he looks to the two psychics. "Are you two alright, Ms Frost, Ms Braddock?" his eyes sweep the area "I think there is much to discuss, but here is not the place. Kapua and Mikhala must find water and soon, so that they may heal."

It's going to take a few moments to arrange transport for the five, but they'll be away before any of the authorities arrive.

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