1964-02-06 - Salsa with the Schutzstaffel
Summary: SS officers, demons, and poetry send Maximus truly mad.
Related: Tangoing with the Third Reich, Pt II
Theme Song: None
strange wanda maximus 

With the chanteuse asleep and after one last check to make sure that she rests akin to the dead, Strange turns in mid-air on a dime. The crimson Cloak then shows him the meaning of haste. After all, he left a very competent Witch sneaking up to the fringes of a Nazi mansion and he doesn't doubt her abilities, not in the least.

But automatic weapon-fire puts a terrible damper on many things, including casting of all sorts.

There's no need for keeping silent or truly out of sight. The color of the relic prevents any sort of visual sneaking anyways, shy of an illusion spell being wrapped about its master. Leaves rustle in the wake of his passing and then again, as before, he halts in the shadows of the canopy of an impressive tree on the edges of the open lawn. Sight-brightened eyes search for and find the quick movements of Wanda. The Sorcerer hesitates only momentarily before flitting out across the lawn and over to her.

Remnants of whatever barrier stood between her and the impressive residence linger like floating shards of broken glass to his vision and he lands short to jog over to her, ducking as low as possible to stay beneath the ledge of the windows. It's a difficult task when you're 6'2" — give him some credit.

"We might have company soon, what with the broken wards," he whispers in a terse reminder.


Heinrich's arms do not waver. He adopts an ideal shooting stance, braced for the considerable kick of a machine pistol. Karl Schaeffer is the utter different, slipping his arms from his tailored black suit jacket. Savile Row if anything, the quarterly income for a middle class family. "What a waste." He waves a hand languidly at Maximus. "A gentleman of class, of course, offers his jacket to the lady. Even if the lady happens to be a misnomer." The garment held out for Max to take.

"Go ahead," he adds in that crisp, perfect German tenor inflected by shades of warmth, a banked fire in a freezing Alpine night. "Try it. I would like to see how well it's going to fit."


ROLL: Wanda +rolls 1d20 for a result of: 5


Wanda's target is a two-storey stone manor in traditional Bavarian style, perched incongruously upon the shores of glittering Nahuel Huapi, a lake named for a sacred jaguar and bitter transformations. Seismic waves jar across the tangible wards enfolding the property, proof magic abhors a void as much as nature. She gives no second thought to look back, sprinting over open grass maintained to a uniform level. Metal striking concrete and stone fail to distract her from pressing up to the wood siding, taking cover from anyone out ambling around the property or looking out a window. Knife in one hand, charm ripped from her belt in the other, she snaps the ceramic token in twain. The hidden spell erupts to twist her fortune, and from there, she slips along to find the nearest door. Unlocked, it allows her access. Skulking in, the witch in red and black ought not to disappear so well as she does from the sight. But then, they weren't expecting her in Buenos Aires. They do not expect her here.

And certainly not when she begins to waltz with the doomed.


Maximus presses his lips together and holds out his hand for the demon's jacket. "Are you truly so upset? Does it /really/ matter? I would have thought /your sort/ would be more enlightened than that." He wets his red lips and tugs the jacket around firmly. Then he glances to the gun-holder for a moment. Down below, one of the diggers stops working and, quietly as possible, starts back to the main hall, still carrying a metal prybar.


Strange's frown deepens. Having been clearly on her tail, close to stepping on her heels, and having his words ignored means…something isn't quite right.

"Wanda, wait, Wanda!" The sharp hiss is also ignored as she slips through an unlocked door — the Nazis left a door unlocked?! Oh — OH. That had been the charm broken in twain. Grimacing, the Sorcerer follows in her wake and enters the mansion.

The aura of this place crawls along his neck like a many-legged creature, leaving goosebumps and apprehension in its wake. Many Dark spells had been cast, some recently, and he pauses not too far into the area they entered, staying near to the wall or perhaps stepping up close next to some shielding piece of furniture.


The nickname is met with silence. His throat tightens. There's the sense of the quiet before the storm. It sets his teeth on edge.


Karl waits until Max takes the jacket, a patient fellow in the prime of his life. Frosty eyes maintain a wide vigil over the room, Heinrich in his shadow keeping the gun aimed well for the least proof of non-compliance with his companion's wishes.

The debonair German loosens his collar slightly, undoing one button and tugging the starched cotton up. "Upset? Not at all. The fit's compatible and any alterations should be easy to make. I'm nothing if not a fine tailor." Karl offers a very slight smile, and perhaps it might concern Maximus — and maybe not — it is identical to his. Right down to the slightly mad edge, the leer made all the more intense by those cold, fair eyes kindling no sense of camaraderie or human warmth in them. "Shall we find out?" In a few steps, he reaches out to grab the Inhuman's wrist. If he connects, that touch is more like a steel manacle for a mid-range Panamax freighter than a man. Mostly.


As Maximus firmly knows, the restrained luxury within the handsome estate creeps out of every corner. Art, some quite famous — and missing — hangs on the walls, paneled studies are de rigueur, and furnishings favour deep, plush textiles and classic German styles rather than hideous Modernism they eschewed with vehemence. The layout of the place is fairly simple, axial hallways running the length of the main floor, intersected by a large foyer facing the lake and front drive. Stairs sweep up to the second floor from the same place, and access to the storage basement where most of the eight staff toil away, but for one, comes via a cellar in the kitchen or a service stair.

Feel badly for that one. He's coming armed with a prybar to a wizard's duel.

Feel badly for Strange. He's the one moving unacknowledged in Wanda's dust, a literal sifting of darkness spilling through the atmosphere from the demon's presence. Not a demon of the weaker courts, either. When he hisses her name, she flattens into a niche occupied by a stone bust, peering around the corner. Footsteps, for the German man bound up to Max's room probably isn't trying to be stealthy or expecting to notice a much taller sorcerer creeping along. About then, the Sorcerer Supreme might realize he's been used as a decoy when the witch steps out, her eyes dark, and rams the pointed blade of her trusty knife straight through the prybar fellow's back. One stab becomes another, all the brutal efficiency of someone warping probabilities by magic. The charm doesn't last long, but while it does, it hurts.


Max totally had a plan. Crowbar guy was gonna knock Gun guy the fuck out. And now…he's all deadified on the ground, twitching uselessly. The mind-controller notices that at once, at just the same time as the demon puts a too-hard grip on his wrist. He's both turned-on and furious, and the duality of everything he is right now, is what launches back at the German Demon. He's not a mutant. He's Inhuman. Stronger. More durable. And batshit crazy. With his arm in a hand-vice, he moves in close in one step and launches his knee upwards to try to hit some balls, while red lips part to hiss. "You don't want in THIS body…" His mental abilities fight the hell out of that possession.


ROLL: Maximus +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 95


ROLL: Wanda +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 68


Just about the time that the man's body is hitting the floor, Strange has finished darting away from the immediate area. His hands are brightly-lit with the nearly-finished defensive spell aborted by a single syllable upon his lips, which hang open for air before closing into a tight line. If he's a bit white around them, it's true. If his eyes glitter like facets of gemstone, glowing amethyst, flat and edged all at once: no lie either. He recognizes on some base level what he's seeing before him now that he's stepped near enough, in scarlet leather and spilt blood alike, and it chills him — to the marrow.

A hard swallow. He won't look at the body on the floor. Instead, he holds those dark, emptied eyes. "So be it," he whispers, choosing to focus instead on the glaring presence of anti-light not a few dozen feet away. A full possession, judging by the strength of the disgust lacing the back of his throat with bile.

The air of the mansion clears in polarized action as the Sorcerer's aura flares up around him, laced with citrine. There's a demon to put down and his fate lies within the scarred hands still gloved in Mystical might.

Easy enough to begin a rolling stride down the hallway, steps muted for the roll of his heel above flexibly-sturdy soles. His intent may even precede him, like the sheer wind before a thunderstorm.


Mr. Schaeffer also happens to be not a mutant. He's a demon. Stronger. More durable. Bathed in the last few hours. And batshit Not-Nazi. It would be nice if the man had reason for genitals, but why would a demon have any when their primary form of consumption relies upon something other than all the tasty victuals known to the pastry chefs and cooks of Berlin or Buenos Aires? Knee meets bits. Bits get jimmied around. He even stands on his toes and mocks a jump to give the human hope.

"Oh, but I do. I'll even let you watch for a bit," Kurt whispers back, eager and hyperfocused. The first shove of his infernal essence to displace Max in his own skull clearly meets with more resistance than intended, but that only makes him smile all the firmer. Ooh, someone resistant! This is probably the first surprise since 1848. Of course, this means that Heinrich can't just shoot the new flesh suit. Clearly he wants to.

Walls shudder. The floor groans. There is reason to hurry. To push. So he does, bastard, and the whispered prayers from all the wrong sources make for a mild veneer. Oh, the citrine acid's gonna burn sooner or later but he has a little time.


"Trishul, go," hisses the Scarlet Witch, blood dripping from the knife and the death rattle in punctured lungs bubbling in a ruby tide to the fallen German's mouth. Not an ounce of regret traces her features, the pitiless expression of a deva or Durga staring back at him. She swivels away in the hall and retreats to where he came marching up from the cellar, already chanting a soft murmur in Tibetan. It's a bad sign, that, calling on the fundamental forces rather than her native Transian. One on one by stealth is easy. Six? Six on one isn't easy, and the plan in question has all the subtlety of Chinese fireworks in Mammoth Cave.


Maximus is really not going to be stable after this. He's going to go through a phase where he just says nonsense for a while. Its not easy for even a sane person to get over a demon possession, and he's broken. He's more broken than he ever cares to admit. This isn't helping. He grabs hold of Kurt's chest, the unbuttoned shirt, wrinkling it and twisting it, shaking while he slows the tide of demon pouring in. That's all he can do though, slow it, like a kid putting rocks around a stream. Strange and Wanda can hear him scream, frustration and terror both.


He goes, with a sussurance of bloody blessing in his wake, and the arrival of his presence to the section of hallway in question is indeed hailed by a wake of ozone-smelling static. The average human would tingle; anyone touched by demon-kin, whether by proxy or by participation, is subjected to the hair-raising blast. Thus, the Guardian of Earth's Fate arrives.

What's the old adage? Oh yes. As his mother always said: you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. It applies to all sorts of infections.

First to go, that goddamn gun. The second it begins to turn towards him, Strange barks a Word and the lance of intent not only bends the weapon's barrel literally in half, but proves to excite its atoms enough to bring it to incandescent heat. Good luck holding onto that, Nazi bastard.

Next, a sharp cutting gesture as to knock any other bystanders to their keisters, lashed by a slashing whip of neutral magic across the chest. With any luck, it rudely slaps the demon's attention to him rather than Maximus.

"You." The crimson Cloak spreads wide behind him as he rises into the air, plasmic lightning spiderwebbing across his palms crooked at either side of his ribs in violent shades of purple. He radiates cosmic power, at the cusp of calling upon the Vishanti, and the demon had best hope he doesn't do that. "Drop him."


ROLL: Wanda +rolls 1d20 for a result of: 16


The demonic incursion takes the sensibilities of the world and twists mortal perceptions around just enough to register as off, slightly wrong. In a madman? Kurt reaches for every vice stained in Maximus' soul, calling them as only one born to the deepest reaches of the myriad, countless Hells can. Repulsed by the shattered fragments in the Inhuman's perilous mind, he shifts and dodges to chase down those oh so mortal failings: lust for power, envy for brother, gluttony in the abased service, proud cunning. Reaching for them cuts his being as Kurt goes from scalpel to sledgehammer and still cannot quite get in. But the air is blackening around him, brimstone and woodsmoke, as the air shivers. The scream mingles with a mirror of it.


Heinrich plays the guard, and by guard that means anything moving through the open door into the chamber beyond the master suite gets shot, full clip rattling from the hands of a trained SS officer. Bullets cascade until the gun is no longer functional, and it falls from his stinging hand. No matter. One trick up the sleeve, literally, in white paper, black ink. A card trick, no less. Two German words are intoned: "«Eclipsed dawn»." The wind snaps him back along with the card. Darkness bends around him in a whirlwind, and Strange punts him back into the gateway.


Kurt's eyes are wide, a storm of white lightning and visions of terrible futures painted in cloudy crystal balls. Distraction from his work is unwelcome, but it permits Max to breathe, at least. "Not interested in you."


Somewhere else in the house, far enough away that its effects can't really be heard or seen, Wanda performs what might be called the worst waltz in history. Her form is terrible, she clearly isn't being the partner, and she is singing to herself in weird, atonal words. Psycho.


At least he's not alone. Kurt is treated to things far worse than envy and pride, as all manner of sins rest inside the former despot's mind, but most are not accompanied by guilt of any sort, so they are only sins if someone /else/ thinks so.

Its good to be the king.

Max is left with only one resort with what remains of his being, a power he uses sparingly. And though his mind cannot curl and wrap around the demon's like he can around humans, he also has one punch. The moment Kurt starts speaking to Strange he can feel it, the littlest relief from the demon's assault and he goes for it, lashing out with his power, dangerously, to cause amnesia. Its temporary, lasting from hours to weeks on a mortal. If it lasts for even a second on the demon, its a moment, at least. Those he is in control of /also/ will be affected, so there will be some pretty confused Nazis in the basement, later. He also goes full tantrum with his legs, making sure that Kurt has to fully support his body if they are going to remain upright.


The iron grip on Max's arm loosens a little, going from weeklong bruise to days-long. Only that much as the puzzled torrent of lightning sparks in Kurt's eyes coalesce into white-blue magnesium flames. His jaw works. It's an opening.

Downstairs, the Nazis holding onto their picks and shovels stare blankly at their tools. They, too, might consider going for a helpful walk somewhere to do… things. A cessation of activity doesn't halt the eerie minor-key singing, at least too quiet for the men to quite catch in Strange and Maximus' vicinity. Only when the ambient magical energy in the area rapidly starts to plunge inwards, as though someone yanked the drain plug.


Even as Strange watches the demon-possessed man's aura crystallize wildly with sudden confusion — something he did not cast or cause — that's shuffled off to one side. Violet shifts verdant as he too becomes a focal point for a gathering of Sorcerous energy. This is a banishment towards the higher end of the spectrum. Vases might rattle on desks, painting tremble on the walls, and his voice gains an otherworldly timbre.

"Ye of darkness, demon-spawn,
By no right within this world belong -
By Gaia's grace and Vishanti bright,
I banish you with Mystic might!!!"

Perhaps a bit too much pepper in that intonation. After all, it's the willpower that affects the amount of volts in the magical tasering and consequential good-riddance toss into its home realm, anathema to attempting to return in the future. The spell screams across the room and takes the stunned demon right in the torso, slicing into its being like a hot knife through butter. Maximus is untouched; after all, he wasn't the target, though he might have some spell-burn afterwards for being so close and having some momentary residue in his person.

Wending about its target, the banishment spell completely encases Schaeffer in a cocoon of ultra-chartreuse light strands and begins to collapse upon itself. Let the demon rage or weeble or whatever — it's toast. If Schaeffer's human body can withstand such a purging? Fabulous. If not? …whoops…?


It matters not one whit if Schaeffer's body can withstand the assault. There's no one home. A flesh suit falls to the floor, meat puppet discarded like the very expensive Savile Row jacket that's too broad across the shoulders for Maximus quite. But still, his precious coat!

Max, of course, relied on him for balance while tantrum legs, so chances are they both fall down so he can have an Inhuman regal tantrum on the floor. Somewhere, Shuri must be shivering in affronted kitty-queen senses.

Another half-minute will pass before the magical drain tugging on the available mana pool sees its end, and by that point, someone's started to climb the stairs only to stare in horror at a golden-skinned woman in a corset floating in mid-air through the energy inversions roaring around her. Scarlet bands of energy convulse and contract as she plows the whole of the ritual into the floor, and the spell predictably explodes on contact with demonic blight as cesium dropped into a pail of water. The chain reaction is ugly, blowing floorboards and flesh off their pinions, most of all the cultists steeped in the blackened, soul-shredding faith. Through cracking frames and shattering glass, she sings that anti-melody, sustaining it as her fingers strum along the filaments of the spell, setting off charge after charge. The far side of the estate doesn't stand, by the time she's done, no more than a heap.


Maximus falls to the ground when the demon's shell collapses, and he stops having a tantrum and instead is having some sort of episode. He rips his wrist free of the dead grasp and crawls along the floor, away, a pretty mess with some stolen clothes. And then the house starts /exploding/ too, which is horrifying, and by the time anything is smoldering, he is hiding in a corner, has removed his shoes and talking to himself, softly.


ROLL: Maximus +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 85


The sudden void created by the lack of demon is as jarring as the settling of the house around this end of it. From being surrounded by a cyclone of his Mystical aura to it settling flat as a sheet of glass about him says much for Strange's mastery over his own emotional state. Numb. He can do numb, at least long enough to get the rest of them out of this wrecked manor reeking of blood and fading demon-musk.

His check-in on Wanda is brief and gives him impressions of chaos fading even before he takes in the sight down the length of the hallway to where it simply ends, the mansion's infrastructure succumbed to whatever ruby-bright scintillations of her powers deemed appropriate. Still, stable — well, relatively stable is good.

Strange carefully approaches Maximus first, attempting to look more the Doctor than Sorcerer Supreme, though it's too late for that now. The man probably saw most of what took apart his attacker if not all of it, from rise into air to re-centering of Mystical might, citrine light and all. Really, that Cloak. No simple Doctor wears something like that.

"Hey, come on. Get up, come on. You don't belong here." Cajoling but firm, Strange lifts the man to his feet and with some careful manipulating, manages to find a way to keep him upright, perhaps even leaning on him, as he opens a Gate. Even as he does so, he hears a muttering under the man's breath near to his ear. Something about…the Baxter Building? Ah, yes, that one. The Gate opens up into one of the hallways of the building and Maximus is released into the familiarity of said building. Hopefully he isn't too confused! The Gate collapses behind Strange's retreat back into the half-destroyed manor.

Now…for Wanda. Striding down the hallway, past the empty body of the demon-possessed man, towards the Witch still half-shrouded in scarlet streaks of her own devising — this is view that he won't forget.

Mission accomplished.

Nightmares assured.

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