Demon Bear: The Trials of Illyana, Dani and Rachel Grey Part 2

October 26, 2017:

Part 2 of the trials for Illyana, Dani and Ray. Illyana and Dani find shadows aren't necessarily things you should mess with.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Continued from:

Moving through the dense forested area, Rachel's not exactly the best person to move silently in a wilderness setting. She's far better at an urban one. Yet, a little telekinetic floating so her feet don't fully step on anything and make a loud *crack* of noise, and you can do wonders to make sure you're not making any sound. Dani's mental comment about a 'bear', initially has Rachel's eyebrows shooting upwards with a look of 'are you freaking serious'? "A bear!?" She hisses out loud. "Like Smokey, Ben, Yogi? C'mon. Seriously…"

And then the damndest thing happens. A bear does appear. But it isn't the gentle black bear that romps through the woods, or even the mighty grizzly bear that some weird mountain man owned. No. This was a God Damn huge freaking insane size of a tree shadow bear that didn't have any freaking right to exist.

"What the bl.. Dani! You make freaking insane danger room scenarios." That's pretty much all Rachel gets the opportunity to state, however, as the damn giant Yogi turns Dani into a rag doll to be chucked up and whipped about like a slab of meat.

"This can not be happening! BAD BOOBOO!" Flying upwards to get out of the reach of any would be paws, the annoyed red-head sweeps her telekinetic energy outwards, moving to grab hold of the unconscious warrior and rip her from the paws of the giant monster. "Let go of her right this second, or so help me, you're going to be in the picnic basket!"

Illyana's eyes swing back to the direction of the small group's travel, after giving another quick sweep for anything that might be sneaking up behind them. She's a little surprised that Rachel's managing to be quite so impressively stealthy, but a quick look at the snowy ground, revealing only the imprints of Dani's boots, reveal that the redhead is cheating. Illyana wrinkles her nose at such behaviour, and quickens her pace to catch up… just in time to hear Rachel's not quite as subtle question about wildlife.

"Let me guess." Illyana says, in a quiet, conversational tone. So much less likely to draw attention than agitated whispering. "Lions and tigers are next?" She asks the question in a sardonic tone, but she's just as surprised as Rachel when the colossal shadow-bear suddenly makes its presence known.

Maybe more so since she didn't get the telepathic heads-up.

Blue eyes first widening in surprise at the sudden shadow, then narrowing suspiciously when it coalesces into bear-form, Illyana's still not left flat-footed for long. At Dani's command, Illyana darts off to one side, getting a bit of separation so that the bear can only go after one of them at a time.
Unfortunately, Dani's already drawn it's attention. "Great, you made it mad…" Illyana says under her breath, but when the bear actually tags Dani, the blonde sorceress clams up and gets a lethal light in her eyes. When Rachel takes to the skies in her usual showy fashion, Illyana looks annoyed for about a second that the redhead's jumped the revenge queue. But only for a second. "You're on bear-wrestling, Ray! I'll get Dani!"

As the bear flings Dani away, almost contemptuously, Illyana takes a couple of running steps and vanishes into a portal, reappearing between Dani and the bear. The Soulsword is in her hand, blazing white-hot, and Illyana raises it above her head, one hand on the hilt, the other by the tip. It's not exactly a flaming brand, but she's hoping it'll ward the bear off long enough for her to get a look at Dani's condition.

Rachel Grey. Cheating with that TK floating. Sadly, while Dani subconsciously makes note of that, nothing can really be said. Not when the bear reveals itself.

Now she's unconscious, but somewhere, somehow, after all this is said and done and the women are safe, Dani will make certain Rachel knows how to sneak without the use of her powers. That's important. There have been too many times where the X-Men have lost the use of their mutant heritage. That time, however, is not quite now.

No, instead it's about surviving this particular scenario.

That telekinetic pull easily nets Rachel Grey her prize. Dani hangs bonelessly in that telekinetic grip of hers, clearly unconscious. Her bow lost within the holographic-but-still-feels-real snow.

With the red-head's leap, or rather flight, upward into the air, that naturally catches the attention of the shadow bear. Those crazy eyes follow the woman when she goes up and up and finally, when she hovers, the bear roars a challenge.

And somewhere, off in the Ether, a being stirs. Or a splinter of it, at least. It turns ephemeral eyes towards Westchester County and specifically into the room far below the ground, where an image of itself has been created. Coalesced light and pixels, but still, that simulacrum is enough to call forth a true shadow of itself.

It'll likely be Illyana who realizes first, that something has changed. The mystical plane around the women changes and shifts and true blackness now darkens the area around the bear. It was shadowy before, but now it's as dark as midnight, as dark as a black hole, with only its head and four paws visible. The claws upon each paw sings with need - with anti-life, with something that will take a person's soul should edge of claw meet flesh.

And while Illyana orders Ray to tank the bear, the bear itself has other ideas, as the pound of 'flesh' it initialy goes for is Illyana. That sword of hers is a beacon, something that cannot be ignored. It calls to the bear's own bleak and black heart and so, the Demon Bear strikes out -

Both of its front paws reach for Illyana now, intending for one to smack the girl aside and the other to potentially pin, as it anticipates the girl being hit with that first paw strike.

As soon as Rachel has Dani within her telekinetic hold, the red-head's voice is a bit smarmier than she should, or intended. "Sorry, Illy, too slow!" She's barely using any of her might right now, so her gaze is hers, as Rachel casts a worried look at the unconscious Cheyenne. "Dani? You'd better be okay, I seriously need to give you a piece of my mind about shadow Yogis. I'm never going to be able to watch another cartoon bear again now, without screaming shadow bear! Shadow bear!" Gently, Dani is lowered to the ground, towards the beginning of where the danger room first introduced the trio to this particular scenario.

After making sure the girl is still breathing, Rachel removes her jacket, covering Dani in it - to stave off the cold as well as make sure she isn't going into shock. "Gotta go check on Illyana now." She tells Dani's form, as the red-head turns around still - not quite taking things as seriously as she should. She still assumes this entire thing is just a really big black bear.
Why should she think otherwise?

Once more taking to the air, Rachel is not going to be there in time to save the sorceress should she get stomped.

"Hey, if you want the bear all to yourself, I'm happy to sit this one out!" Illyana calls back to Rachel. Her tone is a bit tart, but it's all Rachel deserves for that smarmy comment. That and Illyana's quietly worried about Dani. "The safeties are there for a reason, you idiot…" She says under her breath, letting her eyes be drawn to where Rachel's checking over the fallen Cheyenne.

Worrying about others is never a very good idea, because while Illyana's attention's split something… else chooses that moment to insinuate itself into their little contest, and all of a sudden it's not just soulless pixels and forcefields they're up against. It's the malevolence that Illyana feels first, as it rolls out from the darkening shape of the bear. The sense of something that shouldn't be, not here, not in this world, and yet, to Illyana, almost familiar.

Her head snaps around, long blonde tresses whipped by the violent motion. "Dani what the HELL…" Illyana begins…

…and her form is blotted out by a monstrous paw.

A moment later and a glowing disc appears a few feet off the ground and Illyana drops through it, landing in a three-point crouch, sword raised defensively in her left hand. This time her eyes don't leave the bear. "Ray." Illyana says, her voice flat and lacking the bantering tone from before. "Do NOT let this thing get to Dani." She surges up into a sprint, vanishing into a portal almost immediately. As she reappears, the Soulsword is already descending toward what would be the bear's wrist.

If it was really a bear, any more.

Dani is alive and not necessarily in shock, just unconscious. Too many bounces from the bear's initial slap and shake, it seems.

Still, it's good that Rachel is returning to help Illyana. For that bear rears and strikes -

Only to miss?

It's enough to cause the bear to pull his, because it is a he, paw upward and almost comically the beast peers beneath it. It stays like that for several seconds as it tries to figure out where the demoness went to. Thankfully (or not) the bear eventually figures out she teleported away and with that thought in mind, the bear's attention turns back to the room as a whole. It's crazed (and glowing) eyes focus upon the red head, as it sees her approach. It also feels the return of Illyana, thanks to the presence of her own demonic heritage and that sword of hers.

Knowing that it's only a shadow of itself and knowing the two women before it are strong in their own right, the bear shifts. That shift causes its form to change and grow -

High, higher and highest. It's head brushes the sky, nearing the ceiling of the Danger Room and while Illyana Rasputina bring her blade down, towards that paw, the bear barely flinches. Instead it moves just enough to bring claws back to meet blade. The soulsword itself sinks inches deep into the blighted ivory keratin, but can't quite make it through the over-sized claws. As soon as the edge of the sword bites into it, the bear curls its claws inward and then tries to yank the sword and its wielder toward itself.

And while the majority of its attention is focused upon Illyana, that doesn't stop the shadows that make up its torso from rolling outward. The blackness bubbling outward and disgorging several dark shapes. When the shapes reveal themselves Rachel will find herself targeted by a dozen black crows. Their eyes glow red, their beaks gleam and as one, the flock of birds offer a loud, "CAW!", before they swoop towards the flying woman.

The smell of death accompanies those birds and when close enough Rachel will see broken feathers dotting wings and body, and bones peaking out from rent skin.

"What the hell do you mean, don't let it get to Dani!? It's just a danger room scenario!?" Those words and Rachel's confused expression as she witnesses what transpires next are - initially, her downfall. She just doesn't quite understand how or what is going on at this point. Bears are not supposed to get that tall, nor are they supposed to look like that, and frankly. Whatever Illyana means about not letting it near Dani still has the red-head transfixed to her flying spot, mouth agape, and thoughts garbled.

It's the stuff right out of a damn horror movie! Rachel's anger swells upwards then, as she begins to yell out, "Danger room! E…" And then without warning the enormous skyscraper sized being transforms into a flock of horrific, zombie crows. Rachel's hands lift upwards, protecting her face from the onslaught, her telekinetic barriers are swift to appear, though not quite -swift- enough. She's still far too much in shock and transfixed to watching what was happening, versus protecting herself. After all. This can't really be happening, right?

Thus one bird does get a good peck in on Rachel's arm, the beak slicing through the bits of fabric and armor there, right into Rachel's flesh.

"Back the hell off!" Shock and terror finally fade back into anger, as Rachel's form is surrounded then by her powers, bursting outwards like a shockwave of telekinetic energy, aimed to slam hard and fast into the flock with as much power as the red-head has. Her eye blazing with the gold and red aura of the Phoenix.

Illyana just has time to hear Rachel Not Getting It before she vanishes through her portal, and it makes her grit her teeth that little bit harder. It's really not the redhead's fault that she's so slow on the uptake right now, but Illyana's not feeling charitable. And she really doesn't have time to explain.

Illyana has just a short moment to enjoy the feeling of visceral, vengeful triumph as the Soulsword slices through the bear's claws… although talons might be more appropriate now, given their size and vicious sharpness - and then the Soulsword, the embodiment of Illyana's sorcerous power, anathema to the supernatural… stops dead.

Illyana has a split instant to be shocked before she's being yanked toward the bear's maw like a rag doll. She reacts instinctively, and it's still almost too late. A hastily-conjured bolt of arcane power is thrown into the bear's face with Illyana's right hand, while her left… simply lets go of the Soulsword.

As the blade melts away, Illyana's falling to a hard landing below. She hunkers down as Rachel goes nuclear behind her, then she's up and scrambling. "Figured it out yet?" She yells to Rachel as she runs. "Not a construct! It'll kill us if I have to draw you a picture!"

The bird breaks the skin upon Rachel's arm and as soon as it does a burning sensation starts.

Which isn't odd, right? Often cuts burn, especially from things that aren't necessarily clean, and these carrion birds are anything but.

The burning continues and soon enough, it becomes like fire. Pain slowly begins to engulf Rachel's arm - circling around the limb and upward - and beneath that burn is a distinct feeling. Wriggling. Burrowing. Something is beneath Rachel Grey's skin and it's moving. Well, somethings. The feeling morphs into two small wriggling bodies. Perhaps soon it'll be three.

Her telekinetic shockwave does as it is meant to do - it destroys the birds in a puff of feathers, bones and decaying meat. They barely have time to offer more than an affronted caw and then, their disjointed body parts fall toward the ground.

What does it mean that Illyana's sword stops within those talons? Does it mean the bear is something more than just supernatural? Does it mean the bear is more powerful than Illyana herself? Is it possibly both those things? So many questions, but no answers to be found. Not yet.

Thankfully, for Illyana, that eldritch bolt hits the bear right in the face. Oh, it tries to flinch away, but it's too slow. Its body is too big and its hampered by the room around it. As such, a roar can be heard from the bear. The claw that 'held' the now vanished sword rises upward and swipes at its face. Trying to clear the stars it's now currently seeing.

It doesn't take long either and as soon as its vision is clear, the bear presses back to the offensive. The air around the bear roils once more, but instead of crows, or any other animals, hazy hands appear from the shadow cast by the bear. Those human hands, oddly enough, rise from the floor to reach for the blonde sorceress. They're going for an arm, a leg, or both, and if they catch Illyana they'll try to pull her into the depths of the bear's shadow.

Thankfully, going nuclear does work! The birds barely have an opportunity to squawk before they're turned into feathers and broken bone. It gives Rachel some manner of revenge filled satisfaction. She'd actually turn her attention to Illyana - but really, at this point, Rachel's thoughts are not on the blonde. It's all about Rachel right now. Rachel and the freaking things that are multiplying inside her arm.

Pain. Pain is a reminder that she's alive. The pain shoots through her, causing an explosive, "GNAAAA." Sound to emit from the red-head as her uninjured hand slams down impulsively upon the one that has something moving inside her skin.

All focus and attention is given towards the wriggling, multiplying things that are trying to move upwards. Powerful telekinetic energy ceases their motion upwards her arm, while the pain drives her anger and focus even more. A burst of energy is sent towards the maggots, expunging them outwards in three (or is it four now) deep wounds. Blood splurges outwards from the expunged bugs, as do the bugs, themselves. The wound on Rachel's arm is deep, though the red-head's anger is even deeper. The bugs are smashed with her gloved hand, squished tightly into nothing but ooze that swishes outwards from her fist.

The fabric of her shirt wraps tightly about her arm, sealing off the wounds there, as her attention then turns towards the bear and Illyana. "You're next asshole."

Illyana's head snaps up as she hears Rachel trying not to scream. "Told you." She says under her breath. The words are born from the twisted, spiteful, and honestly demonic part of Illyana's soul - and the longer she fights the bear, the more that part of her is coming to the surface.

Like is calling to like.

She's still herself enough that, despite her muttered words, Rachel's agony still makes something twist in her gut. What's been inside the redhead wasn't remotely natural, and Illyana doesn't want to chance it not all being gone. She changes direction without thinking, angling toward Rachel.

Taking her eyes off the bear.

She's in mid-stride when something tries to yank her leg out from under her. Illyana tries to kick free, but it's not a root or fallen branch that's tripped her. The icy, burning cold hits her a split second later, and she gasps. She twists around, seeing the shadowy hand that has her ankle, the polished metal of her eldritch armour climbing up her calf as it tries to protect her. The Soulsword's suddenly in her hand again, and she slashes it down, but she's already falling, and more hands are reaching up, grasping hungrily at her.

With a yell of fury and defiance, Illyana vanishes into the shadow. There's no-one but the bear to hear Rachel's cocky threat.

For Rachel - as the ripped fabric of her costume wraps tightly about the wound she created (as well as the maggots that ripped from her arm), her gaze searches first back. Dani - she's still way far away from the monster, or at least, not within its immediate sight. And then, emerald gaze seeks out Illyana - and is only able to catch the very last of what transpired as the blonde is suddenly sucked right into the darkness of the skyscraper.

"ILLYANA!" Hey, Rachel's a Summers, screaming names to the top of her lungs is something all Summers do well, and Rachel is absolutely no exception. "Son of a bitch..!" And with that statement, the red-head doesn't hesitate, her entire form is surrounded by a powerful bubble of telekinetic energy, as she goes sky rocketing straight towards the location Illyana disappeared into, and dives right on in as well. "Your brother would kill me if I let something happen to you!" And why that thought echoed through Rachel's voice is anyone's guess, and if Rachel thought about it, it would surprise even her. She should have said, 'Kitty', or even 'Dani', but Piotr? Well. A thought for another time, perhaps.

Yes, pain is a good reminder that a person is alive.

It's also a good reminder that something is wrong.

When Rachel Grey rips those slug-like maggots from her arm the pain, while still there, eases. The burning that was spiraling up her arm recedes. Now only the wounds that were created by her TK pull offer a (disturbing) reminder of what just happened.

The asshole, or bear in this case, doesn't seem phased by Rachel's threat. Indeed, it's mad eyes are upon the blonde.

It can sense that kernel of sameness within its own-self and Illyana. It's enough to cause the bear a momentary pause, but not enough to cause it to stop those shadow hands that grasp the demoness and then pull her into the dark depths of the bear's outline.

And then Rachel Grey follows.

The Bear truly couldn't have planned it any better.

With the two women in shadows the Bear turns its gaze to the fallen figure of Dani. While it was standing upon two legs, like a man, it now falls to all four. Walking thusly shifts the shadow and a ripple flickers across the surface of the shadow; that movement is likewise echoed within the spirit world -

Coldness. Darkness. Blackness. Both women feel the freezing touch around them. They also fall slowly as if in liquid, but their lungs find air just fine.

Rachel may have plunged in straight as an arrow, but as soon as the darkness enveloped her completely all sense of left, right, up and down vanishes. It's only after a few seconds of searching for any sign of life that a pinprick of silver light might be seen. That small twinkle of light is technically below Rachel, but depending on how she's situated might determine what it looks like to her.

As for Illyana, the darkness is not so absolute. For her there's some light. She can thank her soulsword. It casts the faintest of glows within the gloom and within the darkness nothing can be seen. At least, until something can be seen.

A familiar gold amulet hangs suspended before her. With an audible click the locket opens to reveal those three red stones. Familiar stones. Then a familiar masculine hand takes hold of the medallion.

Belasco. The demon who started Illyana down the path she's currently on.

"In a difficult spot, my apprentice?"

His voice carries across the vast darkness, echoing as if in a tunnel.

Illyana doesn't hear Rachel scream her name, doesn't see the redhead dive after her at the centre of a spear of telekinetic energy. If she had, she'd be a lot more worried.

Illyana knows she's in trouble, but with bone-deep certainty she knows she's not really what the shadow-bear wants. She knows that Dani's the bear's real target, and at least Dani still has Rachel to protect her. Besides, Illyana's not without some tricks of her own. Despite the icy coldness and utter blackness that surrounds her as she slowly falls, Illyana doesn't panic…

…at least, until she sees the amulet appear before her, the only light beyond the glimmer of her Soulsword. "Impossible." She breathes. She knows the amulet can't really be before her, but without even thinking she reaches out for it - only for her hand to freeze in place when another hand beats hers to the prize.

The voice that accompanies it closes icy fingers around her heart, as if a sliver of the cold pressing in on her from outside had wormed its way into the depths of her being.

"Belasco." She says the name like a curse, her voice dripping with venom. "I should have killed you when I had the chance. Exile was too good for you." She works to keep her voice hard and flat, but her fingers betray her, flexing restlessly as they adjust their grip on the hilt of the Soulsword.

Errr… that one job? Protecting Dani? Ah. Oh. Right. And Rachel will beat herself up over this many times over. It was just assumption that sent Rachel into the darkness. Cocky assumption that Dani was okay, tucked away, and wearing Rachel's jacket. It seemed as though Illyana was the one that was in the more immediate danger, and again, assumption that what Rachel's dealing with. What they all are dealing with, is still a danger room scenario gone horribly wrong. Assumption.

"Danger room! End Scenario! END SCENARIO." Rachel is now screaming into the darkness of the shadow thing she's found herself floating in. She's never had to deal with something on the supernatural realm before. She has no concept of demons or things that she can't touch, break, or destroy with her telekinesis. It isn't right, nothing makes sense.

Through the inky darkness of this horrific place she's found herself in, Rachel catches a glimpse, a shimmer of silver through it, and it's that direction she'll try and force herself to fly towards.

In the real world - not the spirit world - the bear assumes a very slow and ambling gait towards the fallen Dani. It's the slow crawl of a predator to prey it knows it already has captured. It's just a formality now -

Rachel's cries to end simulation do nothing. It only echoes weirdly back at her. The furor in her voice reverberating through the inkiness around her.

When she reaches for her telekinetic powers to push herself forward she'll find it works. In fact, she starts moving swiftly towards her target; that glow of silver-white energy. She gets about half-way there before suddenly her movement is harshly arrested. She'll soon see why with a look over a shoulder -

A glimmering chain of heavily fortified links stretches from herself, specifically her neck, to a familiar hand.

So much familiarity within this spirit world for both women. That hand soon resolves itself into an even more familiar and hated figure.


"Heel Hound. No runnin' off." Comes the deep voice from that man and to prove his point the chain (which is wrapped around his hand) is yanked cruelly backwards - towards Rachel Grey's handler.

The Golden Amulet that hangs in Belasco's hand is given a slight swing, allowing the momentum to rock the locket back and forth. It's a taunting gesture, even as the one-armed demon says, "Tut tut, child. The discussion of my well-being can wait - there are other more pressing matters at hand. For instance, " And Belasco makes a show of looking around, "how will you ever get out of here? Soon this beast's shadow will swallow you whole. Then what will you do? Beyond be a slave to its will."

Both figures, for each women, move as if real. They breathe, they laugh, the sneer. For Ray, they might even have the vaguest psychic signature, as well.

Illyana tries to resist, but despite her best efforts her eyes track the amulet as it swings. She can kid herself that with the black emptiness all around her, her eyes are just focusing on the once source of movement, but she knows better.

The amulet holds the better part of her soul, and she can't take her eyes off it.

Belasco's failure to take her implied threat seriously makes Illyana grind her teeth, anger flaring up inside her as she's treated so dismissively. It feels better, the heat of her hatred battling the chill fingers of fear within her. But anger's no better than fear when it comes to thinking clearly.

Illyana forces herself to smile back at her first tormentor as he mocks her. "The mighty demon lord couldn't make me a slave to his will, I don't think a bear's going to have any better luck." She tilts her head to one side, looking exaggeratedly thoughtful. "Then again, maybe the bear's better than you. Wouldn't THAT be embarrassing?" The smile is so, so sweet, and the look in her eyes is lethal. "But I think I won't stick around to find out."

Stretching her arms out to either side, Illyana makes a courtly bow as a stepping disc flares into existence at her feet, achingly bright in the blackness, and she falls into it.

She's gone for no more than a fraction of a second, as another disc flickers spasmodically into existence, just above the position she was just occupying, and spits her out with some force. If there was any kind of floor in this non-space, she'd be due a very hard landing.

"What have you DONE?!" She snarls at Belasco, through teeth that seem a little sharper than before, both hands on the hilt of the Soulsword now, the blade glowing with silver-white light… a light that's starting to be matched by the glow in her eyes.

Forward momentum! Okay! She may not be able to see very well, but at least she can maneuver. It's like going through thick molasses, but she's moving - at least until she isn't. For one, terrifying, horrifying moment, Rachel's once again a Hound. Trapped. Enslaved. Her eyes widen as her blood runs cold, hands instinctively moving upwards to wrap themselves about the collar around her neck and the chain that is attached there. Terror and horror fill her senses, before something far more wild enters her gaze. "No." She begins, though her voice sounds weak, distant, petrified.

She's yanked towards Ahab, the chain forcing her to stumble forward, dropping down towards her knees, yet before she does so, something just goes 'click' inside of Rachel. "NO." This time it's a scream, louder than before. "I am not your hound, not anymore and not EVER AGAIN!" And Rachel's, at this point. Lost it. She's completely and utterly lost it. There isn't anything left of coherent thought, or emotional stability.

Her eye blazes with an intensity of brilliant gold and red. The aura of the Phoenix springs to life there, illuminating Rachel's face with its light. Her eyes are wide, the emerald hues turned white, all white and then - Rachel explodes. One of the most powerful bursts of telekinetic power she's ever let loose explodes outwards from her. The entire focus of her powers is on the form of Ahab, though that really doesn't stop the expulsion of energy to slams outwards in all directions, weaker, certainly, not as lethal, but still enough to do a great deal of harm if it hits. And all the while, as Rachel's exploding outwards, she's screaming. She's screaming to the top of her lungs, not just vocally, but mentally too, a lot of telepaths are going to be having headaches after this.

Belasco is many things, but one thing he definitely can be is patient.

And in the blackness all around them he's quite patient.

Her retorts, rebuttals, simply slide right off the man's back. They barely earn a flicker, beyond a self-satisfied smile that curls the very edges of his mouth upward.

"Done? Me?" Belasco says, his expression now mirroring Illyana's previously thoughtful expression, his tone full of feigned innocence. "Why, apprentice, I'm fairly certain I've done nothing. Nothing at all." His cold eyes focus back upon the blonde and when he sees the light within her eyes, the grip she holds upon the hilt of her sword, that curled mouth of his turns even wider.

Now silkily, the one-armed demon says, "Please, strike at me. Prove to me that you're as strong as you think. That your current form isn't weak. That you're willing to do whatever it may take to get free of this place. Willing to sacrifice all. Everything."

And then there's Ray -

Willing to sacrifice all, it seems. As Ahab stands there, towering above her kneeling form. A cold look is upon his features, a similar tone to his voice, and while he was just about to say more his words pause. The raw energy that Rachel Grey calls around her, to produce the phoenix aura, causes the shadows within to shudder to a stop. When her telekinetic wave slams forward, at Ahab, the figure of her her Handler is literally obliterated. His form vanishes with a blink of light -

The sneering form of Belasco likewise disappears with an almost audible blip. The amulet takes longer - it actually falls 'downward' before it too slowly fades away within the dark ether.

Outside the bear's shadow, Dani finally stirs. She can thank those psychic scream from Ray, as it's enough to prod the unconscious woman back to consciousness. "NNGH!" She shouts, lurching upward from the ground, a hand going to her head for a split-second, before her gaze sweeps around herself.

Seeing the bear Dani gasps, "No!", and then she' staggers to her feet.

As to the bear, the slow trek towards Dani has stopped. Instead, the bear now finds itself contorted with pain. While it may not be psychic in the sense of Rachel Grey, the psychic scream, and telekinetic bubble clearly has an impact upon it.

And soon it'll likewise find itself frozen, as Dani suddenly says quite stridently, "DANGER ROOM FREEZE PROGRAM." She didn't say end, she didn't. She could have, yes, but she didn't. Not until she locates her friends. Not until she understands completely what's going on.

With those four words the bear freezes and it's enough to cause the madness within the bear boil with anger.

Everything Belasco does is designed to get under Illyana's skin. Even his imitation of her. ESPECIALLY his imitation of her. Her eyes, well on their way to becoming orbs of blank gold, narrow dangerously and - is her hair just disarrayed, or is it being pushed aside, on each side of her brow? The demon lord is very close to getting exactly what he wants. Until he overplays his hand.

"Take your Jedi weapon." Illyana says, harshly, sarcastically, forcing tense muscles to unlock as she straightens up from her combat-ready stance, laying the blade of the Soulsword over one shoulder while, with her other hand, she reaches up to smooth her brow. "Strike me down with all of your hatred." The harshness is leaving her voice, the sarcasm now open, amused mockery, as cold blue eyes fix on Belasco. "And your journey to the Dark Side will be complete?" She suggests, shaking her head. "Saved by movie night. I am never telling Rachel…"

And as if on cue, Rachel… explodes. Even in this dark, icy, seemingly limitless domain, power of that magnitude can't be contained. Illyana feels it, somehow, and looks up… well, it feels like up to her, and sees the red-gold aura. She feels herself smile - then brings up her arms in front of her face, shielded by silvery armour, as the blast hits her. Her teeth clench as she feels her armour strain to absorb the blast, feels it about to crumple around her, but then it's past. "So that's what happens when she gets mad." Illyana muses to herself, before two thoughts hit her.

Belasco. Illyana's head whips around, but the demon lord is gone. She makes a desperate grab for her falling amulet, but it's beyond her reach. That only leaves…

Dani. If Rachel is /here/, then… "RAY!" Illyana yells, unsure if the redhead can even hear her, raising the Soulsword above her head, the blade shining silver in the darkness. "SNAP OUT OF IT! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!"

For the red-head, even as Ahab is obliterated before her, Rachel continues to send every ounce of her power towards the location her tormentor was in. Her screaming does not cease, or stop, nor lower in volume or power. She's no longer on her knees now, but is floating upwards, arms outstretched before her as she sends wave after wave of telekinetic energy rolling outwards from her. There is no true coherent thought, it's just emotion; raw, unbridled, pent up emotion. All color has faded from Rachel's face and skin at this point, she's burning herself out with her rage, her anger, her fear.

Finally, there is something akin to self perservation that is triggered with Rachel. She knows, on instinct, which way is up - even in this shadow realm. She can sense people's thoughts, feel their pain. Dani. She can feel /Dani's/ pain, from Rachel's psionic assault. It jars Rachel's senses just enough for her to actually hear Illyana.

The blonde will feel a push of energy, as Rachel tries her best to shove Illyana right out towards where Rachel can feel Dani. Ray may be exhausted, but she's damn well not going to leave Illyana in here. That last bit of energy from Rachel? That comes from flying herself out towards Dani, as well. The beacon. The one thing that is definitely 'on the outside'. Ray's going to try at least, shoving Illyana and herself out of this hell. (At least she's stopped screaming.)

Illyana reaches for the amulet, but finds it no longer there -

Ray's screaming finally stops and with it some coherency can be found. As such, the red-head reaches for the demoness below her and then starts the trek home.

Upward they go, swiftly and silently, and while the shadows continue to quiver around them, even they can be found reasserting themselves. Shadow-hands once again form and reach for the two women, grasping, pulling, trying to keep them down here, within the dark realm, but their hold is weak, the chill barely felt.

Above them in the real world, Dani is scrambling. She can feel the crazy-eyed gaze of the bear and she knows, just knows, something is different here. This isn't just her normal scenario and even as she staggers toward the bear, something about its shadow causes her to slow-down. To focus upon it -

And even as she does that the edges of the shadow begin to tremble and twitch, as Illyana and Rachel find themselves breaching through the darkness and returning to the light.

It's only when the two women are completely free of the shadows that Dani says, "What in the hell?"

Because who really expected them to come through a shadow? Surely not Dani.

Being shoved by Rachel's telekinesis is becoming unpleasantly familiar to Illyana. This time's not as bad as catching the edge of Rachel's telekinetic blast, but she still doesn't like being telekinetically manhandled. Although considering the alternative seems to be to stay in this formless blackness, she'll put up with it for now.

As the hands reach for them, weak as they are, Illyana still chops away at any that come to close with the Soulsword. It makes her feel like she's doing more than just being dragged along behind Rachel.

When they finally break through to the real world - or at least, the Danger Room's approximation of it - the warmth and light is disorienting. Despite the snow on the ground, the simulated chill has nothing on what Illyana just experienced. Hacking at a last grasping hand, Illyana steps fully into the light, her silvery armour fading away until just that around her left arm remains. Blinking in the harsh light, Illyana swings around in the direction of Dani's voice. "GET BACK!" Illyana shouts, throwing up an arm, palm out. "It wants you, Dani, GET BACK!" Illyana's attention switches back to the frozen bear as she backs away, Soulsword held defensively. "And we are going to have a CONVERSATION, Dani." Illyana grinds out under her breath as she moves. She risks another glance to the side. "Ray, you with us?"

Hands. Darkness. Inky black despair. Anger. Hate. Rage. Pain. Terror. And then, there's the beacon, the pain that means you're alive, and somewhere in that distant darkness is the light and Dani. Rachel refuses to give in, or give up. Whether or not Illyana likes being shoved outwards, Rachel frankly and apologetically, doesn't care. She is not leaving Illyana in there, she came in there for a reason, and now that freedom is close at hand, no one stays behind. Not even someone who can teleport herself out if need be.

When Illyana finally breaks free first, Rachel's not too far behind. Even though she was able to breathe within the shadow realm, she still takes a deep breath as soon as she's free from its grasp. But it's still not enough. It is really, really, not enough. Spinning around to face the frozen bear. Rachel's snarling her lip upwards. "This had better damn well work. Danger Room: End Scenario right this damn minute!"

Should the danger room end, and Rachel seriously hopes it does, the red-head's not saying a single word to Dani, not to Illyana. She's stomping right on out of the danger room and doesn't stop until she's in the true light of the outside and even then, she doesn't stop. Sky. Gone. Away. So - frankly and honestly, no one sees her break down. That would be embarrassing

The two re-appear. One in Eldritch Armor the other simply wreathed in Her Anger.

The warning from Illyana is heard and while Dani doesn't necessarily mean to snarl back at her friend, she does. "Yes, I /know/." Whether she hears that threat from Illyana, about conversations later, is hard to say as the black-haired woman turns her eyes to the bear's shadow once more.

Her expression only eases when Rachel finally pops through and shows that yes, she is alive, and well, thank you.

Rachel's words are enough to cause the Danger Room to figuratively sit-up and take notice and with that command of hers growled out, the Danger Room shuts itself. With a flash of pixels the snow disappears, the trees, the shadow and then lastly the bear. It's all gone, though not without an echo of a growl upon the psychic and mystical planes.

The bear wasn't done and the fact its prey was snatched away from its jaws -

Well, it's not happy.

By this point, as the room settles into its inert setting, Ray takes that moment to stomp right on out and away from the Cheyenne and the Demoness. For her part Dani doesn't try to stop Rachel. She may consider the other woman a friend, but it's not quite yet at the point where Dani would risk life and limb against the mood Rachel Grey seems to be in.

Instead, the black-haired woman turns her gaze to Illyana. "Well, I did say I'd get you back on your toes."

Illyana doesn't react to being snarled at by Dani, keeping her eyes fixed on the bear until Rachel's furious command to the Danger Room computers goes through and the simulation dissolves. Even then, Illyana's eyes narrow and she cocks her head to one side, listening, as she hears that final, fading growl from the bear. Even with whatever was anchoring it to this plane severed, it still took its sweet time leaving. It was more firmly 'here' than Illyana wants to readily admit.

When the room is finally an empty metal box again, Illyana opens her hands and the Soulsword vanishes. Turning away, she casts a look toward the exit, darkly amused to find the doors still in one piece and not at all burned by the force of Rachel's anger as she made her exit. Illyana shakes her head, letting out a frustrated breath. "I should know better than to ASK to be burned." She mutters, taking a step in that direction, before Dani's words bring her up short.

Illyana looks over at her friend, a measuring look in those blue eyes, and suddenly smiles. "You did. But I don't think it's me who really got the wake up call in here, was it?" She holds Dani's gaze for a moment longer, then shrugs. "Good workout." Illyana says, in a too-casual tone. She walks to the exit, the doors hissing open to let her pass through. Just before they close behind her, Illyana adds, "I'll find you later."

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