Demon Bear: Strength Lost

November 21, 2017:

The Demon Bear wants to exact some revenge on Owen for trying to hurt a certain songbird. It goes to Owen's place of work first and finds Luke Cage.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Running a bar tends to mean you keep late hours, and so it's already well past midnight when Luke trudges up the metal staircase through a pair of metal shutters set into the ground, lugging the last of the broken down boxes to the alleyway. It's been a long night, and judging by the droop of his massive shoulders, he's ready to crawl up to his fourth floor apartment and fall like a wet sack of cement into bed. Pausing at the side of the dumpster, he flips open the heavy duty plastic lid and starts chunking the cardboard into the one marked for recycling. His phone chirps twice from his pocket, indicating a text message he's hellbent on ignoring for the time being.


Nighttime.

Darkness.

It can hide many things. It can smother the light, smother sound, smother just about everything if it wanted to. For now, however, it doesn't and so that chirp of a phone pinging with a text message rolls around the alleyway. It's only after it quiets down to just a man tossing garbage into a dumpster that another sound might be heard. It starts as a soft rustle of noise and begins behind him. Then another above him and finally a third off to the side. Should he look behind, above and to the side, Luke Cage will see three birds.

Crows to be exact. Their black feathers merging so faithfully with the shadows that already hug the alleyway at large.

All three watch the large man chuck the refuse into the dumpster, their beady eyes holding a sheen of red to them.


Luke is used to the subtle noises of a New York alleyway from the rustle of rats searching for their next morsel or pigeons cooing from the fire escape above. It's unnerving though, to find not one but three birds showing interest in him while he goes about his final chore for the evening. "That's not creepy or anything." His great paw of a hand mops at his bald dome, "You're getting paranoid, Luke. And you're talking to yourself. Also creepy." He deduces and turns back towards the bar.


Those intelligent red-eyes continue to watch the man as he turns, looks at them, and then talks to himself.

It's only when Luke Cage begins to move back toward the bar that they finally move. Or, in this case, make noise.

As one the birds open their beaks and cry, "CAW!"

The sound echoes throughout the alleyway and before that initial call dies down, another is voiced by the three again, "CA-A-WEN." And a third, "CA-WWEN." And fourth, "C-O-WEN." And finally, "OW-EN."

And toward the mouth of the alleyway a shadow stirs and grows and the darkness blots out the light from a streetlight just across the street. From those shadows steps a woman. Or, at least, a person. She's dressed in black with a bear-hide cloak that covers her shoulders and upper body. Her head is shadowed by the 'hood', which consists of the dead animal's head and upper jaw. "Hello friend of Owen." Comes her voice, an hollowness found within those words of hers.

So, while it might be unclear just who this person is, it should now be clear why they're here. For Luke Cage's newly hired bartender.


You know what's also creepy? When crows start to form words. That means it's really past Luke's bedtime. He shakes his head to rid himself of that notion - talking crows, pah! - but no amount of rattling of that brain of his is going to make the image of that woman go away. "Look lady, I don't know who you are, or what you want but coming between me and my bed right now without an invitation to join me in it? Not gonna be real high on my list to tell you who I am or aren't friends with. I like the fur though. Very …Game of Thrones." His thick arms twine over his chest, waiting. Either for her to move or continue with the creep factor.


The vaguest of movement might be seen from within the shadows that cover the woman's face. What that means, however, is hard to say. Perhaps she smiles. "I'm afraid it's going to be some time before you see your bed tonight. Empty or otherwise." Intones the woman and then with those words of hers several things happen -

The three crows take wing, the snap of their feathers whistling through the air as they rise upward to the rooftops of the two buildings that form this alleyway. As the birds ascend, the cloak around Moonstar's form parts to reveal a curved bow and two arrows already nocked in place. Those arrows are pulled back and then released with a speed that defies most human abilities.

THWIP THWIP

Those projectiles hurtle at Luke Cage. Specifically at his chest, where his arms sit crossed so resolutely.

Then Dani moves. She steps toward the wall and then into it, or more specifically into the shadow that can be found there. When she reappears it's through a shadow behind him and again her bow is raised, arrow nocked. A third arrow is sent at the back of his head.

THWIP

It seems this particular situation is being played for keeps.


Luke Cage takes two to the chest, but she might be moving so quickly that she doesn't realize they struck nothing more than rock, one left to dangle on a ripped piece of fabric that was a Rand brand hoodie. The third plinks off the back of his skull doing less damage and equal annoyance as a mosquito. He flinches from it like one would an ineffectual head slap. "Oh /hell/ no." He spins around to try and find her, dislodging the arrow from his hoodie with a swipe of his hand. "I only have like, ninety nine more of these." Hoodies, presumably.


No, she doesn't realize her first two arrows didn't quite hit the mark. Her shadow-steps took her out of sight too quickly to see the results.

And so, when Danielle Moonstar, avatar of a Demonic Bear, reappears she can't quite the sense of surprise that flares briefly within her. That surprise is enough to drag her reactionary time down for several quick seconds. So, when Luke Cage turns around he'll find the bearskin shrouded woman still standing there.

Her empty bow in hand.

"You are stronger than your friend." She states grimly, as she gets her proverbial feet beneath her again. "A challenge then." And once more the string of her bow is pulled back and while it looks empty for the first half of that pull, by the second half an arrow made of magenta energy flares to life.

That light allows a glimpse behind the shadows that cover her face. Cold-calculating brown eyes stare out and her mouth is set in a grim, tight line.


"Or maybe I just don't like to bleed in front of strangers," Luke rumbles back, his ire still at the level of 'too tired to deal with this'. By the time she pulls that energy arrow back on it's notch, his hands are balled up in fists by his thigh. Instead of flinching away from the magenta missive, he's stalking right towards her intent to just rip that bow out of her determined fingers and perhaps crack it over her head. "This is getting real old, real fast…" Stomp, stomp stomp.


His words and his movements forward, stomping and all, doesn't seem to touch the impassive expression on her face. That magenta energy arrows sits there notched upon her bow, fluctuating with psychic energy. And while she has every opportunity to let loose with that specialized arrow, something stops her.

That momentary pause turns into a head-tilt and then that head-tilt turns into a smile.

"Yes, isn't it. Let us see how your durability can withstand something stronger -" And just before he reaches her, to grab her bow, the woman steps back. Her back should press against the bricks of the wall behind her, but once more the shadows swallow her form.

This time when the shadows move again it's not a woman that steps out.

No.

Instead it's a bear. A giant of a thing. Taller than Luke Cage. Almost as tall as the alleyway. It stands upon two legs very much like a man and when it focuses its eyes upon Luke Cage, madness might be seen within their glowing depths.

It doesn't take long for the Bear to offer a roar of a challenge. Clearly, its the heavy hitter here, whereas Dani was just a scout.

The Bear doesn't waste any time with its attack, as it lumbers a step forward and swings its great paw. It intends to slap Luke Cage into the nearby wall, the claws upon that paw holding the look of blighted ivory.

The torso of the beast is also odd - it's mostly shadows, versus substance, and the occasional image drifts across the swirls of blackness. Crows. A bird. A wolf. An Eagle. A horse.


Well shit. The chick can turn into a bear. Or did the bear turn into her, to begin with or did… SMACK.

Luke flies into the wall of the neighboring building, brick splintering beneath his back as for a moment he looks like a bug splatted out with limbs splayed before he starts to sliiiide. Of course the claws would do nothing than further slice his clothing, and he's shaking away plaster dust as he tries to dispel the ringing in his ears. All in all, though, he seems relatively unharmed and not dazed enough to keep him from charging the very tall bear to punch the shit out of it's swirly shadow self.


When Luke Cage smacks into the wall like some sort of large bug the crows above let out with a raucous, "CAW!"

It's a sound of triumph, as the Bear's initial attack hits, and hits hard.

It's only as Luke rises back to his feet and charges the Bear, that the crows settle down. One even puffs its feathers out with displeasure, as it watches the man attack.

Those punches of Luke's hit the shadows, but (perhaps) unsurprisingly that shadows that incorporate the Bear's torso have no substance to them. In fact, when his hand hits those shadows needles of ice might be felt, as frost literally forms upon the man's hand.

The Bear, for his part, allows the man to punch and only after that fist hits the Bear's torso does the animal retaliate. And it's not another swat.

Hands of smokey darkness appear from the Bear's torso and stretch outward, reaching to latch onto Luke Cage's arm. To pull him into the shadows of the Bear. Into its madness.


Luke can feel cold, even though he'd never really get frostbite. He's shaking away the unpleasant feeling and the notion that he's connected with literally nothing when suddenly he's being pulled into the shadows of something that can be both corporal and not at the same time. All he manages to eek out is a, "What the…"


The shadows grasp onto Luke Cage's arm and then swiftly wrap further up his arm, to his shoulder and further even.

Their grip is like the touch of winter, cold, icy, numbing for normal people - perhaps not for him.

They continue to pull him closer to the Bear until finally the shadows likewise envelope him.

There's a sense of falling, downward, if a direction can be attributed to a descent in such lightless conditions. Eventually that drop comes to end and Luke Cage finds his feet hitting solid 'ground'. If you can call solid shadows ground.

Either way, when Luke's awareness reverts he'll see a mostly gray room around him. It's empty, until a woman appears. A familiar woman to Luke Cage.

Reva.

Her gaze is initially cast down, but when she materializes within the room her eyes lift up to look at the man. "Luke."


When his feet feel 'solid' beneath him, he gives a somewhat panicked look around. Down, up. His heartbeat is thudding in his ears so much that when the form appears in the nondescript room, he reads the word form on her lips more so than the hears it in his ears. "R-Reva." The name stutters out of his mouth as he takes a stumbling step forward. He doesn't know if his knees are jello from the strange transition or if it's because he never expected to see that face again. "You're not…it can't be…" Fingers stretch outward.


But she is and it can.

And when he reaches for her the familiar woman likewise reaches for him.

Warm fingertips meet warm fingertips and in that instance, change happens.

Not so much the room, or even Luke Cage, but for Reva Connors. The woman Luke Cage lost.

The alterations to the woman are subtle at first. Patches of darkness bloom across her skin, bruises, blood begins to drip from her nose and mouth and the crackle of breaking bones might be heard.

Her touch likewise loses any semblance of life as her hand turns chilled, cold. Icy even.

When she speaks again her voice is more hoarse whisper than actual sound. "Luke. I-I'm dead. How-w?"


Luke's voice dies in his throat, air seeping out of his lungs in a choked sound that creeps up his neck. His hands touch all over her face and arms, as if he can keep her together. Keep her here. Keep her alive. But her words spring bright tears to his eyes. "I'm sorry baby, I'm so sorry. I wasn't strong enough to keep you safe. Don't leave me, don't leave me again." His thumb drags through the blood seeping from the corner of her mouth, but he can't stop it. It's too late. It's been too late for a long time.


The light within this 'room' likewise shows tears fill Reva's eyes as well.

Broken and bloody as she may be.

When his hands settle upon her face and he offers those words of his, her expression shifts slightly. A smile. Crooked from the damage the 'bus accident' did to her. "Sta-ay if I could." Comes her raspy voice and then, as she was about to say something else, something more, the woman's form collapses in on itself.

Ash now falls downward to the solid ground below.

And behind the man Danielle Moonstar appears. Still dressed in that bear-skin cloak and for that first moment, she doesn't say anything. Simply watches for the man's reaction.


Luke's fingers now hold nothing, blinking as the image of his wife dissolved into grey flakes. He follows the snow of ash down to the ground as his powerful knees give out beneath him, muttering a snot filled 'no' as the tears stream down his face unchecked now. Hands scoop at the powder, like he can mound it all back together into his wife. "Why..why.." He mutters, his movements becoming more frantic as he scrapes at the ground, trying to gather every last wisp of what used to be Reva.


Dani Moonstar watches the powerful go to his knees.

Watches as he tries to bring his dead wife back.

Watches what looks to be the man's heart breaking all over again.

It's enough to cause the woman known as Danielle Moonstar to state in that hollow voice of hers, "Not so strong now, are you."

"Tell Owen we'll see him soon." She continues with and before she can even finish that last sentence, the shadows that form the ground reach upward, to Luke Cage. To once more drag them through their depths, though this time instead of pulling him in, they're going to force him out.


At the voice, Luke spins on his knee, ready to take on the Bear woman once again, as his heartbreak easily melds into pure raging hatred. He lunges forward, ready to harness that angst into finding something - anything - about the woman that will break. But then those tendrils are reaching for him again, dragging him before he can connect, "You bi—" The cuss does on his lips.


And the shadows swallow him again.

Their touch holds that same icy feel and when the man finds his way back to the real world, he'll find snow falling gently within that alleyway.

Only that alleyway.

And next to the man lays a dead crow, the body of the bird bent and broken, feathers twisted and torn.

But the Bear and the woman are nowhere in sight, nor the three crows that witnessed Luke Cage's trials tonight.

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