1964-07-05 - A Place Underground
Summary: Jean Grey goes looking underground for Logan - and finds something a lot stranger than she expected.
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jean-grey logan 

Ever since learning that Logan had been taken somewhere underground, Jean had been trying to find a way to get there, to find some clue as to where he might have been taken. Her investigations around the city at first proved fruitless. Nobody around Mutant Town was talking, unless she put the question to them harder than she was yet willing. People seemed scared.

Finally, though, a wide-eyed girl by the name of Jojo, an occasional informant, said she might be able to help. She has Jean meet her near an abandoned subway station, a place long since caved in.

"Here," the girl says. Her hair is rainbow-streaked and glittery, but her face has a melted quality, like pudding dripping from a cup, her face sagging, the corners of her mouth turned in a perpetual frown. She leads Jean through a broken section of masonry to a wooden door obscured by a bit of debris. It's marked with a strange symbol, a stick figure man with two larg orbs on either side of his head, carrying a staff.

"The Elder sign," the girl shudders, "This is as far as I go," she says shakily to Jean, already looking like she's on the verge of scurrying away.

Footwork. Jean was used to it by now. Wearing the hood helped with that, she was a quiet staple in the nightlife around Mutant Town, and with the catseye mask and a little telekinetic manipulation around her facial features, it makes it a lot easier for her to speak to someone up close. So the girl Jojo was of help, a clear and obvious mutant, a little uneasy on the eyes but her own were something to remember. They were pretty! And as she leads her to the sign, Jean tilts her head faintly and reaches out with gloved fingers after adjusting her backpack, then hands her a card.

"If you ever need anything, find this woman.." The card was Jean's own card. "I'll tell her what you've done for me today, and she'll make sure that you're taken care of." The Phoenix smiles faintly, looking towards the door. "You should get going." She advises, even as the rubble itself begins to roll itself out of the way with the use of Jean's gift. And like most brooding heroes, Jean turns her back to the girl with her cloak flowing behind her, her hood drawn down a bit further upon her head.

Jojo flees quickly, her footprints leaving trails of sparkles in the shape of her bare, froggy feet.

The door itself does look to have been used relatively recently - it's dirty but not dusty, sporting no cobwebs. The paint isn't fresh but isn't ancient either, for all that she called it the Elder sig. It's some cheap acrylic, nothing arcane.

There's no lock or no need of one. As Jean opens the way, it reveals a sloping tunnel that goes down into pitch darkness. There's no obvious means of illumination present.

Stepping into the darkness is one thing, but coming prepared with a backpack full of goods? Another! She was well and prepared for this, since Logan was underground, she bought necessities. One. A bottle of beer. Not for her, but for Logan when she found him. Two? A couple of sandwiches. More for her, but one for him. Three? A flashlight. Four? Rope. Five? Water from the kitchen sink in random tupperware that she could find. Yes, she was prepared, but the tupperware? That was an after-thought. She didn't forget the first aid kid, one that would be for herself is she were injured, and not for Logan..

The flashlight was pulled from the bag as she hitches it upon her shoulders, venturing down the sloped tunnel, smacking it to turn it on. Thankfully, she carried extra batteries, for there was no telling how far she'd get tonight.

As she ventures down, keeping the light flashing forward, her mind expanding just a touch, something causes her to pause. And with a purse of her lips, she blinks rather quickly as one eye slowly begins to light aflame..

With a hiss, she snaps her eye shut, her hand covering.. "Cut the crap and come out. It's just us two."

Others wouldn't be able to see what manifests for Jean. The Phoenix emerges as a bird of flame, almost a falcon in appearance, although the feathers at its tail are multihued and gemlike. It's eyes are amber crystals, glowing on either side of its razor-sharp beak. Jean can hear the voice in her mind. Isn't it always? the Phoenix intones. The slope is rough-hewn and steep, sending a few bits of gravel skittering down. As she goes lower, Jean can sense minds up ahead and further, but it's hard to get ahold of them. But there are a lot.

As the phoenix emerges, Jean hunches over, one arm draping around her stomach as she nearly drops to a knee. There was an obvious strain, as if she were pushing out something real that anyone could touch and feel, but it was still a weight to be carried even if the being itself was incorporeal..

"Yes." She finally squeaks out, staggering to a stand with a lean against the wall, keeping her focus split as she usually would, and her emotions attuned to what ever feelings she herself could pick up..

..and those lingering minds. Her brows furrow as she quiets herself, her steps light and cautious. She keeps the light focused to the ground, ready to click it off if need be. "I can't get ahold of them.." She murmurs quietly. "..is it because you're out here and not.." She lightly points to her temple, then slowly continues on..

The slope finally starts to level out after a while. Jean has to be about six stories underground at this point, below even the level of the subway. Strangely, there is a sort of illumination ahead. AS she gets closer, she'll find a strange lichen on the walls, a kind of damp moss that's putting off its own light, a queer greenish-purple lambence that wavers in a way, almost prismatic. As if it were casting light that she can't quite see.

The minds ahead seem clustered together, some distance ahead down the passageway. Emotions are difficult to read, but there's a strange peacefulness to it. An emptiness.

The Phoenix flickers a wing, cocking its eerie head as its gemlike eyes seem to stare off into the dank dark. It is because they are not minds like you are used to. You are used to the minds of people. Whatever it is that lies before you…isn't people.

As the slope levels out, Jean glances up towards the ceiling with a frown, soon straightening as she flicks off the flashlight at the first sign of illumination. It was good enough not to have her own light, though she does stop for a moment to take a look and feel of the lichen, looking towards her gloves and soon .. rubbing her fingers together to see if it creates a film. She sniffs her fingers, then continues on with the path that she takes, keeping the flashlight within her hands. (It's police standard issue, obviously stolen from the scene of a possible riot left behind in Mutant Town.)

There was serenity in the air that was near calming, Jean casting a glance towards the bird as she gives a quiet nod. "But it's a mind none-the-less.." She murmurs quietly. "..if I can speak to our dogs in this way, perhaps I can speak to them as well. All we need to do is find the weakest link and take control. Dig through the root of the memories. Find the true path of where Logan is and set him free. In quick and quiet, out the same way. No casualties."

Eventually Jean reaches a set of metal doors. They're large and heavy, appearing to have been installed at some point in the last forty years or so. There's no obvious switch or handle to open them, but they're large. The tunnel itself has grown wider as she's advanced, leaving her standing before what are essentially twenty foot doors. The minds seem to be clustered on the other side.

The Phoenix leaps from her shoulder, flying in a slow circle around until it settles down at the peak of the arch of the door, staring down at Jean with a skeptical look in its fierce eyes. Dogs bite. Weak dogs more than most. Watch your fingers, little bird.

With the double doors ahead of her, Jean takes a step up, her fingers smoothing along the metal, searching for at least a mechanism that would allow the doors to open. She pauses, her gaze flitting up towards the phoenix's interpretation, her brows furrowing and soon? Leveling with a slight grin. "I like you like that. Instead of looking like me half of the time." She nods her head faintly. "You should keep it." It was a sad smile, perhaps forlorn, as she places both hands against the surface. She wasn't attempting to move the door, but move her mind past the door.. her mind attempting to hop to one individual after the next, searching for a way.. an access point.. the middle between rabid and serene..

Jean's reaching with her mind creates a ripple effect, as if her presence is somehow detected. She feels a stronger mind, more singular than the rest, starting to approach the door. She can recognize now the feel, although its odd at this level of consciousness - there's almost a hivemind going on among the others, a shared consciousness, where the borders between inviduals has been worn down like stones smoothed at the bottom of a river.

The mind touches the other side of the doors and they start to part, opening slowly to reveal what's on the other side.

The Phoenix flickers into embers and reforms on Jean's shoulder, visible only to hear, although a psi-sensitive being might sense its presence.

The individual on the other side is androgyne lending towards female. Smooth and hairless, its skin is a dark yellow, not bright enough to be mustard but not sallow enough to seem ill. Its eyes are wide and overlarge, nictating membranes like those of an insect clicking over the moist, black pupils that stare at Jean. Its mouth is tiny and slightly upturned in the ghostly remnant of a smile. She's wrapped in a close-fitting robe that might once have been a bedsheet, resewn into a garment.

"Welcome, pilgrim." the creature says in a high, melodic voice. There's a murmur and Jean can see masses on either side of the room, huddled together, creatures much like her, only hunched over and clutching one another.

Well that was something. Her jumping from mind to mind began to rouse the beast. Even as she felt those collective minds gather, she couldn't help but sense that there was no threat lingering on the horizon. Her eyes snap open as she takes a step back, the flashlight quickly stashed away into her backpack, her body tensing as she clears the way to watch as the doors, heavy as they were.. open.

With the bird landing upon her shoulder, it was clear that she was a heavy thing. But Jean kept herself upright in a slight tremble as she readies and steeles herself for.. the greeting.

And it was something unlike she had ever seen. Even the sound of.. the womans voice. It was startling so much that the walls within her mind begin to build and create barriers to protect itself as she withdraws from theirs..

"Welcome?" She asks quietly, her voice a slight tremble. "Welcome to what?"

The woman clasps her long, long-fingered hands together and steps slowly backwards. The crowd on either side shifts imperceptibly, providing her space commensurate with her current position. She's barefoot and her feet seem to have little claws on the ends of her toes. Of which there are only three on each foot.

"To the kingdom of the Elder," she says softly. "We are His people. Visitors are rare here, but all are welcome," she says. The lichen seems to coat a dome-shaped roof here, making it clear this is a long-buried subway station, something that tumbled deeper into the Earth during some past disaster. A massive, pitch-black tunnel leads further off to one side. A tunnel that doesn't seem to be entirely empty. There is something massive in there, shiny and black as the dark itself.

"Do you come to make offering?"

There were a million ways to play this, and yet none of them seem right. In fact, the people here were harmless on the surface. They really posed no threat, even though it was her against the lot of them. So she keeps that angle, not to mention, her curiosity was piqued. But silently, she kicked herself because Gabriel and Charles were right. They needed to know more. -She- needed to know more..

"Oh.." She says quietly, her brows lifting as she takes those few steps forward. She passes the threshold as the woman herself/itself moves back, the bag upon her back considered, her shoulders shrugging and sliding off the backpack so that it could be held with her hand. "Who's the Elder?"

But.. offering! Jean immediately jumps into action, taking a kneel upon the ground as she opens the bag and begins to rifle through it. "I have sandwiches for you guys to eat.." That were for her, one for Logan. "..and a weird drink. I don't know if your Elder would like it, it's made with some sort of.. hops. And I have containers of water. Fresh water from the pipes. The good stuff…" Then.. there was a surprise at the bottom! "Oh, I have a Wonka bar! It's smushed, but it has little rock candy in it. Like.. colorful sugar.."

While she was digging things out, her eyes stealthily cant towards the hallway. Just.. what in the world was back there?

The woman moves forward and extends her hands to take the offering, "The Elder will be pleased," she says. She wraps her long fingers around it, revealing that she has an extra set of knuckles to accomodate the length of her fingers. She turns and leads back towards another gathering point, the yellow-skinned creatures moving aside.

There, a figure has been erected. It seems to be made of trashbags and a large, green rain-slicker, the hood pulled over the head and obscuring its features. Like the figure drawn on the door, it carries some sort of walking stick, a forked set of pipes five or six feet in length.

'The Elder is our leader, our prophet. He speaks to the Great Strangers. He knows their words and calls to them and they do his bidding," she murmurs, "He is away now, tending to the War against the Unbelievers. But he shall return soon," she says.

Whatever is in the tunnel seems to resist being seen, so black is its surface. But it moves. Just a little, like a ripple on the surface of a pond.

Thankfully, one tin of water was left behind for herself, there was a slight feeling that she would have to keep it and not steal back what she had offered. Jean bows her head slightly as she rises, putting the flat backpack upon her back as she begins to move towards the woman.. still looking towards that black figure in the hallway.

"I would like to meet your Elder." Jean states honestly, no deception in her tone. There wasn't even anger there, it was a childlike way that she asks, almost a little too eager. These people.. they were different. Much like Jojo from earlier and the others that roam Mutant Town.. maybe..

"Do you have a name that I can call you?" Jean asks, before she asks the most serious question. "And there's something moving in that tunnel.. what is it? Is it a pet?"

The creature lays the things Jean gave her at the base of teh statue she made, "He will want to meet you, too. He has been hoping for a bride. He has tried among our kind, but we do not breed true. You have wide hips and a pleasing bosom, like the women in his papers from above," she says.

Her eyes are gleaming when she turns around, flicking towards the tunnel, "That is Urgo. It is a child of one of the Great Strangers, kept here to keep us safe. If you were a hostile invader or one of the Unbelievers, we would feed you to Urgo," she says. There's a chitinous shifting and the creature within the tunnel rises up a bit, massive, spindly legs pressing underneath it, the outline of its jaws barely visible in the moss-born light. Jean may have seen one in natural history class at some point. A trilobyte. Only this one is the size of a railway car.

As Jean watches the woman/thing, her brows shoot up almost immediately as she fights the urge to.. well.. run. Bride? That.. what?! She was near flabbergasted, and downright uncomfortable at the prospect. "I.. ah.. think.. that I do not breed true either. There is something broken in me. I do not believe that its.." THINK JEAN! THINK! "..something anyone would wish to pass down to a child." She smiles sadly. "But.. if you allow me to take one of his recent brides to the surface, I can assist our doctors in helping her conceive." Blech. Just blech. Keep it together Jean.. keep it the fu-..

"Urgo?" She finally asks, eager to change the subject, stepping away from the woman and the strange altar, her hood peeled back and yet the cats-eye disguise remains. She may look rather foolish, but it keeps most of her face concealed. And as she moves closer to the opening of the tunnel, she near jumps back, but keeps still at a tremble. Oh .. to be eaten by -that-!

(And thankfully she didn't drink any water, she would have pissed herself.)

"Dah-guh.. ahh.. HI URGO!" Fear. It causes you to blurt things loud.

The woman shakes her head sadly, "I am afraid none of them survived. They were unworthy and so had to be fed to the strangers. I had hoped to be selected as his next bride. I fear that I, too, am unworthy but having His favor for but a moment would brighten my dark subsistence. I, you see, am broken off from the Unisoul, alone and adrift," she says, tears forming in her oversized eyes until water streams down. She covers her face with her hands.

At the calling of his name, Urgo shifts, the huge creature rolling a bit in the tunnel. Several subterraneans are crushed beneath its massive carapace, their weak screams barely audible against the interlocking clicks of its shell. It doesn't seem to notice them, but its wriggling, black-eyed face has certainly turned towards Jean.

There was much fear when it came to looking at the trilobyte, but the sorrow that she does hear from the womans voice, nearly breaks her heart. All resolution of running away and peeing herself in fear was gone, she turns to approaches the woman, attempting to draw her into a hug that was meant to warm and comfort. "Shh.. it's okay." She says quietly. "Oddly, I know what it's like to be disconnected from family. You feel alone and discarded because you're different. And you know what?" Jean pulls away from the woman, attempting to wipe the tears away from her eyes. "It's okay to be different." She puts on a smile, -but- she doesn't forget about Urgo. That thing was still at the back of her mind.

"Everyone here is special, you know? Unisoul or not. You're never alone, okay?"

There's a certain disquiet that seems to spread among the others as Jean embraces the girl (whose name is Voon, Jean can pick that much easily enough from the surface of her mind). The others don't seem to like the outsiders touching her. She belongs to the Elder, after all, to dispose with as He pleases. They do not touch her for she is marked.

Voon's voice is pitched low, trying not to be heard, not knowing that Jean can hear her very thoughts, "It isn't safe here. You need to go. Before he returns. He'll never allow you to leave," she whispers.

There is when the urgency starts. Jean had felt that she had the womans trust, and it may be misguided, but she has to try. "Voon.." She whispers quietly. "..there was a man that was taken from above, he's really near and dear to me. He's like my father. I came down here to find him and bring him back home.. please tell me where he is.." The disquiet was a little bit frightening, but she doesn't let go of the hug that she has of Voon. "Please.. help me.."

Voon trembles and shakes, "I…I do not know of him…we did not take him…he must have been taken by…the Unbelievers…the enemies of the Elder! I am sorry for your surface father but he is not worth your life. Flee, red woman, flee, quickly!"

There's a gutteral roar from the corner as the beast in the tunnel rises, starting to scuttle over the masses of subterraneans, their discomfort and fear of Jean directing it where to strike and feed. It is an empathic thing, controlled by the Unisoul's feelings of antipathy. It will drive out the outlander.

"Tell me where the Unbelievers are!" Jean didn't shout, but her whisper has a sense of urgency to it. But she finally lets go of Voon, taking a few quick steps back, both hands rising within the air as she turns to direct her attention towards the trilobyte. "URGO." Jean does a complete about face, ready to face the monster down, allowing her own feelings to attempt to reach and tame the beast. At least to give him/it a sense of calm.

"I'm leaving." Her hands slowly reach for her hood, drawing it over her head as she whispers quietly to Voon. "I'm coming back for you. I promise you. I'll not let him destroy any of you any more. Do you hear me Voon? Just hold on.."

Defying their religion or not, she was confident in this. She would bring back help, or come alone if she has to. To make good on her promise, she takes slow steps aside, her hands still lifted in the air as she attempts to project calm feelings towards those who surround her. For she too, was an empathic creature.

Jean's powers wash over the creatures and are, to be frank, highly effective. They are broken and sick things, after all, and used to being subjected to the will of others. She overpowers them and makes them calm, but it's an artificial calm, something she can only maintain while in their presence. The moment she leaves, the power of the Unisoul will cut them loose.

"I believe you," Voon whispers, wrapping her arms around herself and scurrying to hide behind the statue of the Elder, her only safe place for the others fear it almost as much as they fear Jean.

Urgo hovers, confused, hesitant, jaws clicking in the air as it finds the feelings that guide it growing vague.

It was a bold move, to take control of them all as she did. No matter how artificial it was, Jean now had a renewed faith, one that was born from fear. She would be back, but she wouldn't come the next night.. no. Perhaps the night after that? Maybe. And maybe she could bring some help..

As far as bold moves go, Jean approaches Urgo, her gloved hand reaching out to place upon it's chitin, a warm smile drawing upon her face as she gives a shake of her head. "Don't be confused.." She says quietly. "..I'll return for you too, you beautiful creature."

Removing her hand, she immediately turns upon her heels and runs out, stopping at the threshold as she glances upright, her hand reaching up to press against her temple, the other hand stretched out as she attempts to force the large, steel doors closed.. hopefully sealing them inside.

The doors slam shut, a momentary sussurus of confusion. And then there's a roar and a crash as Urgo thrashes, that momentary comfort and presence he felt from Jean drawn away from him, like a warm light flickering out, leaving him back in the dark where he tantrums, squashing a few dozen more of the subterraneans in his primitive, mindless wrath.

The tunnel is quivering from the impacts as Jean makes her way up, threatening to cave in behind her - or atop her - if it gets much worse.

There was clear hesitation as Jean stands there, yet.. as soon as small dust and debris begin to fall from the ceiling, she reaches into her backpack to grab the flashlight to flick it on. The lichen? No, this wasn't going to do, she was going to run full bore into safety.

And she does.

Her feet kicking up, allowing the wind and momentum to carry her, dodging out of the way of fallen rocks, using her TK to give her a boost as she leaps ahead through the tunnels. It was a hard run, one that she's trained for since she began to play in the danger room.. and for some odd reason?

The entirety of it gives her joy..

The tunnel falls shut, stone and concrete tumbling int he wake of her, like a broken mausoleum atop a long-forgotten grave.

But Jean can still sense them, now that she knows they're there. Deep underground. Alive and hidden. And, for the moment, sealed away, at least here. But there most be other passages, other tunnels, other doors.

Other monsters.

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