August 22, 2017:

People shouldn't go dying around without Queen Illyana's license. So she goes to investigate Nate's latest mess and yell at him. Happens after scene 6172

The Astral Plane

Flaming maelstrom caused by Nate and The Red Head's out of control powers.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Death sure changes the worldview of a man. Nate has been dead about an hour, and it doesn’t feel right.

Maybe ‘not right’ is not the correct term.

He is burning. He has been burning for an hour. Nate is at the center of the astral firestorm. Anchor and Focus. In some regards, he -is- the storm. Because it holds his fragmented astral self, his memories and his feelings. And they are -all- burning.

Lacking a physical body, it shouldn’t hurt so badly. Somehow - it is just as bad as it sounds. Consciousness comes and goes among flashbacks of past events and odd moments of lucidity. To those he clings like a drowning sailor to a life preserver. He heard Jean and Rachel for a few moments. Why are they gone? Oh right. He attacked them. He wasn’t thinking/couldn’t think.

Illyana isn't having any metaphysical revelations about the nature of life and death. She's just angry.

Angry that she was stationed in Limbo while the attack on G-Core took place, to monitor the situation and provide a fast way out if needed. That she agreed that it was a good idea at the time doesn't change that.

She's also angry because when things went very, very south, she wasn't able to join the X-Men, or pull them out. Something simply prevented her from opening a portal to G-Core. Having to admit that a power greater than hers stopped her from doing what she wanted only fans the flames.

But what she's really angry about, what makes her absolutely furious, is that Nate went and got himself killed without her permission. She'd warned him enough times, but did he listen? No! It's so typical for him, and why she's so angry.

Angry is good, though. It burns everything else away.

A glowing portal opens, and Illyana stalks out into the X-Men's hideout in Hopewell. She knew she'd be alone, she checked from Limbo, but she still looks around as if she's hoping for someone to vent her wrath upon. Her lip curls when she's disappointed. Getting down to business, she casts a swift set of wards on the entrances, so she'll be alerted should she have guests, and then sinks down to sit cross-legged on the floor, closing her eyes, and lets her spirit slip free of her body. Her astral form opens its eyes, and even from this distance the disturbance on the astral plane is visible. The image of Illyana frowns, and projects itself closer.
She's angry, yes, but she's also stubborn. And now she's curious, too.

The maelstrom of psychic energy over Hammer Bay is not as obvious to a sorceress as it would be for a telepath, but it is definitely something that shouldn’t be. It has caused serious damage to the reality of the plane of the mind, and no doubt will cause all kinds of extra-dimensional events related to the planes of dreams, perceptions and nightmares and other metaphysical (and important) elements of reality.

It is also the size of a good-sized city and looks pretty unstable. It also feels strangely familiar.

"Well Nate. You died how you lived: Making a huge mess." Even in this place, Illyana's tone is as sardonic as ever. Distance means little on the astral plane, and the ugly wound in the realm of the mind is no more than a thought away. Illyana hangs in space, studying the phenomenon. "Stephen is not going to be pleased." That's her eventual verdict - even here, alone, she's not going to give voice to anything deeper than that. If her tone is a little more acid-edged than usual… well, it's been a bad day.

She doesn't know what she expected to find. The mental equivalent of debris from the battle, if that's what it really was? Some understanding of what killed Nate, so she's ready if they have to face it again, or the opportunity for vengeance?

…pieces of Nate mind, or soul? Is she really that sentimental? No. She's not. But now she's here, she does sense… something. "This is a stupid idea." She tells herself, and moves into the storm.

It is a stupid idea.

The psychic flames of the maelstrom will scorch her astral self as sure as any mystic fire. And although she is strong enough to survive the shattering of her astral form, it is about as pleasant as taking a dive in a pool of acid.

But once Illyana is close enough the heat is very unpleasant, she is getting ‘struck’ by random thoughts and ideas that bounce on her psychic shields like hailstones against the windshield. If hailstones were actually hot coals. It feels like Nate. Like pieces of his mind and soul.

« Illyana! » And now more than pieces. That was a coherent message.

« Illy. You crazy witch. Stay way. Can’t control it. Can’t think. »

Illyana's not a cat. She's hardly likely to let her curiosity kill her, or even do her any significant damage. Up until that point, though? It's only pain, and that doesn't hold any terrors for the adopted daughter of Belasco. She mentally grits her teeth and pushes on, chasing that feeling of familiarity. The longer she endures, the more certain she becomes. Something of Nate still exists within the maelstrom. But is it the fading embers of a burned, dead mind, or something more?

The answer comes in the form of her own name. « NATE?! » Illyana makes a point of acting like nothing ever really surprises her. This once, she utterly fails. Something has survived, and it knows her. Ideas flicker through her mind, each more outlandish - and dangerous - than the last. She knows something of souls. She saw Belasco bring 'her' Nightcrawler back to life, after Cat had killed him. And anything Belasco can do, Illyana can do. Better. It just might cost the rest of her soul.

Illyana feels the edges of her astral form begin to fray. She can ignore the pain, but eventually the accumulated damage will send her back to her body, probably a little charred around the edges. « How are you not dead? » Illyana still sounds incredulous, and she recognises how pointless her question is as soon as it's asked. « Forget it. I don't care. It doesn't matter. Just listen to me. You are NOT ALLOWED to die, all right? » Illyana's managing to sound a little less shellshocked. There's a treacherous thread of relief in her mental tone that she's not quite got under control yet, however.

Allowed to die.


« Bit too late for that. So bossy you are. Step back! » Psychic force pushes against Illyana’s astral form. He is very strong, even more than normal, pulling her out of the firestorm and into the not-burning area.

« Still here… » he mentions, the ‘voice’ quieter. « I am caught here. I am still… here. I think I died, but for this… fire. Feels like a net. »

There are scattered images coming into Illyana’s head. Not random thoughts that feel like attacks, but a deliberate messages. The last moments in the G-Core facility. A Jean he now thinks was not Jean. The vast, angry power behind the empty facade. And Nate suicidal effort to channel all the destructive power into the Astral Plane.

And more. Dreams. Nate had dreamed this would happen several times in the last two months.

It's very possible that Nate - even in his currently discorporate state - is more powerful than Illyana in this particular arena. Her astral form is buffeted by Nate's power, and despite the fact that holding her ground would only bring her more pain, she still tries to dig her heels in, for all the good it does her. She's picked up and deposited beyond the bounds of the maelstrom as if she were nothing.

« TOUCHING. » She warns Nate, but then images are pouring into her mind. Ordinarily, her mind is out of reach of telepaths, but she's put herself here, in his domain. She can't do anything to stop it. It makes her want to pull away, but Illyana hates running away more. « You KNEW this was going to happen?! » Illyana demands. Trust her to latch on to that part of the story. « You KNEW this was going to happen and you didn't tell me?! » Anger, again. It's so much easier. Particularly when her head is spinning as she tries to make sense of the ceaseless flow of mental images. For all her unusual talents, she's not a telepath.

« Hold on, Nate. » She finally says. « Just hold on. If you go into the light… or the darkness… I'm going to drag your soul back out again. And that won't be pleasant for either of us. » She needs one of the X-Men's experienced telepaths. She needs a solution that won't cost the last pieces of her soul. And she needs to be back in her body to do all that.

Despite the burning, and because of the burning, Nate’s control over what he shares and what he says is very limited. He didn’t want Illyana to know he had seen his fate beforehand. But he had the thought in what passes for his mind right now, so he did.

« It would have been worse if I had not been here. And you wouldn’t have let me come! » He points out. He can imagine Illyana locking him in Limbo. That is the first amusing thought he has since he got killed. « I love you too. You crazy witch » he blurts out.

« No shit! You mostly died and you set the astral plane on fire! Of course I wouldn't have let you come! » Illyana's shouting at the mental presence of a physically dead man. She knows it's not helping but the anger is bubbling up again. The idiot kept secrets from her, and this happened. Now she has to find a way to stop him from dying permanently… so she can kill him herself.

Illyana snorts as Nate's mind goes for a wander again. It's easier than admitting she's worried. « Everyone loves me, Nate. But you're mostly dead and I'm not anyone's type. » Illyana's tells him tartly. Her presence begins to fade, before solidifying again, just for a moment. « But you'd still better be here when I get back. » With that, she's gone.

Opening her eyes - her physical eyes - Illyana's body is unharmed, but her spirit feels tattered. She climbs to her feet, checking her wards - they're undisturbed, which is the last thing she wants. She dispels them with a contemptuous wave of her hand, and vanishes into a portal. She needs to find the others, right now.

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