Jean had sold it as a camping trip combination training exercise. The entire idea seemed a bit obscure to Gabriel, but if Jean wanted it, he was willing to go along with the idea. Afterall, he had committed to supporting her in these endeavors. Flyers were made, put up around the mansion and there had actually been enough interest that the wilderness survival trip was planned.
Several hours of hiking deeper into the forested mountains had finally led to an area where there was less tree coverage that would suffice for a camp. People had broken off from the main group to form sub groups and one of these groups; this one in particular, were just getting around to setting up a fire pit and other necessities needed for an overnight stay.
The evening sun had just started its dip beneath the horizon to cast the last colorful hues of light through the tree line, the stars overhead beginning to emerge to provide the new light in absence of the moon which had yet made its climb.
Standing, with a pair of logs in his hands, Gabriel stares at the fire pit with a rather dumbfounded and confused look. He clearly has no idea what to do next in the process of getting a fire made.
The firepit undergoes some changes.
Amid the occasional streak of silver and blue, logs find themselves arranged in a neat little pile by the pit. Then they are re-arranged. In a heartbeat, someone has built a little cabin out of them — with stick-figures… quite literally made out of sticks.
Then the cabin is gone, and the wood undergoes another arrangement: something of a nautical kind, except that it won't stay together. The logs fall down, ruining the little model of a ship, only to be placed once again in a pile.
With a stick person atop it.
Then Pietro Maximoff settles down, and leans against a tree — eating a carrot. "Hullo," he says brightly to those around him. Crunch. Munch, munch, munch…
Crystal is familiar with the basics of survival. She's spent most of her life on the run in one form or another, after all. Then there's the fact that her talents are elemental in nature - out here, away from the world, away from the pollution and the crowds, she's actually at her best.
Of course, this is a team building exercise. So starting a fire out of nothing would be counterproductive. Instead, she's standing at the edge of the camp, contentedly coaxing the earth into a latrine pit. That's not much cheating, at least.
Logan ain't feeling at his most sociable at the moment. If he ever is, but, honestly, he's mostly been keeping to himself of late, only going along with this because it was a little too on the nose for him to refuse. He's a bit out from the main group, keeping an eye on the perimeter. He strikes a match on the tree and lights a cigar, cowboy hat pulled down low over his scruffy features.
"Watchin' that kid run around like a squirrel's gonna gimme a damn headache," he mutters.
By all reckoning, Scarlett ought to wilt when transplanted into the actual wilderness. She may lack her stylish minidresses but hacks through shrubbery and navigates dangerous paths with particular effervescent ease. Open skies and fresh air, however nippy, agree. Pale cheeks and glittering green eyes speak to that, for all very little light remains overhead. At the moment, the bohemian contributes her assistance to secure shelter, be those tents or cabins or holes in the ground yet to be dug. "Are we going to develop another irrigation system, or will it be sufficient to devise a way to keep the water running off?"
The mercurial squirrel eventually might prove a headache, but in the meantime, she tosses him a long stick. "You put things in the fire with that. And you have to keep them there long enough for the object of interest to smolder to just the right level of crispy, blackened deliciousness. I brought the marshmallows at least." A pilfered bag stuffed into her pack along with myriad other oddments may be the worst thing in existence to provide Pietro with. Or Jean, for that matter. Just what they need, sugar.
This was going to be great! This was going to be so fun! This was going to be -awesome-! It was nothing like Rio, where they actually had a chance to build stuff and get a little bit of civilization going, but it was still kind of cold and she was bundled to fit the weather as she walked along the perimeter. Along the perimeter. Alooong the perimeter. What to do.. what to do..
"Uh.. I got it." Jean calls out, stopping and moving towards where Crystal had stood, her face scrunching up as the thought that she -did- have seems a little too damn silly for her to speak aloud. "Uh.. nevermind.." She turns away again, slightly pacing herself, her gaze falling towards the ground as her foot begins to shift through a few bits of fallen leaves. "Trust exercises.." She says out loud to Rogue. "..I wanted to do that whole, catch me while my back is turned to you but.. that doesn't seem.. I don't know.." At least -someone- had an idea, roasting marshmallows seemed to be ideal righta bout now.
Gabriel watches the fire pit change from one shape to the next with figurines and the like until he feels himself getting dizzy. A pause and blink of his eyes takes place before the man just sets the two logs down he was holding and frowns. "Well. I guess that… the logs aren't needed." Looking at Pietro, he cants his head to the side in curiousity and starts to open his mouth to speak before a magic word hits his ears. "Marshmellows?" Perking, he turns to look in the direction of where Rogue mentioned the tasties.
The perimeter is quiet, it's a forest afterall on the mountain tops. What could possibly ever go wrong, besides a bear or other wild life. Sure, there's always been those cult horror stories of escaped deranged lunatics (Logan is on their side) or the occassional monster from the woods (again, Logan is on their side). The stars shine and twinkle, growing bigger in the night sky. One in particular continues to grow…
Crystal looks over toward Logan with a wry smile, finishing the latrines and turning to join the others in the clearing. "I can handle water," she calls back to Scarlett. "But if you'd like to start the fire…" She crouches near the wood, turning an easy smile on Pietro. "A bit of friction should be sufficient if you're going to start it. Or Jean, we can try it the old-fashioned way if you want to take a go."
Logan walks over, puffing away on his cigar, "Or we could use matches. Or a lighter," he says, striking another match on his boot and carefully applying it to a bit of brush he brought in with him from the edges, "Nothin' wrong wit' playin' scouts an' all, but, contrary to popular opinion, I like my meat at least a li'l bit cooked," he says, then looks up sharply, "Somebody did bring some meat, right? We ain't livin' on flamin' marshmallows," he says.
"Pietro is no squirrel," the speedster replies tersely with a glare in Logan's direction. The glare doesn't last long, however, and is swiftly replaced with a smirk.
Around a carrot.
"Is amusing, this," he adds after a few munches on his little snack. "How many ways to be starting a fire…" The young man frowns. "Not sure what you mean by these 'trust exercises' though…"
Tossing a bit of the carrot away, Maximoff ducks over to the pile of wood and selects a log. "Matches, pff!" he mutters to himself with another smirk, and sets the log between his legs. A flurry of activity follows in the speedster's lap, hands working furiously to rub the log and kindle it to flame.
Then he stops.
"It occurs to me just now… how this must look," says he, and he stops. "Perhaps… matches?"
Palm pressed to the outer curve of her waist, Scarlett shakes her head. Hints of her frost-white bangs sway against her face, a sight nearly never seen, given the way she conceals them in her braids. "Spun sugar. Squishy and sweet on your tongue, even better when heated in the flames." Fondness laces the explanation she offers to Gabriel, and she flits over to the rucksack built around a metal frame for the bag of priceless white morsels. Caught in the crossfire, she returns the smile to Crystal. "Thank you. I appreciate a dry bed, usually." Stooping to collect another stick, she pokes the end through the plastic bag and slings it over to Jean and Gabriel at the firepit.
"I think the trust games sound lovely. You need a partner to go first, I will stand opposite there if Gabriel doesn't beat me to it," she replies, tone sunny in ways it hasn't been for a long while. "Why not do it together? The trust game and the marshmallows, not setting our pants on fire."
Jean rubs lightly at the back of her neck as she moves towards the firepit closer to the others. Her fingers lightly dig into the back of her neck as she glances up towards the sky, a little frown drawing out as she looks towards the empty pit with a slight shrug of her shoulders. "Old fashioned way? You mean.. I read this in a book once. You get like a flat piece of wood and a sharp stick, and you twist it back and forth in your hands until it starts to smoke, then you get some shavings that catch on fire easier and.." She makes a slight noise, her fingers dazzling theair.. and yet as she watches Pietro, she finally cracks out a huge smile. But she was still silent, a little niggling touching at the back of her neck, one which makes her rub again as she looks around.. and immediately snatches the bag of mashmallows out of the air.
"That seems boring though. The trust exercises. I already I know I trust you guys. Maybe there's something else we can do.." She glances to her left again, her brows furrowing as she lets out a huff, her fingers pulling apart the plastic to get into the bag of mushy goodness. "I'm not even hungry.."
The bag is barely pulled open and Gabriel's hand is reaching out to snatchone of the marshmellows, jamming it into his mouth, followed by a second. He has a strong fondness for sugar and now with the two marshmellows in his cheeks like q squirrel he tries to talk. "Thee's notheen bowwing abooot troostercizes." Stumbling accidently into the game known as chubby monkey he realizes that the inability to make coherent words might be problemantic, so he just grins and focuses on eating the puffy treats. The mention of meat from Logan lingering in the back of his mind, he looks around, mostly at the others who are far more competent at life than him for help.
The sparkling night sky dances above and attuned eyes could even pick up the barest hints of the aurora to the north, faint but present on such a clear evening. Without the light pollution of the city, the sky is glittering and alive.. particularly that one star that seems to be swelling even further.
"I can start a fire," Crystal points out with a wry smile, opening her palm with a flame dancing above it. "But that isn't going to help anyone if I'm not here. Matches sounds like a good compromise." She closes her hand, fire winking out, then moves over toward the circle to check the wood Pietro has set up. "A fire needs fuel and air," she explains. "So we have the tinder at the bottom, to hold the heat, to let it spread. Kindling carefully stacked so there's airflow around it. Then once it's going, we'll feed it the larger sticks."
She looks over her shoulder toward Logan. "You have matches, yes?" They are helpful for smoking, after all. "I've got hot dogs in my pack. They're in a block of ice at the moment. There's learning and then there's risking food poisoning in the woods. I had to draw the line somewhere." And she's so not sorry.
Pietro moseys on over to Crystal, and peers down into the latrine pit she has coaxed out of the earth. Turning back to look at the group, he frowns again, and puts one across his chest, resting the elbow of the other upon it.
"I still do not get these trust exercises. When Wanda and I camped in the woods across Europe, 'trust exercises' meant 'she creates distraction while I steal the food — and the trousers of the soldier. You know, for practice.'"
He goes silent again after that, and peers once more into the hole. "What is this for?"
Logan makes something of a face at the idea of frozen hot dogs. He prefers fresh meat, "I can probably snag us a deer or somethin' if ya gimme an hour or two," he says, "Provided somebody doesn't mind helpin' with the butcherin'," he says.
He stands up and dusts off his hands wonce the match is applied, looking up at the sky and letting out a puff of smoke before he narrows his eyes, "Anybody else think the stars are lookin' a little funky tonight?"
Hand up to her mouth stifling a laugh, Scarlett still peppers the air with the muffled peals in spite of herself. Whatever makes them smile rather than shoulder the burdens of a broken world ought to be encouraged, for all that Logan stares upwards at the sky. The firepit is well in hand for those gathered around it, so she steps away onto the empty space above the ground, rising further until afforded an unrestricted perspective above the serrated treetops. Not so high, at least, that she would stand out like a flaming stargazer lily. "Considering we never see the sky without the city's interference…" A fact not finished, there, as she extends her arm and holds out her hands, measuring degrees between horned thumb and pinky finger, then forefinger. Measurements rapidly narrow down, and her head shakes.
"The brightest star right now is Sirius, and Alphard would be on the other side of the sky," she says down to Logan, though the distance is diminishing as the redhead drops back, caring far less about impact than getting out of sight. "That isn't a star. Stars don't move, not like that. Surveillance of some kind? I have a bad feeling about this. We need to go. Now."
Jean was left holding the bag, pinching the marshmallow in between two of her fingers. And yet, she seems distracted. There was that odd feeling, which has her dropping the marshmallow to the ground to rub at the back of her neck, her gaze flitting towards Crystal as she commits her lesson to memory, and then approaching to kneel down next to the woman. "Can't we just cheat? You pretty much told us what to do, we'll remember it for next time. It's a bit cold out here.." She rises again, then brushes her foot over the dirt, all just to cover up the marshmallows. At least it'll not attract too many ants..
The latrine and almost nearly everything else aside, Jean takes a look up towards Scarlett's backside as she peers into the sky, taking a few steps towards the side to glean a look, her brows shooting upright as she takes a slight step back. If they needed to go, Jean would be the first to run. But first!
"Stay close to me.." She says quickly. "I'll.. try to shield us all.." Two people? She could create a protective bubble that even bullets can't penetrate. But this many? It'll be a real test. It was time to flee!
The light source grows as Logan's intuition about something being amiss, along with Scarlett's call for fleeing both seem extremely apt at this point. Within moments it can be seen that the light source was not a star but rather some kind of craft from the stars having descended to the planet rapidly and now hovers overhead, almost appearing out of nothing akin to Pietro's movements. Not there one moment, present the next. Snow from the tree tops lifts up as wind pushes out away from the vessel, blue lights scanning the ground before one flashes!… but nothing seems to happen.
"Well, maybe we hold off on cheating until we know what we're cooking," Crystal chuckles to Jean when Logan brings up hunting. Pietro's question gets a more amused look. "It's a latrine. For waste," she offers, straightening up without starting the fire when the question of the stars comes up.
She looks up toward the sky, tensing at the sight of the ship. And her without a way to reach ACT-F, too. "It's not what I recognize as Kree," she says quietly. "But these days, that doesn't mean much."
Pietro had been about to offer his assistance to Logan for some hunting, when the… craft descends out of the sky. Blinking, the silver speedster peers upward, a hand shielding his eyes (not that it does much good).
"That… is the weirdest 'weather balloon' I have ever seen…" he murmurs. "Shielding us seems good idea — or perhaps we could hide in the latrine? No. Bad idea. Who is this Kree?" The blue lights appearing and vanishing attract Pietro's attention, and he zips away to where one beam of light flashes. And then to another. And another…
Logan keeps a close eye on the approaching intrusion, taking his hat off slowoly and setting it aside. "I ain't sure who it is, but I'm guessin' they ain't here to come roast weenies," he says. "Shields sound like a damn good idea. You sense anything from 'em, Jeannie? Or can you even read Martian brains?" he says.
Snatching her backpack by the straps, Scarlett slides her arm through. No telling what trouble they might cause by allowing aliens to contaminate their alien ecosystems with the humble hotdog! Though she may have missed Jean's calculated appraisal, she doesn't need encouragement to drop in close. "Team redhead," she murmurs in an aside. "We got this, and I'll cover your back." As long as she can, anyways, for what little that might do." Better than thinking too hard about Martian brains, at any rate. Gesturing towards Pietro, she hurries him in. "Come on. I can't move anywhere near as fast as you but I can keep you over whatever terrain we run into. Long as you stick close."
"Kree?" Jean was already working, weaving a line of a TK wall on all sides of them. Bubbles bend, they take finese, but walls were straight, clear cut and easy. Here's to hoping she could follow their movements.
Though, something was amiss. She counted five.. not six. Five.. five.. Her head whips around quickly after the light flashes, her eyes widening in horror. "Gabriel?" She takes a step back, dropping all defense. They were no longer protected, for Jean slipped right into panic mode. Her eyes light up with rings of fire as she takes those few steps back, moving to the opposite side of the perimeter and far away from the hovering craft. "GABRIEL?!" She calls out.. but hears, and feels nothing.
Forget trying to scan their minds for something. While the curiosity was high, she was getting slightly pissed. Leave it up to the panicking firebird to throw things out of wack. "I .. I can't feel Gabriel, he's gone! He's gone!" Even as she searches, she doesn't even think to look -up- into the sky to search there, in fact, she was two seconds away from not thinking at all.
~~~Onboard The Handler (Ship in the sky):
"Look, the contract was for just the one. Why take on the risk of extras?""Because, profit. One is for the Empire. The others could be sold to market.""I don't like it, it's too greedy."~~~
The blue lights continue sweeping over the ground, focusing on each of the figures there for a moment before going on to the next and examining all the little earthling interests; the bags, the packs, the like before going back to the individuals. They level there, measuring each. There is time, time to make a break for the treeline perhaps, to scatter to the wind with one of the group already missing. The blue lights continue to circle, then … one flashes again.
"Is fine! Is fine!" Pietro calls back to Rogue and Jean as they set about keeping the group protected. 'Quicksilver' on the other hand is running about the area — sometimes up trees — trying to get a better look at the vessel above, and scour the region for Gabriel… who has disappeared.
"I'm far to fast for any aliens to — ."
Blue light passes over the Maximoff twin, and he too vanishes as if he had never been there. " — snatch," he finishes, speaking the word… aboard the ship.
Scattering is not an option if they're missing a member of their party. Crystal looks toward Jean's cry first, just in time to catch the disappearance of Pietro. Her jaw sets, one hand reaching out toward the ship. "Nobody leaves with our people," she growls, and the trees around them start to whip in a wind of her making, building a gale force to try to force the ships to the ground.
"Jeannie, gonna need ya to use that mind mojo o' yours to throw me real hard at that their ship. And then we're gonna see just how tough a hide it's got," Logan says, spitting out his stogie and mashing it under his boot as his claws spring loose, the razored edges gleaming in the barest embers of the barely started fire.
Hovering directly beside Jean, Scarlett looks sharply over at her. Unspoken promises hold her exactly where she is, the grave weight of her gaze settled upon the other redhead while Crystal manages environmental control at a distance. "We will get him — them — back. But I don't know how to convince light."
If there were a mind of fondness that Jean could show, it would go towards Crystal and Rogue in that moment. As the gale winds pick up, Jean does as well, her feet slowly leaving the ground, the embers burning within her eyes brightening as her hands strike out towards Logan as he jumps into battle stance.
One Wolverine, coming up! It was easy to lift the eternal man, flinging him back with practiced ease and directing him towards the light. But she keeps him tethered in that break-neck speed, manipulating his movements to avoid the deep currents, the whipping of the trees. They couldn't afford a man down. Not now.
Once he was in the clear, she slingshots and lets him go, but by then.. it was already too late. The ground around them begins to shake and rumble, the snow snaps briefly from the trees that weren't already uprooted, yet boulders begin to rise around the area, manuvering themselves near towards the light as outstretched fingers snap shut, hopefully slamming the boulders towards the back end of the 'light' and not where she had just thrown Logan.
~~~On Board The Handler:
"Steady the damn ship. It's just atmospheric pressure.""Look at these readings though, the power output of them. Just one of them would be at least a quarter if not half. All of them? Maybe four.""Alright, grab them. But if we lose them its your ass. I don't want to lose the guarantee for the Imperial property."
The ship buckles under the wind gusts thrust upon it by Crystal, making it clear that the woman is a threat to be dealt with. A blue light flashes over to her and begins to illuminate until it is destroyed by a boulder striking. Almost immediately another flashes and BLINKS at Crystal. The other lights track the targets, the Logan, about to collide into the hull and BLINK. Leaving Rogue and Jean sitting upon the ground. BLINK. BLINK.
The foyer of the mansion looks as pristine as it ever has and the smell of breakfast is wafting in from the kitchen. Hashbrowns, eggs, and of course crackling bacon that spreads through the area. Hell, even the birds are chirping outside…
"Alright, they're secured and the simulation is running to keep them dormant. Some random memory cycle we pulled from the telepath. This should keep them nice and busy until we get to the Market."~~~