1963-09-20 - Illy of Oz
Summary: Oh look, green apes flying out of a Hellmouth! It must be time for Illy of Oz and Glory, Witch of the East, to deal with it.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
elizabeth illyana 

"<Okay, you sons of bitches,>" Illyana rasps, bringing her Soulsword up to a garde position. She's exhausted— feet spread wide, head and shoulders slouching, and her muscle-corded forearms straining to keep herself properly balanced. She's haggard, hair burned in places, and her yellow leather vest and skirt torn and stained with vile gore, effluvia, and some kind of acid. Her dark leggings and sleeves are rent and torn in places from claw and tooth, and she's bleeding from more than a few holes.

The half a hundred shadowy, smoky piles of ash nearby being borne away on the wind are mute testimony to the army that Illyana's stopped from a particularly violent hellblister opening up off the main trunk of the Hellmouth— and the children cowering in a school bus behind her give the 'why'.

"<Who's next?>" she demands of the growling, green-furred apes prowling towards her in a loose semicircle, the winged demons short but massively muscular and sporting a wide variety of crude weaponry that reeks of the Abyss.


Knowledge of the troubles in Central Park draw certain people to the site, rather than drives them away. Whatever that driver is defines the nature of the individual. Of course there's curiosity, the need to validate whether the stories are true. Some want photographs and stills they can sell to international newspapers or post to ABC, CBS, NBC, all the big news theatres. They want money and fame more than verity.

Then some have a personal reason to be here. A pair of katana and a wakizashi normally would be difficult to conceal, but a long, oversized coat might do that. The fact few of the onlookers can see her is a help, too. Law enforcement fails to register the young woman skulking under the trees, but with so large a park a perfect perimeter is almost impossible. Even more uniquely, this particular woman might as well be a shade of all she stands out. The routes that lead around Central Park should be blocked off, like they would be if the United Nations held its general assembly and the president of the United States arrived while the latest chairperson of the Soviet Union sent a lackey instead.

The why matters much less than the what. A survey gives that young woman a good idea of what she is dealing with. One woman, one sword. The faint tip of her mouth tilts up at the corner. The coat is loosened, the sword at her back adjusted in its cradle while she pulls out another a fraction, just a thumbs-breadth. Green apes with wings are hardly the sort of trouble to deal with. She can understand the English and the intent, too. No time like the present to walk into the fray, surely?

Cover is lacking to simply leave an ambush in passing. They will pass her, however, before she chooses to engage. Then it may seem like she simply fell out of the sky — off a branch, good enough — to crash into the back flank, the concealment shields bled away. Illyana won't be given much warning by speech; she's not the sort, is Elizabeth Braddock, to talk while in combat. Laugh, yes, and that's when the katana blade ends up drawn in a blindingly fast sweep to somewhere critical.


Betsy's blades bite deep, but the effect is more akin to striking hard old oak than flesh and blood. There is no 'draw and cut', and while Betsy's blades are sharp, there's apparently a lot of physics in the way— or more likely, the demonic remnants of Oz's armies are simply cheating somehow.

Illyana's blazing eldritch blade swoops and dives and parries, and where it passes, only smoke and ash remains. Each blow seems to suck the living essence from one of the simians, leaving it wheezing and disabled, or worse— she overcomes their structural integrity with stout enough blows that it prevents the demon from being able to maintain that form, and they crumble to ashes.

"Is bad time for heroics!" Illyana shouts at Elizabeth in heavily accented Russian. "You have holy water? Would work better than poking with metal," she calls, before dodging two heavy blows from a mace, then running the ape through the belly and throwing his disintegrating corpse at an ally.

She's tiring.


Oh, she's not terribly worried when the ancient blade fails to slice through flesh. Not unexpected, altogether, though Elizabeth simply adjusts her process. She can sheath the sword almost as fast as she draws it; and the reaction therein is a rapid shift of the positions. She steps back onto her heel and for a moment looks impossibly fragile: a single human, defenseless, open-handed.

Then sixteen points emerge from her knuckles, reversing the bloom of a lotus into a single blindingly bright blade, as long as the steel she wields, infinitely better at casting off waves of violet light. She strikes into that unfortunate opponent with the living churn of highly charged psionic energy focused down to a narrow purpose. Another strike with that tests to see what the jade simian happens to think of its nervous system being charged and overloaded with a shockwave of pain. Nothing like dying of an aneurysm, even if it takes a few stabs to get to the point.

Illyana's question earns a shake of her head, terse. Elizabeth is highly sparing in her movements, efficient with the skill of a trained martial artist. She moves with superhuman agility, swiveling aside when a meaty fist wields a studded club to smash down on where she was. Turf flies, and she keeps gliding with footwork practiced every day of her adult life, hours on end, practiced until practically intuitive. She evades rather than challenges the demons' greater strength, using their momentum against them where she can.

"Call your favourite priest." A wry bit of humour there in a very soft voice follows.


The simians don't have anything like a central nervous system— demonic energy barely holding together a framework of skin and bone and flesh. It's a wonder they even bleed, but bleed they do.

However, it becomes apparent that regardless of central nervous system or arterial support, they react very badly to massive amounts of raw psionic energy ripping them apart at an elemental level. It works. The simians go down in front of Elizabeth's psiblade, screaming confusion.

A fierce, hot grin crosses Illy's face. "Will do nicely!" she applauds Elizabeth— then she hoists her blade and, screaming, flings herself into the fray. Her technique is savage, and elemental— but no less effective than Betsy's and the battle turns into a conquest, then a full rout.


Good enough: spirits aren't entirely unfamiliar to the daughter of the Otherworld, and she has too much experience facing vengeful kami, unquiet spirits, and grumpy politicians to put up with less.

Maintaining the structure of the blade is not difficult, though husbanding her energy requires absolute care on the violet-haired artist's part. She is no whirlwind, but someone standing lightly upon her feet until engaged, and then uses a shockingly narrow amount of motion to slip under an ape's guard to slide the intangible blade straight into the core of its being. Leached energy rips through the vents opened, and if it comes to it, she manifests her second blade in a dense bar of energy to deflect any beast that tries to take her from behind.

Caught in the center of the storm, she can deal with the gore on her catsuit, the splattered darkness on her leather pants. All of it will wash out. The trench coat never had a hope, but that is doable. She fights her way in a circle, rotating around Illyana while trying to keep their opponents herded towards that nasty, horrific blade.


Illyana's definitely more on the hacky-hacky, slashy-slashy side, but all roads lead to Rome— the two women come at the problems from different angles, until Betsy's got her last one skewered and twitching on the ground, demonic vitae leaking out around a wound under the armpit; and Illyana's final foe flings a desperate last-ditch effort, and is rewarded by a snicker-snack of her vorpal sword. The head goes flying and dissolves into ash, leaving the two women on the battlefield in silence and alone save for the company of the other.

Illyana doesn't make any bones about being exhausted— she drops her sword on the ground, chest heaving, and her butt hits the sidewalk a moment later. "Bozhe moi," she pants. "There were enough of them, eh?" she says, with a wry exhaustion.


Jabberwocky, meet Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright. Isn't it nice?

The benefits to a psionic weapon: no mess to clean up afterwards. When the last of them is dispatched, the corpses left by their violent ends can go the way of the dodo. Elizabeth flicks her fingers open and shut, examining the cuts on her skin with minimal concern. A few scratches here and there leave her somewhat worse for wear, though she might have to stitch up that slice under her arm. Not everyone can come out of war looking fresh as a magical daisy. Her blade points down, anyways, though the radiance bleeds off somewhat in pops and bubbles that suggest its instability. Retreating from death-giving avenger to more likely to knock someone out, she can finally give a deep, proper breath.

The other weapon winks out of sight. "Too many for good. Why do these things come?" A nod towards the thickest piles of ash leave the Russian with a question. "«More interesting to me, how does a Russian end up in Central Park slaying green horrors?»"
Her Russian is a little rusty, naturally inflected to a St. Petersburg dialect instead of Kiev, Novosibirsk, Moscow.


Illyana brightens bit. Who doesn't like being addressed in their native tongue? "<Is easy— vacation time. All Russians travel to distant lands to kill monsters,>" she says. It sounds a bit flip, but her tone makes it clear she's making an effort to be funny. Her accent- distinctly provincial, even by Russian standards.

"<Ahh… as for the why… well, someone made bad deal with Chthon, enemy of life,>" Illyana says. "<Some things were said, information passed around, then poof— Chthon opens Hellmouth. Why, I don't know, and it really wasn't /my/ fault, but— you know, these things, they happen, da?>"


"«I see. Aeroflot sends out the best and brightest hunters to bring back a good pelt for the good of the Motherland?»" Elizabeth's smile is somewhat marred by a blush of grime from one dead creature, and she doesn't even bother to wipe it away. Maybe that will help distract from her rather known face. "«I have wanted to see Lake Baikal someday. Perhaps they would let me if I brought the husk of a kraken?»"

The attempt to be amusing will be richly rewarded by another turn of wry humour, in that piqued fashion of a petite smile and arched eyebrows. Being British, and worse, English, the model has sardonic wit up to a high art. She rests her hand against her hip, the blade still blazing away and searing into the grass. Grass that is thoroughly and utterly dead, now, given the infernal goo painted onto it.

"«Chthon.»" An odd look maintained to Illyana follows. "«This name is familiar to me, but I think from a book, from a conversation. A demon. Not another name for the Great Adversary, is it?»" She is flippant on this point, trying to bend her tongue around the right term and it takes a moment for her to translate what she wants for it to make any sense for Illyana.


Illyana wrinkles her nose. "<In some cultures, yes— but is wrong. Chthon is enemy to life— is one of Elder Gods, those who straddled Earth in the days before the rocks had cooled from primordial bloom,>" she tells Betsy. "<Is advocate of chaos and disorder and disharmony— but one of many. Not the Great Enemy of All,>" she assures her.

"<From practical perspective, makes little difference— could destroy us all with a thought if allowed to manifest on Earth. Cannot do so, so— is more irritating at times than anything else.>" Was there a soft chuckle and a low growl from the air around her?

"<I am Illyana Nikolevna Rasputina, Queen of all Limbo,>" she proclaims, drawing herself up to her full height of 5'6". She's young looking… but she doesn't look like she's bluffing. Also, weirdly, she registers as null on Betsy's psychic senses. Not there. Not /human/. "<You fight well.>"


She listens, does Elizabeth, with an acute attention focused entirely upon Illyana. The stream of awareness she strobes around their vicinity seeks proof of anything that stands out to her brain; a hole, a void, a chatter of thoughts or an energy signature as she witnessed earlier. "«Enemy enough. Who was unfortunate enough to pact with it? Are they dead, or on that way?»"

Not the kind to mince words, the Englishwoman nods to the other facts. One could call themselves the Queen of the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Island, and the Commonwealth, she might respond with the same deferential curt bow from the waist. It is immaculately precise, and straightened out in proper time. "«A pleasure to be in the presence.»" Back to English, she says, "Elizabeth Braddock."

Nothing else too fancy there, though she could make a horribly long string of things to add to that. "«You were the one with the sword mauling these. The schoolchildren there will be drawing pictures of you for weeks. I shouldn't be here drawing too much attention." Now why not draw pictures of her? She does not say; the reason is plain enough on a monthly magazine spread somewhere.


Nothing. Illyana reads like a closed book, and she doesn't even seem to be aware that Betsy's probing.


"<No. Was friend of mine— would have killed anyone else. But, he lives,>" she says, cheerily. "<Not wholly his fault, of course, he made deal— was bad deal. Told him would be bad deal, but— he didn't listen.>" She shrugs. "<Is gamble when dealing with the Elder Gods. Next time, maybe Oshtur gets the connection and offers information in exchange for playing with puppies.>" She turns and gives the children behind her in the bus a strangely impassive look— as if it just registers to her now what she's done— and she walks away, moving past Betsy towards the city and away from the Hellmouth. Two long paces from her sword and it simply vanishes into motes of sparkling light. "<Is good to be away from complicated questions anyway,>" she tells Elizabeth. "<I need food. Works up appetite, killing demons,>" she chuckles.


Elizabeth's eyebrows arches slightly. "«Your friend deals with Elder Gods; he makes bad deals. This?»" She gestures curtly to the pile of ash, and her gaze flickers with a frosted element over the remnants of foreign horrors.

"«Yes.»" Elizabeth exhales. "«I suppose all that physical activity would build up a bit of hunger for, say, a spot of tea. I know a place.»" The psychic blade disappears in a heartbeat, no proof it ever was. "«Though I'll need to stop and stash these, of course.»" Walking around with ancient Japanese swords is a great way to get arrested.


"<Is danger of dealing with Elder Gods.>" Illyana shrugs, as if the entire situation couldn't concern her less. Cost of doing business as Queen of Limbo, maybe? She waits for Elizabeth to catch up, lifting a brow at the woman's comment. "<Why hide? Are fine swords. Would show off proudly, even if mere metal. I have axe at home, took it from one of S'ym's cousins,>" she says, proudly. "<Is so big.>" She holds her hands about three feet apart. "<Ugly and black, and works so well for cutting up demons. Not as good as /my/ sword, but— is good to have options,>" she beams at Betsy.

"<Where are we going?>"


It would never be upon Elizabeth to shrug her shoulders over a matter. British; they never do that, but own up to face the world, don't they? "I have a certain degree of celebrity," she says idly, and adjusts two of the weapons to sit more comfortably. Walking back to where she shucked her things under the tree, she scoops up a bag. "I would rather not have people take pictures of me or ask me why I'm carrying weapons around." Her gaze is calm enough while she turns back towards the straggly blonde covered in goo, and then she holds out her coat. "You may want this. You might have trouble getting in there covered in that, unless you can banish all the holes in your clothes. I am thinking a simple enough diner with very good pie."


Illyana accepts the coat and shrugs into it. Mercifully, she and Betsy are within a few inches of one another, and they're not built dissimilarly— so it fits nicely. It's a bit incongruous with her yellow boots and pleated leather skirt, but she shrugs into it, ignoring the way the collar crimps her long, matted blonde hair under it.

"Thank you," she says, primly. "Do not understand this word celebrity. What is it meaning?" she asks, falling into step with Betsy.


It's back to Russian, which is complicated. "«Celebrity, fame. The measure of how well other people recognize me by name or appearance. Like Elvis.»" Even kids under rocks know about Elvis. "«Or President Kennedy. You say his name, most people know who you talk about. It is inconvenient to be famous sometimes, and holding swords is one of them.»"

She has gone and shucked her best way of hiding, but Elizabeth's got her own defenses. She smiles faintly apropos of nothing, and then cinches the psychic signature around herself that makes her so damn hard to look at. Not perfect invisibility right now, that would be uncomfortable when someone is trying to follow her. But she is still forgettable unless Illyana spends an awful lot of time actually staring at her leather-covered self.

"Let's head for the subway. The lockers will be fine. It is not far, and if there are more demons, I can get them. Or elder gods, which speaks too well to how much a cesspit New York can be in the summer."


"Ah." Illyana accepts that as an explanation and lets Betsy lead them to the pie shop. If she's bothered by Betsy's psionic glamour it doesn't show— but she does give the lean model a surreptitiously envious look. Illyana's definitely on the lean and wiry side, without the carefully cultivated musculature that high fashion demands.

Plus— Betsy just has that poise. It's ineffable and impossible to teach. Still, Illyana keeps her head back, walking with confidence bordering on arrogance, and follows her into the subway.


Without Twiggy storming the scene and creating a look for fawns who are all legs and no bodies, Elizabeth represents the classic standard of beauty in the early 60s, favoured by the likes of Bardot rather than Hepburn. Though she balances the line between, classy without being a complete naif. It comes with the territory of not being a teenager, and not even trying to present herself as such. She's a far more dangerous figure; someone knowing about the world, wise to it, a Vesper Lynd to the Bonds who buy magazines for looks and substance. The substance is incredibly toxic under the surface, of course, a hazard of being hammered into a weapon against the threats to her nation. And its allies, since it wouldn't do to have demons rolling around in Washington, displacing the existing quantity. A known demon breed is better than an unfamiliar one.

Sauntering across the park, the model cuts for the nearest subway entrance. She skims down the stairs and heads over to a bank of lockers, a good many of them, and an office. It's at this point she might completely vanish from sight without much warning, transferring over the swords and convincing the poor fellow there he's stowing an umbrella and private materials for a pretty if forgettable woman. Her token received, she floats back out into the general mass of commuters to catch up with Illyana. An exchange of three minutes ends easily enough. "Come, we'll need to make a stop and pop a few stations northeast of here." They're headed to Queens.

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