Reclamation

October 19, 2018:

Weeks ago, a corrupted Illyana stole Pietro from Wanda by force to serve as her defender. After a long search, Wanda, Lorna, and Exodus lay a trap to finally get him back.

The Bronx, New York

Characters

NPCs: Magneto

Mentions: Magik

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It took two weeks to do it, but Magneto broke his daughter's block on accessing her powers. Give credit where credit is due: for any lesser man than the Master of Magnetism, it would have taken much longer.

With her scarlet returned to her, other things begin to return for Wanda as well. Her witch's sight, her sense of the world around her… and her bond with her twin brother, forged so long ago and woven and rewoven so many times that not even Illyana's magic could do more than smother it.

Time has eroded the choking blanket thrown over that bond. It no longer leads into echoing nothingness, in Wanda's perception. Now, when she follows that long thread connecting her with her twin, even across continents and oceans, once in a while she catches a glimpse of Pietro on the other end.

He is… changed. Corrupt. But she could fix that, strip it all out of him, if he were only brought closer.

But for her, going in person is currently out of the question. Her health is still fragile after her ordeal, she still relies to some degree on her father's stabilizing presence and critical eye to channel her powers… and perhaps most importantly, Pietro knows every last one of her weaknesses, as intimately as only a twin could.

He would harm her. Without a doubt. And then…

Thus it is that word suddenly comes to the Brotherhood, to Lorna and to Exodus in their search: Wanda has recovered, and she has a reliable way now to track Pietro's movements that cannot be occluded by Illyana's magic. And that would be who is cited as responsible for all this — Illyana Rasputina, turned demonic and corrupt. Wanda saw that with her own eyes.

"Your sister will help guide you from here," Magneto says, over another of those astral calls. This time, Lorna can see Wanda sitting beside their father as he speaks, quiet and wan and pale. "I trust you will all see to this, so we may finally return our attention to more important matters."

A plan forms — Wanda, present and guiding via her astral presence, will lure Pietro to a location by pulling on the bond. Those on the ground must do the rest to subdue him and bring him in.

Said location is a scrapyard in a remote corner of the Bronx, at the fringes of Illyana's territory and power… and with metal enough to maximize Lorna's effectiveness. Some of the Brotherhood is tasked to remain in Mutant Town to maintain defenses against the demonic horde, but others — led by Frenzy — accompany Lorna and Exodus to the site.


Metal rattles in place under a sudden explosion of ephemeral power, barely interacting with this realm outside of the light and noise that come from the appearance of these, The Brotherhood, who come to relcaim one of their own. But not just one of their own. One of the Chosen. Blood of His Blood. Prince to his King. The Heir to the World. Bringing these chosen few here to face one of their own and show him the way back was easy for Exodus, but the days searching had taken a toll of the spirit.

NOT LONG AGO.

Bennet du Paris had given up on God long ago. In the sand before the Eternal Pharoah's doorstep, divinity took on new meaning for him. In that time he thought it could only mean pain. And yet still he knelt here, in a small, makeshift church on a night when none would be attending their prayer. For those mutants in Genosha for whom spirituality was important, this place was a refuge, and no matter denomination or inclination, they prayed together for a better future for them all.

Tonight, so did Exodus. For he knew a mission was upon him that would require a touch of the divine, and his head bowed and his cape lay still, and no power flowed around him. Instead he was at the mercy of candlelight and a solemn prayer.

"Bless me, my Lord Magneto, for I go into the realm of darkness to retrieve your heir, and know not if I am worthy. For all my power, for all my triumph, I still often feel as if I am emp-"

It is a hand upon his shoulder that stills his words, and though his eyes are closed, he feels the touch of his Lord Liege. But not in person. Another hand joins his other shoulder. Another at his back. They light candles for the fallen half way across thr world. They light candles for the missing, for the lost. But mostly, they are there for this champion, who has served their Lord across this island, no task to small, no ask to great. He feels every touch lending him power, every whisper of a prayer bolstering his confidence. He prayed to no God today, but a man with far more power, and his prayers were answered in kind.

Rising, their hands fall away and he turns to face the room full of faces, some of which he knows, others he does not. His expression lights their own, psonic fire burgeoning as a miasma of white light around his face until his voice shatters the near silence with devotion untold. "Think of them, my brothers and sisters. Think of the world as it should be. Think of me standing at the gate, and I shall open the door. And in this, the first step I shall take is returning the Heir of the Atom to you. Stay this night and hold vigil, and lend me your strength. Les petits magnets vont retrouver leur gloire passée!!!"

Bright white flashes and fades to blue, and in his flourish Excdus leaves behind a pouch, dislodged in his flourish.

Half a buttery crust protrudes.

The mutants gathered take it as a sign, and their prayer intensifies.

NOW.

It took little time to gather, and with the direction of Wanda, they appeared as one, ready to pounce upon the Corrupted Prince. Blazing from his eyes, rising into the air on his own, Exodus summons his power to send his mind scouring over the dismal landscape.

"Show yourself, Pietro. Show yourself and we will join you with your sister, with your father, with your destiny! SHOW YOURSELF AND KNOW THE LOVE OF YOUR PEOPLE ONCE MORE!"


The past few weeks had seen an ongoing rise of chaos. A rise of war-like conditions as supplies came and went. Demons were everywhere and were a constant threat to those that remained in Mutant Town. Yet for all of these horrible conditions Lorna, the youngest of Magneto’s children “flourished” in her new position as a symbol for power and cohesion for the Brotherhood. She had plunged headfirst into the magnetic fields and hadn’t once loosened the power in her grip. She was constantly on. Prepared. Ready.

Without the worry for what humans might think, or do, or say. Without that concern for the outside world and only for the here and now, Lorna had gone all out.

There was no need for secrecy in the base now. No, rather, now was the need for the opposite. Metal scraps, cars, slag, trash scraps and the alike had all been molded to form a heavy defensive wall around the former Community Center, complete with sharp metal protrusions and defensive lookout positions. To those that had seen Magneto’s base in Genosha before the Spire, it was very similarly constructed. It was one of the few things that Lorna could make with her own hands. A project that took up the time when patrols around the city were fruitless. An outlet for her excessive energy.

Two things came to matter within the span of those two weeks. The defense of those that wished to remain in Mutant Town, and finding her older brother. A manic drive pushed her sleep patterns to the brink, two, three hours at most. And Lorna was back out on patrol. Maps of the area were hung and dotted with rumors or even the vaguest of spottings for her sibling. Yet, as Lorna had mused before, it was pointless without Wanda. To catch a speedster was difficult, if not an impossible endeavor if he did not wish to be found. Still, the youngest of the three siblings had obsessed over every little detail that could be found, convinced there was a pattern somewhere.

To those that had served Magneto for years before, her apparent behavior was reminiscent of the elder’s. Her attention so narrowed, her patience entirely evaporated in the face of every setback. Of every passing moment that something wasn’t being done to accomplish those two goals.

So when Magneto himself finally contacted her with an update, there was very little questioning offered. Simply snappish demands for more details, a critical green-eyed gaze that raked over her sister’s condition with a spark of barely restrained rage. (Whether that rage was aimed at her father or simply whatever had left Wanda so fragile and broken, well, it was difficult for Lorna to know the difference.)

Her own plans for the scrapyard metal plies upon arrival had been fast. Her own leather and metal fused outfit had been once more reworked over the past two weeks. Green lines trailed seams of black leather and steel colored rivets along her shoulders and downwards. A knee length, almost cape-like, jacket creaked and clicked as she knelt on the ground and pressed a hand against the dirt.

Magnetic senses flared outwards as she reached lower than just the mess of metal above ground. She rose after a brief moment, her hands alight with power as she exhaled a breath. The location was a good one, natural deposits of iron were thick in the soil, remains of drain pipes and wires were still buried deep.

Focus would be the trick with so much metal around her, keeping up her barriers and manipulating veritable tons of steel without killing Pietro.. All of that would rely on her ability to follow Wanda’s astral directions and still remain plunged into the depths of the magnetic fields as she had been.

“Right.. Ready whenever.” She breathed, her voice soft in comparison to Exodus’ commanding voice.


The astral call ends.

Half a world away, Wanda meets her father's eyes. Hers close to convey her will in perfect silence: she is ready.

With that, she rises from her chair; it takes her significant time, and even more energy, as her tired, wan body stands against weakness and fatigue. She shuts her eyes. She breathes in.

And scarlet smokes off her skin, its light hazing up from her frame — a moondog wreathing out from the burning heart of her. The Scarlet Witch lets herself fall backward, only to be caught by her own unseen power, the spreading red suspending her in the air. Her dark hair spreads and moves in the pulse of its manifestation. Her lips part. Her hands open, and her palms turn out.

She leaves this world of flesh and blood.

Between heartbeats, Wanda feels herself cross the ocean.

And the distant call of her voice drapes down like a covering shroud: «I need you, my Brotherhood.»

In an eerie unison, the mutant adjutants standing all around Lorna and Exodus go still. They exhale the same breath.

Their eyes cover over in a film of scarlet, and one by one, their individual differences and independent movements fold into an encompassing gestalt — hive mind parts of a living whole.

The Witch.

"Lorna," speaks one mutant, with his own voice, who can make machines heed his will.

"Exodus," speaks another, a woman whose mutation lets her pull oxygen from the air.

And another: "I task you both to see to my brother." It is their voices, but speaking Wanda's words. "Do not take your attention off him for anything. When the inferno comes for him, I will see to it."

A Brotherhood member on their other side flickers his scarlet eyes, and speaks: "Whatever you do, you must not let him go back. Pietro would want death before that existence."

The voices switch again. "I am pulling him here. Prepare."

At once, the Brotherhood mutants disperse, walking purposefully in disparate directions, leaving behind both Polaris and Exodus to the heart of what will be.

Astrally, the Scarlet Witch turns imagined hands, and runs her fingers to pluck infernal threads. She knows the Darkchilde hates her. Let the devil send her hand to kill her, once and for all.


The Scarlet Witch calls. And as he has for thirty years, Quicksilver answers.

Exodus, waiting, lets his mind unfold, searching out across the area — and almost immediately his senses strike suddenly against a hard resistant point. It seems the Darkchilde shares her powerful psionic shields everywhere the shadow of Limbo falls, and foremost in her attentions in this regard is her chosen dark prince.

That point is getting closer, very fast.

A lot of people have difficulty conceptualizing Mach 10. It's 7673 miles per hour, or 3430 meters per second, but what does that really mean?

It means that without the mysterious secondary mutations that allow Quicksilver to restrict or cancel the damaging effects of his speed, Manhattan would have had a deep new scar ripped through its middle — all molten slag and turbulent destruction, shattered windows and torn-off walls — as he made his blistering way from Stark Tower up to the Bronx.

Now, hypervelocity impact is a completely different animal than impact at conventional speeds. Even metals behave like a liquid when hit at hypersonic velocity. Usually both the impactor and the surface impacted undergo liquefaction on contact. Quicksilver cheats, of course, and his powers give him immunity to those effects.

Most surfaces he hits, on the other hand, don't cheat. Quicksilver's arrival flings torn, half-melted metal into the sky in a whirlwind of sudden violence that drops debris for a half mile around.

SHOW YOURSELF, Exodus calls, and his answer comes as a roaring streak of shining black, obliterating distance in a blur that leaves a rooster tail of hot fire blazing in his wake. Pietro does not often stretch his powers to their utmost — he knows any moment of carelessness could cause catastrophic harm — but here and now those inhibitions have been removed.

When he aims to collide straight into Exodus, center mass, he does so at maximum speed.

He stops dead immediately afterwards. 7673 miles per hour are murdered down to zero with a stop time of half a second, and a stop distance of half a foot. The source of the fire in his wake becomes clear as he balances with a preternatural grace through the dissipating final hints of his dying momentum; he bears a longsword, flat black and coated in twisting fire. It burns actively, the demonic flames dripping down the blade and off its point.

His body is completely enclosed in sleek black eldritch armor, cut lean and sharp to shed off the wind of his speed. A helm, twisted and raked in the vague shape of crowning horns and catching claws, obscures his face with its lowered visor. Yet it is undeniably Pietro. The proof is in the lean, greyhound shape of him, not completely hidden by the spare armor; the way he carries himself, restless and poised, perpetually on the verge of movement; the way his head turns immediately to his sisters: first regarding Lorna up above, before sweeping in a back-and-forth look that scents for his twin's scarlet presence.

He undeniably senses something there.

"Who calls?" Even his voice is distorted, the demand a harsh and twisted echo. "Who feels so free to waste my time?"

The Darkchilde's stolen Knight starts to brace his stance. His armor, his weapon — as one might expect — do not register as metal, or even as physical material at all. The accoutrements are smithed of magic.

The currents of Limbo swirl and strengthen. Make no mistake — they can taste the Witch's presence, and they hate her. Already demonic magic thickens in the air, trying to press Wanda's astral body back into its weak flesh cage, an ocean away.


Emerald and Scarlet wreath around him, two sisters who love their brother and have more at stake here than Exodus can truly know. Even if he touches their minds. Even if he could become them, it would not be the same. But existing outside of that dynamic allows him a focus approaching exaltation, a living channel for the will of a nation. Not constrained by borders, but by genes, and reaching out to him one prayer at a time.

Lorna tells him she is eager, she is ready.

Wanda tells them both what they must do, and Exodus knows he cannot fail her.

A dark bead of power enters his awareness, moving so fast that it nearly stops him from enacting his plan, one dictated by the speed of thought. His arms raise, and there is a deep thrum of power from all around them, like a living heartbeat, amplified to vibrate the very air with it's steady beat. It is the sound of a psionic shield forming a dome that extends under the ground and into the sky, a dome a mile wide, but meant to keep Pietro close, to try and keep Illyana out, shimmering with liquid power and appearing as little more as a shimmer against the air.

Then it comes for him.

Black and blazing fire.

Faster than Exodus can react, kinetic energy is transferred to his body with impossible force.

THAA-TOOOOOOOM!!!!

Something shatters in him, bones reinforced with psionic energy crumbling all the same as the energy ripples outwards and sends cracks racing the length of his pauldrons.

None but Pietro will see the whole of him distort under the tremendous power, literal piece of him flying off bit by bit into the air and blood turning to aeresol as Pietro sends him rocketing away to slam through metal, through wood and refuse, and find a resting place against his own shield. Is this it? Did Exodus meet his match in the Son of Magnus? Flesh and bone that line the path of destruction left in his wake curl and melt and burst into psionic flame.

There is no stirring, no resounding announcement of his glorious return to bring glory to the House of Magnus.

But there is the beat of that Shield. A shield that remains, even in the wake of Exodus taking the full force of Pietro's power.

Thump-thump. Thump-thump.


Mutants and powers came in all shapes and sizes. However seeing Wanda’s red hued powers string through others’ bodies sent a sharp spike of anxiety through the youngest of Magneto’s brood. It was unexpected, hearing her sister speak through two others’ bodies at once. The strangeness of the feat made goose bumps prickle along her skin as she stared for a beat. Two.

And she determinedly forced that feeling down and away. There was no time to contemplate beyond what her sister spoke of. Not to let Pietro go, to kill him before allowing someone else to use him for their own ends. No, not someone else, Illyana. The woman that had been her bridesmaid and good friend previously.

What the hell had happened to lead to all of this?

All the same, Lorna knew what it was like to be a puppet in your own body. To have someone else pull your strings. Pietro didn’t deserve that. The irony that Wanda was astrally using bodies of other mutants was lost to her in that moment.

Green power hummed at her fingertips as she lifted herself up into the air, all the better to hopefully not get run over by her older brother when Wanda finally summoned him to their scrapyard.

“Understood, Wanda.” She wasn’t sure entirely how things would go. Wasn’t sure how well she’d work with Exodus and her sister. Lines had blurred that had never been so before..

Then there wasn’t time to think, wasn’t time to react fast enough as Pietro was there and iron, steel, scraps and dirt were burning. It wasn’t even within the span of a breath, the span of a heart beat. It Pietro simply was. A cacophony of sound, of light, and fire and the massive sound of Exodus going flying backwards and out of sight.

Green eyes fell on the figure of the speedster before them in the shock of silence that reverberated through the air until he spoke. Her gaze raked over the alien magic-made armor, over the weapon. As the sounds of his familiar and not, voice, echoed in the scrap yard where seconds before had only been the sounds of the twilit-city.

Ultimately, then and there Lorna decided she fiercely hated magic metals that were as dead to her senses as plastic.

A rough exhalation of breath followed as steel and metal ions broke from the scrap and lifted into the air around her to seal Lorna into her own magnetized ferrofluid-like suit of armor. All over her usual combat gear, adding black hued spikes along her natural magnetic fields. She had no idea if it would do better against the super speed, the heat, the friction that was Pietro’s form unleashed, but she figured it would be better than nothing.

“Well, see, it’s my birthday month, and you’re my brother and you didn’t get me anything. Rude. Also you made Wanda upset. So. There’s that.” She quipped, and with a grunt of effort, yanked hard to form a barrier of metal around the scrap yard. The ground below shuddered, earth and dirt and debris flying as she reached down below.

But it took time..


The Knight does not seem aware that he is being hemmed in. Perhaps he is aware, but just does not care. He does nothing about Exodus's psionic shield, and does not seem to pay any mind either to the vast amounts of metal that Lorna is lifting and reshaping to plate it in an additional layer of strength.

His faceless visor remains turned towards Lorna. Lorna, who is now his sole remaining target, hovering high in the air in a sheath of molten ferrofluid armor. He seems to assume he has taken care of Exodus; he always was arrogant in that way.

If he is amused or incensed at her quips, neither is evident past the mask that obscures his face. His head tilts; that is about as far as expressiveness goes with him right now.

"Ah, Lorna," he says. He remembers her, it seems, in some warped way — but the name Wanda does not seem to strike any spark in his mind at all. Some things need to be erased whole, for maximum safety. "Always wanting things. Does big brother have to finally teach you a lesson?"

He moves. Fast enough to be invisible to the unaided eye, he dares through the minefield of Lorna's magnetic control, sliding through the moving metal flying through the air. He bolts up a strung steel cable still connecting two broken machine parts, the twined metal burning up in his wake. At the apex he twists and pushes off, momentum slingshotting him up to close the distance to her even where she hovers in the air.

The need to separate from the stable earth kills some of his speed. That is the one saving grace that makes the spinning swing of that burning blade, straight towards her midsection, a little less impactful than it might otherwise have been. While largely a horizontal cleave, it angles a bit at a downwards diagonal, intent to swat her back down to earth should it connect.

Clearly he sees fit to test the strength of her hold and control over that magnetized armor.


The whole of the ground shakes as Apocalyptic power bristles in the metal field where Exodus had fallen, and as there is one explosion of a psionic shockwave, as Exodus rises from the ashes in a way that might make the Phoenix hungry for his mind, body, and soul: At mach five. Rocketing towards Pietro as he seeks to land his final stroke, his arms seek purchase on the slender frame of Magneto's heir a moment before he might connect with his sister, his body half psychic fire, half flesh, still pulling itself back together.

The interception will be a momentary one, for he does not try to grapple him, allowing momentum and gravity to carry them towards the Earth with something that might be finality for anyone else. For Exodus, it is a moment, a brief one, where Pietro cannot simply run away.

"Heed my words, Scion of Magnus. Cherished as a brother, a leader, and a bridge to our new bright future! You are all of these and more. Open yourself to the love of your family, to the love of your people! To a Brotherhood that exists to usher your will towards our triumph! Do not, my friend, allow yourself to become addicted to the wiles of horned women, for they will take hold of you and you shall resent their absence! LOOK AT ME PIETRO MAXIMOFF, AND KNOW THE TRUTH!! YOUR SISTERS NEED YOU!!! YOUR FATHER NEEDS YOU!!!!"

Before he hits the ground, a wash of energy, much like the one he had set as a perimeter, ripples across it. He will land hard, no matter what, but he will also slide. And slide.

Exodus has used his mind to make the ground as inhospitable to sharp motions as they might be to someone trying to navigate an icy sidewalk. Perhaps he will pay for not trying to press the advantage in the air. Perhaps he will know misery and death.

No matter, for the safety of these, les petits magnets, he would gladly perish.


Magnetic power swirled around Lorna, a bubble that was constantly shifting around her, and thickest at the middle. Much like the Earth’s magnetic field, her own had its poles, from crown to toe. Wanda had done her job of getting Pietro there, now Exodus and she had to bring him home.

Which really was easier said than done.

“Well, come at me ‘bro’. I’m not getting any younger!” She shot back. She needed time, and quips seemed to buy her some. Luckily, she’d already had her magnetic fields up, and her barrier protected against most attacks. Her father’s had blocked large swaths of the X-men's powers at one point or another. She hoped her own would hold against a magicked, demonic sword and its wielder.

Yet between one breath and the next. In one instant, between heartbeats, between blinks of her eye. Pietro was on the attack. The theory on whether not her shields would be enough, wasn’t put the test fully, however, as Exodus came blasting out from below to intercept the attack. Her teeth gritted together in surprise, as she jerked back in response to Pietro’s sudden movements. She flew higher, in hopes that he’d not get another chance to attack once more. Magnetic energies swirling rapidly around her in beat with her heart. Her hands clenched and unclenched in a reflexive gesture.

The feel of the sword invading her magnetosphere had been wrong for the instant that the two had touched, that split second before Exodus interrupted the fierce blow. It didn’t feel like metal, for all that her eyes told her it should be. Her senses were a riotous mess of adrenaline, and the battle was far too fast for her eyes to follow.

Particularly, as blasts, and thunderous sounds, cacophonies of power and the rippling voice of Exodus’ calls filled the area. Lorna once more turned her attention to the metal around them. With a muffled sound at the back of her throat, she continued her pull at the metal below. Sewers below, drain pipes, electrical wires and rusted iron files came flying up into the air.

Which she sent promptly after Pietro’s demonic clad figure. Trying to trap, to ensnare, as much as possible. At the very least, hope against hope, to slow him down.


The blade cuts through air like a scythe, driven all the faster by the rotational momentum of Quicksilver's twisting spin. The everpresent fire sheathing it flares as it hammers down to test Lorna's magnetic barrier — her molten armor.

He never gets there.

Something intercepts him like a big cat hitting a gazelle mid-leap. In midair — and shocked at anything actually managing to hit him while he is in motion — Pietro has zero chance to dodge. Struck off course, Pietro and Exodus alike go spinning back to earth. The eldritch armor hardens to take the impact, but for a few moments Pietro is still stunned as he skids along a ground turned slick and frictionless. Eventually managing to flip back over into a crouch on all fours, Pietro claws briefly for purchase, before he realizes the futility of it and decides to solve the matter a different way.

His grip reverses on the blade and he drives it point-down, straight into the ground. It sinks halfway to its hilt, arresting his movement with a jerk that sends a jolt of pain rocketing up his shoulder.

Exodus speaks. Pietro's entire demeanor bristles where he hunkers over his bracing weapon. "My father," he hisses, "has never needed me, and I've never needed him."

Yet he hesitates. Something seems to pang him about the rest.

A moment later, he shakes it off. The blade sunk into the ground glows with a sickly, burning light, and a miasma of demonic magic starts to spread outward from where its flames touch the earth. Limbo may be thinner here, farther from Illyana's seat of power, but it is still here, and it responds to attempts to alter it. A localized rewrite of the earth flows outward to dispel Exodus's psionic effect upon the ground. Quicksilver watches as reality bends to make the way clear for him.

Something about that rings familiar in his head. He clutches it briefly until the feeling passes.

His confusion transmutes seamlessly into rage. That at least — his birthright from his father — remains unchanged. Limbo snaps back against Exodus's control with a powerful backwash of magical energy, and a moment later Pietro is back in his face as well, blade carving a long streamer of fire along the ground before swinging upwards in a straightforward attempt to slash him open from hip to opposite shoulder.

The scrapyard comes to life a moment later as Lorna's powers blanket the area and pull metal from all directions, turning the air into a deadly storm of sharp edges and still-sparking wires. Pietro only has half a moment to turn before a section of pipe slams into him from the side, battering him against another swirling clump of metal debris hard enough that he stops moving for a second. Wires reach for him, metal bends to cuff him; he slips their hold for now, but having to duck and weave through the storm of metal slows him. He can be seen moving intermittently now, a flickering outline that blurs in and out of sight.

Her alteration of the shape of the battlefield has made unsafe any of the high vantage points from which he might leap to reach her now. He considers her, high in the air, before he begins… to circulate beneath her.

The air stirs and rotates into a whirlwind. Wind shear pulls viciously at her. The atmospheric pressure starts to drop precipitously, oxygen thinning out as a vacuum forms.


Lacing the ground with his power buys him time, but only that, and Exodus staggers to his feet. While normally he might regenerate to become a pristine version of himself, the strain of maintaining that ever-thumping sphere around them all and just moments ago trying to make the ground his ally leaves him weakened. What was left of his shift falls away, exposing his red skin to open air, and his pauldrons are long a lost cause, bits of them littered across the ground.

Pietro comes for him. Fists curl. One pectoral flexes. Then the other. He seeks power from the depths of those who would call him their champion, from those who might see him as the keeper of the future.

It is not enough.

A blazing lash of demonic sword trails along the ground, and Exodus, Knight and Crusader, calls his own to meet that deadly stroke. Bright white and made of psionic energy, it flashes for a moment before Pietro's blade shears through and cleaves into his body. The force alone sends him spiraling away, trailing hot-white fire where he bleeds into the atmosphere.

The crash into a pile of junk that was twisting with Lorna's call sends metal flying every which way. The crunch of it as it is forced to flatten away from him is even louder. Knitting back together, still bleeding blood fused with pure energy, Exodus lets fire wash from his eyes as he staggers forth, a hand rising against the wind and fury that Pietro is busy kicking up.

He calls into the air. Into Pietro's mind. He calls with a booming voice and the sound of the barrier thump-thumping all around them, escalating. A thump-thump that seeks to drill into the mind with familiarity, with thoughts of comfort and respite from the whole of the world. A reminder of what he once had, and can have again.

"Pietro!! Stop this madness! Stop and listen. Listen!! If my words will do nothing to sway you, if nothing else here can find purchase on what is left of your mind, then listen to this, the sound that comforted you in your darkest times! The sound that you knew as early as the womb!!!"

The sound of Wanda’s heartbeat, thrumming through the air from that shield he has around them all, a final gambit to try to draw some manner of sanity to his mind. His words falter. A vacuum is not deadly to him, but he can no longer carry sound, and the shear power of that wind sends him to his knees.


The chaos of the fight below was too quick for Lorna to maintain a focus on, faster than she could follow. Pietro and Exodus both faster than her eyes could track, much less her magnetic senses. So she focused adding metal where she could, to distract, to impede and to block Pietro’s ability to escape should he want. She lined the barrier with what she could, adding steel to the swirling, tumbling, blasts of Exodus’s powers.

It all looked to be going well.. So long as Exodus could match Pietro’s physical attacks. So long as her father’s knight could hold him there on the ground.

However, there was one thing Lorna needed above others. Air. The need to breathe was important to her. Her physical health, her ability to command vast swathes of metal, to rip a mountain from the earth, to fly, to see with her magnetic senses. It all predicated on her ability to keep breathing and stay conscious.

To dismiss the fray below as something that couldn't properly impact her had been a gross misstep in overconfidence. That she was high enough up that Pietro couldn’t reach her again. That Exodus could handle her sibling and ultimately handle the effects of Limbo.

Perhaps she was more like her father in more ways than she’d ever considered.

Her chest heaved as she struggled to inhale in the suddenly thinning air. Her eyes going wide as she struggled to maintain her position in the howling spin of the vacuum. Her hands stopped directing metal, and scrap yard metal rained down, free from her control.

Lorna gasped, her hands instinctively going to her throat as she tried to breathe and found she couldn’t. Slowly, like a leaf tumbling from a tree in a gentle fall breeze, Lorna fell. She fell to the ground, buffered by magnetic sway, her powers on the wane as black crept in all too quickly into her field of vision. Her eyes water, and choked noises escaped her.

The metal fell from her, armor cracked and fell. Deadened to her magnetism as her body turned off everything that it deemed unimportant in the face of no air. A perfect circle of steel lay crumbled around her in a ring as she collapsed on the ground. Her eyes wide as she struggled to see, to stay awake and aware. Her chest heaving for air that had suddenly been sucked away.

Her lips formed a soundless plea, that she simply didn’t have the breath for. Even as one hand lifted to try to direct a scrap of metal at her brother as the other clutched at her chest.


The blades shriek when they clash. Whatever Illyana's chosen Knight is using, it is not steel.

Of course, that is a foregone conclusion. The simple reason that Quicksilver rarely uses weapons, is that very few can stand up to being swung with the utter force he can put behind them. Whatever he's holding right now, like the hex-weapons his twin makes him, ignores physics as much as he does. It is raw magic and fire. And it's certainly just as sharp as forged steel when it power-swings through Exodus in one sweeping slash.

The thrill of it surges through his blood. His skin feels electric, too-hot. The corruption beating through his veins urges more violence. But what target? His eyes turn, inevitably, up on his half-sister, drifting high through the air. "Cute," he ruminates. "But the wind is mine."

Most weather patterns are really nothing more than varying circulations and temperature gradients of air, and if anyone can stir air up and dump heat in a hurry, it is Quicksilver. Strangling someone of all the oxygen in their immediate vicinity is not something he often does under normal circumstances, a sister of his least of all — asphyxiation is not a pleasant means of death — but the circumstances are certainly anything but normal.

He stops only when Lorna hits the ground, a shred away from blackout. The howling winds, the vacuum he created… those start to die down too, but oxygen doesn't return. His gauntleted hand locking shut around her throat ensures that.

The scrap metal she hurls at him hits him dead in the face, snapping his head back. A silent moment passes. When his faceplate turns back down towards her, a deep gouge runs a diagonal across the featureless visor, the wound leaking demonic energy like black smoke. His grip tightens.

"I know you think you're our father. You put on enough airs for it. Laughable…" Pietro touched Lorna so rarely, and when he did it was always gentle — always an offer of his strength, as an older brother, to lift her back up to her feet. There is nothing gentle about his strength now, when he uses it to hike her from the ground. "You might have the powers, but you never had the conviction. The will to just choose one path. That was always me. That was always — "

He visibly errors, like a program hitting a line of faulty code. A spasm runs him. He doesn't even seem to notice the skip in his thoughts. He speaks on without noticing the dropped sentence. "You don't even know who you are — "

He hesitates only when Exodus addresses him. He lets Lorna go, an error born of his everpresent arrogance. That masked face turns towards the Crusader, and though it obscures his features, the way his head is held speaks of scorn. "I have listened more than enough to you — " he starts, blade lifting to point at Exodus.

Then that sound starts. He freezes. He does not seem to recognize what it is on a conscious level, but the cadence of it digs its hooks into the soul chained under layers of compulsion and corruption. On some subliminal level, he knows exactly what it is. It is the sound of whatever is missing in him — that black void in his heart from which he has been barred, which the corruption will not let him touch or reach.

He cannot take it. He bolts. Quicksilver does what he has always done best: run from reality and the present, in search of somewhere and sometime else. A line of fire scorches the earth as he takes his leave —

— or tries. He crashes into Exodus's barrier, which still holds suspended within its psionic fluctuations the reinforcement of Lorna's swirling metal, and finds it will not let him past. He let them work upon it too long. He let them strengthen it too much.

Being trapped seems to trigger off every panic instinct in his body. For a man built and coded to run, enclosure has a nearly phobic effect. He circles the entire barrier in a heartbeat, seeking a weak point and finding none. Frustration howls out of him as he takes his blade to the barrier with limited effect.

Leave him alone with it too long, however, and he might get somewhere.


Across the world, the Scarlet Witch wages a fierce battle.

She suffers to maintain her astral hold, holding in spiritual war against the hateful onslaught of infernal magic. It crosses the bridge of her soul, and seeps into the hanging void where Pietro Maximoff would be — into the weakness she cut of herself when she gave a piece of everything to him. With him no longer there to hold it, to protect it, she goes toxic.

Its sickness runs the straits of her soul. And across the world, blood drips from Wanda's nose and eyes.

Her already-weak body cannot hold. Against all of Limbo, Wanda feels nothing but her own fallibility.

How easy it would be to give up. How badly a part of her wants to; easier it is to accept, than it is to face certain things —

I see nothing, said the corruption of her brother down on her. How it broke her heart to hear it, every single one of her fears confirmed.

And suddenly, she knows. He was right.

Wanda lets go. She concedes her fight, gives up, lets Limbo take her. Her hands offer themselves up in supplication to let that corrupt magic fill every pore of her soul. Her eyes close.

I am nothing.

And they reopen, blindingly scarlet.

Beyond the sea between them, the same scarlet eyes open of her Brotherhood mutants, all of them standing in a many city-block circle beyond the perimeter of Exodus's psionic cage. Currents of red breathe off them, vesselled from the Witch and through them, smoking bright leylines that cross body to body, carving out a glowing, pulsing rune.

Nothing, wills the Scarlet Witch. Inside that circle, Limbo is no more.


If Pietro had come for Exodus instead of trying to flee, he might have stopped the noise. Instead the Knight of House Magnus curls his fingers to the very Earth, his gaze distant, on the form of the choking Lorna. But soon air is returned to her, as the ground is returned to it's normal state. Limbo receeds from this place as fire brims in the eyes of Wanda, so far away, and in her supplicants here surrounding the trap Exodus had laid for Pietro.

It had almost cost him everything, his body broking, but mending, and it might mend faster, save for the power requires to keep that barrier. A barrier that Pietro rushes, one that is not simply solid, but like living, breathing molassas. To try to push or cut through is to be consumed by it, the pounding of that heartbeat touching every part of him, head to toe. As Limbo slips away, Exodus rises, his power swirling and seeking to latch onto Pietro, to lift him from his precious purchase on the ground and pull him through the air and towards both he and Lorna.

"Lorna. Bindings." Exodus asks this of her, for his power is far to taxed for what he must do next. "Know this, Pietro Maximoff, Scion of Magnus, Heir to the World. Your family is here for you. Rest now."

Words burrow into the pysche, seeking to send him to a dreamless sleep, but it will require letting him go. He must hope Lorna has the strength to catch him.


Air. Sweet air, was only a breath away when Pietro’s hand was suddenly closed around her throat. The grip was tight, bruising, and the pain of it shocked her aware even in her floundering state. She struggled against it, her eyes watering in pain and small sounds escaping her unwilling as she kicked her legs and pulled at the grip on her throat with both hands.

She didn’t even have the breath to plead with her brother to let her go. To plead for air. To plead for him to stop. To fight the control that held him as tightly in its grip as he held her up.

It became harder and harder for her to focus on the pain, even on Pietro’s voice was he lobbed insults at her. Not that much time had passed, but the sudden lack of oxygen had been enough to knock her from the sky before he’d grabbed her in a chokehold.

Her grip failed, her fight slowly leaking from her as the scrap metal that had fallen from the sky lurched toward her in a instinctive measure and stopped in a perfect circle around them. The last reflex of a mind slipping from the lack of much-needed air. Weakly her hand batted at her sibling’s hand, slipping and falling limply to her side. She was seconds from passing out when Pietro’s attention turned toward Exodus.

The pounding sound that echoed around them could have easily been the sound of her own heartbeat in her ears. Lorna couldn’t tell. Not as inhaled ragged, painful breaths, coughing and spluttering as Pietro dropped her. She curled up on her hands and knees, gagging on the sudden rushed and panicked inhalations of breath that her chested heaved in and out.

It felt like everything was lost in those brief moments as Lorna knelt there, heaving and gasping, tears stinging her eyes. She was too weak to stop him from running around and around and around. Too weak to summon a fight if Pietro chose to fight Exodus or finish her off at that moment.

Then came red. A crisscrossing of familiar light, vivid and bright against the gloom of twilight around them. Green eyes stared as she continued to suck in struggling breaths, sitting up as she gaped briefly around them as Limbo bled from the immediate area.

Then Exodus was rising, reaching out to catch her brother and hold him with his psionic powers for her to bind. She struggled to stand with a pained grimace, her hands clenching and unclenching as she closed her eyes and sent her powers outwards. She stumbled, her blood pounding in her ears. Her throat too raw to try to say anything in response. It would hurt too much.

The metal that had circled around her flew with a gesture, a twist of her hands to fly at her brother. She’d pay for pushing herself later, a power burn that would make her nerves feel raw and give her the mother of all migraines.

But it would be worth it. It had to be.

Steel would attempt to close over the psionic grip that Exodus held over Pietro. All the scraps around them layering over each other into a perfect sphere feet thick. She kept going, and would clearly keep doing so until otherwise stopped or the scrap metal ran out.

Lorna wasn’t willing to take risks with her brother escaping.


Outside the barrier Exodus and Lorna have built, a sea of scarlet starts to rise in soundless wreaths of red smoke. These most loyal of the Brotherhood — mutants so fanatic in their devotion to willingly vessel for a child of their savior — stand in their hemming circle around the fray, and let their bodies form the shape of a great rune.

An ocean distant, when the Witch opens her eyes, all their eyes open at the same time… and the rune traces out its shape across the ground and lights up with blinding scarlet light.

Within the confines of that barrier, the Witch tells a small patch of the land it is no longer governed by Limbo. And everywhere the rune spreads, it negates the hold of Hell.

The Knight falls immediately like a puppet with his strings cut. All his kinetic energy evaporates at once from the shock of losing his connection to Limbo. The magic-smithed armor that still encases him — stuck to him like a persistent infection — seems only to weigh him down, now. His hands claw into the earth as he struggles to rise, but the earth no longer responds.

Most importantly… Magik's powerful psi-shields are no longer shared with him. The blade, too, vanishes — though whether it is still connected to him or has reverted to Illyana remains a mystery for now.

Of course, even without access to the power of Limbo, Pietro can still run… which is why Exodus is quick to yank him up and restrain him while he is still stunned, separating him from the earth like a modern-day Antaeus and dragging him closer. Clearly there is still some work to be done to recover him fully from whatever was done to him, for he snarls and resists the entire way.

Lorna reaches out and pushes her powers a last time to plate a cage of metal around her brother. Steel layers thickly around him in a spherical prison, and once enough of it is complete, Exodus releases his telekinetic hold.

There is an immediate resounding clang from within the prison as Pietro dashes his shoulder furiously against it. The steel bows out around the force of the blow, but holds in Lorna's magnetic grip: and the concavity is soon smoothed back away.

It's the only chance he gets to try to escape. Exodus is blanketing his mind a moment later with that injunction to sleep. Without either the protection of his twin's scarlet, or the strong psychic shields of Magik, Pietro's mind is an exposed wire for the Crusader to touch and shut down. His frantic, speed-of-light thoughts slow, stretch out, then stop.

His head hangs, and he slumps, finally quiet.

The world around them, however, starts to become agitated. Someone has noticed the severance of her Knight. The temperature starts to rise as Limbo — as Hell itself — starts to violently attempt to reassert itself in Wanda's radius of negation. All around the barrier that affords them their temporary protection, the ground starts to crack and fissure, slithering somethings issuing forth to grope about as if in an attempt to find the missing Knight — or to grasp ahold of whoever took him.

It would be a good time to go.


The scarlet culls every last ounce of the Inferno within its grasp.

The corrupted Knight falls, severed from Limbo. Butchered free from its body like an amputated limb.

The infernal magic slithers dangerously beyond that flaring, holding rune, testing the burn of that red with barbing, needling tendrils — and losing them to the Witch’s will the moment they breach that boundary.

Annihilated on contact. Removed from this reality, and the realities beyond it.

Limbo’s queen can feel that point of absence radiating through all her kingdom; worse, she can feel the abrupt, violent loss of her prince.

And the Darkchilde is not pleased.

The magic thickens and smolders around that scarlet cage, spreading all around and over its perimeter, pressing force and deepening corruption — Limbo’s power fed past those fixed, vesselled bodies, and straight for Wanda Maximoff’s soul.

Thousands of miles away, the Witch shudders against the retaliating strike. Scarlet mirrors from her unseeing eyes, which drip blood — drip ichor now, running black down her cheeks, as the infernal taint crosses past the spiritual and into the flesh — feeding black into the veins under her skin.

Red seethes from her to hold it back.

The ground fissures. The scarlet responds, turning a thousand points down on it to pull those Things away from Lorna and Exodus both, shredding them to screaming ends under a shrouding cover of red.

«Go,» urges Wanda, her voice whispering through the alleys of life itself. She sounds like she is holding back a small agony.

The Darkchilde meets the Scarlet Witch on the astral field. Her concentration breaks away as she turns, in this world and worlds beyond, to receive the first being she has ever hated.

“You covet what I keep?” asks Wanda. She remembers what he told her — him. Father.

Hold the anger. It’s not enough to feel it. Use it. Control it.

“Then have it all.” Her eyes flash. Beyond the red, beyond the scarlet heart of it all, waits the crux of the Witch’s soul. The thing she has always denied. The horror she has feared and hated. The nothingness that is Wanda Maximoff.

She exiles the Darkchilde to that void. Emptiness. Coldness. Silence. Let her feel what it is to be nothing. To be no one.

It will not hold Limbo’s Queen forever. But long enough to save her only family left.

Wanda seals the hex with a finalizing clap of her palms, linking her fingers and snuffing the last threads of scarlet within. Her eyes open, momentarily blue, before they flutter shut, and she collapses, fatigued.

The Brotherhood blink back the cognizance to their eyes, one by one let go from the Witch’s communion. They take in their first independent breaths.


As Lorna binds Pietro and Exodus takes to his mind, the Knight of House Magnus rises, his body suddenly reforming. His chest no longer bare as the trappings of his station regenerate as easily as his psionically charged body. If one might look at his eyes, they would find the burning fury of a man who had completed his mission, inspired to a sudden greatness by the accomplishment that he will present to his Lord.

But even he can feel it. The insurgence of that power, trying to worm it's way in, slithering from the ground, and slithering towards Wanda's mind. Half a world away, he reaches out, and can feel Wanda's struggle. Half a world away, he can feel her shut the Darkchilde away, and lay Illyana's horde vulnerable.

His act is to follow her bidding, to do exactly as she says.

'Go'

"PREPARE YOURSELVES!!!"

Light crackles around him, bending and illuminating his entire form in that burning exaltation, and then stretching out to Lorna, to Pietro, and the supplicants all. The whole of the eastern seaboard will know the glare of a pisonic explosion, a shimmering miasma of pure power cast to the heights of the atmosphere and evaporating clouds, slithering things, and any demon foolish enough to be within fifty miles of Exodus in this, a moment of triumph.

Somewhere a helicarrier rocks from the impact.

Somewhere the Cerebro flickers and reboots.

Somewhere, single croissant bleeds raw butter.

The power falls back to Earth, sucked into the sudden void left by The Brotherhood teleporting back to Genosha and appearing with their lost Brother in Magneto's court.

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