The Beginning - Inferno

September 18, 2018:

The Herald of the Elder Gods' Arrive in Limbo. MUCH THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO MADE THIS SCENE GREAT. Special NPC Guest emitted by Pietro.

Demonic Limbo


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…


A land of burnt colors. Where flora and fauna are caustic to anything that holds a spark of life. Where the land is ruled by a chaotic version of the circle of life and death.

Monsters roam the cracked and reddened earth and overseeing it all is one singular young woman. A mutant not born within this particular realm but another, and who also calls this world (more often than not) 'home'.

And now her home is about to be besieged by things far worse than Limbo's natives. Worse than even Belasco himself.

It's Belasco's Masters. It's those god-like creatures that threaten this realm.

Which, if conquered, will then threaten Earth and those that Illyana considers hers.

Above a canyon and its gulch a wound sits high in the sky, one that was repaired weeks ago by Rachel, Kitty and Illy, and which now bulges against the bindings in place. Whatever is behind it is almost through.

For Illyana, she watches the sky, her posture portraying an overall emotion of unconcerned and uncaring, even if it's anything but. Her expression only cools when the sky above suddenly opens up -

Think of it like a pustule that pops. Sure, there's a lessening of pressure, but only because the contents that were behind it are suddenly free. Demonic figures of varying sizes, shapes and scariness can be found falling. Dropping down from the sky above and towards the canyon and Illyana below.

"By the Abyss." The Sorceress remarks to herself, her tone conversational and then she reaches out to an awaiting spell. Mental fingers snag upon it and tug the spell much like one does with a bit of frayed thread -

And with that pull Illyana's scrying crystal disappears from within her Throne Room and blinks into existence beside her. A hand is lifted up and she presses her fingertips to the faceted surface, "Find help."

Those two words shiver with the power behind her request and like a puppy chasing a ball, the spell leaps to do its Mistress' commands. A blinding array of stepping discs open around her and each portal seeks out those capable to render aid. Within the School and without. Her portals aren't partial to just friends. They seek those with all levels of power that can be used within this battle.

So, wherever people are, no matter what they're doing, they might soon find themselves being chased by a circular portal and then teleported away. The destination Limbo and more specifically right by Illyana.

And that, my friends, is how we all find ourselves within another dimension as literal Hell rains down from the skies above.


In a corner of the kitchen, Kitty has cornered Rachel. She has come prepared, of course. She has a bottle of wine and two glasses which she quickly sets down in front of the red head and quickly pours (overpours) two glasses of red wine. Having secured her friend for gossip, she is quick to extract everything that she can get without extreme measures of interrogation after their text messaging the other night.

Turning to Piotr - also in the kitchen - she quickly asks him apropos of nothing, "Piotr, don't you agree that just because our lives are messed up and full of weird stuff that doesn't mean we can't date civilians?" Her wine glass has been emptied and refilled in this time and her cheeks are little bit redder from the alcohol. "You'd date someone who had no idea about what we do, right?"

Then turning back to Rachel she smiles and reaches out a hand to grab hers. "Just do what makes you happy. That's all. I don't want you to just talk yourself out of something because you think you don't deserve it. You do. You deserve all the things. Because you're awesome."

And then as she reaches out for Rachel and offers that a stepping disc appears below them. Kitty has only half a second to realize what is going on before she narrows her eyes. They talked to Illyana about this very thing! The least she can do is send a text!

And then, she's dropped off. Luckily, this time she remains standing, looking about her with alarm at the sky and she turns to Illyana with first an annoyed and then surprised look on her face. "What happened?

Mid bite of his Dagwood-esque sandwich Piotr stops and turns to face Kitty and Rachel. He furrows his brow at the posed question, trying to parse the double negative appropriately, with some apparent strain on his face. He finally, cautiously answering.

"I have. It … did not go well. But that would not stop me from trying again. I agree with Katya."

Any awkwardness in encouraging Rachel to date someone else has long since passed between the two of them after their very brief and very tepid foray into coupledom. With that situation navigated to his apparent self satisfaction, Piotr turns his attention back to the sandwich. The stepping disk's appearance causes a short Russian exclamation akin to 'darn' to escape his lips as he grabs in vain for the beer on the counter, only to have it slip through his grasp.
Arriving in Limbo, Piotr's exclaims again. This time with more seriousness. He takes one last bite of his sandwich before sadly discarding it on the ground. He will probably need both hands for punching it would seem.

Bishop had been working through a training module of his own design, heavily armed and taking out dummies on an NYPD training course. He only took out one innocent during this run-through, which seemed mostly acceptable by his count, but he knew some people might get a little hinky about it. Just means he needed to get sharper.

And then the world changes and he's somewhere else and far from alone, his tactical gear jingling a bit as he starts to rotate his submachine gun around, sighting down it with his tattooed eye. "Status report?" he calls out, to no one in particular. Someone should know what the hell is going on.

This is the price that Rachel has to pay for asking Kitty for peer review on her romance choices. As far as prices go, getting tipsy and putting a theatrical spin on every little detail of her evening is a consequence that she can live with. It's nice to run into those every once in a while.

"I feel a little strange about calling them civilians," says Rachel, topping off her glass. "I know we've been doing it for years but, well, she's ex-military and it got me thinking about the militarization of metahumans —"

Rachel forces herself to start drinking to shut herself up because she's about to get onto a political tangent. When Kitty grabs her free hand, Rachel finishes her gulp, puts her glass aside, and gives the other woman one of her patented oh-no-Rachel-is-feeling-confident smiles.

"Of course I'm awesome, Kit. I was just afraid that I was too awesome."

No one gets a chance to call shenanigans on that because a stepping disc shows up to swallow them whole for the third time this season.

"No, no, no, no, YANA!"

Rachel tumbles out of a stepping disc, landing in a jumble of limbs that fortunately allows her to easily roll onto her knees. She is, as always, ill dressed for Limbo in one of her dresses for lounging around the mansion. Only Rachel would have lounging dresses with a neckline like that.

"Please just use your phone —"

The thrumming of the portal fades. Rachel looks upon the demonic abyss, which is currently the very demonic abyss. Her eyes widen. For once, she looks ungainly as she staggers to her feet.

"How do we stop this," she says, her voice flattened of rhythm despite the tension threatening to break through.

Rachel already knows this is bad.

Nate was at Rogue's apartment. He had sushi. The day was improving.

Actually he wanted burgers, but due to a torched car, a couple thugs and Lorna tossing one of said thugs through a restaurant window. Well… no more burgers.

To be honest the sushi looked really good, and came in quantity, and even if it was paid by Magneto (long story!), well, food is food. And just starting… here comes the circular portal of light. "Not before lunch," mutters Nate in a long-suffering tone.

But he doesn't try to dodge or fly away. If Illyana needs him, he will come. He promised long ago. Well, not so long ago, but they were teens, so it feels like a million years.

And it might not have been in this particular continuum either. But who cares about those minute details?

Even as the disk dumps him, Nate's clothes are shifting into the armored outfit. Because Limbo. Rarely a good place to look weak. "Illy… and friends," he greets, frowning. "What is going on? Oh…" The sky is broken and it is raining monsters. It is going to be one of those days, after all.

Now that you know what it feels like when reality rips I'd advise keeping an eye out for it. The veil that separates worlds has grown thin and weak. What you saw here is only the beginning.

These are the words that have been ringing in Billy Kaplan's thoughts the past few weeks.

Not the least of which because they're words he never thought he'd ever hear in that particular kind of combination, like, ever.

It's the advice the mysterious Magik imparted on him before leaving on her equally mysterious way, abandoning him to a host of questions and a city block filled with demon gunk (also maybe the only thing helpful she told him at all but he's not bitter about that, not at all). Because Billy is who he is, he's spent the better part of the following days chewing over those words, fretting over them, and proactively trying to do something about them — in ways both advisable and not.

The first burst of proactivity came when he decided to come to Stark Tower to warn Tony Stark and maybe figure out a game plan, because for however reckless Tony was, Billy still looked up to him, and knew he could count on him for guidance. Tony still cared, when no one else did. Tony had heart.

Which Billy soon subsequently found out was ripped out by the Maximoffs.

That was his advisable bit of proactivity. Now… stewing over a wealth of conflicting emotions, not the least of which being confusion and anger over a pair of twins who still actively haunt him in dreams of memories not his own —

— now, Billy decides to be proactive in the ill-advised way.

Now he knows what it feels like when reality rips. Now he knows what it feels like when veils thin. Now he knows, definitively, there are other worlds that can pour into this one.

"… Okay. Okay. I can do this. Just deep, steadying breaths…"

Now, he's pretty sure he can reach them.

"… and focus."

He sits on his bed in the Kaplan household, legs crossed, wearing a red hoodie and dark jeans. Sitting on the bed is a bit of a misnomer — it's more like 'floating a foot or two over it.' Cerulean swims around his figure like little rivers twining themselves around the world. His eyes shut. He believes he can do this. All he has to do is say the words.

"All possible worlds"

When his eyes crack open again, it is to a panorama of panels, all opening up like windows that were always there just waiting to be tugged open. And there's so many of them. Too many. His glowing eyes widen as they begin to clot out sight of his room; until they deafen him to the real world; until they make him insensate to anything except the deep unending ocean of probability that he has opened himself up to as every world that borders this one stacks on top of his perceptions one by one by one like a deck of cards and how easily it could all come tumbling down, is existence really this precarious—

"n-no" he whispers. He's made a mistake. He tries his best to filter out. He latches on to the first wane sensation he feels out amongst the cards. Lured by the magical tug of a spell weaved from there at that exact moment.

"There. I want to go to there-!"

And with a flash, Billy Kaplan disappears from the world as he knows it.


Within the burning crackle of Limbo's skies, the slice of bright sapphire blue that cuts through is almost deeply discordant. Seconds later, the cerulean scar that doesn't belong disgorges a Wiccan who also does not belong (and is also not a wiccan), tumbling through the air head over heels in his full, cosmic regalia subconsciously ensconcing him like battle armor. He stops, just in time to see the bulging pimple on this slice of existence pop into a pus consisting of pure, clawing insanity. And there Billy floats, watching with wide eyes as a hail of Hell falls down on another Hell.

When he had serious doubts Hell even existed to begin with.

"What — how —"

Deep in the sick, churning depths of Billy's guts, there is not a lot about this moment he necessarily understands right now. He's a quick study, and he'll pick it up. But right now, he does know this:

"I-I've made a huge mistake!"

And that's as good a cornerstone as any.

Kitty's question earns an answer, "The band-aid broke." And with those words Illyana extends a hand toward the brown-haired woman. A sheathed katana sits in her hand and is offered to Kitty. "Better take this. It's dangerous to go without it."

There might be a small smile upon her features and should Kitty take the sword she might feel a barely contained energy emanating from it. This is more than your every-day katana it seems.

Piotr's arrival and then Rachel brings the blonde's eyes over to her brother and friend. "Brother, Rachel."

And then Bishop and Nate, and when Bishop calls for a sitrep the Demoness can't help the wry twist to her mouth. "Hell has opened and now we get to fight it.

Her gaze turns to Nate for a moment, "Oh, yes, that's a pretty accurate response."

Back to Rachel, Illyana pushes a small spell outward to help with her attire, pulling forth something appropriate for the red-head for battle and Limbo. Then Rachel's question is likewise addressed, "I can't stitch it up again, the spot is took weak. If you can keep them off of me long enough I can enact a few other spells to fix the problem. I just need some time."

Which they're short of, but still Illyana asks of it.

Her expression here is quite serious and for a minute after that seriousness stays on her features, up until Billy Kaplan arrives. His arrival is both felt and heard and with an expression that just screams 'seriously', Yana turns a look upward at Billy - then she sighs. "Hellfires." Mutters the woman, before she says, "HEY NOOB -" Yes, she's totally yelling that at Billy Kaplan, no matter that she knows his name, "- GET DOWN here with us, before they eat you up." A look is sent to Kitty, "And you say I never pick up any of your lingo."

While the conversation was short, that didn't stop the demons falling from the sky from reaching their destination. The flat surface of the canyon. The first wave hits with a thundering impact - BOOM BOOM BOOM - it's enough to shake the very ground and rock the group stands upon. From the depths of the dust cloud that arose tall beings start to take shape. Golems. One made of rock, another of articulated lava and a third comprised of water. Each easily reach seven to eight feet in height and they lurch forward.

Lava balls are tossed at Bishop, great spouts of water are sent toward Nate, and from the Rock Golem boulders are torn from its body and tossed at Kitty Pryde and Piotr.

And while those Golems blot out the creatures behind them, it only takes a matter of seconds for a second wave to be seen as winged creatures rise upward.

They look like extremely large bats, if bats had a zillion eyes like spiders. Two spider-eyed bats dart toward Billy Kaplan while another pair angle toward Rachel.

Kitty easily acclimates to the Limbo scene. The multiple times Illyana has called her here without warning has generally made her not immune, but acclimated to the situation. Perhaps that is why Illyana was doing it all along. Kitty gives her friend a smile and takes the katana. The energy sends a tingle through her palm and then spreads. It's like pins and needles. "Okay," is her answer. She has, certainly a lot of questions, but she also knew this might be coming and therefore the can all wait for later.

Glancing from Billy to Illyana with a grin, she adds, "Calling someone a noob is not exactly picking up my lingo." Rachel and Piotr square themselves off against the incumbent demons and she flicks the blade of her newly acquired sword upward. "Don't think we're getting out of wine discussions because of demons, Rachel," she tells her friend easily. "This just means Piotr's joining the wine club."

Looking about, she sees the array of people who are here in Limbo to assist her friend and she gives them each a nod and a smile. There might be more but then the Rock Golem tosses boulders. Without thinking, she phases and then also tosses herself to the side. The last time she phased in Limbo it did not go well for her. Best to split the difference.

The transformation from already large regular Piotr to the truly giant steel Colossus takes a mere fraction of second. The flash of energy coursing over his body moves almost instantly from head to toe. His clothes rip but manage to stay to stay somewhat together.

"Just this once I will forgive you for ripping me away from my dinner snowflake. Though you still owe me a sandwich."

Colossus doesn't wait for the golems to get any closer, he takes off at a run for the large beings. The rock chunks thrown at him are swatted at. He expects to be able to knock them away without much effort. Who knows how the physics of this place works though, but for Piotr he's so used to being able to do things like that it comes naturally.

"Wine Club?"

It's not exactly a battle cry, but it's still what escapes the bearded Russian man's lips as he clasps his arms together and leaps at the Rock Golem, hoping to bring his hands down in a hammer smash.

After only a few moments there, Bishop can begin to feel the strange resonance of the place. Dimensional shifts are energetic things and those lingering energies are fuel for Bishop's particular fire. Of course, in this case, the energies are hellborn and infernal. So, as he soaks them in, his eyes momentarily glow with a firey resonance, as if his eyes had become burning embers, and his left hand begins to smolder and glow with a threatening flicker.

He raises his hand and blows one of those lava balls out of the sky, opening his mouth and letting out a roar as the disciplined future soldier fights off the demonic influence in the energies he channels, his gun opening fire and adding a comforting background of automatic spray to the mix.

Rachel stands up, her gaze never leaving the rain of monsters. It's not that great a feat. It's raining monsters everywhere. She flexes her hands, making fists and releasing them, doing the math in her head. Rough count, size them up, compare with the time Illyana usually needs…

A twist of magic curls around Rachel. She feels her dress shifting and reflexively raises her arms while giving Illyana a narrow look.

"Always with the dress up — I can handle it, jeez."

Her silhouette shifts twice, first to sleeker, darker shape, and then, with a shimmer that denotes a very vital use of her molecular telekinetics, to the reinforced red and yellow of her currently favored battle bodysuit. She punches her fists together, only sparing a moment to glance back to see who Illyana is yelling at.

"Oh, hey, that kid."

That kid, as it turns out, is on his own. The forces of monsterdom finally make their attempt on the well-defended fortifications of — actually they're just standing around in the open, okay, this'll be interesting when they come from all sides. Rachel gets a running start and kicks off from the ground, catching herself in a telekinetic updraft that spirits her into the air.

«I'll try to stay close!» she sends to the usual victims of her psi-link. «Call if you need me!»

Rachel shoots past the golems, expecting the slower ground team to take care of them. She senses the malicious intent of the many-eyed bat-things and gracefully returns the attention. Fliers for fliers.

The screeching monsters weave for her, breaking their pairing to try to come from other sides. Rachel, blessed by the perfect mobility of thought-born flight, cuts a hard angle without dropping speed to take advantage of the two separating themselves. She crashes into the first bat, forcefield-first, and then seizes its crumpled and dazed form with her mind to pour in kinetic energy.

Just at the point where the bat is vibrating in a wholly unhealthy way, Rachel lets it launch off into the distance with a thunderous clap of breaking the sound barrier. She's hoping to peg another one of those distant demons in the head. Hey, head injuries are serious.

The other bat has by now recovered from its disastrous flight plan, but it has to swoop toward Rachel again while all Rachel has to do is will a cluster of rocks to shoot upward and machine-gun it with bonebreaking force. The bat begins to tumble out of the air, but it's too late. Rachel's already TK caught it. A few moments later, and it too is prepared to be launched into the far-away hordes.

Rachel takes her time to line up the shot. After a leisurely bit of consideration, PING, off it goes for what is hopefully another headshot.

Wine club does not forgive.

"When am I not accurate, Illy?" Rhetorical! Don't answer! Also incoming water sprout? If it wasn't Limbo he would laugh. It is Limbo, so it is likely poisonous, or acidic.

He could shield, but really, against a group of enemies so large they better not let them put their side on the defensive since the start. So no shield, just the opposite.

Nate's left eye glows brightly and a powerful telekinetic blast surges forward, meeting the water halfway and pushing with the force of a rushing freight train towards the water golem, and perhaps the demons behind.

And Rachel went flying up alone? Damn girl. "Illyana?" He asks without turning, more blasting power pulses ahead. "Where is your own army? I mean, you usually have thousands of minions at hand."


Billy Kaplan has only heard that voice once before in his life, but he already knows exactly who it is.

You can tell, by how he forgets the utter madness of everything surrounding him in favor of a very restrained, very put-upon sigh.

"Of course she's involved."

Not that she's wrong — for however annoyed the way he pinches his nose is, he is aware his positioning puts him in an extremely precarious spot, because he is not nearly confident enough in his powers to think he can take on an entire gibbering army of chaotic otherthings all by himself. Glowing blue eyes narrow; Billy lets out an only mildly consternated huff as he turns his attention on the falling beasts, and speedily begins to fall back quite literally, cloak flapping in long, flowing whips of cloth in front of him as he feels the stale heated winds of Limbo whipping at his back.

"It's Wiccan," he mumbles, unhappily, as he goes.

He knows she knows that. She's just trying to annoy him.

"'Hey noob' — what year is this even, 2002-?"

And it annoys him even more that it's working. It's a vicious cycle.

So Billy Kaplan decides to take the high road after privately venting his concerns by focusing on the problem at hand. There are X-Men here — a lot of X-Men — oh god, is she a part of the X-Men too, why though?? — fighting off horrible monstrosities. This is not earth. But it is adjacent to earth. He can feel that, and he swallows down his worries over that fact to instead focus on something very crucial:

They need to protect this place.

It's a thought that dominates his mind around the time one of those spider-eyed bats collides with him like a sweeping amalgamation of nightmare fuels. "hurk!" is his heroic declaration as he goes soaring, pulling at clawing limbs and trying to twist his way out of gnashing teeth. It slices a bloody score on his cheek; Billy's teeth grit, suppressing a sound of pain as he reaches out —

— and grabs hold of the beast with an electrifying grip, trying to conduct god-only-knows how many volts of ionizing atoms, creating a veritable branching tree of lightning with the beast as its base to sprout from —

— a veritable tree of lightning that courses its angry path on a electrifying collision course with the second of those creatures.

"What — gnf — did you do to this place??"

He's making a fairly logical leap here:

This is all probably somehow Illyana's fault.

"I always miss the good gossip." Comes Illyana's mournful reply to the mention of wine club and discussions.

"But like Pryde said, later perhaps."

Piotr's mention of a sandwich owed prompts a grin from Yana. "When this is all over I'll magic you up a thousand."

Then the time for idle chit-chat is over, it seems, as the waves begin to hit.

Gunfire echoes across the open expanse of Limbo, as bullets rend and tear into the demonic forms ahead and around. None behind yet, so there's still an avenue to escape if needed. When Bishop's blast of Hellfire tainted energy hits the fire balls there's a series of explosion. It sounds similar to fireworks and while it definitely is pretty to look at, it should only take moments for people to realize something isn't right as the small motes of flame that hit the ground continue to burn. Then those small particles of flame begin to roll toward each other. Forming into a larger pool of flame - possibly into another Golem? Likely, as slowly a head begins to form and then shoulders -

Piotr bats away the falling rocks and they go flying just like any boulder would. Perfectly acceptable behavior. Somewhere within the wilds of Limbo those boulders land, scaring the nearby demons with their heavy thuds.

Likewise his hammer smash brings forth the typical results one might expect as the Golem crumbles beneath his strength.

Dust rises up from that pulverized body and for Piotr he can see the army of demons stretches as far as the eye can see.

For Kitty her phasing affords her protection against the nearby attacks and for today Limbo doesn't seem to bother her. No tricks here.

Instead somewhere ahead a lizard like creature brings its head up sharply. If one could call its head a head - it's more like a thousand feelers twitching this way and that, and eventually all those feelers twitch toward Kitty. Then the lizard-beast leaps ahead and aims its barrel-of-a-run at Kitty Pryde.

Rachel's trebuchet usage of her power works quite well in this fight. The first bat is flung away and neatly hits another demon. The two collapse. Her second bat is likewise shot-put away and once more hits another demon, only this time when it goes down a nearby gelatinous thing takes note and it schlurps over to those two downed creature and absorbs them.

Guess what happens then? Yup, the blob grows.

As for Nate, his attack upon the water demon cuts the creature in half and while most creatures would die from an attack like that, this one doesn't. Instead those two halves become two new golems; smaller than the original, but still there.

For Billy, his thought of this being all of Illyana's fault is probably right. The lightning he arcs into the first bat fries the poor critter and then the second as the lightning branches outward. His words however, are enough to cause Illyana to scoff, "So suave and this is *so* not my fault. It really isn't."

And with a purposeful step away from those that fight, Illyana reaches deep for the magic that runs throughout Limbo and pulls.

A flame of silver appears beneath Yana's feet and that tongue of Eldritch Fire stretches outward upon the ground, tracing a shape into the crusty ground. For those that fly their birds' eye view will be able to divine the formation of a pentacle; a star within a circle. Illyana sits within the center and faces the southern points, and with one last glance to Piotr, and the rest, Yana raises her hands above her head reaches with all of her magical might and pulls at the frayed edges within the sky

Kitty phases. It's what she does. It's engrained, a defense mechanism, a part of who she is. It's only once she's there that she remembers that last time she did this in Limbo and how much it hurt. However, this time, there's no pain. As she watches the golems approach, she can see something. As she effortlessly slips back into her solid state, the vision fades.

Eyes narrowing, she phases again and sees the shadows. Then, she returns. "Guys!" She calls out to try and grab their attention. "There's something behind the golems. It's like foggy shadows that move with purpose. I can only see them when I phase. That's got to mean something." And she doubts that it's anything good.

She doesn't have much time to ponder, as the creature with all the feelers apparently takes a liking to her and charges. Perhaps she's more surprised that her phasing worked without problem, but she finds herself a bit on her back foot. Stepping backward, rather than an offensive position, she protects herself. There's a flash of her borrowed blade and she swipes at the feelers, shifting deftly to the side.

The creature careens past her and while she manages to avoid the worst, the creature's smarter than she anticipated. It kept a tentacle to the side and as it rushes by, it grabs at her sword arm and with surprising strength and dexterity, it flings her far and up into the air.

With a quick look of dismay, Kitty grips the the hilt of her weapon to ensure it is not torn from her and then is tossed into the sky. Through the fog and the chaos, she phases again, hoping that her sudden decrease of mass will give her a softer landing. However, that does also mean she's traveling farther than if she were solid. For the moment, the phasing mutant is out of the battle, but even as she goes, she keeps her eyes firmly on those strange figures that follow the golems.

Rachel floats backward as she observes her handiwork. Her expression hardens as a blob monster slurps on over and helps itself to some downed demons. She really, really hates blob monsters. Anything with tentacles, really. In her unfortunately long experience, things with tentacles will probably grab someone at least once, and then they'll spend the next ten seconds getting whirled around the air like a party favor.

This is why, as Rachel checks everyone on her psi-link again, she decides that she's going to punt that blob monster over the horizon next.

But Kitty gets her attention first. Rachel turns, depending on her altitude and psychic pre-warning to give her fair warning of oncoming trouble while she shifts her gaze away from the demon hordes.


Oh. A lizard monster thing. That has —

«Agh, more goddamn tentacles!»

But it seems like Kitty is safe for now, so Rachel narrows her eyes and casts her astral senses outward to try to find those foggy shadows that Kitty was talking about. If they need to buy Illyana time, invisible sneak attacks are far more important to respond to than blob monsters.


«I'm looking for them — I'll play defense a moment!»

Since Rachel's life has been a sequence of reacting to multiple problems at once, she casts up a telekinetic barrier to help ward off Illyana's satanic funtime zone for now. Rachel's sure she'll need to recover this shard of her power eventually, but it doesn't hurt to block stray shots while she can.

Smashing through the demonic rock golem, brings nothing but a grunt of satisfaction from Piotr's lips. He is not quite as quippy as his compatriots when faced with the enemy. He is already turning to find his next opponent when he stops, a snarl twisting his face beneath the black steel beard. He recoils and then swats at his arms as if trying to kill a bee.


In a rare rookie move from the big Russian, he lets his thoughts of pain bleed out into the mind link shared by the team. It's rare that he's hurt in battle. Punched into another state, sure that happens. But actually hurt? That's reserved for opponents like Juggernaut or the Hulk or perhaps an Elder God. The pain continues, as unsurprisingly the slapping at his arms has no positive impact. Further it feels as if he's breaking out into a sweat, and starting to cough.


Piotr looks down at his hands in confusion at the speckles, at first thinking it must be the cause of his pain. It takes a moment before he realizes it's blood. He's now coughing blood.

But Kitty's word brings him back to reality. Piotr calls out "Katya! It's a horde.. I can see.." He blinks hard and tries to concentrate.

«ILLYANA. You need to get us out of here. Unless you have something far more powerful up your sleeve. We are vastly outnumbered.»

Nate was hoping to hit whatever was behind the water golems when he blasted. And maybe he did, but mostly he got two smaller water golems. Uh yeah well, Madrox does that better than you, demon-water-golem thing!

Still, now he needs to come up with something better than hitting them again, and before they get to Illyana. Wait, there is a perfectly burning lava golem right there. "Fine, two for one," he looks at Rachel, sending her a warning before he grabs one of the water demons with telekinesis and tosses it to the lava golem. Likely there is going to be a log of hot steam involved.

Which he can keep off himself and Illyana, but no promises about the flying people.

Second water demon will hit a TK-wall, but give him a couple seconds and he (it?) is also going to be vapor.

In the midst of all the chaos, Wiccan tries his hardest to keep his center. Keep his focus. He knows the second he lets all of this overwhelm him, he's going to lose, and the consequences are going to be dire. 'I can't believe Billy Kaplan is frickin' dead!' dire.

"I am not trying to be suave!!"

… Thankfully, and ironically, Illyana's constant needling seems to be helping.

"Any more than you're acting believable!"

More than he'd like to admit.

Irate, Billy's concentration just hyperfocuses on the situation at hand as excess electricity sparks ionizing paths along his fingertips. He notices the others now, from the corner of his eye — so many faces he knows from reputation and from excessive super-study, like Colossus, and Shadowcat, and Marvel Girl, and the gelatinous oblong monster type he faced in New York —

— wait —

"Marvel Girl!" calls out Billy, dark eyes widening as he thrusts a gloved finger the creature's way. "That thing absorbs everything that gets thrown at it. I-"

And he's about to try to help the mutant superhero, when he sees it. Something lurking impossibly large on the peripheries of his senses. He blinks. And, pausing mid-flight, he listens to Kitty as he stares off into the distance.

"I… I can see it too," he murmurs, brows knitting in some form of trepidation as he turns his attention towards that looming source. "There's something there… something large…"

He can feel others, searching. His eyes bleed into a solid blue as he reaches outward with one hand towards the murky fog. His teeth grit, as he tries to help bolster that effort, to find the shape of that hiding thing.

"Show yourself…!"

The weeping rip in the sky trembles as Illyana tries to seam it back together. Its frayed edges tatter in what seems to be a high wind, as if something were beating great wings beyond it. For a time, it seems she will be successful at closing the gap. That wound inches closed, bit by bit.

Then, with a massive sound somewhere between the tearing of cloth and the wet rip of raw flesh, the rent bursts open beyond all her control, as Something overcomes her magic to push its way through. The shockwave of those shattering wards magic blasts across the landscape, enough to fell anyone caught unwary. A foul ichor rains down from the hole in the sky, dripping from the scales of the thing even now wriggling its way through.

In shape it is a great obsidian dragon, with a head the size of the Flatiron Building and a wingspan that blots out the little, sickly light of Limbo. But trying to look too closely at it —

(it hurts)

— puts a sensation in the eyes somewhere between an unscratchable itch, and the stabbing pain of a thousand splinters.

But an impression of it can be gleaned, after enough darted sidelong looks to construct a more complete picture. In places it gleams with chitinous scales, jet black, and in other places its flesh is cracked like parched earth, its body craggy like rock. From those cracks and fissures in its hide crawl forth tentacles, some barbed and some smooth, all whipping and groping the air like the fanned cilia of some oversized protozoan. Any surface they contact is grasped and felt, those tendrils sliding over and under one another as they fight to discern the nature of whatever they have touched.

Between the dragon's jaws glows a constant nuclear fire, hot as the heart of a star, with a slow viscous drip to it like lava extruded from the center of the earth.

With a fractured roar it claws its way farther through. It strains visibly, meathook claws ripping at the seams of reality, even the smallest of its tentacles gamely sucking onto whatever hold they can find. Beneath a twisted crown of glistening black horns, two eyes — yellow as avarice — flame hotly with hatred as they stare down into this new world.

Eventually it finally breaks fully through, and its freed wings spread in triumph: two great woven veils of raw shadow, swirled by some unseen wind.

Its jaws part, and it howls its purpose with a thousand voices and none.

Nx sFdn sDdhgux dh qSDrj eIw dif cdFSX fqy dj sRjghs

…Well, it's Demonic. Probably Illyana knows what it means.

The battle is not going well.

It's definitely not going the way Illyana wants it to.

But that doesn't stop the group from trying their best. They continue to rage against the beasts that surround them. Fighting where they can and dodging when they must. Steam billows, flame gutters out and rocks fall.

The psychic pain and shout from her brother sets Yana's teeth on edge. "I HAVE IT, PIOTR. It's almost closed! It's almost there!" She shouts, her words muffled by the sounds of battle, but perhaps the sense of her words can likely be felt via the psychic link.

And almost she tastes her success as the wound begins to close. The flames of the pentagram beneath her feet rise higher upward, lapping at her calves, her knees, all the way to her waist as the Demoness pulls upon the power that thrums within her hellrealm. Within Limbo and all of its creatures.

Elsewhere within this realm massive swaths of demons begin to collapse. Dead and turning to ash. Sacrificed for the greater good of their Mistress. To keep her alive and powered. To give her what she needs to defeat this threat.

Only it's not enough. It was never going to be enough.


She should know this lesson already, but she still had hope. There was a little spark within her heart that whispered 'perhaps this time things will be okay'. That things would work out and be different.

But no, hope is a lie. It always is.

The Herald of the Elder God breaks through and Yana can't help but scream. The sound of pain is torn roughly from her, as Limbo and she are torn apart. Sundered.

It brings her down to one knee and the flame that surrounds her winks out of existence.

That doesn't stop her from raising her eyes upward and while horror wells up within her that doesn't stop her from keeping her eyes upon the Dragon.

The Herald of the Dark Masters. Leading the way for them to conquer all.

Staring at the monstrosity hurts, but that doesn't stop Illyana. She only pulls her eyes away once tears prickle at her eyes.

The shockwave that precedes the beast is, thankfully, not felt by Illyana. Not with the protection of Rachel's telekinetic shield and that allows her to rise to her feet. Once standing Yana casts her gaze to those nearby -

Billy - such an innocent.

Kitty - a soulsister.

Rachel - a best friend.

Nate - a friend.

And last, though hardly least, Piotr.

Piotr - the best big brother Illyana could have. The soul of a paladin. Heartfelt sadness reflects upon Illyana's features in the few seconds she allows herself.

Then comes the decision and she returns her blue-eyes to the dragon.

Blackness covers the swarming face of Limbo, in the shadow of the demonic dragon's vast horizon-spanning wings. A choking miasma of fell energy thickens the air, the creature's noxious aura sickening to both body and soul.

Its flaming yellow eyes fix on the telekinetic barrier shimmering between it and Illyana Rasputina. Obsidian claws curl.

sRx SHkfe dkHkx myr khahr makh ihm dimh, ihm CHTHON, syhm ryxx, the creature sneers, mantling down over the young demoness. With the vast and deceptively-slow threat of a toppling skyscraper, its head swings down, closer and closer, until suddenly its face hovers mere meters from the barrier.

Its jaws open, baring fangs longer than most cars, and the seed of a nuclear fire churns up visibly in the pit of its throat. There is only a split second of warning before it detonates.

A column of sickly black fire roars down against the shield, the impact splashing stray flames to all sides in a treacherous searing rain of radioactive heat. The demon settles closer, hovering bare meters above the barren earth, as it sustains its blasting breath, apparently intent on pounding the shield apart through pure force.

Its foreclaws settle on the barrier, in anticipation of snatching the prize within once its protective shell its cracked.

"It's far off enough, Wiccan!" Rachel shouts, over the din, switching to verbal for the non-psi-linkers. If only everyone was as open-minded as X-Men. "We'll throw it when it gets close and hope the spell deals with it!"

Rachel drops down to ground level, slipping into the telekinetic field that she's constructed to protect Illyana's work. She can almost feel the shadow things — there's a current in the astral, but it's requiring a deeper dive into her repertoire of dimensional tricks to figure out the full extent of the threat. The grim lines of her hound tattoos burn into her face, revealing themselves in her moment of exertion.

The circle bursts with power. Rachel plants herself solid, feeling Illyana's sorcerous energies behind her but not daring to turn and look. She can feel it working — at least, she can feel what Illyana is sacrificing to make it work. The casualties burst through the astral, traced back to the demons that Rachel has learned to mark as friendly, for whatever value of friendly can be attributed to Magik's legions.

"Yana!" Rachel shouts, feeling the wind kick up. "You can do it! We've got you —"

She could not do it.

They do not have her.

The wind isn't for them. The wind is the prelude to a shockwave that thump-crashes over the battlefield, pounding against Rachel's telekinetic barrier with such raw, brazen force that she is briefly deafened despite the near molecular-completeness of her defenses.

Her heart skips a beat. The pause is long enough that she feels an emptiness in her chest. A hunger for air claws up her throat. As the pained-light-monstrosity leaks from the wound in reality, Rachel's instinctive response is to wrench her gaze away, to screw her eyes shut and focus on standing.

Her breath comes. She sucks it down inelegantly, exhales, and makes sure that the next one comes too. This is bad. This is that thing from earlier — that thing they sealed up in the rift. It burns in the astral, turning the psychic winds hot and tumultuous. What usually serves to buoy her psychic wings batters her instead, and this flame is no friend. It is a sick, wrong thing, a star that never lived and will not die. The celestial flame woven through her body, the connection that makes her the Starchild, runs hot through her veins with the wrongness of it all.

Her face flushes as the ugly hotness runs through her. The first hint that her friends will get that something is not right with Rachel is when her psi-link disappears.

The thing speaks. The White Hot Room rages in her head. With great effort, Rachel straightens her back, looking up at the beast with defiance. Her eyes burn with flame, her face shadowed save for the angry glow of her hound marks.

"YOU CAN'T HAVE HER!" Rachel screams into the storm. Her telekinetics swell around her, dust storms bursting away from the now-visible glow of her barrier. "I AM LIFE —"

The ground cracks beneath her, the hard-packed ground of Limbo cratering under the weight of her psychic effort.

"— AND FIRE —"

A moment before detonation, everything becomes deathly silent. Rachel's eyes widen.

Poisonous black flame engulfs the final line of Rachel's defense. Painful seconds pass, time in which the fate of the barrier and its inhabits is unknown. The dragon settles, and the wrong-fire dies.

Rachel Summers' fallen body is sprawled upon the blasted earth, her hair and the scorched armor of her bodysuit the only bits of color left in a place that has been otherwise utterly destroyed.

The pain from demonic dust chewing through his metal skin. The tearing sensation in his lungs. The horde of demons approaching with ill intent. None of that matters. The entire world seems to fade out beyond the edge of what was once a white flame circle.

"ILLYANA!" His hoarse voice echoes out in a primal roar.

His own voice sounds muffled and strange as if coming from someone else, far away. All other sounds seem like only echos or hints. Every other person, friend or foe fades as if only a mirage.

The shock of his sister falling and screaming as the dragon enters this world cause Piotr to stare unseeing for just a moment. And then something odd happens. Illyana's earlier spell had asked for aid. She sent her disks to find help. It turns out that spell was not quite complete.

The Soul Sword falls effortlessly into Piotr's hand. He didn't call it. How did he know to reach and catch it? These thoughts are only a blip as he launches into action.

Rachel's cry sounds muffled and far away, her body falling fails to pierce the shroud that narrows his line of sight only on his sister. His sister and the dragon.

Rushing forward in mighty leaps, with both hands on the hilt of the blade, Piotr jumps and aims to sever the claw reaching down for Illyana.

For Snowflake.

What the… Hell. Nate was going to toss the second water golem to the nearest large fire when what passes for the sky here really, really breaks into pieces. A dragon steps in. Reality bleeds, and it hurts his eyes, all his senses. Some shred of common sense stops him from peering into its mind, or whatever it uses to think.

The golem still gets tossed away, though. Haphazardly. It will land a couple miles away.

It must be one of the Elder Gods that Illyana told him about when they were younger. A lifetime away. 'I will kill them for you' had boasted Nate, completely oblivious at the magnitude of the problem. But it was years before the technovirus, when his psychic powers ran wild(er) and seemed infinite.

They told him he had the power of a God. He had yet to fight a real God.

Now Nate is wiser, but definitely not as powerful. Yet even gods can die, he has learned, if hit hard enough. « It goes for Illyana. We are not important » He projects « We have an op… RACHEL! »

All ideas of going in with a plan of some kind vanish from Nate's mind, replaced with a familiar (and comfortable) burning rage. The psylink goes off and he doesn't pick it up. Instead he flies up, glowing bright, then dives against the dragon, his psychokinetic aura breaking the poison miasma into component atoms, a spear of light ten yards long forming ahead of him, the psychic weapon aimed for the monster's neck.

Sometimes, Billy wishes he didn't make such dumb wishes.

Often. Oftentimes he does.

This, this just happens to be one of those times. He tries to convince himself that — thing — was coming regardless of what he said or didn't say. But mainly, he's trying to fight off the sudden revulsion-inspired nausea he's being inflicted with as he bears witness to the emergence of that creature that can scarcely be looked at, much less comprehended in all its unbearable foulness.

His eyes widen. His skin pales. His hand snaps out —

— and as the shockwave approaches, it is only a shimmering field of cerulean encasing him like a protective shell that keeps Billy from being smote out of existence.

Out of the air, well… that's another story.

The raw kinetic force of that heat-blasting entrance of the howling herald swats Billy Kaplan from the skies like he was an errant bug. That blue field holds in an ethereal ripple before his eyes, but doesn't prevent him from being cannonballed into the dust-choked earth of Limbo.

The burst of impact would be deafening if Wiccan was not already deafened by the thousand-fold shriek of the herald. Instead, all he hears is a comfortable ringing in his ears as he collides with all the force of a meteorite in motion, releasing a fresh wall of dirt and chaos that gushes an angry path from that epicenter.

And within the cratering rock and burning demon corpses, that field of blue shimmers, spiderline cracks gracing themselves along its surface as its occupant desperately scrapes fingers across the blasted landscape. He can't hear anything. He can't see anything. He can't feel anything except the warmth of blood dripping from his nostrils, pooling at his ears. He wants to scream, and yet nothing comes but a hopelessly choked sound, like a nightmare where one's voice has been stolen from them.

Everything is ringing. Everything is spinning. And all he can hear is that incomprehensible voice, and one word that feels so familiar, like a dark scratch of nails on a chalkboard.


Blood spools from Wiccan's lips as his eyes squeezes in an unfocused blink. He retches as he tries to drag himself up, resisting the urge to vomit. The first time, he stumbles back onto his hands and knees. The second…

… the second, he sees that painfully tremendous maw opening in a searing field of black fire ignoring them all. A titanic claw ignoring them all. Focusing only on —

Billy Kaplan does not like Illyana Rasputina. He has certainly been nothing but perfectly clear about that fact.

And yet —


— he does not hesitate, not in the slightest, to make his decision as he struggles against the sound, against the fury, against the everything, feeling his skin blister in the heat as he reaches out with spinning threads of reality to change the layout of the board. To take hold of Illyana, in her cracking barrier —

— and displace her, until she is behind him, away from the mounting fury of the herald. Every breath burns. He's never felt like this in his entire life.

"We — we need to get out of here!!"

And he's not sure what it says about him, that he's never felt more alive than right now.

The torrent of black flames clears, and in their wake is left only scorched devastation. The last crackling trickles of sick fire die out of the air, sparks failing.

And the dragon starts to laugh.

The sound is like a thousand jagged nails being sawed over a thousand old chalkboards. It echoes back on itself with the screams of ten thousand damned souls. Its amusement jangles the ears with mind-rending dissonance, and the primitive reptile part of the brain knows: this sound is wrong.

It steps a claw forward, talons spreading as they descend towards Rachel's vulnerable flesh… only for those massive points to spear the ground neatly on either side of her. Claws pierce through solid rock like knives through butter, and its head dips down. Close.

LIVE, LITTLE BIRD, it growls, finally condescending to speak in a human tongue. LIVE TO KNOW THE UTTER DEPTHS OF YOUR FAILURE. YOUR CYCLE SHALL COME TO AN EN

Ten yards of psionic light spears it through the throat, and its voice dies. Its neck arches in a spasm, a vast hsssssss escaping through its bared fangs. One flaring yellow eye, the size of Nate Grey himself, swivels to stare through him as it takes an enraged half-step back, off Rachel. From seemingly nowhere, its long tail whips around, aiming to take the psion from an unexpected angle and smash him out of the air.

Its body coils like an oversized serpent, but still, it reaches for Illyana. At the last moment, a sudden respinning of reality to snatch her out from under its talon. The dragon's eyes widen, its nostrils flaring.

«you smell familiar» a voice whispers in Billy's head.

That talon, distracted, stays poised in the air… bared and extended for a very angry brother.

Piotr swings. The Soulsword descends, strikes the back of that claw, sinks in an inch — and sticks there. A thin, barely-there line of steaming black ichor bubbles up around the embedded edge of the weapon. There is a heavy, pulsing moment of silence… and then up from that shallow graze, barbed tentacles push out of the flesh, winding up the blade, spiraling up the weapon's hilt until that tiny film of demonic blood smears mockingly up Piotr's organic steel hands.

A drop. Less than a drop. ALL THAT… JUST FOR THIS?

The claw lifts with a horrid jerk and flicks, making to shake Colossus free as if he were an ant. Those wide wings open again, the choking dust of Limbo saturating the air with every beat. It lifts from the ground, and with dizzying speed it launches forward, cleaving the dead air with distance-eating strokes.

GO AND PREPARE YOUR WORLD FOR OBEISANCE, speaks the Herald, as its claws snatch Illyana's limp form from the ground. GO AND PREPARE YOUR PEOPLE FOR DEATH. MY MASTERS ARE COME.

They say the light always wins against the darkness. That good always wins against evil. That life always wins against death.

For today, however, they're wrong.

Flame descends upon Illyana and those nearby. The brightness of the Phoenix against the darkness of Night and for this day death wins out upon life.

Piotr strikes against the dragon, as does Nate, and while they cause injuries they're minor. Laughable things.

Billy reaches out with his reality altering powers and Yana finds herself pulled away, saved for a brief time.

Made safe long enough for her to enact a contingency plan. A plan to save those that she loves.

Portals flare to life beneath everyone within Limbo.

Nate, Rachel, Kitty, Billy and Piotr.

These portals are wild things. Their color crazily fluctuates and the destination upon the other side doesn't hold true. The X-Mansion turns into a park, the park turns into the ocean, the ocean into the desert and the desert into a mountain.

And while those portals reach out and grab each person to forcefully take them away, for those awake each is afforded a clear view of Illyana's fate.

She ends up in the dragon's talons, dangling limply, unconscious, and taken off to god knows where.

This nightmare only just beginning for all those involved.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License