Alone in the Dark

January 27, 2019:

X-Men and Stark allies move to end the rifts!

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

A great deal of progress has been made on the Rifts. The results of the work of various heroes has meant that many of the people trapped inside them were rescued, there are fewer portals appearing overall, and things seem to be coming under control.

The X-men take much of the responsibility for the rescues of people. Many missions have been launched into the rifts, to search out and find innocents trapped 'between' the spaces of dimensions. Several dozen people have been pulled out, though it does feel a little like treading water: removing two people, and a new one still arrives somewhere! It is a steady and difficult job. Professor X has returned to the X-Men, though, and has given them information, he is keeping the creature inside from collapsing everything and killing everyone in it.

The Avengers and their allies have focused more on the creature itself and the portals. The Avengers have found and are able to track, with assistance of the Justice league and Pym labs, information that could lead to finally either destroying the creature, or restricting what it is doing, and finally closing the portals. They are the primary portal-closing group, as it stands, which has helped the rescue team to have fewer people to need to save. Naturally, there's still crossover.

Today, both teams have gathered. The site is outside of new york, at one of the STARK test facilities, a large outdoor area where pylons have been constructed to hold open a series of portals for reliable use. It's today that a large move is going to be made, though the details have not yet been shared, though the word goes out that Stark is now ready to give a bit of a speech, and organize the venture.

Professor X is present: he was definitely going to come, though he is still very weak. He is ready to assist with the planning, and is bundled in a warm violet blanket in his chair near the meeting area, having arrived with multiple X-Men earlier. There are more to come (and many in the rift currently rescuing people), but these few were chosen to be present at this meeting.

*

Caitlin sure can't complain about her work commute, because she *works* for Stark Industries. Hence her presence here, in a dual capacity— researcher/engineer and Justice League envoy. The tall ginger's wearing a tight-fitting purple catsuit under a white labcoat, and a utility belt slung low on her hips.

"Mr. Stark, we're up and running here," Caitlin says over the communications net. "I'm setting SIRIN to alert me if we fall outside the parametrics but I think we're stable. I'm headed your way," she says, and departs the control panel to head towards the main portal formation platform.

*

Nathaniel is among the Avengers that have been working on a permanent solution to the Rift problem. He was in the team that went through Stark's first artificial rift and he was also the one the creature kicked out of its weird pocked dimension. Rudely. He crashed somewhere in the southern California coast.

Maybe it was he was trying to deploy a dimensional dragnet. It was unpleasant.

It really angered him, although the young man from the future disguises it well. But it prompted him to find the devices he believes will destroy the alien beast among his armor's vast databanks of weaponry. Phase disruptor blasters, y-radiation projectors, dimensional anchors, and worse.

He has also assisted Caitlin and Nadia with less deadly options. But he is definitely not one to try diplomacy again. Besides, how many more people is going to die if the intruder keeps taking civilians?

*

Sage had always been something of an outlier, never truly an X-men, but, when the need arose, adjacent. Still, when she had gotten the call, she had come, joining the rest as they had gathered with the processor and made their way to the staging area. She looked no different than when she was last here. Dark clothes, a plethora of pockets, mostly hidden by her jacket, a pair of modified guns strapped on. And a Pym food ration, which she popped into her mouth as she waited.

*

A Lorna had joined along with the other X-men as soon as the call went out to gather and deal with the rifts and portals that had opened up. She had been a doorstop, holding open portals and closing others that popped up in the Mansion where she could. As well as stopping anything nonhuman from coming out of the portals as much as was possible. There was sea water.. bears, and other threats that might other wise slip through into the Mansion.

The green haired woman stood nearest to Sage, her hands on her hips as she glanced at the gathering and watched with care.

Lorna wore her jumpsuit, all armored up protectively in iron and steel alloys fused to the fibers. A combination of dark greens and blacks, covered over with a leather over coat that hung around her knees. It was too cold out to risk otherwise, at least in New York.

*

"Great, let's get this show moving, we have a big enough audience now, I think," Tony jokes, coming out from a side around a pylon, quickly scanning those arranged. His sunglasses are quite dark, a shadow of sunset in them in the daylight. He's dressed to 'work': a snug athletic style gear that will be most comfortable for donning his suit. He isn't suited up yet, though. He confers quietly with Professor X, then taps the side of his sunglasses once, and his voice becomes boosted through the local speakers just a little. That way, he can be heard in the back.

"Summary time, listen up," Tony begins. "Here's what we know. We have an enormous, dimensional energy creature disrupting space and time, creating rifts. Often, it does these so severely that it pulls and entraps people into a half-dimension, which we have come to conclude is created by the creature. Because it is 'here', this half-place exists. A half-place where people and monsters are stranded and often die."

Tony pauses, and goes on, "The Professor has done what he can to keep the creature stable, so that this middle place doesn't collapse and kill everyone in it. I'm a fan of that, so, good deal. We've done pretty well keeping everything in check with closing other rifts, but we need a real solution, not just treading water. We need to make a choice, today, here. We have a bit of a split vote," Tony says. He looks to Xavier, then continues. "We need to decide if we are going to try to send this dimensional creature 'home' in some way, or if we're going to destroy it. Both of these should stop our problems, and collapse this middle dimension. Both choices require us to stop all portals long enough to rescue everyone, and then deal with the creature…. one way or the other."

*

Caitlin takes her cue and steps up, holding a duffel bag in her hands. It's unzipped and she shows the contents to everyone, metal boxes the size of a small tissue container and adorned with a flat LED display. "Baryon explosives," she explains. "This is, uh, obviously for Plan B. If we have to collapse the bridge entirely, these will create an asynchronous feedback effect. It'll collapse the interim space and the access points in all adjacent realities. It'll, uh… not be good for anyone made of regular matter, either. So they're on a remote switch with a timer backup. These are for a *controlled demolition*, not to be used as hand grenades," she says, and affixes people assembled with a disappproving frown just in case they were thinking about mishandling her precious inventions.

*

Psylocke listens quietly, her chosen attire a full-leather bodysuit to her ankles. She has yet to discover what those thigh straps do, anyway, but it certainly isn't keeping her warm. At Tony's mention of killing the creature there is a shadow that crosses her deep violet eyes. Whether it is resistance to the idea or a thirst for blood, well that remains to be seen.

*

Nathaniel is already armored, except for the helmet, which he keeps in hand. This silver and red armor shows some additions today in the form of shoulder-mounted beam canons, currently retracted to his back but showing behind him. The forearm guards are also thicker than normal, to accommodate the capacitors for the D-anchors.

"If we are to rescue all the survivors we need to parse quickly through the layers of the pocket dimension," he comments. "I am not sure how to arrange it yet, but I will have a clearer view once we are inside. Lets go."

*

"I think what we need to decide, is whether or not we will help this creature to return where it belongs or destroy it. if it is trapped here," Sage offered, "then what we are seeing as destructive attacks on our reality might well be nothing more than the flailings of a dying animal desperate to return where it belongs. So…do we kill it if that is the easiest path to our safety and the safety of the people whoa re being endangered by the rift? or do we do what we can to make sure we save everyone. The people in danger, and this creature."

*

A frown twisted her lips and Lorna crossed her arms, her suit creasing with the metal and leather that covered her protectively. "The easy answer would be to kill it, and get as many out as we can. But that's not necessarily the right choice either. More people are going to be at risk, the longer it stays open.. and we can try our best to save everyone involved.. the Professor—" Lorna glanced at Xavier with a furrowed brow.

"Wouldn't have tried to do what he did if it was as simple as killing it though.."

*

"Okay, team 'save the people': I'd like our telepaths leading here: search and recovery, but they could really use your ability to quickly get people removed, via return-portals you can open," Tony clarifies to Nathaniel. He directs this more to Psylocke also, next: "Would you two work with the Professor on locating and rescue?"

"Next, team 'close portals': Polaris, let's get you to keep on that, and also lead others who are doing it inside right now," Tony decides. Tony directs his attention to Caitlin and her solve. "Good. My opinion is, if the creature doesn't want to be herded home, we're going to have to go with your explosions. So, set that up in an area inside the rifts near the center of where the dimension's center is. I'm certain we can get it's attention: we've done it before. I'm going to try to subdue it, and based on how that goes, I think, will determine if we have to destroy it. So, get ready, everyone, and make sure you're on comms." Tony surveys whoever is left, addresses them, including Sage. "Sage: where do you think you fit best? Go there," Tony grins.

*

"I will go with Polaris. Pulling all of the telepaths to only one mission means that we'll lose the potential to communicate if we somehow lose comms. I would rather avoid that possibility." Sage, having already been standing near Lorna, did not have to move much, as she listened to the mission briefing and then prepared to leave with the team she had chosen to work with.

*

And Iron Guard is going to… team rescue people? That doesn't sit Nathaniel well. But he can understand the logic. His armor can communicate with Stark's machines at the lab and supply the power to open ways out. He did want some revenge on the intruder, though.

There might be time for it later, of course, but as an Avenger he promised saving lives would take priority over everything else. "I… very well, I might be able to help with the search for survivors. The armor scanners are better calibrated for the alien's dimension this time." He puts on the helmet. "I might be able to provide tactical advice to the other teams if we can sustain communication."

*

<Tony> Psylocke sends the single word mentally, as she is uncertain the man is capable at this moment of hearing her voice over the roar of the impending missions, the chattering teammates, and the sound of how awesome he is. She is approaching him deftly, before everyone can scatter. "I have one concern I'd like to voice. I do /not/ wish to kill that creature. But if we herd it back home, so to speak, what is to keep it from coming back to do exactly what it is doing now? It may not be a permanent solution, if we don't have a way to contain it there. Wherever /there/ is."

*

"I'll need someone to cover my back while I'm in there," Caitlin says, nodding agreement. "These need to be set up and calibrated right on top of a few resonance nodes. It shouldn't take long to set but I can't do that if I'm being pestered or distracted," she clarifies. The duffel bag is zipped up and Caitlin heads to a pile of gear nearby to pick through it and prep the remaining equipment she'll need for her part of the operation.

*

The green haired mutant nodded, "Roger that, closing portals is up to us I guess." She flashed Sage a grateful look as the other woman chose to come with her. "Are we inside or outside the portals? It'll be easier from within to shut them to the outside and then jump to one that is relatively close by. Otherwise, I don't think it would work.. right?" She arched a brow as she spoke to Sage, making her way to a portal to do as instructed.

*

Sage nodded as she moved, "Better to work from the inside. if we ene dup outside we'll be running blind trying to find another way in." She glanced over towards Caitlin, "Unless you plan to go with another group, Ms. Fairchild, I think our mission is the one that best compliments yours."

*

"Might?" Tony asks of Iron Guard, dubious, and then smirks a bit. "Of course you can help with that. No offense to our telepaths, but this place is pretty unstable, and the better variety we can use, the better — like Sage mentioned." Not all the telepaths in one spot, not all the tech in one spot. Sorry Iron Guard: save some people!

The mental poke does get a lot of Tony's attention to Psylocke abruptly, he even looked over his sunglasses at her. "From what I've been able to sort out, this was caused by the other portals from our demon invasion, and some instability. We closed those, and this looks similar, if we can banish the thing through it, or destroy it. I guess we can't guarantee it won't just come back, but the demons haven't: so it's a good shot as any."

Tony looks towards Caitlin. "I agree, stick with those closing the portals, and when you find a shady spot, set up near where they're working?"

*

Psylocke seems satisfied by Tony's response, at least for the most part. She nods, then looks to the portals. "Well, then. I suppose that I'll be over there, if you need me." And by over there, she means over /there/. Way over there. In that other place. "I'll do my best, Sir."

*

Caitlin casually hefts a cannon. It's a ray cannon, not a gunpowder one, but the size of the device and the backpack powering it defies any other descriptor. She shoulders her burden without any visible effort and rests the particle blaster on her right hip. "It's… Sage, right? And Polaris?" Caitlin inquires of the two women. Amidst everything else going on, she offers a quick handshake and a flashing, friendly smile to each in turn. "It's really swell to meet you in person. Thanks for having my back in there. I promise to work as fast as I can," she assures them. "I've been in there a few times and come out alive, so it's not *so* bad," she adds.

*

Multiple portals stand open beyond the gathering area, forced open by the large pylons of Stark tech. They are different areas within the dimension, and are labeled, to some decent degree, with monitors next to them showing the readouts from the little drones that are just inside. There are some locations towards the center of the dimensional zone they have mapped, some further. What is known for sure is that at some point, the dimension stops existing: it is like a floating patch in nowhere, where the edges simply cease to be. A patchwork of different places that have joined together to make this dimensional place of lost and misfit things.

"Get to work, then, everyone. I'll update on the status of the creature shortly," Tony assures the group, moving off to get himself suited up into his armor with the gear he'll need.

*

Lorna headed to the nearest portal, nodding to Sage as she made to slip through. It was the first time she'd gone through entirely on her own, not just toyed with her senses over the portal's edges and through a medium with Sage. Her boots clicked and she ducked through the technologically held portal, and paused inside, trying to reach out with her senses to try to orient herself and her powers and falling short. She made a face, her lips twisting.

"I don't know if I can do this. It's.. it's all over the place. the fields.. It's so, all over the place.." She muttered, twisting her gaze this way and that.

*

Sage accepted the handshake, as she waited for Lorna and Caitlin to be ready to proceed. And when they did, that was it. Onward into the breach. Literally. Once they were through, however, she turned, hearing Lorna's words, her uncertainty. "Do you remember what we spoke about in the basement? Focus on the thing you know. Caitlin will help us to get to each of the portals. Focus on me, my signature, use it like an anchor, if you can while we move, try to ignore the rest as much as you can. When we get to a portal, we'll close it."

*

Caitlin's trusting her gear over her instincts. Her portable AI relays a dizzying amount of information to the HUD in her left eye, and it takes her a few seconds to orient herself. "This way," she tells the other two women and gestures with a wave of her hand. The tall redhead strikes out with a determined step towards the first nodal point, projecting an air of quiet confidence for the two who are following in her wake.

*

<Directions, Professor?> Psylocke sends the question to Charles as she approaches the portals. <How best do we do this?> She turns back to Charles, watching him expectantly, and ready to fulfill whatever orders he should give, before stepping up to one and preparing to pass through.

*

Lorna offered Caitlin a distracted smile, "Nice to meet you, sorry, I'm just.. I'm very distracted by the polarity in this place. It doesn't have a north and south poles. It can't. It's a pocket dimensional vortex and each of the portals have their own magnetic structure. It's.. like being in a room with TVs all blaring white noise. They're at different pitches and I can't really block them out as easily as I normally can." She made a face, but waved a hand forward. "Lead on." She offered as she followed after Caitlin, and glanced back to Sage, swallowing a look that expressed just how bad the rising nausea twisted in her stomach when she tried to focus on the fields. She exhaled a slow breath, and nodded once.

"Right, focusing.. on you then.." She muttered, with a grimace.

*

Xavier's answer to Psylocke is a distracted one: he is still focused on what he was doing before: finding the creature. But he helps her network, and broaden her range: he can sense almost every mind in the whole of the rift area, even though he isn't in it, and creates a mental map for her to follow. It isn't perfect, since the dimension isn't stable, but it shows clearly those closest to her, and can assist, at least. He guides her to the best place to start, where the most panic is felt. It does happen to be near Lorna's area: there's threats there on the people.

The landscape inside the portals depends on which portal is entered. Lorna's group has come out into a city area that's mostly in squalor: a poor area of town, run down, trash and debris everywhere. Portals are heavy here: lots of them wink in and out, the instability high. That means there are dangerous creatures here, many of them familiar to Psylocke and Sage: the low pools of standing ocean water breed the hungry, crocodile-like creatures, and there are many here. To the east, the massive energy signature of the creature coils and moves in the sky: distant, but the thing is so huge, it's easy to still get a scope of it, and sense the sheer energy of it and how it impacts the very rifts of reality around it.

**

Elsewhere… with an energy serpent…

The overly confident Iron Man has suited up and shot with a flare of light into the portal furthest from the center of the lattice of zones. "Sure, yeah. This is fine," Tony says to himself and the AI. And to the mile long of huge glowing energy serpentine shape curling and waving in the 'sky' over the most recently drawn in section of cityscape. Without more of a word, Iron Man blazes off to try an idea. Winging it is sort of his thing.

*

"This is probably gonna make some of 'em mad," Caitlin says quietly to her teammates. She unlimbers the cannon and sets it aside. From the sound of it, the thing must weigh sixty or seventy pounds. Difficult for most to shoot from the hip, so to speak.

She produces the first demolition device and starts arming it, which looks to be a fairly complex process. "Tony, I'm setting the first charge," she says into the group comms net. "I'll be just a few minutes."

*

Sage moved with caution, as they approached the city, glancing between Caitlin and Lorna, "Psylocke and I encountered a place like this when we first entered the rift to search for Charles. Watch where you step, and avoid the water at all costs. When we were here before there were…monstrous creatures in the water, that looked like a combination between crocodiles and spiders. And they can teleport, but seem mostly restive, waiting for prey, rather than trying to seek it out." As she walked, she stepped forward, not knowing if it would help Lorna, but attempting to place a hand on her arm, to, in that place of contact, overlay her fields with the other woman's, so that she did not need to search for Sage's signature.

*

It was a tingling. A feeling like there was some kind of advanced compass inside of America that said something was wrong. She'd known it since she got here. Something was wrong in this place. Something was wrong with this world. Perhaps that was the initial reason for her to stick around. Perhaps there was more to it? Either way, this entire madness had drawn America in like a moth to flame. THe only difference is that America can take the heat.

She had come in to deal with the serpent but the people were in trouble and strange crocodile snouts needed punching…hard. She had entered long before the others had arrived, having come in to try to figure out what the hell was going on. Now she is in amongst strange crocodile-like creatures, giving it to them hard. Of course, she is getting it back hard, too. Across one leg is a massive bite mark that has ripped into her pants, ripping a leg of pants clean off but luckily leaving the leg behind. There is a small crowd of the creatures in various positions of disarray around where America Chavez stands. One in particular has clearly had its mouth forced way too wide and has a piece of pants in its teeth.

One Crocodile races forward and lunges at Chavez only to be punched straight into the ground before three more lunge from behind. America's hurt leg slams down with enough force to send a rocking shockwave toward them to send them flying up into the air and in varying directions. A fifth races at her side and she catches it by the top and bottom jaws with a grimace, sliding backward with a growl as she wrenches it left and hten right before slamming it hard intot he ground. People are all around the area, some fleeing, others watching with fear and fascination as America faces the crowd, heaving heavily.

*

A slow nod escaped Lorna as she listened to Caitlin as she set the heavy cannon aside and went to work. Sage's mention to not step in the the water had Lorna lifting into the air slightly, a few inches off what served as the ground of the pocket dimension and she grimaced, her head pounding as she pushed on what fields she could and her whole frame wobbled for a moment. Even with Sage's touch, it was hard for her to grasp at the magnetic fields to lift herself up to fly.

What should have been solid in her mind's eye.. the metal core beneath her feet and the magnetics fields above weren't there.. and she had to use her own power to balance herself entirely. It was slippery work and required intensive focus, using Sage as the marker for her mental space as she did so.

"Great. Of course there's teleporting spider-things. Of course there is." She muttered, sweeping her gaze around now in paranoia.

*

Psylocke takes a deep breath, and plunges into the portal before her, quickly following the mental map that Charles has shared with her. It's close enough to accurate: even approaching the general area, she can sense the minds of those around her, and she reaches out to them. <If you can hear this…Help is here. I am looking for you, and I have a way out of this place. Don't be afraid. There are many great minds working here to help you escape.

Having helped a handful of people back to the portal, however, Psylocke senses a greater disturbance. It isn't far off, but far enough that she has to run. The urgency is such that it pushes her harder and faster than she has been pushed before, here. Minds in panic. Injury. Anger. People in danger. When she is close enough that she feels that she can reach out to more than one, Psylocke broadcasts a single thought. She moves to the top of a hill where she may be able to be seen most easily, and she calls those in need to her. <I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.> She does her best to instill the image of a radiant violet aura around her, so that she can be seen. <I have a way out. I can keep you safe if you come to me. It's time to get you home.>

*

"Would it be an X-Men mission without teleporting spider things?" What humour Sage seemed capable of expressing, she did so now. Because really…when did an X-Men mission ever go to plan. She did look towards Caitlin, "Let us know when you are ready, and we will begin losing the portals." They continued on, until they were close enough to hear the sound of commotion. "Stay with Caitlin, Polaris. I'll take care of this." She moved, to intercept the sound, drawing her guns as she did. Without Psylocke's psyblades, she would simply have to make due.

*

A grimace twisted Lorna's lips at the sounds of commotion up ahead, Sage's comments earned a wry look and a twist of her lips. "Did you just make a joke?" She teased, more amused at the fact that Sage had loosened up around her enough for jokes. Still as Sage took off and told her to stay put with Caitlin the smile faded from the green haired woman's expression and Lorna settled her feet back on the ground.

"Gotcha." Her gaze turned back to Caitlin.

"Tell me when to do whatever needs doing, I guess I'm with you.."

*

Betsy's method of gathering people is entirely reasonable, and she has backup: Iron Guard is there to start to make places for those she finds to be rescued through. And it is not like the people want to hang out: most of them are starving or injured. The terrain is what makes the job for Psylocke particularly difficult: the people have a hard time getting to her!

"Take your time, it's only grown another half-mile…. no… it's compacting, scratch that," Tony replies on the communicator, primarily to Caitlin, but everyone can hear him, really. And some background sound of his music: some Guns'n'Roses, in this particular case. "It's noticed me, so we're doing just great over here. It's creating portals which I'm trying to direct into a nullifying area from earlier, but I'm going to see if I can stun it. Success is … to be determined. Keep me updated on your end."

*

One more crocodile spider thing gets thrown to the side only for America to pop her head up, push her hair back and blink. There were now roughly ten of the things standing around her. Odd hissing, growling noises coming from them as they surround her and she nods, "Alright." She spits blood on the ground and puts up her hands, "One at a time or all at once?" She asks and then suddenly they all rush forward and she goes down under a hiss of scales, legs, teeth, and fists.

At first it looks like the creatures were gonna feast on the woman or whatever it is their goal was until suddenly one goes flying straight up into the air flailing as it goes. A foot sticking straight up and then suddenly the whole crowd slumps down and then bursts out in all directions. America goes flying straight up into the air holding two by the arms and spinning as she goes. She releases the two which go flying off in two different directions. She breathes heavily, looking scratched up and bruised but otherwise fine, "Alright…" She looks back down, "All at once." And she flies back down with a smashing crash that cracks the pavement and sends the ground caving in downward, sending many of the creatures flailing downward nad leaving America floating there with a glare on her face that she turns toward the flying serpent, "You're next snake thing…just keep waiting. I'll be with you in a moment."

*

Psylocke, once the people have seen her, begins down the hill, keeping the image of the brilliant violet aura as high and wide as she can, so that she can still be seen, even if she is at lower altitudes. She rushes toward the people approaching her, in case they run into further obstructions. Or spider crocodile things. <I'm coming to you…keep trying. Once we all meet up, we'll get you to a portal that will take you home. You're so close, and you've been so brave. Don't give up now…>

*

Caitlin sets the charge with no incidence and rises. She picks up her cannon and the powerpack and nods at Sage and Lorna. "That's one down. Let's get to the next point." They find the next location with little incident and Caitlin repeats the process, laying down one more of the explosive devices and turning her back to the strange demi-world in order to focus on the task of arming and equipping it.

*

Sage made it perhaps three quarters of the way towards the sound of fighting, before the melee made it into the open air. And that was a sight in and of itself. Clearly, however, the woman was able to manage on her own. Sage did shout, though it was hit or miss whether she would be heard over the punching and splashing, "The job's over here!" But she did not approach. Instead, she turned back, sensing Lorna's distress and moving to attempt to offer support where it was clearly needed. They did, after all, have a job to do, and she could not sense any humans in danger where the creatures were. "I'm ready when you are." That, to Lorna and Caitlin, ebfore she moved to the next point.

*

Lorna followed along beside Caitlin, on high alert, even while it was clear the young woman was uncomfortable with the magnetic fields of the dimension. It would take time, but she could adjust if she had to.. It simply was that they didn't have time for her to get comfortable. So the green haired woman tried her best to work with what connections she knew, what was familiar and with what she could grasp on the fluctuating polarities of the dimensional pocket. Sage's return was met with a look of relief and a nod.

*

Destroying the creatures means their blood is thick in the water, and will, in turn, draw more hungry creatures of additional types. They may be a lot worse than the strange multi-limbed crocodiles and their heavy jaws. Moving on may be prudent: but then, it is drawing the creatures away from the rescue areas, so there's some decent logic here.

Except, that is, that it's drawn a small, juvenile crocodile to sneak up behind Caitlin and her device, very quietly…. but it won't attack, merely accompany the group and watch for food more it's size. Proof that, in reality, they are just hungry, not aggressive for aggression's sake.

**

The tension, and feel, of the dimensional area suddenly shifts. It is as if there were an earthquake, yet it is more like the way the earth was oriented was real, and then less real. And from the comms: "My bad, everyone!" from Tony. And not much explanation. In the sky, though, the serpent has dropped from sight, downwards.

*

Once the trio was back together, things seemed, in their way to settle. The charges were set, the portals were closed as they passed them, and at least on their side of the mission, things were looking up. Sage offered what support she could to Lorna, whether it was by her proximity, or by the silent words of support she offered her. Some sentiments were not meant to be spoken, and, though she knew it was not something she would be inclined to do in the real world, Sage offered those touched of telepathic support now. She was no Charles Xavier, but she had learned at his feet. And some lessons you don't forget. Sage sent into the comms, "We've done about everything that we can do here, but the longer we wait, the more portals are going to continue to open. We need to deal with the creature. Psylocke…how close are you to being finished?"

*

"Your Bad? You broke the dimension??" Psylocke has reached the others, and gathers them to her, quickly leading them back up the paths of least resistance to the portal and delivering them into the waiting and helpful arms of assistants who can see to their health and safety. She delves into one portal after another, resurfacing with more survivors, until there is one portal left.

"I'm getting the last of the ones Charles and I can sense now." And with that, she continues on to a small pocket of people living in a cave, where she does as she has before, leading them back to the portal through treacherous paths, and putting blades in things that need blades put into them.

*

Taking the words of Sage to heart, America isn't in any mood to argue and looks around. The last of the people where America was has fled the scene and she has taken out a great deal of the creatures. She turns and flies straight after Sage and in the direction she indicated. She arrives fairly quickly to where Caitlin is and lands with a light step, giving the smaller crocodile thing a glare but nothing more. A bit of blood at her lip, a bleeding leg that is merely oozing at this point, she gestures where the serpent was, "So, I assume you lot are getting ready to deal with that?" She asks and looks to the portals and then back at the others around, "Cause, I'm here to deal with that." She nods her haed, "I saw most of the people leave the area I was in so I think they're pretty safe."

—-

TO BE CONTINUED

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