The White Horseman; Pestilence

August 24, 2016:

Beast is captured and Apocalypse shows himself. Nate and Gambit are rescued by a third party.

Characters

NPCs: Dark Riders (Hurricane, Husk, Spyne, Lifeforce), Apocalypse, Warriors of the Void, Blaquesmith, War (Mikhail Rasputin)

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Sakhalin Islands, Russia
Site of the Black Valley rift

Less than minutes ago a battle was fought and lost. The X-Men found themselves on the losing end of a skirmish that was not anticipated. It would appear Apocalypse has returned and handpicked a new Horseman, the man known as Mikhail Rasputin, a former cosmonaut, mutant and advocate for 'Survival of the Fittest'. He has been chosen as War.

In an effort to rescue captives and confront the Dark Riders and Apocalypse's new general Beast has been captured. A violent fight that looked more like an execution just took place. Combatant after combatant was pitted against Hank McCoy resulting in his eventual defeat at the hands of Husk, a brutish Dark Rider known for his superhuman strength, durability and Husklings, pint-sized duplicates of his larger self.

The telekinetic bubble Nate and Remy are secured within has them safe from detection right now, incapable of movement or action while Beast fought for his life they are now only witnessing the end results, Husk, the brute that he is dragging a battered and barely conscious Beast towards the strange hieroglyphic dais the Horseman and his Riders were channeling through.

The portal to the Voidrealm beyond is no longer being opened. Instead something else is opening, a local teleportation originating from that odd alien piece of technology. It is not Shi'ar, Kree or any other known origin that Beast or Gambit would be immediately familiar with. It is Celestial in origin. Apocalypse's stolen science.

"The Master comes…" A whisper is heard from the gathering, a hushed tone of absolute reverence.

As Nate budges the AFV to free them from their confinement a new presence joins those gathered and one by one Dark Riders and lastly the Horseman War drop to their knees. Standing upon the teleportation platform is the massive and inhuman frame of Apocalypse.
Gambit releases a hoarse croak before squeezing Nate's shoulder, "No, mon ami. You get us all killed. Listen this time… Our only option is to watch and wait for an opening. "

THOMTHOMTHOMTHOM… the sounds of an immortal colossus in motion they only stop once the armored giant stands before Beast. Crimson eyes dropped to gaze heavily upon Hank, impassive and unreadable.

"Kneel before your God, insect." The voice is a deep, powerful rumble that sounds like mountains grinding together.

Beast is already on the ground, struggling to push himself up…even if he wanted to kneel, he's not sure he could. His glasses are probably broken…or gone, at this point, and he's not entirely sure why they haven't killed him yet. "I don't…have a God…" he musters, in true scientific fashion. He has faith, certainly, but not in deities and certainly not in something that stands before him. Although, it could be argued that such a deity could be proven as he is physically present, but that defeats the purpose. Also, Hank isn't sure he wants to get into a philosophical debate right now.

It's through sheer force of will that he gets mostly to his feet…or at least, balanced, hunched over, on his two feet and one clawed hand. "Just get it over with if you're going to use me as an example," he huffs out. "You -will- be stopped."
At some point during the last minutes Nate must have blacked out and yet managed to maintain the TK-shield. He doesn't really remember much between getting hit in the head by a stray a chunk of metal and waking up with Remy. How long has it been. No matter, he pushes off the remain of the AFV with every intention of giving Mikhail the beating he has been asking for.

And then he hears the voice of the mutant he hates more in the whole universe. Any universe. He tenses, and with a glance to his expression, Gambit can be utterly sure Nate is not going to wait.

There is a shuffle of movement from behind Beast at his words. One of those gathered wishes to make him kneel but they dare not lift from their own bows, all save Mikhail Rasputin, who slowly pushes up to his own two feet where he stands proudly.

Apocalypse pays it no mind, not this time. The Russian is after all one of his generals and has earned the right to stand while others grovel before their lord.

"But you do, mutant, I have been your God since the dawn of time, I have ruled mutants and their fellow worms of the earth for millenia. The world has simply forgotten it's place in my slumber, forgotten me but we are on the cusp of a new era, the age of Apocalypse and you, X-Man, I will lift your kind from the dirt and mud to greatness. I see in you a strength worthy of my kingdom."

Apocalypse pauses in speaking to look past Beast, towards the crushed AFV Gambit and Nate are hiding in, almost as though he can see or sense them. Almost.

Remy swallows and Nate can feel the air around them change, turn, biokinetic energy begins to charge X-Man's jacket where the Cajun's hand was laid earlier - it never lifted. Gambit's red on black eyes hold serious with threat, with promise. "You make any action, I don't care who son you are, who you be, or that you be an X-Men. You gonna die. I maybe die right here with you but now is not the time for you to get wild. Dat later, we do this like X-Men right now. You dun move, you dun say a word. We got to warn de others which means we got to live, no matter what happen next. We got to live. Beast sacrifice himself for us. We respect dat… " Fight another day.

The High Lord only stares a moment before his attention is drawn near again, towards the battlefield where countless lay wounded and possibly dead. The Warriors of the Void, Spyne and Hurricane.

"M-m… master…" Hurricane raises a mangled hand up as if beckoning for aid. For assistance.

Apocalypse responds by lifting his palm and projecting a ray of pink disintegrating light. Hurricane the Dark Rider is vaporized where he lays upon his stomach. The wounds he suffered dueling Beast no longer a concern.

"This display of carnal savagery, this bestial power. This is proof enough that you deserve praise, recognition and even exaltation." That same massive armored hand is now waved outwards, sweeping in gesture over the remnants of the skirmish. Beast had put on quite a show, many lay defeated. "No, Beast, you will not be an example of my scorn, you will be an example of my majesty. You will be given immeasurable might. All I require is your obedience."

"Now kneel, X-Man. Assume your rightful place, join me."

"No…" there is no way Nate will be reasonable about the situation. Apocalypse is there, and flashbacks of his dead world are running through his head. "You want to go, you got a minute. Leave, warn the others, warn the Justice League too. But I am going to stop this now or die trying. I am not going to let him start the war. He killed my world, but I. will. kill. him. now."

Nate's left eye is glowing, and he trying to send a message to Xavier, half a world away, to let him know what is coming in the case he fails.

Beast wavers even as he looks about at the results of his attack. He was fighting for his life and while he doesn't like taking lives, sometimes it can't be prevented. Golden eyes look to his blood-covered hands before he inclines his head back to being proclaiming himself as his God. "If you are truly a deity sworn to mutant kind, then you would know that killing everyone who isn't a mutant is genetic suicide. It won't take more than a few generations and then everyone, human and mutant are wiped out…leaving nothing. If you were truly an all-knowing, all-seeing deity, you would know that working -with- humankind is the only way to ensure our continued existence."

He is most definitely not kneeling. Is he trying to stall by having a conversation? Most likely.

"It is foolish of you to question my methods or my vision. It shows despite your gifted intellect Mr. McCoy how truly limited you are in comparison, a mere gnat. Worry not though, for I once was like you, a lowly insect, a babe abandoned on the blistering desert floor, forced in to slavery, betrayed by those closest so I am not without my understanding of where you come from. Where you feel you can harbor such notions, why you allow yourself to be ruled by moral concerns. These nuances of humanity though, they force you to deny the very axioms of nature."
"This world is already set to course, I have spent centuries engineering it's downfall, it is encoded in to the very DNA of it's people, you are destined to fail, to fall before me, I have manufactured Armageddon and only those I deem worthy will survive."
"Face it, Beast, I am your God, I am your master and you, you will be one of my faithful horseman whether by your own wills… OR MINE!" The sudden change in tempo hits at the end of Apocalypse' speech, his grumbling deep monotone becomes a thunderous elemental boom that impacts as the same time as his hand. An oversized fist of monolithic sizes, somewhere in dialogue Apocalypse has grown, one meter, more, two, a giant. The very ground around Beast craters open around him and Asgardian worthy strength is exerted upon the X-Man. Apocalypse forces the mutant hero to kneel. A kneel that plants him in to an embrace with the very earth itself.

The flat plane of Gambit's stubble laden jaw ticks as Nate shows no sign of holding himself back, "Je suis désolé, Nate.. "

Elsewhere… Elsewhen…
"No no, that is not him."
"We must interfere. It is not yet time."
"But it is not him."
"He is the closest to your pupil we have. You must act."
"Very well, ancient one. This is not according to plan and I want you to know, I do not agree with this. Not at all, you may very well be damning us all."
"Just hurry, Blaquesmith. Before we our only options are lost to us."
"Alright, alright!"
Beast is barely standing as it is and when the force is impressed upon him, Beast can't help but fall prone again, grimacing and even growling at the pain that the fall ignites. He's going to fight as best he can, even if can only manage, though clenched, sharp teeth, "It's…Doctor…"

He's not out yet, but he's also not really able to do too much to fight back at the moment. He's trying to focus on the other, "You underestimate us."
Good try, doc. But Apocalypse is a mad god, if he is a god. Most likely he is just a semi-old mutant with some weird science in his pockets, and he is utterly crazy. Nate doesn't care… no, that is not true. Actually he would like to know. But not as much as he would like to see him dead.

"Leave," that is for Gambit. He rebuilds his torn outfit telekinetically, getting rid of the kinetic charge along the way. Then jumps forward. "NO! He is right. I have seen where your insane path ends, you maniac. You are as ignorant as you are blind, Apocalypse. You will find the humans are not sheep, they will fight like cornered wolves and the war will destroy the world. I won't allow it, I will kill you NOW!"

He has been gathering power, and now unreleases a massive telekinetic blast. Apocalypse made himself a large target. All the better, less collateral damage when Nate blasts him with enough power to shatter a skyscraper.
"No. I know the measure of your worth more than you know it yourself." The titan fist slams down again upon Beast as if punishing him for continued speech. "Silence, lowly cur." It is then that Nate reveals himself.

Gambit's kinetic charge was rendered utterly useless? It doesn't slow him. "J'e ai marre!" A leap away from the now ruined AFV and the Thief is running, "Don't worry, Beast. I come back for you… all de X-Men comin' back for you…"

The telekinetic blast hits the towering Apocalypse, he actually staggers. A sound that is half snarl, half grunt escapes the External.
Then one hand reaches out for Nate, fingers opening wide and closing in."There you are, my vessel, I was hoping you were still near. You make this far too easy for me… Seize them!"

Through blurred vision and debris it is likely the last vision Beast has of Nate and Gambit is them vanishing from sight as if snuffed out of existence.

War looks towards the crouched Apocalypse, the High Lord still in a combat pose as if he is confused grasping at where X-Man was.

"Chronal energies, Lord Apocalypse. I feel them… they have been taken through time and space." Mikhail acknowledges.

"Yes, our adversaries are at work. They seek to slow my designs. Does my newest servant still live?"

"Yes, master. He yet lives." Lifeforce confirms. She can sense Hank still embedded in the ground at their feet.

"Very well, I will begin the procedure. Mikhail, erect the barrier. We will proceed according to schedule."
Beast's ankle is grabbed by Apocalypse and he is drug across the rocks towards the teleportation device. "You are chosen, Beast, you are to be reborn as my second Horseman, you are to become conquest, pestilence, my harbinger of dread and together, we will forge this pathetic orb in my image and then, the stars!" The Scientist and the Mad God phase out.

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