Terrigen Mists: Supernova

April 22, 2017:

The X-Men and T'Challa race to find the source of the psychic, primal cry of rage and pain that was audible to every high-level telepath around the world. Alfie O'Meagan wants to change the world.

Steel City

A ruined city in Middle America, Steel City was once home to thousands of souls, many of whom were hard-working, blue-collar manufacturers that proudly stamped 'Made in America' on every good they produced. Now, like Hell's Gate in Metropolis, it's a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Unlike Hell's Gate, however, what ravaged Steel City wasn't technological. It wasn't the Terrigen Mists.

It was magic.

Thus, the city, such as it is, has become a haven for supernatural monsters and lurkers of all stripes — most of them at odds with humanity. And the human population that used to live here? Either dead or captured chattle.

This is NOT the Steel City anyone was looking for.

Characters

NPCs: Alfie O'Meagan & John Doe

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Steel City. Once, many, many moons ago, it was a thriving metropolis on par with Philidelphia and a thriving heart of industry and manufacturing. Then, Medusa came. And with her came magic that left the city a ruin of its former self, infested with supernatural entities of all kinds: werecreatures, vampires, demons… other denizens of shadowy, hellish realms beyond mortal ken. What humanity was left stranded here is either long gone, or buried in one form or another (literally or metaphorically). This is NOT the Steel City Alfie O'Meagan remembers from his childhood. Not at all.

He stands in the middle of Tomorrow Square, the once-bustling municipal hub of the city. Around him, blackened, crumbling buildings squat like homeless vagabonds, adding a dreary cast to the dark, heavy clouds that hang overhead. The whole place just has a sense of abandonment about it, of loss, and despair.

Needless to say, this is not a good place for an angry, depressed teenager to find himself. And his friend, John Doe, perhaps knows this better than most. "Alfie, man," he says, looking around. "We need to go somewhere else."

Alfie, however, isn't listening. He's staring at the ruins of his hometown, of the places his Dad used to take him when he was really, really little. And all it does is make him a whole lot angrier.

His fists clench. His eyes glow. His face becomes a mask of fury. And, there, in the center of Steel City, a ripple of time and space begins expanding, his psychic scream of rage 'audible' for miles to those who can sense such things.

There is a great disturbance in the Force, padawans.

***

Jean hears that psychic scream. How can she not? She's one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet. It staggers her for a moment or two, but then she's sending out a telepathic summons to her friends and teammates. There's work to be done, and if there's a psychic involved, that means there's probably a mutant involved. And that means X-Men. Power up the Blackbird, boys and girls. Steel City's not that far away.

***

The familial bond shared with Scott and the original X-Men is strongest where Jean is concerned, to no surprise he was already in motion seconds after her summons and the Blackbird was fired up, ready and waiting. Those who can show are present and about to be transported to the blasted wasteland that was once the industrial Steel City.

Cyclops at the helm the ride is quick, within twenty minutes they should have lift off and touch down. Doors opened to let loose the X-Men.

***

Something vibrates Xavier's, lights flicker, and pulse resounds through the halls for alumnus as well as the X-Men HQ alreting them to the paradigm shift that will be felt on all scales.

"X-Men!" No further words needed as Storm leaves the Greenhouse out to the back 'scape and towards the platform of land where the Blackbird would surface with Cyclopses' own call. "Ready!"

And with every step, those booted feet tread across the lawn newly-grown, from where a coat seemingly rested hands un-snapped lapels and those 'wings' dropped, falling cover away and leaving her sudeenly unravelled as the Blackbird breaks the landing-pad open and surfaces along side Storm whose alabaster hair lifts with her body as she takes flight along side the Blackbird governed by Cyclopse. Mohawked in that rise the woman does not portray the effigy of the Afrikkan Godess here, but as that attire shifts and reforms, as well as her posture and the way the winds transmute around them…. There is no wonder.

"Sign in. Who is present?!" And as the Blackbird streaks across the horizon Storm is along side, one hand on an edifice as the comm unit is adjusted along cranium.

***

Of course Reader was with the X-Men when the call went out, so he offers to help with whatever it is. Hey it could be a Mutant but it could also be an Inhuman. So he ended up tagging along. As usual where he goes, so goes Forey, cause hey the dog is cute. Cute dogs make bad guys hesitate, totally a rule there. Once the plane lands he disembarks with the others, waiting for the lead.

***

The clouded leopard known as Cloud has become a fixture around the Xavier Institute. She's always happy to be a helping paw, riding herd on students, lending a comforting furry snuggle, chasing down those who stray too far, and so forth. Most of the adults around the Institute are at least peripherally aware that Cloud can in fact take a human form. They're also keenly aware that she generally chooses not to do so. Her leopard form is the one to which she identifies, and the one in which she is most comfortable.

Cloud is very smart, however, and multilingual. And when she hears comment about a place of danger and a young one in trouble, she does not hesitate. She may not care for noisy smoke machines (vehicles), but she will board one if it is the way to get somewhere quickly and help someone in need. She's even wearing a 'service vest' with a carrying capacity. Just don't ask what's in it. Cloud just crouches, a bit tense, tail lashing intermittently back and forth, behind Storm's legs, waiting for the noisy machine to open and allow her to escape.

Paws. Want. Ground. Please.

***

Mattias had barely made it back to the mansion in time for the call. The horror coming so quickly, he's covered in some kind of black soot from Manhattan when he enters the Blackbird with his blue-and-yellow suit in his hands. Time of the essence, he throws his ruined tee shirt into the corner and dresses quickly, caring less that it looks like he took a bath in a pool of ink.

"Hell of a day. This is Siege." Mattias grunts, slapping his hand down on the last buckle of his boot, then rocks up to his feet, starting in a stomp towards the hatch when it begins to open. Hesitating by the door, he looks back to the others, head tilting with a hard, sloping brow. "Do we know what we're getting into?"

***

As with almost every other place Alfie O'Meagan has been in recent days, Steel City is now riven with ripples in time and space, all flowing out from the hub that he is in the center of the spokes that are the timewaves. In Steel City, however, this does not just cause the usual time/space displacement troubles. It also wakes up some of the more sensitive supernatural denizens of the ruined city. This means, of course, that the X-Men, unlike their JL counterparts only a little while earlier, get to deal not only with space ninjas and spiderdogs, but also with vampires, lycanthropes, and demons — many of whom are jonesing to get their hands on Alfie for their own nefarious purposes. After all, imagine what a Lord of Hells could do with a reality bender…

***

As the Blackbird touches down, Jean rises from her seat, her confirmation to Storm being her solid presence. "I'm not sure how reliable communications will be, with what's going on our there," she notes. "I can set up a telepathic link for us to use, instead." She glances to them. "All I sense across the whole city, though, is a lot of anger and chaos. So, we need to be ready for anything."

"We're here." The only words Cyclops manages upon seeing Steel City. The Blackbird touches down and the active camoflage is engaged. It isn't full on invisibility but it will garble the vehicle in to it's surroundings in a sort of blur. Shi'ar technology thanks to the Professor's connections. Scott Summers is not one to complain.

Scott doesn't say anything to the rest present, anything he would say is Storm's to do so. He'll back her up and stay close to the group. It's time to see how this team operates on the field together anyways.

"Stay close. Keep it tight." Jhiao, Reader and Mattias will get particular attention in this.

***

Jhiao has a hand lower to her, a single middle digit wrapped in a single golden loop to tether those extensions of cloak (or /wings/) to her that drag along the deck of the Blackbird, flashing to mate with opposing hand, Storm casts a sub-arctic azure gaze to Jean, Cyclopse, Mattias, and Reader. "I suggest if you have any mind closed, you open it…"

Storm herself, always does, but it falls away with Jean's discretion. "If you cannot speak it, think it! Loud and clear." A glance to Cyke and Storm smiles as her eyes slowly pale to white and the door drops open to let them out.

"In part. Should we know?" A quip to Mattias as a hand extends outward and she rises into the air.

"Have Forey scope?, but not too far!" Even the canine is considered despite Cloud's larger presence.

Disturbance indeed…

***

Reader just feels wrong about this place the moment he gets out of the plan. "Boy going to need you to keep your eyes out." Not using the sight card, not yet anyway. Getting the feeling that he will need to be at full strength for whatever is coming next. Man something is not going to be good here. He walks some more, semi ignoring Cyke, cause hey he's used to working with just Forey. Hands idly start flipping through his cards though, trying to find the ones that he may need.

***

Cloud is not nearly as hypersensitive to telepathy as her friend Nerina. As such, she makes no sounds of protest when a telepathic link is suggested; it would make things more convenient for her, not less. « There is much here that does not belong. We seek the crying child? »

Not at all offended by specific attention given to her, the clouded leopard bounds off of the jet to the ground and then wuffles the ground, then the air that moves. « Much comes. We must move swiftly. » She may be no coursing hound, but Cloud does not appear to be bothered by her choice to lead the way, bounding off quickly as she tries to find the path around much of the trouble to come, seeking out 'the crying child'. She does not bother the canine. He is here to do his part. She is here to do hers. Of course, she has no idea that she is as magical as many of the denizens of this place.

***

He does not arrive with the X-Men, not aboard the Blackbird. He has his own methods.

The panther, a too-long thing swathed entirely in inimitable shades of black, stands some way from his own transport, a large gunmetal grey cruiser nestled out of the way on a rooftop. The man hunches over, perched on the hipwall of the building, pale brown eyes scanning the horizon. The psychic emanations even now form an annoying drum on the back of his skull. Even so, there are things hiding in the dark spaces between the light that his keen senses cannot make out. They do not smell even close to human. Finding his way to the center of the disturbance will not be easy.

But then, he has not been on this trail gathering knowledge for naught.

After a brief check, T'Challa secures the hilts of his blades at his back, along with the longer hilt of some other weapon specially selected for purpose set in parallel to his waist. Looking up to the grey sky, the young king's nominally severe expression disappears behind a circuitous vibranium filigree, the lines of his helm tracing themselves in the air over his temples until his face disappears behind the mask of the black panther. There are others arriving, as well. He will find them. He looks forward, to the streets of Steel City below.

Brown eyes have been replaced by fierce things that glow like embers.

The panther leaps.

***

Turning from the ramp, Mattias trots over to grab his bottle of water from near the flight seat. He turns it over in his hands, cracking the seal in his return to the ramp with his 'game face' on. A gameface comprised of lowered brows and a tight jaw, everything a Swedish picture of Norse-type health needs to seem serious. He is serious.

"Understood. Whatever it takes to keep talking to me. In my head, not, whatever you think is right, friends." Mattias drolls in his gravely tinted accent. He starts down the ramp, dumping the bottle over the top of his head, slicking his hair, and the strange ink, back to keep his face clear. He shakes his head, whicking the water away, then throws the bottle back onto the Blackbird. One shoulder rolls, popping, then the other. "Oh, I'm open-minded, Storm." Mattias claps his gloved fist into one open palm.

«Not opposed to…fighting whatever that is jumping around in the shadows. See it?» Mattias thinks. Loudly, like he's trying to think thoughts into the Moon.

***

As the X-Men emerge from their plane and, like T'Challa, begin making their way into the city, the eddies of time and space ebb and flow around them. Crisscrossing lines of things that were, things that could be, and things that never should be create a maze to confuse enven the keenest senses. Compounded by this, however, is the rising of shadows along the way — in alleys and byways, out of ruined buildings, and even out of sewer grates and manhole covers. The creatures that emerge are a varied array of Things… many are demonic, some of vampiric. One or two are even lycanthropic, perhaps drawn to the strange leopard in their territory as much as the strangers from beyond the city's bounds.

One steps forward, a black cloud of motes with glowing red eyes. "You should not be here, outsiders," it says, soundling like a crowd of rocks all trying to speak simultaneously. "We will deal with our own trouble in our own way. And with you, if you interfere."

***

Jean creates the link between the group, chuckling some at Matti's 'volume'. «Gently, Seige. We can hear you well enough. You don't have to shout.» She rises up into the sky, the link now established, to try to get a better view of what's ahead. Which, of course, turns out to be a crowd of very strange entities. The fiery aura of the Phoenix ignites around her purely for show, just in case they mistakenly think they've somehow intimidated the X-Men.

***

An unseen wince is the only response to the team interactions, the wince mostly in response to the 'telepathic yelling' of the Asgardian-Mutant. Cyclops attention is fixed forward towards the talking mass of black clouds and red eyes, "Get out of our way."

T'Challa goes overlooked or unnoticed at the moment as well. Not that Scott isn't paying attention to his surroundings, he always is. He just hasn't seen the Wakandan nor his transport.

***

At the creatures appearance Forey starts to let out a growl at them. Simple enough, protect the master, right? Reader kneels down and places his hand on the dog, "Calm boy." No attacking not just yet. Lets see if things can be worked out without violence for the moment. Other hand is still on his cards though, just in case. The Blind Inhuman listens as the others talk, just waiting to see what is going on. He thinks for a moment, and then tries sending out one of those thought communication thingies. «Is there a way I can get a visual. Don't want to use my first read to see what is going on.»

***

The leopard's ears fold back in discomfort at mental yelling, but she does not make a sound of complaint. She does hiss a bit at the sight of the strange confrontational creature … and she does not back away. They are going around, or they are going through. They are not stopping. The redhead has spoken, the Storm has confirmed. Now there is only the doing of the necessary. To help those in need.

« It uses two-leg mouth sounds. But I hear others that do not. They are coming, quickly. We must move on.» Cloud admonishes. She leaps to the side and sprints, blurring, as she heads down an alleyway, leaps a barrier of rubble, and then dives into the midst of strange bipeds unlike any she has seen before. She has little idea what 'space ninjas' might be, but neither do they have much idea what a buddhist wereleopard nun is. Or they didn't, until now.

***

«See what? Coordinates?» Storm calls out to the team in response to Siege's words (thoughts), that now floods out across the devastated wasteland of mystical annihilation that seems apocalyptic in coparison to where they came from. A similarity to Hell's Gate's outlands. Sweeping upward to rest in a hover just before the revelation of eyes and the formation of embodiment.

The one Cloud goes for is not considered. Storm knows what happens if you think too hard, or look… They read it.

Storm lowers, arms extended, posture lifted but still portraying equal despite the lofted rise of wind that keeps her from touching boot-to-grounds. "This effects us all. We are here because we felt it, that pain. No one needs to suffer it alone. Let us help."

Words of a meet, ones that will either strike an accord… Or if the slowly extended hand is denied?

…Will bring challenge for the X-Men.

***

The panther runs.

It is no stroll across the savannah. In this place, the fluid in the young king's inner ears shifts in strange ways. It makes it difficult to maintain his balance. It itself is a feat of endurance when walking between the yet-to-be and the never-was. It is like running across panes of shattered glass, where each shard tells a slightly different tale from the last. This experience is unfamiliar, but the sensation is not.

It is a feat of sheer will that he keeps his sense of things intact, his movement soundless, and his speed swift. Cyclops is no fool not to see him, because T'Challa does not move to be seen. He follows the trail of the things that are not monsters, trying to pry the scent and the signal from a world that is both here and long since blasted to basalt. Instead of finding himself prowling the rooftops, the panther goes to ground, working his way through the alleys. He tells himself to go to ground is because spanning the rooftops with compromised balance is fatal.

The Wakandan king moves to be closer to what he can tell are still close to human, but not to become seen. At current, he has no desire to meet them. It is more productive to wait in the dark and allow them to draw the attention of the creatures, he tells himself, allowing him to anticipate and counter future attack. This is what the panther tells himself.

He has no need to watch over them from afar, he tells himself.

He has his own agenda to pursue.

***

«Sorry. New thing. I saw a shadow moving to my right, but I lost it.» Mattias tugs his lip to the side in a wince of his own. He's thinking more softly now. A wave of sympathy waves through his mind, one that quickly washes away as the creatures of the night come out to play. Ducking low, Mattias wraps his fingers around a metal fence-pole in the rubble. The metal sings out, scraping against the concrete as he drags it up out of a pile and holds it low to his side.

Mattias' uniform top consists of a blue and yellow vest, marked with an X near the shoulder. Arms bared down to gloves, he's about to lift his weapon and point it towards one of the red-eyed demonic creatures, but Storm's presence, trying diplomacy, stops the rising weapon before it can point. Inky, dirty blonde hair whips in his face as he keeps his mouth shut, lips tightening as Cloud leaps. «…Cloud? Be careful! I am not above clubbing their faces for my friends.»

***

BlackMote laughs at Storm's attempt at diplomacy. "Help? Child, there are creatures here that feed on pain, rage, and despair. The creature at the center of the city is a gift to us. We do not need your help. We need you merely to not interfere." With that, he signals his compatriots and the earth rumbles around the mutants. Asphalt cracks and fire rises, begining to create a wall around them, cutting them off from the Blackbird as much as the city at large.

All except Cloud, however, who, cat that she is, has slipped through the net. Space ninjas are only part of her challenge as a small pack of spiderdogs — dog-like creatures with elongated legs, poisoned bite, and the ability to create web nets between them — gives chase.

Likewise, as T'Challa stalks the streets of Steel City, he will soon find himself attracting attention. A small pack of werewolves in hybrid form begins pacing him. Watching him. Perhaps looking for weakness… like the wobble of an unbalanced step.

***

«I'll do what I can,» Jean tells Reader, forging a tenuous mindlink between him and Forey that allows him to use the dog's eyes. Were Forey more than just a regular dog, perhaps the link would be stronger. Still, familiarity between them helps, and Forey is a better choice than the rest of team, who are likely to go haring off without them.

Case in point:

«Cloud! Wait!» Jean calls as the leopard darts forth. She looks to the others and to the threat of this BlackMote creature. "I'm going after her!" she tells them, unbothered by the flames, thanks to her own aura, and confident in her companions' abilities to deal with this threat before them. She swoops off after Cloud using a telekinetic blast to engage the spiderdogs that chase the cat.

***

"So much for keeping it tight." Cyclops grunts as Cloud sprints off. Annoyed but it's not his place, they're new and he isn't even sure of Cloud's status. That is on Storm. Phoenix going after her has him gritting his teeth, «Phoenix…» A look around them at the fire roaring up from the earth he tries to conjure up a quick plan, the motion of his head creating a red tracer of light after his actions, «Storm, can you keep us protected from the flames? Siege you're our current powerhouse. Keep anything that gets past her off of us. Reader, watch my back… I am going to clear us a path.» Blind guy has his back for sure.

It's one of those scenarios where he can't bite his tongue and await Storm's leadership or anyone elses, stepping in front of the group, closer to BlackMote that ruby quarts slit ignites, flares a bright red and creates a wash of energy, a projected wave of destruction.

***

Storm accepts the insulting laughter of BlackMote as she hears her team assemble from the Blackbird, awaiting orders after her attempt to meet with a regality and diplomacy a Goddess could enact, but if she is denied….

Hell hath no fury…!

«Do not let the walls rise high! Climb them! No allies save our own!» And hands sweep out, palms to the skies and Storm lifts heavenward.

ShadowKing… BlackMote is just that Moten…

«Jhiao! Fall Back to us!!» But as the wetted slaps of wings are lifted into the air the clouds in the area gather and a sudden fall of rain descends upon the team and the flames lifted against them!

«Covered Cyclopse! Feed me coordinates….» But those pale eyes narrow when T'challa is seen, slickened form amidst the rainfall slinking through the debris of the ramshackle remnants.

A point of finger, a narrow of eyes, and just before him the ground sparks with a sudden bolt of lightning. «Another. Unknown… I have you covered!» Eyes in the sky, Storm will not relent and it is shown as when she lifts before Mote, the ground erupts from another electric blow that craters muddies Earth and sends a shockwave of warning.

***

The spiderdogs are unnatural. Wicked. Dangerous. But they've got nothing on an angry and intent buddhist wereleopard nun. Case in point? Those claws are sharp, and they move blurringly fast, as does the rest of Cloud. She is unafraid, even if most of that is because she doesn't know the threat they truly represent. All she knows is that freaky alien canines are trying to get in the way of her path. Kitty don't play that.

Swipes of claws sever segments of legs. Speed and incredible, truly inhuman (but not InHuman) agility avoids nasty clingy webs. Mostly. As for poisonous bites? They might get a nip in. But Cloud doesn't react to poison the way one expects. Not even the way she herself expects.

« The Crying One is this way. » Cloud complains to Jean, though the others surely hear her. She does not yell. But she is insistent. Firm. « We must go. Engaging them allows them to choose the battleground, and delay us. It gives them the advantage. We must move, swiftly! » She will be rather abashed later, when she realizes the tough spot she put Cyclops and others in, but she's not used to 'teamwork' per se. She has been a lone wonderer almost her entire life. And cats are notorious for choosing their own paths in spite of themselves.

***

Okay he should have started working with a telepath long before now. Okay he can see through Forey's eyes. Almost as good as his card, to him it feels like something is missing, but it's close enough. He goes over to Cyclops and just starts watching the guys back. Thanks to his new link to Forey. "Okay boy, after this I will get you some sausages." His staff gets extended as he waits to see if anyone is coming towards him. «Watching as good as I can. I can also buy is about five minutes, but it's a small range, but it will stop them all. Of course anyone I can't touch will be frozen as well.» He never has used much of his abilities around the X-Type people.

***

The panther moves quickly, the images of the abominable facing off against the X-Men flashing in his view across the alleyways. If T'Challa has been seen by sharper eyes cutting through the heavens on on the earth amongst the group he paces, he does not-necessarily cannot-notice. His is not focused on the attention of those whom must seek the same thing as he. Instead, his place is to search the dark, and count the number of eyes in it.

Subconsciously, he moves to get ahead of the group. He will spy what lays ahead and judge the danger there. Even the inhuman may have a time keeping pace with him, the moves of the Wakandan king sprawling through concrete and time as easily as he might negotiate grass and ground. However, fearlessness and speed are not to be accounted for in the same hand as balance and bearing. He is slowly made starkly aware that he is being watched by those eyes in the dark. He drives forward, with all of the abandon of the waterfall over the bluff. Rain peals down in thick sheets over him, the price paid by one who stands on the outskirts. Suit slick with the driving rainwater, lightning crawling in the sky overhead and at the feet, the panther hears the explosion in heaven.

And then he gives the wolves exactly what they want.

Whether it be by him crashing through a spectre of time or by his own enhanced senses, time seems to slow to a standstill as the panther trips mid-run. It is almost unheard of for a black panther to do so. He knows the minds of all those who see themselves as lions, and when he falls, his body rotates in mid-air, slowly. Two inch long claws unfold from his hands.

Despite the waterfall's powerlessness in the air, it still cuts the mountains in twain.

***

Unvetted or not by Storm and Cyclops, Mattias isn't terrified of the demons. Watchful and wary? Yes, but the tall Swede isn't shaking in his boots. Instead, when Cyclops calls to action and a plan is set into place, he steps up, brandishing his thick, metal pole as he weapon it is, stepping alongside Cyclops when the rush of his beam comes out. He resists the urge to dive in, despite the dog-like hunger in his eyes for combat and glory. It's something in his blood he doesn't quite understand, yet.

«Right here, Cyclops. Nothing's going to touch any of you, I'm in place.» Mattias thinks, arms and shoulders flexing and lowering the club, ready to swing. «…don't f*** this up, they're depending on you. Demons. Loki. Kraken. Widen your stance. Don't lose the pole. Don't make stupid mistakes. You got this. You're six feet of northern badass mother-» Mattias pep-talks himself. Mentally. Out of habit.

***

Flames rise, and then fall as the rain beats down. There are cracks in the earth, and there are shards of rocks that shoot upwards to continue to try to create a barrier. But, Cyclops' red blasts and Storm's lightning can handle them quickly and easily enough. Likewise, when imps and lesser monsters than the BlackMote leap over the rocks and riven earth to get to the heroes, Matti's pole and Reader's staff are excellent proof against bites, swipes, and other weapons.

Likewise, Jean's telekinetic blasts are good at throwing spiderdogs well out of the way, and Cloud's own instincts are unparalleled. This does not lessen the threat, however. The deeper they go into the city, the more confused the timeways become. Some even warp streets and buildings. And there's that disturbed nest of vampires up ahead.

Not that Vampires get on all that well with Lycanthropes. (Nor with omega-level telepaths.)

The wolves are on T'Challa the moment he flips, though his claws will ensure they learn this cat is as easily subdued as most every cat. (Put a cat and a dog of equal size in a fight and the smart money's always on the cat.) They might be a pack, but he is a panther… and a king. There's something to be said for Alpha presence, after all.

***

Phoenix aura screaming around her like an enraged demon itself, Jean continues to blast and telekinetically rip a ring around Cloud, hearing the leopard's complaints. "You're not gonna like this," she says to the cat. Then, however, she reaches out telekinetically and lifts the cat right off the ground and out of the fray, keeping her far enough away from herself so as not to be sliced and diced by accident. «We need to work together,» she tells the leopard. «I know exactly where the 'crying one' is, but the rest of the team is under attack, and we'll have better success getting to him if they're with us. There are too many enemies ahead.» Because she can tell just how tangled the way forward actually is. That, and… well, the undead don't exactly have 'live brain patterns' for her to sense. But the malevolence of the shadows rising up against them is palpable enough.

She sends back to her friends behind. «Cloud and I are safe enough, but the way forward isn't going to be easy. We can come back or press on. What do you want?»

***

«Siege. Shut up. Focus. You got this. You're an X-Men now.» Encouraging words and carried on a firm near-fearless resolve through the psychic 'Jean-Hub'. Near-fearless because no fool doesn't embrace fear, fear is the superpower of mortals.

"Alright team, forward! RUN!" Cyclops shouts and takes off running, a leap over grinding rising rocks through rain and sizzling fire pits past the entrypoint they are creating. Hopefully they follow, hopefully they stay close and Storm can maintain overwatch.

«We need a direction to our target, the source. This crying one? Just keep going towards it but guide us as best you can. We're blind back here.» He also doesn't want to tell her she is going to tax herself linking them, using TK and keeping eyes through Forey. She knows her self and she knows him, she can sense his concern.

"Storm? What now? We can't keep fighting these things. There is too many."

***

Unable to help herself, Cloud snarls and roars, flailing about with those nasty claws and teeth of hers, as she is yoinked up off the ground, away from her opponents and the ground. « No! The flying death is coming! Put me down! » Unfortunately, that's about as much sense as Cloud is going to make about this, because she has no idea what it is she's smelling. She has never seen a vampire, never smelled one before. But her instincts are her instincts, and they tell her it is bad. Very bad. And coming for them. And now she's dangling in mid-air, she can't even defend herself.

That is one desperately unhappy feline.

***

«….» Mttias' metal projections are TMI… But Storm says nothing. Every warrior has an inner chat and rhythm they go by…

***

«Let her down…» Storm states calmly to Jean despite the Storm that rages around the group and the bolts that had assaulted to light T'challa's path into the proximity.

As Storm rises, the wet /slaps of cloaked-wings descend upon her dusky skin that is exposed around the attire that is held over statuesque figure holding sentinel just above her team. A crascendo aligned while the streaks of alabaster hair trail lnes in slices aling her facade, now weighed down by the rains she has called.

«Hold on!!!» And once Jean releases Cloud into the fray of Lycans that are already also upon T'challa, the flood of vamps, and the backing of….

Behind the helter-skelter of large feline paws a sudden rumble comes from below, an aftermath of lightning stricken just-so that brings a wave of mud to follow bhind cloud and just before the team. A veil their own…

«Now!» And s Storm lowers the pressure of the area shifts, wind sucking in them out as spatters of mud streak and stones rise like levitated base-balls… Hit them team!

« All in!»

***

His claws are sharper than a king's.

They are the claws of the panther god.

Wolves dive onto T'Challa as he falls. It is a carefully orchestrated failure, an inevitability that draws the hunters out onto him. He has the sense that there are those even amongst the venerable X-Men who would not take him at his word. Were he the sort to place greater stock in opinion, he would count it as fortune that less merciful minds were not witness to his fall, no matter the circumstance.

Online videos have gone viral for less, he understands.

Whirling with the packs at his throat, it is easy for T'Challa to disregard the lightning and psychic fire that bathes the sky. It is expected, for what he understands of those men-made-gods. But it is not custom for him to disregard details. His preliminary counts, gathered from glimpses and scents coming to him in brief spurts, are telling of the magnitude of beasts rolling through. He smashes through the window of a bakery, scattering rolls in every direction, only to throw a hulking beast from him, both legs pumping the beast into the electric scent preceding the lightning. The wolf's consciousness is measured in eyeblinks.

As it always was with her, the skies favor.

The panther notes the leopard, when he emerges from the time-ravaged ruins. He is wordless, and needs to say little more to convey gratitude and meaning. Claws baring against the beasts, the panther rejoins the fray.

Slowly, a strategy begins to form, burgeoned on by the mud, the fire and the rain. T'Challa is moving parallel to the approach of the others. He is seen now, under the cloak of that mud cover, moving quickly across the cars and the things that shift against the mud wave but are not buried. The young king is not necessarily attempting to defeat all enemies in his path, and despite his thoughts to the contrary, he is not trying to get ahead of the X-Men, to beat them to their destination. He emits thunder all of his own, the earth and mud shuddering as he diffuses the energy of his suit into it, scattering enemies.

Through his supposed weakness and his attacks on the packs, he is working on drawing away some of the worst of things. Attracting the bats and the wolves where they may be distracted. He looks to reveal vital breaks in the horde, a weakness through which a main spear can be driven.

He is a warrior. Anything that is within his sphere of notice, he will engage.

***

«This IS how I FO-» "-CUS!" Mattias growls as a demon comes bounding in, arms extended. Mattias brings the metal pole over the top of his head. Timing it just right, he brings the makeshift club down onto the demon's head, crunching it at his feet. Another comes leaping in, crashing into Mattias and driving him back against the rock wall. Muscles flex and teeth bare in a bellowed sound of defiance from Siege. Razor-sharp nails graze his cheek, slicing a line across it, but the pole comes swinging again, kissing the demon in the mouth and upgrading it's dental X-rays. His boot comes up. The demon goes flying into the rock and slumps over.

"Coming!" Mattias calls out after Cyclops. He leaps up and scrabbles over the rock formation, boots skidding pebbles down below. A vampire's face suddenly appears. HIIIISSSS-BONG!! Like whack-a-mole, Mattias swings for the bleachers. It squeals and goes back down to the concrete. He's ever-pleased by the rain, he spits into the dirt, with that ink-like blood washing off of his skin, only to be covered in mud as it all comes rushing in again.

Siege charges forward, like a battering ram, a siege engine, as he was one referred to by his teacher. Pole held low in two hands, he roars forward, swinging and clubbing and shoving and fighting his way through the creatures.

***

Hey Reader is being a good guy, and totally follow Cyclops like he was told. If any of the creatures do find their way through the optic blasts and the others, Reader is there to great them with his nifty little staff thingy. Any other stragglers have Forey to deal with as well. Hey Reader doesn't just keep the dog around because he is super cute to look at you know.

***

Between mudslides, catclaws, and a good, old-fashioned X-Men onrush, the darkness gives way. Lightning and rain stoke the skies, lashing out with fury and thunder. Red optic blasts clear mountains of debris and obstacles. And what that doesn't clear, good old brute force goes along way to beating down. The Phoenix hangs like a beacon in the sky, seen even from the center of the city.

Alfie O'Meagan looks up at the firebird, and it gives him an idea. He can change the world. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he can remake this world into a better one.

Beside him, John shifts, sensing his thoughts. "Alfie, no. Don't do anything st—"

He never finishes his sentence. Young Alfie lets out a roar worthy of the gods themselves and pulls all his power into himself. Abruptly the timewaves ravaging the city disappear and the blue-green lightshow roiling over Tomorrow Square goes ominously dark.

When he finally releases all that pent-up energy, however, it is in silence. Light, all colours and frequencies, bursts out of him like a star going supernova. A sound like cosmic thunder shudders the earth, fading, if such an earth-shattering sound can fade, into the roar of a mighty rushing wind that echoes through the city. From the epicenter at the center of Tomorrow Square, the black clouds overhead splinter and begin to dissapate, driven away by the sun overhead. The dark things that lurk in the shadows of the city are burned by its light and driven back. And, indeed, as a new, singular timewave rolls out from Alfie's incandescent body like the shockwave of that self-same supernova, the city begins to change. Gone is the rubble. Gone is the magic. Gone are the mists. Gone are the scars of battle that marred the landscape. Gone are the monsters that hunted its streets. Buildings and infrastructure are rebuilt. Roads straighten and rise out of the mud, growing whole once more. Green grass sprouts and trees awaken to this new Spring.

The wave expands beyond the city, unstopable. The country is changed — sometimes in large, obvious ways. Sometimes in subtle, unseen ways. But in all cases, as the new reality superimposes itself on the old, memories of the old fall away, swept away on the wave. No one is immune, save, perhaps, those with similar reality-based powers, or those with a psychic disposition to clear Sight. But, even they can't be sure what is true memory and what is false. And in the wake of the new reality, it probably doesn't matter.

What does matter is that Steel City is whole again. And the heroes likely have only fleeting moments to absorb what has happened before the questions they have change from 'what just happened?' to 'what were we doing?'

No longer, though, is there a psychic scream of rage and pain. It fades with the last of the reality bending light. Wherever Alfie O'Meagan is, he is no longer here. And, it's entirely possible that the only one who actually remembers him is John Doe… alone in the remade Tomorrow Square.

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