1964-04-25 - Three Chances
Summary: Skali helps Strange dispatch some zombies after his attempt to save them goes awry.
Related: Mornings Are Hell
Theme Song: None
strange skali 


It's high time for another check-up. No, not on the Varg, not on the Inhuman Royal, not on Hell's Kitchen… No, it's the damn park with its damn ley lines and convergence points for Fateful happenstances and it should come as no surprise that Strange Gates into a secluded section of Central Park with more zest than normal.

A roll of splitting air precedes him as he steps out; the grass rushes back as the rift's linings crackle with energetic snarling sounds. He doesn't have the sleeves to his undershirt rolled up — the wrist-wraps keep them behaving and not billowing as is — but that's definitely the No Nonsense expression. His crimson Cloak furls as he turns on the spot, aligning himself with the nearest gathering of things that frankly should not be: undead. Zombies…and not the shambling type. No, these terrors are quick on their feet, retain some of their humanity, and more than enough intelligence to be a proper challenge for the Mundane police department. The cordons are working well enough, thank the gods.

The Sorcerer Supreme is here to test a theory. It's a particular spell he dug up from the Book of the Vishanti, one that reverses a curse. If these zombies are spawned of a curse…perhaps he can revert them to their previous state.

If not, well…there's always some spells that slice and dice the meat-munchers.

To anyone familiar with him, scent or Mystical signature, it's blatantly obvious as to where he is.


A wolf is a creature of habit. Police tape and quarantine areas be damned, an inspection of her territory was still required. The little minx had slipped through the cloud cover overhead and landed on the otherwise deserted expanse of green that formed the concert area. It had been reseeded for summer, thus making the furrows she formed upon greenery all the more criminal. From feet to hip to head, she rolled with the impact and came up with a shake that would have made much more sense if her form was canid. Clean landings were such a bother on two legs. Picking a twig out of her hair, she brushed off the dirt as best she could and stilled as her nose flared with the scent on the wind.


The comment was made to nobody in particular, brows furrowing even as she leaned casually into a light run that deposited her next to the Good Doctor in seconds. The wind blasted against every open piece of fabric on his person upon her arrival. Subtlety wasn't Skali's strong suit. Grass-stained and dirt smeared, she tilted her head curiously at what had the Sorcerer Surpreme in such a mood.


The head tilt likely took in the sudden formation of mudras and sensation of a lightning strike averted. Strange tastes static for how he yanks on the instinctive lash-out against sudden approach. Swallowing down the spell and grimacing for it, he scowls at the Varg.

"Skali Kineseeker," he growls with the faintest reneging that keeps it from a true snarl. "Do not sneak up on a Sorcerer. What are you doing here? Didn't you see the police tape?" He catches his impasssioned logic by the tail a second later and lets out a long, slow sigh, like a kettle. "I assume you did. Care to…assist me?" His smile is all teeth. "No doubt you can smell the living decay on the air."


Skali bristles as her curls fill with static, the taste of ozone on the back of her tongue as she averted her eyes. Surprisingly the hint of electricity in the air cowed her more than his anger, which normally she would have railed against for the sake of defiance. The formal use of her title as well as the sincerity in his tone made her slink more than usual, waiting for the question to be posed before she responded.

"Is that what it is?"

She didn't admit that carrion had a pleasant smell, even twisted as it was by unnatural magic. Sweet and heady, better than sweat or the iron tang of blood; she tried to ignore the salivation that bobbed her throat in a thick swallow.


"The undead, yes." He flips a hand with a decided lack of respect towards a small grove of trees not far from where they both stand. "There's a…group. Cluster. Mob? — of them in there. They're waiting on joggers to go by on the path, but thank gods for the cordon and word of mouth. Nothing but squirrels for them for at least a week now." Strange's eyes, still backlit with the Arts, slide to the Varg. His smile faded some time back, but it returns in a knife-thin curve. "I've got a spell to test on them, but…I need someone interested in harrying them. Skillfully, mind you. I need them hamstrung but not dismembered. If the spell fails…"

Yes, it does hurt, deep down inside to finish this sentence, but it's a mercy of sorts for the ones turned towards the unliving.

"If it fails, they'll need to be dispatched. Completely. No chance of reviving or limbs crawling about of their accord." His gaze continues to rest upon her. "I know that you owe me no favor, Skali, but if you'd like to indulge yourself…"

The thought is left hanging. Deliberately.


Her hands were shaking now. Flexing and twisting against the palms of her hands, the nails already pressing out of their beds to leave little crescents in the human flesh. The nose that had initially brought her to his side hadn't ceased to twitch since arriving at heel, and now it was her turn to smile. The teeth were too sharp.

"Historically you frown upon my indulgences."

Her eyes turned up to consider him slyly, and the pupils were dilated to pinpricks in the sun's gold gaze.


"I frown upon your indulgences if they leave unnecessary carnage in their wake," he correct with no malice or intent to insult. Simply a statement of truth. "However…should my attempt to revert them to their previous state fail, it is a mercy that we dispatch them. Their minds are beyond saving in this case."

Strange returns that canny look with one impressing caution upon the Varg. "I need you to be accurate with those teeth, Kineseeker. I don't want their spleens thrown into a nearby pond. Hamstring them — all of them — and let me conduct my experiment." He states this with infallible certainty. There will be no deviating from his plan…if he has his druthers. "Unless you'd rather sit here and watch me work. It's a dull position, the sidelines."

And the Sorcerer has the gall to shrug about as obviously as he can manage. Poke poke poke.


Skali bends at the waist, slipping out of her boots after the laces were flicked apart with practiced ease. The jeans followed, the shirt peeled off, all of the procedure of undressing clinical save for the little laugh she afforded him.

"The spleen is the best part. Throw it into a lake, pah!"

The deference had been short lived, and the words were spoken with that infuriating smile she had inherited from her grandfather. Naked for but a moment, the flesh gave an involuntary shudder of anticipation, her head tilting back as a little noise of deeply rooted joy formed on her tongue. Then her skin came apart like paper, the dermal layers ripping underneath the flux of hair and musculature that could not fit within a human guise, and the only noise left was snapping of sinew and bone.

When the re-ordering of form had been completed, she stretched catlike to rub against his hip as if grateful for the excuse to luxuriate in this skin. Then with a flick of her tail, she was gone. He didn't have to wait long to see the shadows of reanimated limbs emerging from the darkness beneath the trees, chasing a creature that twisted and turned, nipped and then pivoted, frisked about the edges of the group before cutting a straggler clean. There was nothing merciful in the way she hunted, every last attack clinical in its precision but toyed with for long and unnecessary moments while her tail wagged high and her massive maw gaped with a macabre smile.

Oh she was following direction - creatively.


With a 'hmph', Strange does not avert his gaze to the unspoken challenge to his proprieties. Note that it remains above her collarbone with unwavering focus and an arched eyebrow to boot. He does wince — it's only natural, since the skin makes a very visceral noise as it splits to reveal fur — and when the shapechanged Varg brushes past him, he does risk a passing glance of palm along her shoulder.

His lips fall to remind her of the task before her, just in case the bestial tendencies took over the logical forebrain within that skull, but…no need. Swish, off she goes, and effectively — and efficiently — runs circles around the stumbling zombies.

It gives the Sorcerer time to remember the spell. Raising his hands again, he readies himself with a centering cycle of breathing. The Words rest heavily upon his tongue, threaten to slip between his teeth, and he waits a bit longer. Let the Varg have her fun.

Still, he speaks, and with the Mystical power flooding through his veins like ice-fire, his voice has a distinctly-odd timbre, deeper and wavering slightly as it carries into the fray: "If you would return to me when none retain their limbs, please."


Fun had most certainly been had. The magic set her hair on end, the bristling mane of dark grey doubling her in size as she completed the last nip of tendon. The wet sound of skin hitting the ground and groan of the unfortunate soul echoed Strange's words and she pranced back to him, paws lifted high as her demeanor was obviously out of sync with the fate of the damned before them.

She sprawled at his feet, rolling happily in the grass until the blood that flecked her muzzle was cleaned and her focus returned to the dead below. The effort had been minimal enough that her breathing wasn't hurried, her consideration of the spell work curiously ambivalent. Despite a selfish desire for the situation to play out one of two ways, she held her tongue and let the Sorcerer do his work. The power hung heavy in the air and made her pant with smiling jaws, as if basking in it like sunshine.


He sidesteps at her initial return, bloodied snout and excited ruff alike, and waits until she seems to settle before nodding.

"Thank you, Skali. I appreciate your efforts. Very precise." Strange tries to ignore the scent of spilled ichor. It's metallic and somehow cloying sweet, sluggish and slowed by the curse of undeath. It slips beneath his skin and causes him to shiver beneath his battle-leathers. Scent has a funny way of bringing back fell memories; the ghost of pressed violets is enough to make his aura crackle for all of a moment before settling back to rippling state. "Allow me three attempts."

He offers out a palm in passing, unthinking offering in case of a nudge or some form of canine affection, and then lifts into the air. Space is needed in deference to the Varg's sensitivity to magic. About a dozen feet up, not far at all from the pile of squirming undead that all complain in various groaning pitches — gods below, they look like humanoid maggots, UGH — the Sorcerer takes aim with his spell.

The Words spoken resound as if drawn from a bell. Sharp, lingering, they surround his form with a swirl of plasmal fog, silver so bright as to be nearing white. Flashes of the crimson Cloak and storm-blue battle-leathers can be seen through the wavering mists before it all swirls up to coallesce between his hands outheld before him. A near-blinding flash…and the spell blows out before him in an expanding wave. It washes over the undead, bringing forth a sudden upswing in the groans that reach a near-yell. It's like disturbing a beehive without the stings…thank the gods.

The spell peters out beyond the far edge of the woods and Strange hangs there in mid-air, every loose piece of fabric on him undulating within the field of his aura…and waits.


The offered palm receives the nudge of a cold nose, even as it rises with the rest of his frame into the sky. Perhaps she sensed his unease at the writhing corpses laid to waste by her teeth, and sought to settle whatever nerves a Sorcerer has before attempting such a spell. More likely was the way he smelled, the perspiration on his skin, the familiar spice he preferred in his dark tea, wet leather, all of it melding with the magic in the air that he coaxed into existence. The wolf was more inclined to admit affection that the woman, and it manifested in the idle whap of her massive tail in the grass as she watched him ascend.

Like an unholy orchestra, his guidance played the prey into a discordant chord of desperate mewling The sound brought Skali to her feet in a graceful roll, all languid relaxation gone as her body went still, musculature coiling to spring. Gold eyes darted towards the heavens, the crack and twist of his cloak, the sizzle of the spell still sinking into her pores as she whined despite herself.

One down. Two more to go. There was no doubt the wolf was counting.


Hmm. First time seems to shift something within the mewling mass below…but not to a visible degree. It's something that Strange can sense through the squeak-squeak grinding of his teeth.

It was supposed to work the first time, gods dammit.

"Hold, Skali," he says over his shoulder, after noting that she's risen to her paws. Frowning thunderously, the Sorcerer then gets to casting the second part of the spell. A rush of wind smelling of dry flint and carbon seems to rush by from nowhere, drawn from some reality that only Strange can See with his Mystical sight. Werelights in hues of lurid green appear over each and every one of the intact heads of the zombies. They seem to writhe all the more for the light shining down upon them, gnashing and flipping up blood-spattered forest loam. The lights begin to dwindle out, candles running out of wick, and then flash a brilliant anti-black before snuffing out.

The Varg might sense the disappointment manifesting as a drop in barometric pressure around the Sorcerer Supreme. His sigh is slower, more sibilant than before, the warning hiss of a cornered cobra.


The creature prowled, for every failure that the Doctor evidenced in the fall of his shoulders, the slow exhale that hissed between his teeth, the tightening of his jawline - there was a corresponding rise in intensity as Skali raked at the ground with her claws and paced. The line she walked was furrowed into the dirt with the repetitious gait - back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Another pause in motion as the lights glowed into pearlescent existence, flickered, guttered out like the false air in the dying lungs of the corpses. The twin suns of her gaze turned back up to the Sorcerer - smiling as only a wolf can.

One more.

The words 'dispatched completely' hung between them while the man attempted to salvage lost souls and the godling hungered to devour them.


Last…but certainly not least. The final trick up his wrist-wrapped sleeves. Wiggling scarred fingers and lifting his chin as if to challenge the very Fate that denies him success in his endeavors, Strange readies himself.

Remember that barometric drop in pressure earlier? It continues, causing enough of a shift to pop ears and make it difficult to breathe within a certain radius. The inward sucking of air basically denies naught but a shocked gasp if too close. Reality literally wavers around him, giving the impression of a desert mirage in oily swirls against the backgrop of the night sky. Lightning blitzes across the expanse above him and no thunder follows in its wake, for its spidery tendrils are cobalt-blue limned in citrine. It flashes again and crashes into the Sorcerer's outstretched palms. He visibly grimaces, tendons strained for controlling the mad influx of power. Nothing shakes, but he teeters on the edge of shivering from the wrists down. The sphere of the spell looks akin to a plasma ball between his palms and when it's thrust towards the bunch, it hums with distorting the fabric of reality around it.


Anyone sensitive to the Arts felt that sucker hit. The zombies release a final shivering wail, the cries of the damned, before falling silent.

They lie inert as if stunned…before taking up that squirm of unnatural discomfort.

Strange lowers his hands. The silence hangs. Finally, slowly, he descends to the earth. The Varg is given a rather cool look even as he stalks to stand beside her. "They are yours to dispatch." Devoid of emotion, he says it with about as much animation as a funeral director intoning the prices of coffins. His back remains towards the woods, unconscious dismissal of his efforts.


She waited until his feet were on the ground. She waited until the dust settled in his efforts, the fur lying flat once more after the flex of power. Her ears flicked forward as his words fell. Then she gently pressed her body against his hip, shoving her muzzle up and into one of those hands that had been so powerless to save the men and women writhing underneath the boughs of old trees. The sensation of jaws reshaping cracked the bones and teeth, an allotment of suffering to offer gently in that tongue of old things,

"Not everything can be saved."

And then she was gone, the long guard hairs like smoke between his fingers, descending on the pile of flesh and bone and rending it into nothingness. There was a riotous glee the Varg let herself be lost in, a dispersal of viscera and lives that she rolled about in after consuming her fill, shaking off flecks of souls that could not be reclaimed with a grin that split open her face. Poisoned as the bodies were, she completed the task requested, leaving nothing but flatted earth soaked with blood. When she finally returned to where the Sorcerer had turned his back on the effort, she reeked of filth and death, a blight that did not falter even as her body twisted, shifting back into naked skin and human guise. Underneath the blood, the abattoir flushed as if drunk whilst struggling back into her jeans, a glance turned towards the Sorcerer that may have been apologetic if she had the humility to feel embarrassed for what she was.

But Skali never apologized for such immutable truths. In fact, she only seemed sad he measured himself in failure.


His flat glare is not for Skali, not for the Varg who takes a critical moment to impart a sense of the human despite the muscles that shift beneath her thick pelt. It would singe the very grass before it even as the acid eats away at his throat. His hands, tingling with having conducted such massive amounts of eldritch might, flex into the softer fur about her skull in instinctive reply to return such a gesture. Frustration might eat Strange alive, but at a distance, he recognizes an effort made and tries to return it, even with such a weak attempt as it is.

The Sorcerer won't look. He won't listen. He closes off the world around him and while she frolics in what she does best, he bleeds. His heart aches because, indeed, it is harder to measure success when failure is so brutally apparent at the instance of its flowering. One never gets used to it, not on the scale of lives.

Her presence is eventually noted, even as the smell reaches his nose, and his breathing cycles to through his lips only. He'll need to wash his own hair once this is all said on done because even the ghost of the destruction will linger in it. Same with the Cloak.

"Thank you." It seems to physically hurt him to bite out the words. "They are not suffering anymore." All the while, he doesn't turn his face from its cant, still looking somewhere a couple yards out and through whatever it is.


"No. They are at peace."

It was impossible to conceal the light panting still in her voice, something warm and sweet in the tone. For a moment she steadied her breath, pulling back on the blouse she had worn to this meeting and buttoning the edges carefully back together. The blood soaked through light pink in splotches of dark brown. The curls still hung heavy with the filth she had rolled in. And yet, as each foot slipped into a boot, she let him have that contemplative silence before finally mustering a gentle.

"I will lay to rest any that you find."

The wolf made no mention of favors, bundling back her dark curls into an elastic banding after her boots had been laced. They squelched against the wet earth. She shivered and rolled back her shoulders, as if trying to fit into this skin once more and finding it so - constricting.


The scarred hands curl up into tight fists at his sides. Moving seems anathema to Strange, holding so very still as a result of raging internal confliction, but her offer registers through the ringing in his ears. The bundling of scar-pocked extremities relax simply for the soreness of overtaxed muscles and nerves even as he straightens his spine, clearly coming to some unspoken conclusion on matters. It's not a happy one for the composed expression on his face. It's a mask that he presents as he looks upon her.

"Thank you, Skali," he says again in that sterile tone. "I expect to need your assistance again before the end of this…madness." Another word rested on the end of his tongue, but he's a gentleman at heart. "We should go. Someone's bound to have heard the noise and come to investigate."

The Sorcerer has no interest in having the police catch wind of his actions and increase their presence.

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