Demon Bear: The Fall: Nate's Nightmare

November 17, 2017:

The Bear pulls Nate into its shadows and shows him the fate of his friends.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

For Nate Grey darkness envelopes his world. The touch of the blackness is likewise cold. So cold. Enough to nip and burn at his fingers, his toes, and to wriggle beneath his armored costume. It tries to steal the warmth from his blood, his beating heart, his very soul.

Along with that absence of light is the sense of free-falling. Downward, if such a direction exists in the Bear's shadow and it seems unending. Until it's not.

When Nate Grey's awareness reasserts itself, he'll find himself upon the ground. Bones litter the world around him. Human bones. Human skeletons. A broken city-scape can be seen against a red horizon and the sounds of battle can be heard all around.

All of it is likely familiar to him. His world. The world Apocalypse nearly destroyed. Or did destroy. It's hard to say whether one can truly define that as success.

Either way, the man is standing, facing the broken horizon. Hearing the battles rage, the fires burn, and beside him Dani is there. She's dressed in that Bear Cloak, bow held in one hand, quiver full of arrows upon her back.

"Our world is on a similar path." Comes her words, her voice hollow within the shadows, "Death. Destruction. Chaos. Soon it'll be like this.

Cold is not something that usually bothers Nate too much. 'Cold is in the mind', a lesson Sinister taught him as a child. Over a decade of cold while he grew up in a sealed cylinder, his sleeping mind being taught the bare basics to be a functional living human weapon.

This chill is different, it is the cold of dark magic. He tries to remember if Forge or Illyana ever told him anything about how to resist this kind of attack. But his memory has not been good since Genosha. Since death. He remembers what cannot be, and has forgotten what should never be forgotten. The trip back to his world helped to reconnect with his roots, but he knows he has lost years of memories, and feelings.

He lands with a heavy thud, right palm on the ground, trying to reorient. Where? This can't be real. Unless he travelled again. But no. Dani, who is not Dani, is there.

"Is this what a bear wants? Not much honey and fish for you here, creature." Replies Nate, standing up and glaring at the fake Moonstar angrily. "Someone like you wouldn't survive a day in my homeworld. If this is what you crave, you are a mad fool. Just like… the scumbag that did this."

The glare Nate focuses upon her is so rife with rage. Anger. Hot emotions that barely sear the cold around them and barely seem to phase the bear-shrouded form of Moonstar.

Only her mouth responds to what he has to say initially - the vaguest of curves curling her lips upward. "I survived weeks in your homeworld already, Nate. Weeks." Comes that empty voice of hers, "We'd have no trouble surviving it again. Especially now."

Instead of responding to the other things he's said, Dani chooses to extend a hand toward him. Her empty palm upward - and offer for him to take it. "If you wish answers all you have to do is take my hand. Give us your power and we'll show you just what the Bear wants."

"Perhaps then you might save your friends. Your family." Her head tilts slightly, eyes closing to mere slits, a thoughtful expression furrowing her features, "I can't offer the same to Illyana, but perhaps the Bear will allow me to let her live if you accept."

"You are not Dani," spats back Nate, remembering the emptiness he saw in her mind. "Stop pretending. You might have some access to her memory and powers, but you aren't her in any way that matters. You are lying."

And so he can't even consider accepting the deal. Lying bear is lying. Jean and Rachel should be safe, they weren't in the mansion grounds. Scott was, though… And Illyana was too! She fell into the shadow. Just like he did.

"Where is Illyana?" He asks, eyes narrowing and at the same time reaching with his powers to find the demon queen.

She could refute what Nate says. Whether she's really Dani or not, but she doesn't.

Instead the woman sighs and drops her hand back to her side. "A shame. You'd have made a nice addition to us. To our mission. To the re-order of this world."

"But a choice is a choice -" She intones, a heaviness to those words of hers. A promise made, or set, or possibly both. When he stretches his powers out he'll find them blocked. It brings a knowing smirk from the black-haired woman, as she says, "Tut-tut, Nate, none of that. Although if you do prefer to fight, well, don't let me interfere. I'll not stand in your way while you needlessly beat against a will stronger than yours."

And with those words Dani takes a step and from that the world changes a second time. Darkness is once more around Nate Grey. Again the cold bites at his clothes and his body. The blackness robs his eyes of sight. He tumbles head, heel, head, heel, before he slams into solid ground again.

When his awareness returns he'll find a scene already playing out before him. It's Illyana and a Bear. The blonde sorceress is wreathed in her Eldritch Armor, her soulsword missing from her hands. That doesn't stop her from fighting, however. Arcane bolts split the air, they sizzle in the darkness, against the pelt of the Bear, but it's clear to anyone who's been around battles that Yana is lagging. There are great scores and gouges within her armor. More rents and tears than what's on the Bear she fights.

"Shall you help her?" Comes the whispered voice of Dani - the woman once again next to him - her empty palm stretched toward him. "She doesn't have much longer, you know."

Does he prefer to fight?

"Clearly you don't know me," he snarks. But how well Dani knows Nate anyway? They are not close friends. At least he doesn't think they ever were. Nate himself didn't know her well, but she is (was?) a warrior. He usually likes warrior women.

Shift of… argh. He struggles to resist, but the rules of this hallucination (or whatever it is) are not merely psychic. He is dragged into the next step. Illyana.

This time he doesn't respond, or hesitates. Half frozen and all he attempts to call upon his telekinesis and jumps forward to try to smite the attacking bear's snout with a charged punch powerful enough to shatter a tank.

The rules in this world are very much different. They side with Danielle and the Bear versus Nate Grey and his allies that can be found within.

The woman senses that psychic build-up of energy from Nate, and with a cluck of tongue she drops her hand once more. Then she waits, simply witnessing Nate rise to his feet and aim himself at the Bear.

His telekinetic laced fist slams into something with substance, albeit not what he initially aimed for. Instead of striking the Bear he finds the energy of his attack, that assault, wasted upon the ground. The power ripples outward in waves from the young man and once the majority of the power has bled away, Dani appears next to Nate.

"Oh, I'm sorry." She says, her voice taking on a sing-song quality at this point, "Did I forget to mention this is a hands free zone? My apologies. Physical interference isn't allowed here. Or psychic. Think of this as a movie playing -" And with a flick of her wrist the image of the Bear and Illyana moves, pulling back and away from them so both can see the progress of the battle.

Strike, parry, dodge, tumble, fall. That fall bringing Illyana to the ground, her prone form valiantly trying to roll back upright, to get back to her feet. To fight. To live and survive, but it's clear to an experienced tactician that Illyana is seconds too slow. She'll never get to her feet before the blighted brightness of those claws reach her, but before they can shatter the armor that encases her form, Dani's hand raises upward.

The scene before them pauses.

"Do you want more blood on your hands?" She asks, and her own hands will reach for Nate's, to try and lightly touch his own. And should he look at his hands he'll find blood upon them. The smell rich and coppery, pungent against the blankness of the world around them. "It must be hard." She begins, "To still be here living and breathing, loving and crying, and know so many are not."

No interference? The hell of no interference. Dani's words are met with disbelief. If it is just watching then it is a lie or already happened.

Or the Bear is really strong enough to keep Nate caged, says a small voice in the deeps of his mind. You are not invincible, Nate. He thought he was when he was younger, but he has met cosmic entities and gods since. He still believed no enemy is invincible, but Nate no longer thinks himself (and his rage) unstoppable.

Still he tries. He seeks Illyana's mind, or the Bear's, past fake-Dani mind. To reach, to rage and push. To try to break the hold the monster has on Illyana and him.

The false Dani's words chill him deeper than the shadow cold. Because they ring true to him, and strike his feelings of guilt. Nate always survives while everyone and everything around him dies or is lost. "Shut. Up." He growls.

Blood stains both of their hands as Dani grips the man's hands with her own. Her touch starts light and it only begins to tighten when Nate begins to reach out with his powers again -

To reach and out with that rage and anger that currently infuses his powers.

And it works too.

He pushes past Dani and her empty soulless body, pierces the darkness that surrounds them, almost gets a hint of Illyana's presence, but that presence is soon snatched away.

By the Bear, and then he attacks -

A psychic storm of fangs and claws reach for Nate's mind. Intending to rip and tear, rend and pierce. To make him bleed psychic energy. To hurt. To freeze. The touch of the Bear is cold. So cold. Like sharp shards of ice cutting through hair and skin, skull and brain.

And throughout it all Dani holds Nate's hands, her expression flat, her eyes cold.

Almost… got there. But again, as he pushes into Dani's mind, the true controlling mind jumps at him. Nate expected it, but he wasn't ready. It is an alien thing that attacks him, and overwhelming, and he is freezing and spent.

Still, Nate is a ferocious fighter himself. His response is pulling his hands away from Dani's and then launching against the woman's neck, to strangle her. The psychic assault makes him grunt in pain, as the bear barrels through hastily raised mind-walls like a freight train goes through cardboard sheets.

But soon enough those walls grow stronger, and the freezing cold is responded with anger and fire. The bear is deep into his mind, but it is not a safe territory for an invader at all.

Cold and angry steps stomp through Nate's mind. Its teeth and fangs gouge and sheer at Nate's mind, against that fire that responds to the Bear's assault.

Ghostly footprints begin to appear around the two, those outlines of paws and talons glittery with icy cold crystals.

And while Dani could potentially try and avoid Nate's attack, she doesn't. She allows him to wrap his hands around her throat, squeeze even, but before she loses her voice, Dani adds one last thing.

"Kill us if you want." Wheezes the woman, her hands now tucked beneath her cloak and at her sides. "But if you do all the souls in the Bear will be lost, possibly even your own."

And with her words the shadows around Nate Grey erupt with images -

Illyana fighting. Dani's inert form hanging high above. Scott Summers. Laura Kinney. Lorna Dane. Rachel Summers. Cloud. And others. So many others.

Though is what Nate sees a lie? Or the truth? Can he take that chance?

And to make matters even better, Dani now finally chooses to fight, though perhaps not in the traditional manner. There's no snap of her hand, or her foot, or even an arm to try and dislodge his hands from her neck. Instead the woman's cloak begins to move and with that motion the edges of the bear-hide merges with Danielle Moonstar's form. The transformation only takes a handful of seconds and when it's done, Nate Grey will find a Bear in her place. The Bear's fur is black and brown, with the darkness of the bristly black fur encroaching upon the softer brown of the grizzly.

One claw-tipped paw is slapped at Nate Grey now. Not necessarily intending to maul, but definitely to swat.

Nate's mind is a strange place already, great swaths of his memory shattered and burnt by the Phoenix just two months ago. Hard to find solid ground to wreck more destruction. "Better than you tried," he mocks grimly, among blood and ice. "I am back from the death the firebird inflicted, what can you do to me, lying bear? Burn and begone!" He is pushing harder against the monster mind, and trying to break Dani's neck at the same time.

Until the woman-bear swats him away. Not enough strength left to defend from that one. He is sent flying to crash on the frozen ground a few yards away.

And yet, bleeding and broken, he stands up again. "T-that's all you got?" He snarls.

Laughter rumbles from the shadows around them. It sounds both masculine and feminine. A mixture of both.

Dani, in her bear form, drops to all fours and ambles toward Nate. She's taking her time now. Allowing him to rise back to his feet and offer those snarled words of his.

And as he stands so definitely, the people around begin to wink out of existence.

First Scott, then Laura, Lorna, Rachel until finally all that's left is Illyana; frozen in time. That paw inches from her form and with a start, the image plays again.

Blighted claws scythe through the demoness' Eldritch Armor, shattering the gleaming metal, before puncturing right through chest and back. Ropey strands of blood and shattered bits of bones cling to the ivory talons of the Bear.

"Too late." Comes the words from the smaller Bear's maw, the words vaguely distorted thanks to animalistic vocal cords, but it's still quite understandable. "Too late to save your friends." And with those words the Bear plunges her claws into the shadows beneath the two and a large rent opens up. It zig-zags at Nate and when close enough those shadow-hands reach up and for him, intending to pull him under.

Lies and illusions. Those are lies and illusions. Nate is sure. Almost sure.

There is a little sliver of doubt there. Some in that vision might be true. And seeing Illyana dying like that is just the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Nate screams in unintelligible rage and pain, rushing forward to tear the bear apart, with his power, with his bare hands if necessary. Blind anger, and he falls straight into the rent opened under his feet.

The mockery of laughter follows after Nate as he falls into that pit.

Down. Down. Down he goes into the heart of blackness and after an unknown amount of time falling, the man stops.

Ground breaks his fall once again and when he regains consciousness he finds himself back in the real world. In the Mansion. The terribly torn-up and quiet Mansion, where dead bodies of birds litter the ground everywhere. Where wood and stone sit broken and cracked.

Where a battle was lost.

Nate never quite loses consciousness, but he is too weak to resist the fall, or to cushion the impact with the ground. Still, he rolls over and manages to stand up after a few attempts. Covered in blood and frost, he looks at the damaged building and clenches his jaw.

Then he starts looking for survivors.

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