Now that the Bear is Gone...

February 09, 2018:

Looks like it is time to make Doctor Strange's life more complicated yet. Danielle Moonstar has a plan and she is not taking a no for response.

Dr. Strange Sanctum


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jane Foster, Ripclaw, Magik, Winter Soldier

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The Bear is gone. The curse lifted. Fate has been appeased.

And while there's relief all around, especially on Dani's part, there are still things to do. Amends to be made. Apologies to be spoken. Along with those apologies are also words of thanks.

That's what brings Danielle Moonstar, former thrall of the Bear, to the wizard's Sanctum.

Her footsteps are light as she walks up to the door and while her hand is slow to raise, when it does the knock upon the door is made with purpose. A resolute sense behind that knock. Then the black-haired woman waits, her eyes flicking toward the sidewalk and all those that walk by, before moving back to the door.

For today the woman wears a simple outfit of boots, jeans, lined jacket and scarf. It is, after all, /still/ winter though something that's more manageable versus insane.

Doctor Strange didn’t stay to celebrate the victory. After making two invocations to entities within a few minutes he needed to ‘take a break’. In other worlds, he was suffering from serious karmic disruption and barely managed a recall spell to the Sanctum, where he collapsed and sleep for three days.

In his defense, he has been pushing his stamina for the whole length of the malignant storm.

But now he is fine, recovered and rested, so it is him in person, and not Wong, the one that opens the door. “Ms. Moonstar. Good to see you again, please come in,” he invites the young woman into the living room. “How are you feeling?” Ever the doctor.

It doesn't take long for her knock to be answered and when it is she returns her attention forward, rather than around herself.

"Doctor Strange." She offers in the way of greetings when he presents himself from that doorway. His invitation to enter earns a nod from the woman and then a careful wipe of her boots, before she crosses the threshold. Curiously, because this is the first time Dani's been here, she looks around. Her gaze takes in the furnishings, the air of the place, before her eyes returns to the man.

His question prompts an answer and Dani automatically says, "I'm fine, thanks." And while that answer isn't necessarily the truth, or completely the truth, it's an answer. "You?" She asks with a touch of concern - it wasn't lost on her that he fell during the battle against the Bear. "I can say that wasn't the easiest of battles."
Idly, for something to do perhaps, the woman begins to unwind the scarf from around her neck and lower face.

The Sanctum is quite opulent in furnishings and aspect, although the living room is not very large. In fact the whole house didn’t look very large from the outside, hardly a mansion.

Inside it is –different-, the geometrics are off, magic is heavy in the air, and since Dani is a Valkyrie she can probably feel the mystical nature of the place.

“I am well, now,” confirms the doctor. “I suffered from a mild backlash, but some sleep did help,” there were nightmares, but there are usually nightmares. It is not as much a guilty mind as the wrath of the Fear Lord Nightmare, who greatly despises Strange.

The heavy yoke of magic is felt by Danielle Moonstar, mutant, Valkyrie.

If she had her choice she'd shy away from it, ignore it, but with things that they are she can only accept it.

The oddness of the house is noted, but not in a shocked way. Not when Dani has friends like Illyana Rasputin, who have a whole dimension at her beck and call. Something she can warp and weft as needed.

"Good." She says, her eyes returning to the form of the Doctor and while there's an awkward pause after her reply, eventually the woman says, "I wanted to stop by to say thank you. The Bear wasn't technically your problem, but I appreciate all you did for us back there."

And while Dani is often much more verbose today she finds it hard to chatter about nonsensical things.

“It absolutely was my problem,” replies Strange, giving Dani an apologetic look. “Creatures like that monster are why the position of Supreme Sorcerer exists, with all the privileges, artifacts and the support of great entities I enjoy.”

He invites Dani to sit down by the couch, taking the seat in front of her with a tired sight. “It is, of course, hard to get hold of a sorcerer nowadays. Well, it has been so for most of human history. But those of my order have a network, and warning devices, to detect this kind of problem.”

His problem.

A mulish expression might be seen from the set of her mouth, the look in her eye. It's clear she doesn't necessarily agree with that word choice of his.

Still, Dani does understand that she wouldn't have been able to defeat the Bear without his help, so instead of arguing she nods.

His invitation to sit is accepted as the woman settles into a seat and with her scarf bundled upon her lap, the black-haired woman considers the man across from her. "And did your warning network go off when the Bear arrived?" She asks curiously, before adding, "And perhaps there should be more people added to that network. The non-magical kind, but those who know magic exists and understands the danger of not being forewarned."

“Especially if something crosses over to the same degree as the Bear. I’d hate to be caught quite so unaware should something like that cross over again.”

“I was there when the Bear appeared, in Westchester County,” confirms Strange. “I had a brief warning from my scrying devices. Nothing concrete. The Bear tore a large gash in the walls between worlds and attacked me, but then fled from the light of Agamotto. I repaired the veils before giving chase.” He sighs.

“That was a mistake. When I attempted to track the monster, it hid very effectively. I didn’t realize the magnitude of the problem until well after the first attacks.” His own disciple said nothing to him. Definitely something he needs to talk about with Illyana.

The young woman’s suggestion is something he had already considered before. One of the reasons he is now part of the Justice League. Unfortunately the bulk of the League is fighting rage-empowered aliens. “I am in contact with the Justice League as well as elements of SHIELD and the D.E.O. But if you know more people suitable, I am willing to meet them.”

Danielle Moonstar listens. She’s good at that.

Her expression is attentive, though mostly closed off. The Bear is still a sore subject for her, something that continues to eat away at a level of her confidence, of her self-assuredness. Time will eventually heal that wound, but for now the wince she feels at his words is hidden behind a polite mask.
His mention of all the alphabet-soup departments earns a crimp of a smile. Something that’s both amused and sarcastic at the same time.

“I meant regular people, Doctor Strange. The people who are typically on the ground when these sorts of things attack.” She lifts a hand to motion slightly, “Don’t get me wrong, SHIELD, DEO, the League and the X-Men, all have their place in these fights, but in the beginning when we’re trying to figure it all out? Figure what type of threat this really is? You need a network of people on the ground and figuring it out for you. So when it becomes something world threatening we’re not caught with our pants around her ankles.”

Her head tilts slightly to the side, “Robert, myself, Illyana, even James and Jane Foster. We all have had a taste of these sorts of things and we can continue to help fight against them, as well.”

Strange smiles faintly. “Miss Moonstar, anyone that interacts with magic in any meaningful way has entered a different world and is no longer ‘regular people’. Robert Bearclaw is a frequent visitor here. So is Illyana Rasputina. SHIELD has some agents specialized in supernatural threats. So does the D.E.O., even if I find their leadership corrupt and dangerously selfish, they do have some good agents.”

And oh uh… Jane Foster and James, the Winter Soldier.

“Ah, yes. I should talk with Doctor Foster and Agent Barnes, to be honest I have been delaying it too long,” he admits. “Foster used some of the darkest magic available to mortal beings. Channeling stolen soul and life energies is usually very corruptive. Ironically the soulless state probably protected her soul, but not so her mind and body.”

"Yes, Robert mentioned visiting you in the past, learning from you." Dani states, "Illyana too." She adds and while he maligns the leadership of the alphabet soup agencies, Dani doesn't necessarily say anything for that. Or against that.

Perhaps she realize that with everything there's always the good and the bad.

Or perhaps it's because of Strange's last words. He has to talk to Jane and Bucky.

Jane mostly.

That brings a sharp note to her expression. And while Dani doesn't figuratively know Bucky and Jane well, their time spent as heralds brings forth an almost automatic response from the Cheyenne.

Wolf and Bird and Bear protect one another.

"It wasn't her fault. She knows what she did, what almost happened, I don't think she needs a rehash of it. I'm also pretty sure we all know not to get possessed again. "

The last line is delivered in a dry tone, with both an edge and a bit of humor found within.

"But there's truth in what you say about the corruptive nature of dark magics.”

“I know it wasn’t her fault,” admits Strange. In truth he has yet to figure the pattern for why some souls taken by the Bear. Perhaps he will never know. “I am not blaming her, but like a doctor would to a person that has been subject to toxic substances or extreme amounts of radiation, I believe Foster’s health needs some close watching.”

A bit of the same goes for Dani and the Winter Soldier, really. Although being a Valkyrie does shield Dani from these unnatural events to a degree.

“As for finding more people to watch for supernatural events, in truth it is becoming necessary. These events are increasing in numbers and severity with the incoming age,” it is not as if this network doesn’t exist already; it is that is clearly insufficient. “Would you want to be part of such a group? You are already blessed, or cursed, with some supernatural abilities and duties, Moonstar.”

When Strange admits that it wasn’t Jane’s fault the slightly ‘raised’ hackles of Danielle Moonstar, former small Bear, settles down.

That lessening allows the black-haired woman to hear the wisdom of what Strange says and so, she nods. “Agreed. I can give you a cell phone number to contact them with.” She offers, even as she reaches into her jacket pocket for her own phone.

Rare is it for Dani to carry a purse. She’s just not that type.

His mention of being part of that new front line earns another nod from her. “Yes, I’m going ot be part of it. To be honest, I’m going to invite all who fought the Bear to be part of it.” She continues with, even as her lips quirk into a sardonic smile at his next words. “And it’s a little bit of both, though mostly blessing. I’d not give Brightwind up for anything.”

The screen of her phone is tapped and then the contacts opened. When it shows the number for Bucky and Jane, Dani passes it over to Strange so he can grab the information.

Strange is about to mention that he really doesn’t need phone numbers, but decides not to say anything. A phone call might be better than just showing up unannounced or using a magical form of contact. He glances at the offered screen and nods, memorizing the numbers.

“Thank you,” he arches an eyebrow at Dani’s offer to invite everyone in that group. Something tells him Illyana for one wouldn’t want her brother dealing with black magic in a regular basis. Indeed Strange himself would prefer untrained humans to avoid any exposure, and those without the spark of magic to remain at a reasonable distance, even if they are strong-willed and competent fighters. “ We’ll see. Martial arts and guns are only useful against lesser supernatural beings. Even many super-powers otherwise formidable are fairly ineffective. I am very leery of exposing even my associates in the League to some of the threats I have to deal with.”

Once he seems good with the numbers Dani tucks her phone away.

Then it’s back to the conversation at hand. The Cheyenne listens to the apparent reservations that Strange has about her definition of a front line. She can’t quite stop the eyebrow that pops upward at his words, “Because the way it is now is really working, right?” She asks rhetorically and in a rather dry manner.

“But I understand, don’t get me wrong. Those who haven’t dealt with magic before can get lost, but for the group that fought the Bear -” She shrugs, “They have exposure to it now. They can help.” And while there’s a small pause from the woman, her next words sound firm, “And I’m not seeking your permission here, Doctor Strange. I’m here to invite you to the frontlines.”

She waves a hand, motioning to the house, “I mean, you’re already here, but to our frontlines. Where we sometimes deal with things by using guns against them, or science, or other things that aren’t necessarily arcane in manner.”

“It’s not about protecting people from it, not with this group, but protecting the real innocents. You, me, those that were part of the fight, we’re not innocent. Whether from war, or SHIELD, or because we’re mutants, or magical. We’re here to help and fight and this is part of it.”

And here Dani pauses, to take a breath and see how Strange takes her words now.

Strange chuckles without malice to Danielle’s words. “Indeed no, we are soldiers,” states Strange. “We made a choice, most people doesn’t. You didn’t, not really, when that Bear attacked your family you were forced to flee or fight. You made the choice when you joined SHIELD. Foster and Barnes were also attacked by surprise, I believe. Even Bearclaw, although he has talent and training, he didn’t choose to stand against the Bear until after being attacked.”
Strange? He was there when the demon crosser over, ready to fight.

“Fighting demons or necromancers is not like fighting Hydra terrorists, or even fighting alien invaders,” explains Strange. “They will attack the mind and the soul. Some of the things they can do can’t be explained with science, or even reason. They evoke alien ideas and respond to metaphysical principles that are more art than physics.”

Consideration flashes across Dani’s face when Strange speaks. “Choices.” She agrees, “Though sometimes those choices aren’t necessarily understood until later. Don’t you think?” She asks, though she doesn’t know much of Strange’s own background. “Most of the time we agree to do something without fully understanding what we’re getting ourselves into.”

She shrugs, “And it’s not like I’m going to /force/ people to be in this little rag-tag group I’m building. If they say no then it’s no, but if they agree then I’ll make sure to start getting them trained up on fighting the supernatural.”

“I’d appreciate if you would help with that. Next to you and Robert, I’m still somewhat a novice.” She begins, a hand raising upward again to possibly wave her words away, “Overall. Don’t get me wrong I know some stuff, Cheyenne things, Asgardian things, but the knowledge you hold, or even what Robert holds - not so much.”

Again she looks back to Strange, to see how he responds.

“SHIELD has the WAND division,” mentions Strange. Indeed WAND can give people some training to deal with supernatural events and threats. There is still only so much a mortal can do with fist or firearms, no matter how powerful.

“I can train you.” Decides Strange. “I believe Mr. Papsworth can also offer some training, and John Constantine is a supremely skilled adept, although I do not recommend anyone to follow his approach to combat mystical threats. Still, Constantine rarely turns his back to a plead for help.”

Strange closes his eyes and sight, then stands up, “do you want some tea, or a glass of wine?” He has been, perhaps, less than a perfect host. Usually Wong is there to help, but today is one of Wong’s rare days of absence for personal business.

"If you have beer I'd appreciate that."

Is Dani's prompt request, before she turns back to his previous words.

"I'm not sure how much I want to involve SHIELD or WAND." Those words of hers said slowly, "Not everyone enjoy the long arm of the law riding along."

"Officially, at least."

"And I'd appreciate any training you'd offer. I'm not sure if Robert mentioned, but a being known as The Backwards Man is on the loose. We intend to bring him back, or return him to where he belongs. I've a sense it's not going to be an easy fight. And not one that I can bring bow and arrow to."

Not when it'll likely be on the mystical plane.

Strange nods. The Backwards Man. The Krampus too. The Vishanti alone know how many other ancient and modern monsters have broken free from their cages and extra-dimensional prisons. “I will stand by you, of course. Will you ask Illyana too? I can attempt to recruit the Avalonian warrior Darkedge. Perhaps one or two other mystics.”

Beer? Oh right. Valkyrie. Asgardians and their ale. That makes him smile. He has no beer in the living room, but he can conjure one from the kitchen, and a beer mug too. He returns to the couch with a glass of red wine and the mug for Dani.

“Yes, I’ll be inviting Illyana too.” She agrees, even as her gaze follows the man to wherever he goes.

“Can’t say I’ve heard of Darkedge, but if they’re good bring them in.” She adds, and at that conjured mug of beer, Dani can’t quite stop a grin from quirking her lips upward.

A sip is taken before the mug is set upon her knee, fingers of one hand securely wrapped around the handle.
“Thanks.” She states, that one word encompassing her appreciation for the beer, but also for the help that Doctor Strange offers.

“Once I have the group assembled we can see where we stand and go from there.” The tension that held her back so straight and her shoulders so high loosens somewhat within her. While she didn’t expect to be rebuffed, or anything of that sort, one never knows.

Strange considers for a few seconds and then sighs quietly. “If you are dead set to bring people without supernatural powers into a group that will seek and fight supernatural threats we should secure some mystical devices. Weapons, maybe armor, protective amulets. I have a few in the sanctum.”

As for where to go, Danielle already knows about the Backwards Man. “Plenty to do. Ms. Elinor Ravensdale has warned me there is a necromancer active in the area. And the sorceress Circe released an Asgardian monster called the Krampus in Metropolis about a month ago. Moreover, the Darkness and the Angelus have been seen and clashed in the city recently.” He is a busy doctor.

“I’m dead set.” She agrees, as she watches the man consider the implications of her decision to involve ‘normals’.

“So, whatever you have to offer I’d gratefully take. Training, weapons, armor, spells, amulets.” She spreads her hands, “Seriously grateful here.”

A corner of her mouth twitches upward, since she realizes just what she’s asking, “I’d rather not get caught with our pants down like that again.” And when Strange picks up the narrative, about the current supernatural threats out there, the black-haired woman can’t help but grimace.

“See? Already sounds like you need some help that you aren’t getting. Or have available to help fight against all those threats.”

Strange shakes his head, “it is not I don’t need help, it is I am reluctant to send people without supernatural abilities to fight supernatural beings. It is like sending unarmed civilians to fight veteran soldiers with tanks. They stand little chance and they die messily.”

On the other hand the unarmed civilians are pretty much defending their homes and lives from an invasion where the defending army is outmanned and busy in other place. It is a no win situation.

And sometimes heroes without mystical powers manage to defeat supernatural beings. Usually with terrible difficulties and danger. But they still do it. Without them risking their lives many more people would die.

“Let me talk to Dr. Foster and the Winter Soldier.” He decides.

“Power is a component of any battle.” Dani agrees initially, “But there are other things too. Training, knowledge, perseverance. You don't have to be able to use magic, or even sense it, to be able to win in a fight. You just have to understand it and know how to counter it.”

Her head cants slightly to the side, “That's where you come in, I think.”

His last words bring a nod from the Cheyenne, “Please do. It'll be good to know those two are truly okay and I think you'll find they're not the shrinking violet types.”

The mug of beer is given one last healthy sip, before Dani starts to rise.

“Thank you again for helping me, us, during all of this Doctor. I appreciate all you've done.”

Strange finishes the wine and stands up. Danielle just made his life so much more complicated! Where is he going to find the time to teach a group of human heroes how to fight demons and dark sorcerers. Maybe Wong can help. Or Illy… no, probably a bad idea.

Diana? But he doubts Wonder Woman will have the time.

“No need to thank me,” he replies, walking with the young woman to the door outside. “But I hope to see you again soon. And perhaps we should make this band of warriors official; there is strength in formal alliances, orders and codes. I will talk to my allies. And you know most of them. Farewell.”

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