The Atlas Gem

April 12, 2014:

An unusual artifact of great power (actually the Huse Gem but that wasn't as catchy for a log title) is sought by its former owner.

The Gilbride Museum

Atlas

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

"Are you sure, Chloe?" Clark asks into his phone, clearly not believing the words coming over the line from his childhood friend.

"Listen, Clark. I've known Allison for a long time now, you two have traded more emails than a pair of warring flameo's on a nerd-movie site."

"I don't know, Chloe. I mean, we've never seen each other-we've never talked to each other on the phone. It just seems like-"

"It just seems like a blind date Clark. It's not like you're going to marry the girl. Sheesh. Lighten up. She'll meet you at 7 at the Gilbride Museum in New York."

"Alright, Chloe," Clark says, resigning himself to overcoming his nervousness and just doing this. "Thanks."

  • * * * *

Before…

Off in a South American jungle, a large man holds court in a small village. There's dancing, feasting, and drinking. The man, with his long dark hair hanging over his bare shoulders, has muscles upon muscles. Over his legs he wears little more than a loin cloth, and his feet are likewise bare.

The only accessory of note is a large crystal he wears over his chest as a necklace. It seems to glow in the night even brighter than if only reflecting the light of the bonfires. No, there's something special about this medallion indeed.

Later, as the ruler slept, there was a man who entered his tent. Even then the necklace, laid out on the cot next to him, glowed brightly.

  • * * * *

Now…

The Gilbride Museum in New York is holding a special exhibit on what is being called the Huse Gem. From all around scientists, gem experts, and other gawkers have come to marvel at its beauty and mystique. Others peer into it, wondering why it glows with no power source.

In the middle of the crowd stands a giant of a man in a black jacket, black undershirt and dark pants and boots. His long dark hair is pulled back into a ponytail under a low fitting baseball cap.

The exhibit has also been a 'hot topic' on the underground, with the Black Market exploding with rumors that there will be a few 'hits' on the diamond. Rumor has it that it sold at auction for a cool 3 million. Rumor has it that the next time it sells it could go for twice that.

*

Special exhibits always come with special photo ops for enterprising curators and their most valued contributors. Consequently, Dana Hunt finds herself gainfully employed for the evening. Camera in hand, she focuses her lens on the people enjoying the free wine and hors d'oeuvres, along with the mystery of the glowing gem. As she lowers her camera, her hazel eyes automatically scan over faces and auras around her. The dazzling light from the diamond, however, is distracting, and she turns her face toward it for a moment, studying its glowing facets through narrowed eyes.

*

A couple million for a gemstone. Private collectors across the world are all dying for a shot at this stone. For someone like Domino, it appeared out of nowhere and took the job market by storm. It's one of those very special times where she could make some calls and shop around for the best deal. Yet, for as much energy and excitement that this stone has been generating, the winning bid goes counter to the norm with her.

The job specified no civilian casualties.

So far she blends in about as well as a New York Goth can, which is slightly more tricky, given this crowd. Her armor's hidden away beneath more formal pants and shirt, her relatively small amount of gear (what could pass through any security at the doors) likewise tucked well out of sight. She's even opted for some color in the cosmetic department, partially to cover up the pale hues and the black eyepatch. It's a play against the odds that she can see this job done quickly enough that there won't be any direct competition along the way, as she's hardly the only one that had responded to the call. Today, discretion plays a more significant role.

The fact that the gem continues to glow on its own rather makes her wish she had brought along some lead-lined gloves, however.

"Almost as if it had something to say," she quietly remarks.

*

"Hi, Clark," Allison says in a friendly way, but the disappointment in her eyes makes things clear. Despite being interested by Clark's writing style, the real McCoy leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, he's muscular looking, and she likes that. But the glasses, the mussy-everywhere-hair, and the terrible choice in clothing. Well, Allison looks for a way to get out.

"Hi Allison," Clark says with a smile and a hand that reaches out to shake hers. "It's nice to finally meet you. Would you like to head in?"

"Actually, Clark, I need to hit the restroom and freshen up a bit. I'll meet you in there?"

Clark shrugs his shoulders, and nods, "Yeah, that would work."

As Clark heads into the exhibit, Allison heads for the restroom…and for the door that leaves the building at the end of that hallway.

Inside the exhibit room, the man in black is making his move. His large hand reaches back, not far from Dana and Domino, and smashes through the glass in one fell swoop.

Alarm bells begin to go crazy as the security team reacts quickly. The large man reaches out to grab the gem as the room descends into chaos.

*

As the man first lunges forward, glass shattering, Dana backs up swiftly away from the case itself. That said, she crouches down only a few feet away, laying her palm flat upon the floor. Presently, more or less as the man is reaching for the gem, a faintly glowing magenta shield encases the case, acting as a far more formidable barrier than the glass would be. The real question is wether her magic is quicker than his reflexes, or if she's just a second too slow.

*

(Well, so much for being first.)

Everything's a game of chance. Domino lost dibs, but she's not out of this contract yet. The guy taking the lead in this heist is large, careless, and doesn't seem to care if he draws attention to himself or not. Security's already scrambling to intercept, and there's a woman off to Dom's side that's acting in a peculiar fashion…

It's not her fight. She's only got eyes for the prize. Let the big ol' brute draw the heat and attention, the instant that gem leaves everyone else's notice… All she need do is get herself into the right position, which is two thirds planning and one third pure luck.

While she's at it, any sort of weaponry those guards happen to carry is taken into consideration. Just in case. They probably won't notice a thing or two missing, if it comes down to it.

*

Atlas' hand reaches around the gem just as Rune's shield comes up to protect it. The shield curls around his upper arm, trapping it in place and preventing him from moving. He stands there for a moment, struggling. His large muscles seem to ripple underneath his clothing.

The glowing rock seems to glow even brighter, and the veins of the large man begins to glow as well.

From in the hallway, Clark can hear the commotion and while the sea of people begin to flow one way, he's running the other, aiming to help, despite his lack of powers.

"Graaagghghhhh!" Atlas screams as the power of the alien gem infuses its energy within his body. In a sweep of his arm he smashes through the shield Rune has created and the jacket he was wearing, along with the pants and boots tear away as his muscles and body grow nearly fifty percent bigger.

*

The backlash as the behemoth tears his way out of the shield is enough to knock Dana flat on her ass. Literally. She falls backward, crying out briefly as a hand rises swiftly to her head in reaction to the pain of the backlash that lances through her temples and into the center of her brain. Halfway between her and the man, a large white dog with red-stained ears and muzzle appears, ears flattened back, a growl curling on its wolfish muzzle. The hound is enormous, easily waist-height on a human being and built like a tank.
Preternaturally fast and supernaturally strong, the canine is one of the cwn annwn, fae hellhounds known to populate the hunting back that precedes the Wild Hunt. Not that most, if anyone there, would know it. Regardless, there are few creatures that can stand against it when it is in its full power. And the hound, it seems, has taken exception, or certainly a hostile interest, in the muscle-bound brute.

*

(Okay, that wasn't expected.)

When necessity calls for it… Dom's willing to take a chance that this muscle-bound guy doesn't count as a 'civilian.' As another guard comes rushing past she neatly turns and reaches out, slipping the 9mm service pistol from his belt with one hand and a collapsible baton with the other.

Easy!

But are they going to be enough? Clearly this big guy needs to be separated from the gem. Blunt force trauma tends to do wonders for that sort of motivation.

One flick of the wrist extends the baton before it whips through the air toward the crook of Atlas's elbow, the full force of the swing concentrated upon one solid steel knob at the end of the baton. Hopefully he's not going to get any bigger, already she's feeling uncomfortably close to the man's striking range. It also puts her uncomfortably close to a large white dog that seems to have it in mind to mutilate the guy..!

*

As a diversion, Atlas slings the stand that until recently held the gem. The large metal object soars towards the Fae Hound with its massive weight. But Atlas doesn't wait around to see. Instead, he jumps straight upwards, crashing through the ceiling and leaping up to the next floor above.

Outside the room now, Clark sees the giant man leap upwards and looks to his right. Stairwell.

Clark races towards it, pulling himself faster and faster up the staircase and into a large exhibit room showing fashion trends from the 1930s. By the time that Clark gets up there, one of the security men has tracked Atlas down.

"Freeze!" he exclaims, gun drawn and pointed at Atlas. "Drop the stolen property and put your hands behind your back?"

"Stolen? Is that some form of joke?" Atlas sneers. "This gem belongs to me, given as a gift. I'm its rightful owner! A thief's ruse does not transfer ownership, " Atlas looks around incredulously, "does not transfer ownership to some storehouse of goods. It is mine and I shall not drop it." Atlas takes a few steps towards the security guard and reaches back.

From the other angle, the gun within the guard's hand shakes uncontrollably.

BANG!

The bullet ricochets off Atlas skin just as the brute brings his hand towards the security guard's face.

WHOOOOOOSH!

Before, Clark was at the edge of the room, but somehow he shows up just in front of the guard to take the punch. His glasses go flying as the punch gives lift to the guy from Kansas and sends him crashing into a wall.

*

The hound is fast enough that the hurled metal case misses him, though perhaps not by much. He leaps forward even as Atlas leaps up, and his body twists as he tries to snap at him. It is the tradition of the Wild Hunt to ride the night winds, however. Thus, the hound is quick to bounce from ground to display cases and higher in his quest to follow his escaping prey.

Dana rolls to her feet, looking around swiftly to get a better lay of the land. Shadows flicker all over the place in her vision — unsurprising in a museum. She shoves the camera down into her back and starts running toward the exit. Hardly alone in that movement, of course, she, however, disappears through the door… quite literally. Most people pass through from one room to another. She, on the other hand, flickers away into twilight and shadow as she crosses the threshold.

As Clark crashes into a wall, Rune, in her armoured form, steps through another doorway, for all that the portal itself is closed and locked. All that matters is the threshold, not the physical barrier. She glances to the collapsed reporter and her brows rise. "Kent?"

Great…

The hound juxtaposes itself between Atlas and the guard, leaping for the behemoth out of the hole the man himself made, while the witch begins an incantation to surround the thief with an illusion so real he can feel it physically impact him. A cadre of well-armoured warriors in an archaic flicker into existence to encircle the man and strike at him while the hound aims for his throat.

*

Missed..! Though, considering that it's the -dog- getting the stand thrown its way and not Domino, there are worse things than missing her target. The only problem is that Atlas then leaps up through the ceiling, leaving her down below and staring up at the newly created hole in complete surprise. "Well crap." To the downed woman, the one with powers, she quickly glances and asks "Got anything strong..er..?" in time to watch Rune make a run for the door. SO much for that!

Big guys aren't generally subtle. She tries to plot out where he's running to up there, following the sound of the other guard yelling out orders. It's a rough estimate at best and she really doesn't have the right weapon for the job, but..one never knows until they try. Up comes the 9mm pistol, rapidly snapping shots up into the ceiling in the hopes that she'll catch Atlas in a foot or leg. Or better. She can always hope for better. Right now she's just hoping that she doesn't lose her mark!

*

The 9mm shot from Domino strikes Atlas in the foot, and while it doesn't puncture the skin, it's enough to get his attention. He looks down at Domino and snears, just as the Hound smacks into him and knocks him to the floor.

"Dana?" Clark asks as his broken glasses fall off his face, revealing someone vaguely familiar and far different. Clark gets up to his feet, his back to Rune now as a battle starts between Atlas and the magical warriors and hound.

Atlas wrestles around with the Hound and the former tries to use the hound to block the spear strikes from the oncoming warriors.

*

The hound is unaffected by the spears… mainly because it is largely ignorant of them, aware of the illusion only insofar as its aware of any source of magic. And Rune's magic is intimately familiar to him.

Still, an illusion is nothing without its internal reality. Thus, the spears appear more to deflect off the hound's skin, much as the bullet bounces off of Atlas' skin, than to simply enter without bloodying him. Thus, the canine snaps and twists and claws at the big man, though he's largely unable to get purchase as the man defends himself. Still, he's not willing to back off.

Concentrating on the illusion as she must, Dana can't spare Clark an extra word, or even much of an extra look, though her observant mind has probably filed the vague familiarity away for later review. Shadows gather around her as she fights the man with light and sound, tiles buckling as she rips the concrete floor beneath the subflooring on this level through to weave a net of liquid stone that hardens swiftly in an effort to trap the man and separate him from his jewel.

As luck might have it, a now-bared iron spar shifts, tilting through the hole in the roof as the concrete around it releases it… which might give Domino an unexpected leg up if she's quick, clever, and daring enough to take advantage of it.

*

Not..too effective, this pistol is. It does what she needs it to do for the moment, all the same. Domino winces slightly as the dog comes plowing into Atlas. That should keep him occupied for a moment.

Great, and those two know each other! There's another free distraction the merc can work with, which means she's got time to play catch-up. That the floor is now getting ripped apart all around her is another great reason to get moving, though before she can make a run for the door that Dana had passed through a moment ago (which may not even lead to the stairs…)

The gun's virtually useless. It's first to go, freeing up one of her hands as she blitzes for the shifting debris. It's a narrow window. It's risky. It's unexpected.

It's perfect.

A moment later and the other woman's rolling across the floor, joining the other three with baton in hand. Now where the heck is that gem hiding?

*

Clark looks to Dana, and although there time together in North Dakota wouldn't reveal him to be reckless, he certainly acts as if he is. Instead of protecting himself, Clark throws himself into the fight between the Hound and Atlas.

As the pair of beings, one magically based, one alien based, roll around on the floor, Atlas reaches back in an attempt to deliver a kill shot to the side of the FaeDog's head.

Usually Atlas wears the gem around his neck, but with no such strap he has to hold it in his hands. His large hand comes at the hound with the large gem being held inside it. As it's about to strike, a hard headed Kryptonian gets his own head in the way and there's a mighty crash of sound as all three: The Hound, Atlas, and Clark all scatter from each other in equal measure amongst a large flash of extra-terrestrial light!

Where is that gem hiding?

It slides along the floor, and ends up right at Domino's feet.

*

The hound's body twists and he yelps as he careens into a wall. The illusions around the man drop as the light blinds Rune for precious seconds. The gem skitters across the floor, but the witch hardly cares about it. "Rex!" Really, the hound attacked Atlas purely in reaction to the pain Rune experienced when he shattered her shield. It takes an awful lot to shatter her shield, after all. And now, amidst the chaos and the damage she and the alien-powered man have managed to wreak, she seriously considers a tactical retreat.

As the dog regains its feet, however, and shakes itself out, the sidhe woman darts toward Clark, instead. She knows, after all, what it takes to survive a blow like that — Rex just did, and she knows what sort of physical punishment the dog can take. And, as much as she wants out of this fight, she's made at least friendly acquaintance with the suicidal reporter. She needs to see he's okay.

*

This sort of melee is exactly the sort of thing that Dom needs to not get caught up in the middle of. Even armored she's just not built to handle the sort of force that's being thrown around. Similarly, she would have assumed and said the same thing for poor Clark as he throws himself into the middle of the mess. "Watch out!"

When the three go scattering into different directions she winces once more.

When the gem parks itself at her feet she's suddenly uncertain of what to do. Sure, Atlas seems to have had some sort of affinity to the stone. What happens if someone else tries to retrieve it?

One doesn't know until they try.

If simply to keep it away from Atlas, she reaches down for it. Logical thinking aside, the call of over six million dollars cannot be ignored.

*

As Rune rushes over, she'll find Clark living, but knocked completely unconscious. A check of his head will show no outward signs of damage whatsoever, but that face that she thought she recognized. Well it's far more recognizable now. She surely remembers it. The entire world probably knows it.

Meanwhile, as Domino reaches down, her fingers curl around the gem. Instead of it taking over her body however, there is no pulse of energy. No growing to unbelievable sizes. Instead, the glow of the gem goes dark.

*

Rune's eyes widen as she registers the face. And then her brows beetle. Glasses? He can disguise himself with a pair of glasses and an awkward demeanor? Really?

Well. Everyone has their own form of personal glamour, she must admit.

Still, with the man unconscious and the gem in hands of the patch-eyed albino, there is something the witch can do to resolve this situation. She lays her hands down on the buckled floor and wills her magic back into the stone, twisting up into a cage around the thief's depowering form. Rex, his head low and teeth still bared, slowly stalks toward the cage, playing an effective guard dog.

From the corner of her eye, Rune warily watches Domino make the decision to stay or go.

*

Game point! … (Huh.) The loss of whatever had caused the gem to glow might prove to be something of a setback. The glow was probably part of its collector appeal. Well..! No one told Dom about that part. She still got what she came for. She's mostly certain that no one got killed, except maybe Clark over there, which was so completely not her doing. This is her cue to leave, without question.

Except that the woman with the oversized mutt is watching her.

Is her friend there going to be okay? Is the dog going to maul the merc if she tries to leave? Is the museum itself going to crawl out of the ground and close in around her? The odds are considered, then the decision is made.

She salutes the other woman with a smirk, tosses the baton aside, then makes to leave the place.

*

The shockwave of the punch apparently knocked Atlas out too, plus the massive loss of energy he suffered after losing the gem. His body, perhaps too slowly for the eye to notice, is decreasing in mass and though he's naturally physically strong, he's no longer superpowered. Much like Clark, he's out cold, and therefore easily ensnared.

*

With Rex standing guard over the thief, Rune rises and looks at the albino as the other woman starts to retreat. She extends a hand, whispering out a soft spell. It won't stop the woman. It'll merely tag her so the witch can find her — and the gem — later. Because, at the end of the day… Dana is a reluctant hero at best. And, really…

The world needs Superman more.

It's not like the abino's going to get her full fee for a lifeless bit of glass rock, after all. So, The witch kneels back down on one knee and roots through the satchel on her hip. Presently, she pulls out an ornate, flat, rowan wood box, from which she subsequently pulls a phial filled with a translucent pink fluid. She positions herself to allow Clark's prone form to sit up easier, and pours the liquid into his mouth. As it trickles down his throat, he should actually start feeling considerably better…

Healing potions are good like that.

*

Covering up her peculiar skintone and features with cosmetics probably won't fool magic, but it will fool the other witnesses, and the security cameras. Domino prepared for what she could. Darned magic users… What she sees right now is that no one is stopping her, so into a pocket the gem goes.

She's -outta here.-

*

And once Domino's hand comes off the gem, it ones gain begins to glow, even as it dips down into the pocket as she makes her dash.

Meanwhile, Clark takes a couple of deep breaths after the potion is taken in. His eyes flicker open and it takes a second or two to right himself. His eyes make contact with Dana's and for a moment there's reognition. A hand comes up to his face. Nope. No glasses.

"Dana?"

*

The albino flees, the sense of Rune's mark travelling with her. The witch looks down at the Kryptonian and gives a wry smile. "Rune," she replies to the blue-eyed man. "And, I'll keep your secret, if you keep mine."

It's the best she can do.

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