Cutscene: Life and Death in Limbo

June 01, 2017:

Illyana sets some unwanted houseguests free… in a sense.



NPCs: Six incomplete clones of X-23

Mentions: X-23


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Limbo. Some parts of it are pleasant, at least on the surface, and full of life.

This isn't one of those parts.

The desert seems to stretch on forever, the dunes shimmering in the heat haze under an unnaturally orange sky. The only feature not wholly swallowed by the sand is a huge stone amphitheatre, ruined but still imposing. Inside, a gate of dark, spiked iron bars entry to the deserted killing floor at the centre, penning some of Limbo's newer inhabitants within the mercifully cooler catacombs beneath the stone structure.

There are six of them, and they're not native to Limbo. And they're almost Laura Kinney. A failed attempt to create more X-23s. Call them X-22.5s, maybe.

It's hard to say how long they've been incarcerated within the amphitheatre, for time moves strangely within Limbo, but a monotonous routine has developed. Demons appear at regular intervals to throw food though the gate. Sometimes they aren't quick enough to avoid the claws of the almost-Lauras. On those days the X-22.5s eat a little better, although demon meat is nothing to write home about.

Today is different. There's no warning, even to the incomplete clones' enhanced senses, but there's suddenly a young woman standing on the other side of their gate, the dry desert wind lifting her long blonde hair. As one, they lunge for the gate. The woman is well within claw range…

She speaks a word. The gate ignites into flame with such force that the six would-be killers are thrown back from it. She speaks another, and the gate is cold iron once more.

"That's better." Cold blue eyes scan across the misshapen forms of the clones. She's leaning on a brilliant silver sword that wasn't there a moment before, the blade before her, her hands resting on the crossguard. "I said I wouldn't keep you prisoner forever." She tells the six, although there's no sign that they really understand her words. "But you're too broken to go back home." One of them growls, the sound full of the threat of barely restrained violence. The blonde smiles, a dark, humourless expression. "Don't think I don't appreciate the irony." The clones begin to slink forward again, and the blonde shakes her head. "You're as stubborn as she is, but you're even worse at making conversation."

"So here's the deal. Limbo's your playground… for as long as you can survive it. I'm sorry it won't be long. There are a lot of things in here far nastier than you are, but it's my best offer." A wave of her hand, and the gate vanishes into smoke. "What do you say?"

The clones might not comprehend English, but they understand an open door. They leap for the blonde - and vanish into six separate circles of bright light before they get within arm's reach.

"I'll take that as a yes."

Illyana Rasputina turns away and walks out into the centre of the amphitheatre and looks up at the crumbling tiers of stone benches, taking in the silent emptiness. For a moment she imagines the place filled with baying demons, drinking in the bloodshed on the arena floor as the X-22.5s fight for their amusement, imagines herself perched upon the ruined throne in the royal box. She smiles… and then shakes her head to clear the image from it.

"I'm definitely spending too much time around here."

A stepping disc appears and spirits Illyana away. The desert wind stirs the sandy floor of the arena, revealing the bloodstained stones beneath. Its time will come again.

(If anyone wants to know why Illyana had six almost-X-23s in Limbo, read

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