Demon Bear: Twice Gifted

December 04, 2017:

(Graphic Violence Warning) Ripclaw and Moonstar take a little trip through the Spirit Realm in search of a relic.

Characters

NPCs: Oyoye, Backwards Man, Demon Bear

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Earth World…
Brooklyn, New York…

Ripclaw again sits atop the Elevator. That concrete titan from the old era, a towering silo of stone and metal that secretly houses the Cyberforce headquarters underneath. If it can be called that. The team is low in numbers and morale right now a sense of 'defeat' lingers above them and it is causing hesitation in the Ghost Warrior as he tries to re-enter the Secret Worlds, the Spirit Realm…

Elevation and solitude near the upper 'ramparts' the same as before where Moonstar and Brightwind had encountered him last time he was Astral Projecting. It is colder out now though, chill enough even his normally resilient self is feeling it and deeper in to December worse it will get. Around each corner of that slab of concrete and metal railings fur, tarps and blankets have been hung strategically, wood slabs put up out beyond them to block the insides where a fire roars, it's smoke trailing skyward and disappearing in to smog and darkness. The insides are sweltering hot, the pale skin sparsely clothed Native Mutant sits with head down, hands curled in to fists at his sides clutched in one is a rather plain looking arrow, almost one that appears to have been bought from a Fish & Game shop yet it's wrapped in beads, leather thongs and feather bits.

Sweat covers Ripclaw from head to toe, making the smudged paint on his body peel in places with rivulets, he has been at this for some manner of hours now.

Tranquility and focus, acceptance…

A flicker flash, the scents of the harbor, the ash, herbs, mushroom and embers fades away to that of a dewy yet wet grassland….

The Secret World of the American Gods and it's boundaries. Lightning travels sideways in pink and red dance across shadowy clouds. Between earth and cloud the skies are orange to darker blues ranging in to purple hues. It is not as it should be, something about it is darker, the colors and smells, the sounds even. The sensations are just off.

"Stay low halfbear." A bird with a musical voice trills. Hopping through the underbrush through him.

Ripclaw realizes he is lying on his face and sits up to his knees. "Why?"

"Look in the skies, past the clouds do you see them? The Big Heads they are called by some. They float around laughing and chewing, they like to eat men. They'll smell you."

The Big Heads? Ripclaw has never seen one before but believes the dull blue tiny bird oddly and without question. This is what happens when you merge in such fashion here.

*

Monsters.

In this secret world they're as real as a car, a phone, a television, and just as deadly as that little blue bird says.

Some monsters, however, aren't seen. Some are elsewhere. Waiting in shadows. Waiting in cold.

That's where Danielle Moonstar is.

She hangs suspended within a black cold. Barely moving, barely breathing, only the vague crystallization of breath signifies that she's alive. Her heart beats slowly and is heard within her ears - like a slow drum - thud - thud - thud. Occasionally a second, third and sometimes fourth and fifth beat can be heard, but mostly it's just her own.

Eventually the rhythm changes - it slows - then raises and when her heart speeds up that brings further movement. A twitch of her hand, a shift of an arm, and then the woman's eyes open. Her head cants to the side a gesture of listening, as her own senses stretch outward now.

Then the blackness recedes as the woman impresses her will upon the shadows. Feet touch 'ground' and the woman once known as friend to the people found within Xavier's Institute turns. As she walks a bow appears in her hand, a quiver with arrows upon her back.

Prey has returned and it's time to hunt.

*

"Why are they so close to the boundaries?" Ripclaw questions, he is knelt down now. Fingers flexing, here they're not just claws or metal. They're spirit and flesh actual fingers but he can't hide the claw caps, thats just part of him.

"Nihodilhil is opened somewhere, it spit out many dark things. The little people have hidden away, if you put your nose to the ground you can't even smell them."

Ripclaw inhales, the 'little ones' she speaks of go by many names to many tribes, they were said to be plentiful on Earth and throughout the world once before Man expanded, the original people of the Americas, many tribes claim to have learned the secrets of fire, medicine and building from them. Harmless, friendly, though they do have an odor. "I am guessing this was their territory."

"Yes I suppose if you wish to call it that but they're afraid. Things hunt here now that should not be here, the Old Gods don't pay it mind." The bird pips then hops. "But you're not here for the smelly little ones. You're here for the feather."

"I am. I was given Micha's blessing and he told me where one would be this night. I must find it… " The mutant stands up now black work out pants the only thing he wears, bare foot, bare chested and unarmed. The arrow doesn't even exist with him here. He just needs the feather.

"It fell in a cave, you'll have to climb and go inside. Spider-Woman's children are in there though and they are not happy. Far from it right now."

A sigh escapes the man and he starts to walk across the green eerie field of high grass, the bird hopping after him. He wonders why she ins't flying but then, maybe she staying low… Which thinking this makes him crouch. He knows there are hunters out there but not who.

Things in the ground crawl, squirm and the darkness of this landscape is more, different, changing and altering, silent things move beyond the eyes, shadows cover things that should not be, blind things, smelling things, worm things and buzzing things. Those of the first world, all legs, eyes, segments and wings. They feast, always feast. She can feel them in the ground where they spread through the green. Hungry. Yet a hunter knows how to move in their element.

*

Within the darkness Danielle Moonstar's figure fades -

Within the world Ripclaw exists nothing changes, overtly.

Not until a shadow passes over him and that little bird. When the shadow touches coldness can be felt. A nip of ice, a nip of darkness, but that shadow doesn't stay on the two long. Instead it kites forward further, the silhouette clearly seen. It's of a bird. A large bird.

High above in the sky is a dark form, something familiar. A crow.

It lands several feet ahead and waits there, its intelligent gaze turned in the general direction of Ripclaw.

As it waits for the man's approach the crow idly shifts it attention to the ground for a moment. A squiggle of a segmented body within the dirt causes its beak to flash downward, stabbing into that insect. When it straightens that dying bug can be seen wriggling in the bird's beak.

*

"Do you have a name, bird-friend?" Ripclaw inquires of his companion as they move, pausing by a bent tree to dig his fingers in to the bark, peeling it back to stare at the mess of beetles and maggots feasting underneath. The stench is something else.

"Many friend works but you can call me Oyoye. It may hold meaning." The bird says then stops, watching the crow fly overhead. "You should move faster, halfbear." The bird whistle-chirps quietly, "The shadows thicken and your silver thread grows thinner."

"I should know that name." The Ghost Warrior mumbles, he was a horrible student. It has only been recent years that hes found himself eager to learn from his mentors. The large blackbird is given a wary look but moved past, the long-legged stride of the tall man becoming a quickening run. "You will not keep up if I run though! Not unless you fly."

"Just go. Do not worry about me. Worry about you and your journey." The blue bird flaps once then turns in on 'itself' disappearing in to something smaller and vanishing like folded away origami. Gone with one knowing look at the large dark scavenger.

It's a run towards the foothills and Ripclaw is soon climbing, the sensation all too familiar to him as he is hugging rock face and making his way upwards, it is almost deja vu. Only it was a bear that waited above for him, a dark one. Now what lies ahead?

*

The crow watches the man run past even as it eats the bug.

Then it cocks its head in a very bird-like manner, before it flares its wings.

Electric blue arcane energies bright along the edges of the bird's feathers, creating whorls and zig-zagged patterns all over its body.

Then much like Oyoye the bird disappears.

It's only as Ripclaw climbs upward that a second figure appears. Below him. A familiar one from weeks previous.

Danielle Moonstar.

Her shape is mostly shrouded in the skin of a bear, with the head of that now deceased animal acting as the hood of her cloak. She watches the man scramble upward and only as he nears the top does she smile. Her teeth flash white within the shadows that cover her face and then, like before, her form fades.

Only a breeze can be felt - a cold one - as it dances and swirls up the same cliffside. A touch upon this handhold, a hold upon a foothold, and a gentle brush past the man on his mission.

*

Ripclaw scales with the deliberate motion to be expected of a man on a mission, where Dani is a sylphlike ascend that the winds would find praise worthy Robert is a long armed beast in movement, hauling up with the cord and bunch of muscles, the scratch of claws seeking purpose.

A pause near the lip and Ripclaw cranes his head to his left shoulder, gleaming red eyes stare down in to the darkness, it isn't until now that he realized just how rigid and steep the hillside to Cliffside had become. A straight vertical drop. /There are others who hunt/. Oyoye's words.

Frowning the ghost white skinned man drags himself over and in to the yawning maw of the Spider cave. A stare inside reveals webs, thick along walls and floor. Broken inwards though, peeled back as though something forced its way through so many weak barricades. The smells that exude are nauseating, grotesque. Something inside is still… inside.

Ripclaw inhales, strong chest expanding then he forges onwards. "If a spider cave wasn't hell enough… " Wind howls through the tunnels and so does something else. Inwards and past the front, through the webs greenish blood and grey-brown flesh is smeared along rocky outcroppings, dismembered spider body parts.

*

The cave.

Something within it calls to those that can feel it and Danielle at this very moment can.

A gift from the Demon Bear, if you will.

As such the zephyr that is Dani lingers at the edge of the entranceway to that cave, even as Ripclaw approaches it.

Now the huntress pauses. Her attention shifts from cave to Ripclaw and back to the cave again. Finally, the breeze makes a decision and softly disperses. What stands there is no longer a shrouded woman, but Danielle Moonstar herself.

Gone is the bear-cloak, instead replaced with something more appropriate for a woman who 'isn't' soulless thanks to the Demonic Bear. Black pants, matching top and her typical moccasin style boots.

But can that fact that her soul is trapped elsewhere truly be hidden in this world? Perhaps at the start of this journey.

"Right, the smell alone would be." Comes a voice from behind Ripclaw, a familiar sound, as Dani stands with bow and arrow loosely nocked against string. For now the arrow is pointed downward.

"I see we're both on the hunt this day." She continues with, her voice held low, as her bright and canny gaze stays focused upon the man.

She waits for his reaction to her arrival, before doing anything else.

*

The fetid smell ignored as Moonstar reveals herself to Ripclaw. The man's gaze settles upon the woman. "You found me?" He questions, an air of caution to him. She appears as cold and aloof as their first arrival, differing garb in this realm.

"Was it you stalking me?" A frown and he looks past and onwards, towards the bend inside where a green light illuminates darkness but it's source is mystery. The sounds of crunching and slurping are unmistakable. Whatever is feasting beyond is ignoring their talk. Their presence.

The feather. It lies inside. Could she know he was seeking it out? Perhaps.

"I would ask why you're here but we have limited time. I would hope this time you plan on accepting my aid and opening up to me. We can help eachother. You will find I am a great asset and we are very much on the same side."

Robert steps forward as if to walk past Dani to clear that bend and find what is creating those great and awful sounds, "Right now would be a good time for us to begin working as one, I will show you." He doesn't smile, his eyes, those strange red animal eyes look for hers and he motions with clawtips, an invitation for her to join him almost as though she was the dance partner he'd been eager for all night.
"My gift to you lies beyond."

*

"Yes." She states truthfully to his question of stalking. "I was following to see what you were up to." Again another honest answer from her and said in such away to come across as something merely friendly, versus maniacal.

And while more questions could be asked the task at hand presents itself, and Danielle Moonstar allows the conversation to roll to something else. To something that tickles her senses, that causes the Bear to urge her to take it. Take the weapon that could potentially hurt it and run.

Ripclaw's plea is heard. His statements moving -

- And if this were another time or another place, his words would reach the woman, but as it is they don't.

However, her return answer is crafted in such away to still hold strong notes of truth and so, there is very little to be seen when her dark-brown eyes meet Ripclaw's own reddened one. "Then let us work as one." She states, even as she steps toward the man at his come-hither motion. "And see what prize you have found for us."

*

Now the mutant does manage a smile, a curl of lips that is brief lived before hes turning around and stepping in to the green glow emanating from the stone passage beyond.

The tunnel opens to a large cavern full of holes like the inside of a honeycomb, dangling from those open pits are corpses, half chewed and gnawed, ripped, torn and dismembered. Spider-People, it depends on how or who is viewing them, should they find themselves outside of the spirit world they show as either humans or actual spiders, here, its a blur of both, a mood and mind thing really. Women, men, children, a subterranean village now a rocky tomb. At their feet lies a small limb attached to an equally tiny thorax, a face with multiple eyes and chubby cheeks. No longer of this world or any others it's mouth set to rictus of grim horror.
The Spider-Woman's children.

The grinding sound of teeth and bone ceases, flesh peels and pulls away and a man looks up, dark features, darker hair, a black eye and a pale blue eye, a glow in it, thread behind it in digital lighting. Half of his face is smeared with circuitry under the veins. That mouth, crooked and open is closing in on itself, it was split mandibles that gleamed of shiny metal and whites.

He is crouched over a fire, a irradiated looking verdant green one speckled in mixed colorations of splattering, more blood. This 'man' is masticating loudly over it, intentionally making a mess as can be told from the once white tshirt worn and black leather greaser like jacket.
A closer look says thats exactly his style. Just the hair a mess, shaven under on the sides, ugly, poorly done. The smear of flesh and bits across his mouth helping him look even more deranged.

A closer look at the fire shows its flames surrounding a feather, where orange-red meets it they transform to a hell green, flickering and snapping off. Each splot of gore upon it fizzling out.
"I hope one of you brought some propane, kerosene anything… this fucking thing just will not burn away." A young man's voice, early twenties late teens. Hard to say. His shadow that dances behind his visual a thing that changes though, human, giant spider, man-spider, tiny spider, always changing.

Ripclaw's eyes are wide as he looks around, trying his best not to step on one of the victims, a low rumble pours free of his chest, a snarl escaping him. "You twisted fuck."

"I like that word. Twisted." The cannibal teases then looks to Dani, his chin lifting up and he flicks his tongue over his teeth at her, "And you, I should be thanking you. Sipapu so unguarded and just welcoming, I figured, what the hell, I'll pay you back." A hand pats his stomach, fingers splaying along it almost lewdly. "I am stuffed. Night cap anyone?"

*

The bodies, limbs and pieces of people are looked at.

Later, when her soul is returned and her sense of self restored, she'll feel the horror this should evoke, but for now Dani just sees.

Sees it for what it is. A threat nearby. Danger. Even something that the Bear warns to be cautious of. Be ready to strike. To fight. To kill.

It's enough to bring the arrowhead that's been pointed downward to the ground up and aimed ahead of the duo.

The sight of the man is seen, but it's the fire that catches Dani's attention. That red and then green neatly catching her attention, before the sight of the feather holds sway over her. It's only when Ripclaw offers his sharp words to the cannibal that Danielle Moonstar's attention shifts from the sacred artifact.

She looks first to Ripclaw and then back to the seemingly well-fed 'man'. It's only at his 'thanks' to her, that Dani grins briefly. A sardonic expression upon her face. Then even as it offers that question of night cap, her bow raises upward tracking to where a heart would beat and with a *twang* the arrow flies straight at the creature that holds the form of a man.

The irony isn't lost on the woman either. Especially as her own shadows warps with that flickering light of the fire.

A woman, with bow in hand. A pegasus, wings mantled. A wolf, teeth bared. A song-bird delicate beak open ready to sing. Crows, clustered together in flight.

And finally, a bear standing upon two-feet.

*

"Serio—" *THUNK* the arrow buries itself in the man's chest and in his hubris he looks quite surprised as it topples him backwards off the rock he was perched upon eating his meal. The arrow haft jutting up. "Owch, that hurts. Like, a lot kind of hurting."

Ripclaw lunges forward and kicks the fire sending embers, rocks, twigs or possibly spider-legs in all directions, the feather knocked free with his boot to land upon the rocky floor, the fire without the feather in it starts to change colors, from green to a yellow to a golden red. Normal flame colorations yet above it blue, ghostly and spiritual warping in the sky, like a mirage's corners.

The feather upon the stone flooring is all together different, bright blue, a crackle of lightning traces up and down it in a shine, one way then the other, free of the flames and blood it looks vibrant, starts to fill out it's threads, the very air around it is static.

"I was trying to help you." The man on his back carries on, "Myself too, this was doubly beneficial you could say… " The creature-man-spider is sitting upright upon an elbow, trying to wrench the arrow free with his freehand, twisting it forward and back until it pops out of his chest cavity and he releases a hiss. "Why is this monkey that smells like a bear and too … oh, you're that one. You're like me. Kind of."

"It talks a lot. Shoot it again." Ripclaw says quietly as he kneels over the arrow and starts to unlace a thong from his waistline, almost reverently his hands wave over the blue feather.

"You two are working together? I am so very confused and they call me the Backwards Man." He chortles, his tongue flicking out to taste his upperlip. The shadow behind him growing bigger, spidery legs playing at the imagery cast across the illuminated walls.

"The Backwards Man? You're one of the Aspects. One of the Tomorrow Children. Shoot him again, Moonstar. Nothing good comes of this creature. It has no heart." Ripclaw insists, enough cord unlaced he is slowly wrapping it around the feather's upper calamus, just below the downy after fluff mindful of the soft vane.

"I ate plenty tonight, actually." The Backwards Man counters. "I did all this for you! Okay, thats a lie, whats say I did 50% of this for you but come on, a little hottie like you and me can have a lot of fun." Backwards Man is an odd name but she will realize if she looks close enough his shirt's tag is facing forward. Be a horrible reason to get that name alone.

*

The fallen feather is spared a glance, but not for long.

Not when the violence starts.

Not when the danger grows, especially as the Backwards Man speaks. The change in the man's shadow isn't lost upon Dani, either.

As to Ripclaw's words, Danielle needs very little prompting to send that second arrow at the Tomorrow Child. It flies from her bow with another *TWANG* of sound swiftly twhips through the air.

Then the black-haired Cheyenne turns slightly, her free hand reaching for the wall that her own shifting shadow can be found upon. Then she turns a look toward the Spider-Shadowed man.

"We don't need your help." Danielle Moonstar says simply, "Nor do we want it." She ends with, and with that last word said, Dani's shadow begins to gain height and mass. It rises high above the woman, stretching for the ceiling of the cave, before suddenly the Bear reaches outward toward Backwards Man, intending to bury those silhouette claws into the immortal, or semi-immortal being.

*

The man's smile and humor appears to bleed out as the second arrow impacts with his shoulder, caught midway between a duck an a turn to avoid it manages to hit him. "Enough with the arrows! You're just pissing me off." Backward's Man as he's referred to looks annoyed, pained despite himself but soon fearful when a claw extends for him, confusion still evident in his eyes at the companionship between Demon Bear, the Cheyenne and the Ghost Warrior.

The Bears presence is felt by Ripclaw despite his concentration on binding the feather, his head own shoulders tense up and he splays hands out, fingers extending in to claws while he spins, the feather swept up and held against his chest protectively. It is unsure if he sees Moonstar's extension of shadow with the commotion but the Backwards man has shriveled down, curled in and scurries almost upon all fours off deeper in to the Spider-Woman's den, "Give it time… time we now own." He whispers only to disappear.

Ripclaw straightens up, his feral red eyes latched upon Moonstar, "We are done here. Lets go." Nothing to be done for those who remain, the material world needs them now and hopefully then he can return and perform his duties to the world of spirits.

*

When the Spider runs the shade of the Bear mantles in triumph, then it retreats. A blink, a breath and it's gone. Laying dormant within the flickers of Moonstar's own silhouette now.

As Ripclaw moves, so does Moonstar, and with that movement her shadow trails after her. Feathered-fingers blur the line of her braid within her shadow, as an echo of a crow takes wing and travels into another realm. To deliver a message.

"Yes, lets. I grow weary of the stench in here." Agrees the dark-haired woman as she dutifully follows behind the man and his cargo.

The two retrace their steps and find themselves back into the entranceway with those catacombs holding the remains and bodies of the other beings. Then it's outward to fresh air, cleaner air and vaguely brighter skies, even if the skies aren't necessarily the blue typically seen.

Pausing, the woman shifts her attention to Ripclaw, then to the bundle he holds protectively. "Keep the feather safe." She states, before her head cants slightly to the side, "I'll meet you out there." In the real world she means and then with a faint crook to her mouth, the woman's form wavers.

Then shimmers and with a blast of cold air she becomes like the wind.

It playfully circles around Ripclaw's form and then, like one of her own arrows, its off like a shot. Stretching outward and away, to roll and tumble back to the material world.

*

Less than a minute later…
Brooklyn…

Ripclaw's breath enters his body in a gasp as blood colored eyes snap open wide. Spirit returned to flesh. In his bio-metallic hand opposite the one clutching the arrow a bright blue feather is held tightly around leather threading.
The smoke and heat of the Elevator's secluded 'den' a familiar awakening, rushing in on the senses. Robert Bearclaw is back in Lot 80 and he has the final piece of the arrow. The weapon he intends to give Dani Moonstar to use against the Demon Bear.

If only he knew…

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