AoA: First, Hide and Survive

September 27, 2017:

Illyana and Nate crashland into AoA New York several hours after Rachel did. They hook up and prepare for the worst.

Brooklyn, New York

All that is left are ruins.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: AoA Magneto

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It was probably a Nate-idea. His ideas usually end up in explosions and chaos. But it is hard to remember those last few minutes.

== Alert! Alert! Gravitational integrity compromised. Tachyon fugue in progress. Shutdown-Shugrrrrzzz… ==

Oh yes, they broke the Danger Room. No one had tone that before since… maybe that time they tried to trap in Juggernaut there.

Then it was a pretty hard fall, but Illyana was lucky and Nate grabbed her, shielded her with a TK-field and got the brunt of the crash-landing. They wake up more or less at the same time. Headachy and bruised. Nate's first words: "Ow. What the fuck happened?" Pause. "Illy, you okay?"

They are in a crater, the dust is still settling. There is a sandy beach about two hundred feet away. The air is cold, too cold for the early Fall, just a few degrees over freezing.

Illyana's an unconscious heap sprawled half on top of Nate until her name is spoken, and then she snaps fully awake without going through any of the usual stages of waking up. With no regard for Nate's wellbeing, or where her elbows, knees or feet might land, she's scrambling off of him and rapidly shifting backwards, away from him.

Once she's got to a minimally safe distance, she locks eyes with Nate and only then seems to recognise him. A blink, and her eyes go from wild staring to her normal guarded coldness, as abruptly as that, and Illyana pushes herself up to her feet, swaying alarmingly and taking a couple of steps before she can catch herself.

The blonde Russian looks around, and doesn't seem taken by what she sees. "I'm fine." She tells Nate, in defiance of the obvious, without even looking at him. "Where the hell are we?"

"The Danger Room," offers Nate, standing up and not commenting Illyana's brief loss of control. He looks around warily. "Maybe it got us and we are…" he shrugs vaguely, looking around. A beach, deserted, the other side the ruins of a large city, the rusted, broken remains of a Ferris wheel not far away.

"Damn it. I know this place. This is Brighton Beach, that is Brooklyn and…" and he pales visibly, shutting up.

"This isn't the Danger Room." Illyana's looking at the city, rather than Nate, and her tone is flat. She doesn't know where they are, but she knows with absolute certainty she's never been here before.

And not just this particular location. This /world/. Limbo doesn't feel like the real world, and this place doesn't feel like either.

Illyana remains silent for as long as it takes Nate to come to the same conclusion, her eyes still scanning the city for movement, the fingers of her left hand clenching and relaxing unconsciously.

"…and this is your world, not mine." Illyana finishes for him, finally looking around. "Am I close?" She asks, but she clearly already knows the answer.

Surviving. Surviving is what Rachel is best at. She survived a horrific, post-apocalyptic world where Sentinels ruled the earth. She survived being a slave to Mojo in his twisted dimension. She'll survive this world too, though it has brought up a lot of old memories. Memories she'd successfully buried away. Memories of being a hound, hunting her loved ones, memories of running, of feeling loved ones die all around her, memories of being alone.

She already made one mistake today, Rachel wasn't about to make another. Trust no-one. That's her motto, and one that she should have listened to. After escaping Sauron and the quinjet containing - well, Rachel wasn't sure who, but they were pretty well shielded against her telepathy, Rachel has spent the past few hours learning. Not everyone in this rebuilt version of New York had their thoughts masked and trained to withstand her invasion.

Her clothes have altered to match that of a typical New Yorker, at least this world's New Yorker. A long, tattered cloak is pulled up around her shoulders, the hood up and covering her features, and her hair. Her clothing has matched that of one that has been put through the wash many times over, and yet still hasn't been really 'cleaned'. Rips and tears are located through the long sleeved shirt and old jeans. Beneath all that is her costume, which does a fairly good job of insulating her from the bitter cold.

As Rachel's thoughts continue to sweep outwards, suddenly - a familiar tingle echoes with her mind. It's - honestly almost too much to hope for, so she has to approach with great caution.

Thus a very tightly shielded mind Nate /may/ pick up over the distance, someone approaching on foot through the sand.

Nate snaps a frowning look at Illyana as she comes into the same conclusion he did, despite not knowing anything of his world. "How did you…? No, nevermind." He breathes deeply. The air tastes to ash and death. The Atlantic Ocean is dirty, more brown than blue. Poisoned and dead but for some resistant algae and whatever mutated life the Breeding Pens released into the water. The sky is cloudy, but the clouds are more grey-white than the darker, reddish he remembers. Then again, there were good days and bad days, back then.

Despite the headache, he does a telepathic scan, and he is surprised to detect tens of thousands of minds just north. That must be New York. But had a tiny population last time he visited. Just a few thousands of the Mutant Elite and a few thousands doomed souls in the Pens. Now it feels at least ten times larger.

"Where are the others? Can you get to Limbo and do a search?" Rachel shielded mind is not detected, but the redhead certainly can detect Nate. Any telepath in miles can detect Nate.

Illyana answers him anyway. "I heard it in your voice, and then I saw it in your face." She shrugs. "Never play poker, Nate." Illyana drops her gaze to the crater beneath her feet, and wrinkles her nose in distaste as she digs at it with the toe of her boot. "Besides, the whole place feels wrong."

Losing interest in her amateur excavation, Illyana begins to walk up the slope of the crater, raising her left hand to her right shoulder as she does so, working the joint with a bit of a wince. She may have landed on Nate, but she's still bruised.

Nate's question brings her to a halt. "Let's see." She says, without looking around. She stands completely still for several long seconds, before she spits out a sulfurous curse in a particularly descriptive demonic language. "No." She says, and it's almost a growl. "I can't." She turns around, folding her arms tightly. "We're stuck here."

The closer that Rachel gets, the more a sense of hope springs to her thoughts. If that's Nate. The Nate -she- knows, perhaps there are others that have made it here as well. And then. Rachel wouldn't be alone. A hesitant, very tentative voice will reach outwards towards Nate. (As Rachel can't sense Illyana due to Illyana's powers, she has no idea the sorceress is there as well.)

.oO(Nate?)Oo. Rachel's telepathic voice will sound - hesitant. Guarded. Suspicious. Even in that single world, that single question, the emotional turmoil that is going through Rachel will leak through.

In the distance, Rachel's steps will increase, her powers reaching out now further, and further, seeking thoughts, shielded and otherwise. If this is a trap, she's damn well going to be ready for it, and more than that, she's going to enjoy the destruction. If. Of course, it is a trap.

Nate snorts. He is okay at poker (not really). He concentrates briefly, trying to summon the 'Spiral of Worlds' in him mind's eye. He fails, but that is not uncommon, he can't cross over to different words anywhere and anytime. Besides, his powers have been erratic since Genosha.

"Alright. We are too close to New York. Chances are we have been detected by the Prelates, we need to leave and… Ray!" He focuses, trying to find the redhead. « I am here. With Yana. Are you alright? » He sends back. "Rachel is close by," he explains to the blonde sorceress.

Illyana doesn't look anywhere remotely close to happy, and if anything her expression darkens further as Nate talks. These 'Prelates' are clearly the bad guys, she can't run, and Nate has an annoying habit of picking fights with… well, everyone. At least he's talking about leaving before that happens…

Illyana's ears prick up when Nate stops mid-sentence and call's Rachel's name. "Ray?" Illyana asks, walking hurriedly back down the slope of the crater. "Ray's here?" Illyana asks, while Nate is attempting mental communication, probably not doing much for his concentration. She's dropped her arms to her sides and may have just made the decision to shake him when he focuses on her again. "Finally some good news." Illyana offers, then snorts. "For us, not her." Her mood might be brightening, just a little. "Which way?"

A deep breath is exhaled, Rachel hadn't even realized she'd been holding one in since she reached out to Nate. « Yes. » The answer is terse, she isn't 'alright', not by a long shot, but physically Rachel is just dandy. « Bruised, confused, and in bound. » She answers honestly. It doesn't take long now that Rachel knows it is Nate and Illyana there.

Within a few minutes a streaking bolt of tattered clothing arrives and lands next to the two, as Rachel pulls back her hood, letting it drop to her shoulders as she lets out a rush of air. "Look, I don't know much about this place, but I do know sitting around isn't our best options. We should move to a better location. If anything, the indigenous populace are going to know you landed, and anyone with any form of telepathy or telepathy detection will find you standing out like a beacon, Nate." Rachel's voice is terse, her entire form rigid and straight. She speaks with decisiveness, emotionally blocked and guarded. Her gaze flickers from side to side, though it really isn't needed, her abilties are still reaching outwards, seeking, focusing, listening for anything or anyone that might try and sneak up on them.

To Illyana, Rachel asks, "Magik, are you able to teleport us to a different location?"

Nate would hug Rachel if the girl lets him. "Good to see you," he murmurs, "yeah, we got to move. Or maybe you should hide and I will fly south. We can be in touch with telepathy, but we need to be cautious. Apocalypse had the Shadow King on a leash and sent him to murder other telepaths." Pause. "Hell, where are the others? Did they crossover too?" He considers looking telepathically, but in a rare moment of forethought he decides to wait. They can do it together later, from a safer place. "New York is Apocalypse's capital. Or was… I don't know what happened after the crystal pulled me away. It was five years ago."

Illyana doesn't get an answer, but she quickly doesn't need one. As the figure streaks towards them, Illyana shifts her stance, turning slightly to one side and bracing her feet. The Soulsword doesn't make an appearance, but it's a near-run thing.

Illyana only relaxes a bit when Rachel reveals her face, and there's even the suggestion of a smile, just for a moment - though it doesn't get time to reach her eyes before she takes in Rachel's overly stiff posture. Illyana's eyes narrow a fraction. Something's happened to the redhead, but Illyana's not going to say anything in front of Nate… although the question Rachel directs her way almost makes her regret that.

"No." It's only the second time Illyana's had to answer that question and that's already two times too many. "Something's blocking me, I can't reach Limbo." Her jaw's tight as she says it, not liking that she has to admit a weakness. She subsides into silence when Nate lays out some options, but breaks in when he pauses. "I could try a spell of concealment?" She offers, then smiles humorlessly. "It can only not work, after all."

A slight hesitance is there when Nate approaches for the embrace, though Rachel does allow it, her own response is not quite as warm as it might have been another day. Just a brief pat on Nate's back before Rachel steps back again. It isn't that she doesn't appreciate the hug, Rachel does, but right now, surviving is all she can think about.

All business again, Rachel returns to a fairly emotionless state, "From what I have gathered from the native population, New York City or - what remains of it, is not ruled by Apocalypse. He was killed by Magneto five years ago. At least that is the general thoughts of those in the city. I have not had the chance to focus much more than that, getting supplies and suitable clothing took most of my time."

Illyana will receive a bob of Rachel's head. "Lets try it - but in a different location. I've managed to acquire a small hide-out in New York, directly. A collapsed section of the Morlock Tunnels. It's very secluded, and easily guarded as there are only two ways in or out, and I had to seriously work some telekinetic magic to even get to it. I've got a few supplies I — borrowed — from some of the population, but I really suggest we move. Quickly." It isn't that Rachel's trying to be rude, she's just trying not to freak out, ball up, and shut down. It isn't paranoia when everyone really is trying to get you, after all.

Nate wasn't even aware the Morlocks had existed in his world (they did - Apocalypse had the murdered for being weak) and is happy to follow Rachel underground. He also seems happy to hear Apocalypse is dead. "Maybe we should try to find Magneto later," he comments. "He was the X-Men leader, he…" pause, "I don't get it, I saw the nukes falling. Everyone here should be dead."

No more words for a while. Illyana finds her spells work perfectly well within the rather weak-ish parameters of casting outside Limbo.

"You won't get any argument from me." Illyana assures Rachel, and moves off after the redhead without any hesitation. Getting somewhere that Rachel can ease down from her current pitch of tension seems like a good idea.

"They're not, we're not, let's take what we can get?" Illyana offers to Nate, showing that pep talks aren't one of her skills. She shrugs. "Any idea how we find your Magneto - assuming he's still alive?" Again, probably unhelpful, but Illyana's feeling uncommonly useless right now.

It's only when they're under cover that she realises how tense SHE is, and lets out a breath she hadn't been aware she was holding. She looks around the dilapidated tunnel, but she's got something else on her mind. "Give me a minute." She says, and steps away from the others, spreading her hands out to her sides and closing her eyes. A golden light appears around her hands, geometric forms seeming to dance around her fingers, and then fades away. Illyana takes a deep breath before she opens her eyes, and moves with a more confident step to join the others. "That should help keep us hidden. For a while, anyway."

The Morlock Tunnels did exist, thankfully, at least in part. After all, the lower subway system also existed before Apocalypse took his reign. It was not easy finding some small relatively safe area, but Rachel's mind was and remains really one-tracked. It takes a great deal of telekinetic effort to part the debris and reveal the beginning of the tunnel, it also takes a great deal of telepathic prowess to make certain no one notices. Yet, Rachel is easily up for the task, even without the Phoenix Force guiding her, she's her mother's daughter and more.

The tunnel is cramped and narrow and dank, but it soon leads out to an open area that appears to be an old subway station long since forgotten. The other exit out would need to be debris cleared, as well, but there are two exits - an essential part of any hideaway. A small bit of clothing and some old canned food rests against one side of the wall. Rachel might have felt slightly guilty in taking it from some of the semi-legal traders, if survival wasn't one of the more important thoughts running through her right now.

After Illyana protects the area with her magic, Rachel pauses and eyes the blonde closely. "My apologies." She intones and then simply acts. Illyana will receive - whether she might like it or not - a make-over of the epic degree. Much of the clothing on the floor will suddenly shift and swirl about the blonde, a telekinetic glow surrounding Illyana - as Rachel telekinetically creates an outfit best described as 'Mad Max and/or Fallout' worthy. A cloak with a hood, slightly tattered but blend in grey, a long sleaved sweater like shirt, and a pair of jeans, all of which are placed over Illyana's costume (at least Rachel didn't alter Illy's own clothing). Rachel turns to Nate. "Care for the same? Also; I know little of the world you came from, Nate. If this has managed to survive someway, perhaps it is not your world after all, but a different, alternate dimension similar in scope, but not the same. I have found, as have you, the variety of worlds that surround us, parallel to our own to be so close, and yet vastly different from what we know to be true."

Nate follows Rachel lead with little hesitation, keeping an eye behind the group. It is alarmingly easy to fall back into the paranoid survivor mindset even after five yours. Because it feels so much like home.

He examines the hideout with a clinical eye, guesstimates how long would the food last and kicks at passing rat out of the way. "Seems safe," he decides. He has been in worse places, although not in a long while. Sure, he can also alter his clothes, or at least add a hoodie.

Rachel's words are also a reminder of how dangerous is to make assumptions. He needs to know more, see more and find out more. "This place feels very close, but yeah. There is something more important, though. Where are the others? Jean, Lorna, Logan… they were all in the Danger Room too."

Claustrophobic tunnels and abandoned subway stations might make the perfect set for a horror movie, but they don't bother Illyana at all - although once she's done working her little bit of magic, she's not slow in scoping out the exits, particularly since she can't make her own any more.

"What for?" Illyana just has time to ask, a suspicious look coming over her features, before she finds out. Her eyes narrow a bit as she feels the invisible touch of Rachel's telekinesis, but she keeps still until the redhead's finished with her. Raising her eyebrows questioningly, Illyana looks down at herself, then back up at Rachel. Slowly, a smile forms on her lips. "Perfect." She says drolly. "Now all I need is a shopping cart for all my worldly possessions." It's about as close to a thank you as feels fitting under the circumstances.

Finding a section of wall that's dry and relatively clean to lean against, Illyana chips in on Nate's musing. "We arrived after Ray and in a different location. They could be anywhere or anywhen. But this is your world, Nate. What's still here that would be familiar? And who or what might have found them if they didn't hide?"

"I'd recommend something a little less conspicuous than a shopping cart." Offers Rachel in a flat tone. Her gaze flickers between Nate and Illyana, as she bobs her head. "Nate, you know this world best. I'm going to stay here in this warded room and search for them via telepathy. Their thoughts will stick out more than the mundane masses. Illyana's got my back." Which Rachel simply assumes, more than asks. "Be careful out there, and if you need help - I'll just be a thought away."

Nate expression sours at Illyana's questions. Right, they can't stay here, they have to find the others as soon as possible. "Apocalypse created a stratified society. He was on the top, the four Horsemen right under, each ruled a chunk of America. Under the Horsemen the most powerful mutants, the alphas, formed his army and his church and lived in relative luxury. The Prelates were the highest officers, the Rooks and Mudirs where lieutenants. Oh, and the Madri… that was our friend Madrox, divided in a ten thousand army of fearless, fanatical clones. Then came the rest of the mutants, who were little more than servants, but at least allowed to live. Also some metas and cyborgs that had proven their 'strength' and loyalty to Apocalypse - often after being brainwashed for years. Cannon fodder, really. Lastly the normal humans. Slaves at best or targets for genocide most of the time. Apocalypse launched regular 'cullings' on cities so only the 'strong' would survive."

That is not what Rachel saw in New York, though. Humans and mutants coexisted in peace. The city was poor, and many people looked hungry, but there was light on the streets and the soldiers in the streets were human. There was a large alien ship hovering over Manhattan and Central Park looked like a well-groomed garden/orchard.

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