X-Men: 1, Danger Room: 0

June 05, 2018:

Jean, Nate and Dani run through a daily DR session. All three are for sure convinced Scott programmed the session :)

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Scott Summers

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Summer vacation is here.

While the school has emptied to some degree there are still those around that live here full time. Both student and faculty and also X-Men.

As such, the X-Men's training regime never lessens. Especially with the oddities that have cropped up in the past few months and years. Demon Bear, Genosha and the Terrigen Mists to name just a few.

Because of that training sessions are typically a weekly occurrence, whether all members can make it or not. One member in particular, Dani, is more often missing than naught. SHIELD and the various magical problems of the world have taken her away from the more mutant and mundane. Today, however, is different. Today Dani is here and present and currently on the ground with something that looks like a dog, but isn't. It's relatively wolf-shaped, albeit larger and instead of a regular fuzzy-tail, it has a scorpion tail. A flash of silvery-scale is likewise seen beneath the pitch black fur and for this particular moment, the Cheyenne woman has her bow up blocking both the sharp teeth of the canine and the poisoned tail. "Any day now would be good with me!"

That any day now is for Nate and Jean, the two more-fully developed psions in the room. The trio finds themselves in a very plain room. Really a silver cube. The floor, ceilings and walls are devoid of any overt ornamentation and really it'll take feeling around with both telekinetic and telepathic powers to get a sense that something exists on the other side of one particular wall. Behind the wall is an intricate locking mechanism.

And while there's only one insectoid canine within the room that doesn't last long, as two separate shadows separate themselves from the main dog. Those shadows shiver before they begin to grow legs, a tail and a tooth-filled maw.


Nate rarely refuses the chance to practice his skills in the Danger Room, although he treats most sessions like a game, much to the annoyance of some. His own programs tend to be unimaginative meatgrinders where winning is actually impossible.

After all they say one learns more from losing than from winning, and the DR is safe for losing, right? Most people hate his programs. Sore losers.

"I think I know this one," he comments at seeing the setup. "It is the spaceship, yeah? No blowing up walls or we get sucked into the void." It also limits the destructive telekinetic mayheim Jean and himself can unleash (unfair!). "And those… doggie things? Can you control them, Dani, or do we kill them?"


Jean has not been keeping up on the training regimens herself, if truth be told, though she remains a standing active member of the X-Men. Summer vacation at the Institute does not lessen her particular workload; in fact, for her it tends to increase, as she sees to the administration of the academic side of the Institute. There are curricula to be adjusted, summer classes to be taught, teachers to be coached, and troubled children with nowhere else to go but the school to be seen to.

Nonetheless, perhaps just to mitigate the reproachful eye of Scott Summers, unyielding drill instructor — or for other reasons, ones which Jean would certainly not discuss aloud — she does get herself down to the training sessions on occasion. The current political climate and recent attacks may be spurring Jean's feelings of responsibility as well. She needs to be prepared… though she frames it less as a need to fight back, and more as a need to be ready to save.

Having mastered blunt force power a long time ago, these days Jean likes to work on her fine control more often, which is why she is currently engaged in a fine telekinetic examination of the lock she can sense behind the one wall. Her restraint might also have to do with the 'no blowing up walls' thing Nate mentions.

"She may wish to be a little farther away from its teeth, regardless of whether she means to control or kill it," Jean comments mildly to her 'son,' her eyes flickering with a vague ember-light as she amps her powers to engage a careful manipulation of the lock's mechanisms. "But I think between the two of you, you can handle it as I undo this lock."

A pause. "At least, I think we're supposed to undo it. Though it will likely continue to spawn things as it's undone. You know, I'm pretty sure Scott wrote this one — "


"Kill them! Definitely kill them!" Dani says, voice raising upward with the effort she has to put into place to keep some 'distance' between her and those teeth.

"They don't like me." She adds and with a twist and a buck, the wolf that tackled her is sent flying.

It arcs through the air and slams against a nearby wall (not the one Jean is at) and lands back upon the floor, upright and still quite conscious. A low growl emits from its throats, even as its 'siblings' finally coalesce into full furry-scaled beings. The two turn their gazes to Jean and Nate respectively. As possibly expected one scorpion dog launches itself toward Jean's back and another at Nate. Both intend to rip and rend should their teeth get close enough.

And even as the trio of dogs try to eviscerate the trio within the metallic cube, Jean studiously works on the locking mechanism hidden behind the walls. Tumblers move and for the red-head she might hear the faintest echo of those heavy mechanical parts move.

Click - click - click - clank.

All those clicks are good things as the locking mechanism falls into place, but that last clank - that's where it all goes wrong.

The walls and floors shiver, the ceiling too and with the softest of hums portions of the ceilings retract and from those dark recesses incredibly sharp and large axes drop from above. There's four in total and each swing from hidden hinges above. Two swing towards Nate while the third swings for Jean and the fourth swings randomly within the room itself. Back and forth.

Try again, Jean.

Shame on Scott for creating such a terrible program. We all know it was him.


"Okay, but I need a rolled up newspaper," states Nate deadpan. Well, not really, as scorpdogs 2 and 3 materialize he jumps to intercept the one going for Jean's back in a telekinetic-aided flying kick move out of a Matrix movie. The kick should send the critter flying to crash on Dani's scorpdog. Maybe. Nate never got very good at soccer despite Roberto's attempts to teach him years ago.

Still not taking it seriously, because they are just a few 'doggies'. So the fall of the giant axes takes him by surprise. He swears loudly, twisting his body out of the way and trying to protect himself with a psychic shield. Said shield saves him from a crippling injury, but the swinging axe still sends him flying against a wall. Thud. More swearing follows, which at least means he is not unconscious.


Click, click, click. All good. Jean's head tilts slightly, red hair spilling over a shoulder, and her eyes flare a little brighter on the last manipulation, like coals glowing back to life in a banked fire.

Clank.

"Oh f — "

Jean is spared from saying something rather un-Jeanlike by the urgent need to move. Nate handles the wolf-creature going for her back, and she spins to fling a telekinetic pulse over his shoulder to blast away the creature leaping for him. Launching into the air with a telekinetic push, she vaults over the axe aimed at her face, and comes to a hanging halt in the air, above the arcs of the axeblades. Her right hand splays out, an unconscious gesture of focus as she aims to telekinetically shear through the handle of the remaining axe on a crash course for Nate.

"Language, Nate," Jean chides, maybe a little hypocritically given earlier. Her attention returns to the lock, her senses grappling with it in an effort to correct her earlier error. Despite herself, she's enjoying the adrenaline after weeks of being shut up with paperwork, allowing a rare moment of mischievousness out of the woman. "If you're still bored, I can mess up again!"


"I'm going to get a rolled up newspaper in a minute -" Mutters Dani as she levers herself up off the floor. The bits of drool that fell from the dog's mouth to her arm and bow are shaken off. A look of disgust begins to form upon her features, but before that expression can fully form upon her features that ceiling opens. "Really!" States Dani and then she moves -

'We should totally run SHIELD agents through this.' Idly thinks the woman as she strives to keep away from dogs and swinging axeblades.

And while Dani's trajectory leads away from Nate, when the young man finds himself faceplanted into the wall, Dani changes course. When close enough she reaches to grab whatever is closest to help yank him to his feet. "Wouldn't recommend napping at this point."

Thankfully Jean and her telekinetics are there and with that TK blast one axeblade finds itself dropping to the floor with a loud kerthunk. The blade itself sinks several inches into the floor thanks to the weight of that weapon and the sharpness of its edge.

Three continue to swing.

As for Jean's rather blase statement about boredom, Dani can only yell, "NO! Do not listen to Nate. His definition of boredom doesn't correlate with the real world. I myself like being bored."

The three dogs continue to move, as does the remaining axes, and as the dogs scurry and scamper toward the two ground-based combatants, Jean once again reaches for the locks.

Click - click - click - - - click.

Success!

With that success the dogs, the axes and one wall disappear into the ether. With one wall disappearing the trio can see another room. Equally blank. Possibly foreboding and an intense wave of heat rolls outward to the group.


"I am not bored," protests Nate. "I was just expressing my opinion about getting hit by giant axes… and don't break them." Several inches into the floor, damn. "Vacuum, remember?" Jean's anti-swearing ways make him grunt. Those just happens in real battle situations, so it is silly to try to protect the ears of… Dani? She is a SHIELD agent.

Nate smirks at imagining Nick Fury going 'language, agents' in the middle of a battle. "Everybody is a critic," he decides. And "I'm fine" to Dani, rising quickly. He reaches telekinetically for the axe heading to him, only to find it vanishing. "Okay, nice work with the lock," he admits grudgingly.


I am not bored, Nate argues. Jean's brows lift in a wordless 'oh really?' She knows what it looks like when someone doesn't take things seriously.

As for the swearing? "It's the principle of the matter," Jean says, rather primly. "To ingrain a good habit, you need to practice it at all times." …There's reasons Scott and Jean hang out, they party poop in such similar ways.

Not that either of them is immune to being exciting, when they choose to be. There's a bit of adrenaline junkie hidden deep down in both, and Jean is feeling the edge. This might account for the rather blase way she drifts off through the air, as Nate expresses his various opinions on her handling of the axe… and the lock… and the vacuum outside the 'room' around them.

"You're welcome," is her playful response to it all, as she touches down beside Dani. Who says that she likes being bored, herself. Jean smiles. "A wise stance," she says, even as she turns towards the next room and its wash of intense, burning heat.

Jean goes a little quiet. Her eyes flicker with memory. As if drawn, she starts forward, though she does have the sense at least to turn her hand slightly, fingers moving to weave an invisible telekinetic shield before them all.


'Not bored'. That earns quite a bit of side-eye from Dani, though amusement lurks within the brown depths of her eyes. It's only as Jean drops down next to her that Dani's gaze shifts to the red-head. The mention of the wiseness of her stance prompts a grin from the Cheyenne, "I've learned a thing or two in my time here and with SHIELD. Don't invite danger if you don't have to, and really, the School itself is a magnet so why compound it?"

Mostly that question is rhetorical, especially as the wall reveals the room beyond. The wave of heat brings forth a frown from Moonstar, as she considers what could be causing that. A quip begins to form upon her lips, but Jean's movement causes those words to still.

The red-head is watched for a moment and then Dani shifts her gaze subtly to Nate.

With that look given, Dani pulls forth an arrow and loosely nocks it within her bow and steps after Jean. Best to be prepared. The telekinetic shield woven together with psionic energy lessens the amount of heat felt by the trio. It continues to batter against Jean's protection, but the group is afforded a reprieve. "I suppose it's too much of a hope that there's another lock to be opened here?" Comes her question, even as she steps into the room. "Because there sure isn't any doors."

And truly, once all three are within the scorched earth room the wall that disappeared reappears again. Quite solid and metallic.

With each step the room stays silent, still, perhaps lulling other less observant people into feeling safe. It continues in the vein up until the three are midway into the room. Once Jean's foot hits midway across the floor danger strikes again -

With no forewarning, not even a single vibration, the floor beneath their feet disappears. It's literally within a blink of an eye, or the exhalation of a breath. What was once solid is now no longer there and below lava moves sluggishly the vibrancy of orange and reds dimmed only by smaller patches of crusted over 'cooler' spots.

Cooler being relative here.

For Dani there's a moment of shock, it allows her to widen her eyes and then she falls. Downward. There's a scream from the black-haired woman, as she now drops.


"It is just a game," reminds them Nate. Sure, it is sometimes instructive, but what chances are there they go through a set of trapped room inside a spaceship? Maybe if Arcade is involved. But Nate has never met the mad engineer-assassin.

Hot room, check. Wall reappears. Check. It means to expect a surprise… ah. When the floor vanishes, Nate grabs Dani quickly. Flying down to one of the ‘cooler’ patches. "I guess we are supposed to stand there or would it still be too hot?" He asks to the women. "Lava in a spaceship. And some people have the gall to complain about my setups here."

Well, and part of the 'fun' of the DR is complaining about the unfairness of the scenarios.


Dani's shared wisdom draws Jean's eyes, the green of them wistful. "Trouble finds us all readily enough without us inviting it," she agrees, a certain weight of personal experience to her words.

Related to that, the heat of the next room is distracting her visibly, memory burning under her lashes as she proceeds cautiously with that shield held out before them. The lack of stimuli does imply a trap, as Nate mentions, though when it springs Jean's still surprised enough that she tumbles a few feet before she can right herself in the air, stopping with a flare of her red hair in the superheated air.

"Heat," Jean says lowly, amused. The telekinetic energy keeping her aloft runs briefly with red, licking her outline in a passing display of psionic flame, as she curls her fingers to wrap the shield into more of a bubble around them. "That's cute."

She examines the cooler patches, drifting closer, though there is a point at which even she has to stop. "Still too hot," she observes, drifting back upwards again. "We'll have to keep Danielle aloft until we find the trick for this room." Her senses are already searching, feeling through the construction of this particular area.


Saved by Nate. This is good. Dani didn't really want to fall into lava, fake or not. There's a look of thanks from Dani, even as she adds, "Nice catch." And while it disgruntles her a touch, that Jean and Nate will have to hold her aloft, the woman doesn't voice those feelings. Instead, she allows, "So, I'm fairly certain the endgame of each room is just not to die. Sure it says to figure out the puzzle, but that's a lie. It's just about survival."

"And it may be just a 'game' Nate, but it's still good practice. I'm pretty sure no one anticipated fighting a shadow bear not too long ago." The last said in a rather grim-matter-of-fact tone.

Thoughts of the Bear aren't dwelled upon for too long by Dani, as Jean and Nate both speak up. Their words cause Dani to look below at the lava, but the waves of heat are quite palatable as the 'ground' shimmers with the ferocity of it. "Up then?" She asks, brown-eyes lifting upward to look at the smooth surfaced ceiling, "Through a wall perhaps?" She suggest, even with Nate's earlier words of warning.

But no, as Jean stretches her senses outward the vaguest flare of something deep within the lava can be felt. It's metallic, and heavy, so very heavy and it stretches nearly the full length of the floor.

And while the trio considers next steps the room likewise does as well!

The passivity of the room is no more, as lashes of lava stretch upward and snap toward Nate, Dani and Jean. The heat is a precursor of that strike, searing hot as it comes close.


Nate hrms, heading up since the 'cool spots' are not cool enough. "Maybe something on the ceiling, yes," he agrees, trying to find some kind of irregularity or panel. "And yes about being able to survive in odd situations, but still…" It is too hot, too.

Oh look. Of course the lava is alive and will try to fry them. But demon bears are more normal! Nate glances down and forms a broad telekinetic shield under the trio of X-Men. "How much lava do you guess is down there? We might be able to keep it contained."


"The endgame of life is simply not to die," Jean muses, because it's always the right time for Philsophy 101. "So I suppose in a way this is a very globally relevant exercise. Though, of course, death is an inevitable part of life, so that's not quite the full picture…"

She is actually doing something productive while she talks, though — promise — her senses searching the room even as it starts to react negatively to their lack of activity. "Scott, I know this was you," Jean grumbles, mostly to herself, as she casts about. "Only you would think of — "

The lava leaps upwards at them, cutting her off, held at bay by Nate's shield. "I think it's down to you to keep it contained, Nate, regardless of how much there is," Jean says, a note of strain in her voice as she secures a telekinetic grip in the submerged item she's found and starts to PULL. "I found some kind of chain which I'm sure is connected to a release, but I'm going to need a few to pull it out — "

She breaks off, skimming a little closer to the ceiling, throwing her telekinetic strength behind a steady pull on the chain. The air around her shimmers, and not from the lava.


There might be an internal wince there by Danielle, when Jean muses about death.

Foot in mouth disease it seems, but there's a job to do!

"I'd offer to shoot it." Says Dani in a self-decrepit way, "But I'm pretty sure that would achieve nothing at this point." And so, Dani a psychic in her own right, takes a back seat for the moment.

As soon as the lash of lava connects with Nate's TK shield it immediately wraps itself around it. Searching for a way past the shield, a breach, something to allow it inside so it can incinerate those held within. Eventually more strands branch off from the main lash to encompass the shield and with perhaps surprising force, the lava squeezes. And while that initial lava strand doesn't necessarily exert earth shattering power, three more lashes leap upward at the TK shield to add their strength to the first. ntending to overwhelm Nate's telekinetic abilities with sheer force.

Jean's telekinetic pull causes a shift with the great chain below. It's enough to cause a ripple upon the lava's already turbulent surface. With each ripple the chain begins the slow inexorable pull upward, inch by inch, and as the first blackened link is revealed relief might be felt.

Soon enough the second links is revealed, then the third, and the fourth and it continues that way for a few seconds more.

As with anything in the Danger Room however, things aren't always as good as they seem for as the chain rises upward and gets closer to Jean sudden cracks and crazed lines appear upon the surface of that burnt chain. Within those fissures the bright glow of magma can be seen and once high enough those thin shiv-like strands of molten rock leap off of the chain and towards Jean.


Nate frowns as the lava becomes more aggressive, and then tenses, adding more power to his shield. His left eye begins to glow brightly. "Hold tight," he tells Dani, still keeping her in the air with an arm around her back. There is a bright flash of golden psychokinetic power. Nate's shield expands, and pushes down against the lava, the fire mixing with light.

"The endgame is always death," he grunts, "everything ends. But this stupid trapped room is not going to end us." When the chain seems to crack, he wants to swear some more. He doesn't. Why is he feels compelled to humor Jean in these weird moments. "Catch Dani, will you? I guess it is time to find out if my TK-shields are now better handling the heat than a couple years ago."

He pushes Dani to Jean and folds his power around himself into raw strength and invulnerability, diving down to grab the chain with his hands and pull it up.


The endgame is always death, and everything ends, says Nate. Some might argue with him. Jean doesn't. Like mother, like son, maybe.

"Yes," she says instead. "It is."

Cheerful company for Danielle.

The chain slowly hauls up, meantime, link by link. The lowering of the lava and the lessening of the heat seems to indicate it's the right move, but as the last few links dredge upwards… suddenly the lava animates and spears towards Jean, many spires of glowing molten rock impaling inwards. Jean is forced to drop the chain, her power redirected inwards around herself in an instant. It compresses into a personal shield, the woman briefly sheathed in invisible force that flares visibly into psionic fire, each time something impacts it.

Nate dives to take up the dropped chain, and Jean turns in the air to catch Dani, stabilizing her midair in a telekinetic field. She'd shoot it, but it'd probably achieve nothing, Danielle quips. "Never know!" Jean says cheerfully, as she splits her attention between keeping Dani aloft, and trying to resume extracting the chain. "At the very least, it'd be cathartic…"


The lava flares, up against Jean's personal shields, and likewise against Nate's own cloak of telekinetics.

For Dani, all she can do allow herself to give Nate the vague stink-eye at his cavalier 'catch'. That look doesn't last long, not with having lived long enough with telekinetics. Instead all Dani can do is hang midair, waiting to see what happens. Sure, she could shoot at the lava like Jean said but for now, Dani just flashes a quick grin at Jean. Then she quiets, as the two work in tandem to pull the chain up -

It rises upward again thanks to Nate and Jean, and even as the chain ascends and the lava lessens, those lashes of whip-like strands of molten rock continue to try and beat against mother and son. To stop their efforts. The strikes hiss and pop against the power that envelopes both and while they can't quite get a hold on either one, the force behind their strikes echo against the telekinetic barriers.

Then, as with everything, the end comes. For this particular Danger Room session it involves one last pull and heave and finally the chain is pulled taunt and with a last pull the valve beneath the lava releases with an audible thunk. When that occurs the lava disappears, along with those lava lashes, and within seconds the room reverts back to the blank cube walls.

Then those silver walls fade to the grid-like pattern the Danger Room presents in its dormant state. A computerized voice then says, "Scenario successfully completed."


It is a rather soot-covered and reddened Nate that finally manages to pull the chain out of the lava. But the room judged he is not dead, so his psychic shields have indeed improved quite a bit since he crossed over to Earth 626.

"Ow," he grunts. His hands are blistered and badly burned. But as the room illusion vanishes, they return to normal much to his relief. "Just two rooms? Not that I am complaining but… ah, the timer. That is what usually happens when we run a session at mid-day." He lands on the metal floor of the room gracelessly, more tired he would admit. Which means it was good exercise, after all. "I guess I am going to grab a beer and hit the pool now."


Mercifully, with the final thunk of the valve releasing, the scenario ends. Dropping her shields with a sigh, Jean drifts back to the plain grid-floor of the Danger Room, her hair settling back down about her shoulders. There is some minor concern for Nate's apparent injuries, but they soon enough vanish along with the rest of the high-tech scenario.

"I won't be complaining either not to be running one of those two-hour gauntlets," Jean says mildly, taking note that Nate seems tired, but calling no attention to it. "I should get back to reviewing some of the budgets for the latter half of the year." She shoots Dani a 'please kill me now' look, though it's tempered with a rueful smile. "Thrilling. I would probably rather be in the pool, myself. — Just don't let any of the children make off with the alcohol, Nate, some of them are quite crafty."

She turns and reaches to take one of Dani's hands for a brief squeeze. "But it is always good to see you back at the Institute, Danielle. SHIELD keeps you busy."


"I'm good with two rooms." Dani states to both Nate and Jean, and with a glance Nate's way she likewise agrees, "And a beer sounds good. If you don't mind some company I'll grab one with you."

Then to Jean, the Cheyenne just gives her a look of pure pity mixed with amusement, "You poor thing. I'd suggest passing them off to Scott, but I imagine our next Danger Room session would be even more cruel."

And when Jean squeezes her hand Dani likewise gives a return squeeze, "SHIELD does, but the Mansion is always 'home'. Let me know when you have a moment sometime later? I have a few things I'd like to discuss."

And then it's back to Nate, "Come on lava-boy, let's go get some beer."

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