Smooth as Clockwork

August 21, 2016:

Wanda is called by the Clockwork King … he's perfected the gift that she gave him. He tests it on Brin … (emits by Fenris)


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Wanda Maximoff has been a… person of interest on a number of levels. To be sure the Transian government is most interested in her. Various anti-mutant groups are interested in her. Her teammates, of course, are interested in her. The Vishanti are interested in her. They've tested her before and have been quiet recently. Perhaps they're still watching. Perhaps not. Who can say with beings like that. They tend to act through intermediaries and middlemen, as do most beings on their power level.

And then there's the 'skeleton in the closet'. The man who calls himself the Clock King. The one to whom Wanda gave the secrets of Smooth. The one with whom she partnered in one of her… darker periods.

A little clockwork bird lands near Wanda. It gives otu a mechanical chirp. There's a piece of rolled parchment sealed with wax tied to it's back. It reads, in spidery script, 'Clockwork Queen, the hour of our kingdom is nigh. Come down to the main water treatment junction under M-Town. Come alone.'

An unusual visitor indeed. When Wanda reads the note she has to laugh - queen? But this is serious. The Clockwork King has been hounding her for a long time and she needs to sort this out…hopefully in a way no one gets hurt. She looks around the empty HQ and considers her options.

Call in the rest of X-Red? Nah…they're busy. Always busy. Off doing something that doesn't need her so she shouldn't call them in for this. Some of her other friends? Not a lot of options there either. Zatanna is embroiled in something huge and she probably couldn't get a hold of anyone else anyway. Nope, this one she has to do herself. And since she caused most of the trouble that only seems fair.

So now she is at a water treatment junction under M-Town. The smell is terrible…and reminds her of her life only a year or two ago. Clad in her uniform - much more regal than her rags - her fingers glow with chaos magic as she peers down the tunnels around her.

There's noises up ahead. It doesn't take her long to find a workshop. A big one. There's mechanical arms and a table about. And something hidden behind a curtain.

There's a catwalk here too. The junction is a couple of levels. Little clockwork critters and creations move back and forth working on or with machinery.

"Ah… there you are…"

That voice. Wanda should know that voice.

"I apologise our previous lack of commmunication. But I've done it. I've built the supreme, sublime machine. I've cracked the formula. I've created… perfection."

It's the voice of a madman, surely, but one that Wanda knows quite well.

"When we got close I just had to bring you over. I had to share this with you, the Queen in Scarlet."

Wanda never ceases to be amazed by how supervillains get away with this. How do you build such a huge complex right under the feet of New Yorkers. Though with the way that they use to ignore her even when she was right in front of them, maybe she shouldn't be so surprised after all.

"Very impressive" Wanda replies to the voice. "I just wish that you used your intelligence /with/ the people above rather than against them." She is not frightened…she is the queen so why should she be? "I look forward to seeing it."

"Excellent…" The voice from the catwalk, the figure making it shadowed, is fairly fully of glee. There's a pair of ringing claps and two humanoid clockwork constructions yank the cloth off the covered piece in the center-back of the room. There's a table. On it is a dark skinned woman, strapped down very securely.

It's a woman Wanda knows.

It's Brinley.

It's funny how Wanda first thought to call X-Red, maybe she should have. Maybe she might have got an inkling of what she was about to see.

The dark haired woman is held firmly, and as the cover is removed her head is turned in the direction of the voices. "Wanda? What are yo…" her eyes are wide with fear and a trickle of that emotion washes over the room. The brunette knew she hated these Clockwork things …

"Wanda … don't let them do this…" whatever this, might be…

Wanda wasn't expecting this and it's caught her a bit off guard. "Brin?" Is it the real Brinley? She can feel the emotion hit her…that's what Brin does but…how did she get here. She looks up at the catwalk.

"Umm…I don't understand. How is this your final machine? This is Brinley…a friend of mine. She'll actually be a lady in waiting for me so I hope you don't plan on hurting your queen's servants." It's worth a try at least. A delay if nothing more.

Wanda's mind seeks out Brinley's. 'What happened?' she asks telepathically…and maybe poking around a bit too to make sure this really is her friend and not some clockwork machination.

"A fine idea, a fine idea. As soon as she's made suitably safe. Can't have any one dangerous around you…"

A clockwork machine comes up and stabs Brin with a needle, injecting her with some kind of clearish fluid. Brin can feel the langorous warmth start to spread through her… and the burning that follows as the modified Smooth formula burns her powers away.

"We'll know if it works in a moment. But I'm confident. It will work. And then we'll send it to the water supply. And above us…" There's a pause and Wanda can almost hear the grin.

"… no more mutants."

Well, it was Brins power that Wanda felt and as her telepathy probes the brunette mind, she can confirm. It's Brin, in her glorious reserve and fear. Wanda knows it well.

I don't know… Was walking home to Nicks and … woke up he—-. Aaaarggghh.

Her explanation cuts off in a mental cry of pain and anguish. Wanda can sense it - the sorrow and distress, the now, ex-Empath feels as her powers fades. The pain as the Smooth burns through her system.

She's the real deal and now she's powerless.

Wanda always takes too long to act. It's almost like she wants things to be resolved before it becomes necessary to let her powers loose. It is very hard to control chaos after all. And when she sees her friend suffering like this…/feels/ it physically and mentally…Wanda may lose any control she may have had.

"No!!" Wanda screams before scarlet magic bursts from her hands to shatter the needle machine into a million bits. That was simply pure force and anger and she hurls another ball of energy upwards towards the catwalk as she runs over to the bound Brinley. "I decide!" she yells upwards…her voice more of a growl now.

The witch's hand grips Brinley's arm where the needle entered. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry" she whispers to the (ex-)mutant before her own energy flows into the body after the smooth. Wanda is angry…upset…and this may not work very well but she's trying. Her magic trying to find that Smooth and mutate it before it can bond with Brinley…or destroy…or whatever it does. She doesn't even know and she's trying to change its form and purpose. Who knows this will do.

The machines skitter away at Wanda's wrath. The instant Scarlet Witch touches Mana's arm though and starts to work on the toxin…

It's not clear what the Clockwork King has done to this formula. But he's done something serious. As Wanda's chaos power reaches out to try to neutralize it she starts to feel the burn as well. It hurts. It tears at her at a very metaphysical level. It's working quickly on Brinley as well. Another minute or so and the damage will be irreverseable.

At some point in the process, maybe seconds in maybe longer Wanda realizes that reversing this may cost her life…

And of course if she doesn't and the Clockwork king succeeds at eliminating mutant powers on a large scale… that may also cost her life. Albiet indirectly.

What to do?

The burning sensation is nearly unbearable but Brin bites her lip hard. Causing blood to blossom out where she cuts it. If Wanda's still engaged with her mind though, she will hear the young woman screaming. Screaming in pain from the way the drugs work and screaming in anguish as she feels her powers being ripped away.

Not once, ever, has Brin voiced the desire to be unpowered. Whilst her powers don't define her, they are certainly part of her, a part she made peace with, long ago.

For Wanda there is no decision to be made. Her friend is suffering and it is all her fault. And though she feels the pain on so many levels she has no intention of stopping - even though she has no idea if it is working. With a flick of her other hand Brinley's bindings disintegrate into nothingness. If the witch must fall then her friend needs to get away.

Wanda reaches into Brin's mind. 'Calm' she whispers. 'Calm yourself. You control your emotions, Brin, not the other way around.' It hurts so much. The witch's breathing rapid and pained as she seeks out the poison in Brin's system.

It's going to kill her. The pain now entirely flows into Wanda. It's not taking her powers away. It's ripping her apart. Around her, something's happening. Perhaps a self distruct perhaps her power is spilling over into the environment but Brin can tell Wanda's not the only thing getting ripped apart. The entire sturcture down here is coming apart around them.

"Wanda… no…" Brin finally manages to speak, shaking her wrists clear of the bindings and grasping her friends shoulders. "Don't…" the words are lost as the structure starts to fall. The brunette doesn't trust her legs to get them out there.

Concentrating with everything she has, her glowing green and gold and shield flickers into the life, settling around them. Blinks out and then reappears. Her power is back, that's something - but she's got control issues again.

Rolling to the floor, dragging Wanda down with her, the empath shelters under the dome of her power.

Reality is a blur. Wanda feels like she is flicking in and out of existance - the pain so intense and overwhelming that her senses cannot even tell the difference. It is just all agony. But she doesn't stop. She wants to make amends. /Needs/ to. But she also doesn't offer much resistance to Brinley hurling her onto the floor.

Wanda's breathing is shallow. Her chest barely moving as she wheezes through a croaking, dry throat and mouth. Ablaze with agony she is not even sure where she is or even what reality is around her. 'Tell Pietro I tried' her mind speaks to Brin, unsure how much longer she will even be able to form words.

Everything starts to go white from Wanda's point of view. It gets harder and harder to breathe, harder and harder to see, harder and harder to hear, harder and harder to move. The sounds of the facility breaking apart echo distantly.

Everything whites out.

And then Wanda and Brinley are seemingly floating in a starfield. There's a presence nearby. It's hard to describe it better than that. It's a column of light that is, somehow, unmistakeably watching them.

Sheltered as they are, with arm wrapped protectively around her team mate, head bowed in case her shield doesn't protect them, Brin squeezes. "He'll know…" is all she says in answer to the mindspeak, though her voice is hoarse and harsh.

She's not sure what it is that makes her look up - perhaps it the complete absence of sound - but she peers at the column of light and lets out a sigh. "Guess I didn't make it, after all."

"We are dead?" It seems a reasonable question. But if they're dead then how come it still hurts so much? Wanda's head turns to look at the light. "Do we go to the light, Brin? There is a movie that says not to go to the light." A forced, harsh laugh burns at her throat. "Even in death nothing is clear. I am sorry I could not save you, Brin."

"You are not dead." The presence says. It's voice echoes. "I have pulled you from your place in space time. It would not do to have one of the Vishanti's favored to after one of their tests."

There's a pause. "You're not dead either, Brinley Myers."

"I don't know, Wanda…" Brin murmurs, wrapping her arms around herself. For being dead, she can certainly feel a lot. "Don't be sorry, Wanda. You did your best." The mutant takes a step forward, towards the light … testing Wanda's question "Shall we se—-" Her words are cut off by that voice.

"Vishanti?" Brin parrots and shakes her head "I'm not? Then where are we? The Void or something?" Hey, she's good at business - not this supernatural stuff.

The Vishanti? Wanda does her best to get to her feet in a place where there's no ground and everything stretches to infinity. "I will explain later, Brin…if there is a later." She studies at the beam of light - though it could just as easily be a black hole or a fluffy bunny. Who knows what the Vishanti really look like.

"The Clockwork King…was that him? Or was this all another test? If it was him then I need to go back and fix things. If it was just another test…then I do not understand why you are still testing" Wanda addresses the light even though all around them is the listener. "You have Strange and Zatanna is what you are looking for, not me. I could not even save my friend."

"Sometimes, it is not possible to win. It is, in fact, possible to do everything right and still lose. That is not weakness Wanda Maximoff. That is life. It is a possibility that every mage must face and how one faces death is at least as important as how one faces life. You chose to do everything you could to save your friend. That is the kind of choice you must be able to make. And you made it."

Yeah Brin might be confused at this point.

Brin is. Very, very confused and she stays where she is, arms folded looking back between her team mate and then the light. Perhaps the words strike a cord with the small mutant and she nods slowly. It's not just mages that face that possibility. They all do, but with what Wanda faces, the consequences are just that much larger.

"It really was no choice" Wanda replies before glancing around wherever they are. "So you are saying there is more than life? Perhaps there is." She offers Brin an attempt at a smile. "Did you notice how they did not answer my questions. They do that a lot." A deep breath…it still hurts…before she looks back to the light. "If it is me that you want here then please send Brinley home. Safe and sound. She does not need to remember this."

"You should know that the Clockwork King's formula has been destroyed, along with the knowledge of it. There will be no more danger in that regard. You will hear from us again."

The field of vision turns white again. When it clears Wanda and Brinley are back at X-Red HQ.

And Brins head hurts. Does she remember what just happened? Does she remember the Smooth and what it did to her? Maybe, and maybe it feels like just a bad dream.

"Are you ok, Wanda?" the small brunette looks to her team mate "I've a dreadful headache and could really do with some tea." She says quietly, still wondering what the hell just happened.

"I am fine" Wanda replies softly, staring blankly for a moment before turning towards Brinley and offering her a faint smile. "I will get you some tea." Why does she ever expect the Vishanti to answer a question? She heads off to the kitchen, removing her jacket as she does so to toss aside. "Then we will get you back to Nick where you belong" she adds with an affectionate smile. "I think I will have an early night."

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