1964-11-14 - The Taking of Jay
Summary: Or the attempt to, at least.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
ninette jay chance 

Ninette holds Jay's hand as they step out of one of New York's better restaurants. Ninette is picky when it comes to food, and she has a lot to say about it. Food is a safe topic. "I thought the texture of the mousse was a little flat," she says to the winged one. "But the flavor was complex and interesting." She doesn't bother with a coat. The cold never bothered her, anyway. She smiles up at Jay, her poor sweet gay boyfriend. "What would you like to do now?"

Jay doesn't know how to act in a nice restaurant, so he just tries to not do anything…too much. Don't talk too much, don't laugh too much, don't ask why the hell the portions are so small, and by the end of the evening, he's so humored with the silliness of him being in a place like that, that he can't stop smiling when he and Ninette step out. Eyes shining with humor, morphed into green crescents and that one dimple quietly 'aw shucks'ing on his left cheek. "That was the chocolate at the end, right? Was it? It was so rich, Ah barely noticed. this was a fantastic idea, Ah'm glad you thought it up. Ah would've never gone here on mah own." Turning that placid smile over to his knock out companion, all light and ease.

He's even tried to dress up a little, turning to slacks and a nice shirt, tie he probably stole from Kaleb's closet. Though in a move of stubborness, he has decided no coat so his silent protest of keeping his wings out is still present—back of his shirt cut out. But his blood is /thin/, and he's wearing real shoes, gloves and an /ugly/ scarf his momma probably knit him, wrapped a million times around his neck, ends dangling. A black feather woven into the stitches. "Ah almost wish it was colder. you know Ah've never been ice skatin'?"

The woman is very old, though there is something…stately, about her. She wears her age with a quiet, solid dignity, and there is nothing frail about her. But her skin hangs loose and there are many in the way of wrinkles upon her features. She has a cane, though she only leans on it lightly, and there is a circlet of silver in her wispy grey hair that is the only thing about her that seems disorderly. She's dressed in a dress that looks right out of the Victorian Age. "Jay." Though her voice is soft, there is a crystalline clarity in it. More, there's something about that voice that just makes it like this woman could stand and speak and everyone would be enraptured as they listen.

"Jay." she repeats, having waited only a moment and giving no time to be recognized.

The woman stands near a limo, and she is flanked by two men in suits, both looking quite fit, and each wearing a white mask. The masks themselves look to be made of ivory, and are the work of a true artist— even one who doesn't know art can likely see that— for they seem almost to be realistic, so fine are the features on each. Each bows.

"We'll have to go when it gets cold enough," Ninette says with delight. "Or I'll freeze a pond this weekend. We can go then." She is, as ever, dressed to the nines, a total knockout. She's made her peace with the scarf. Jay's sense of fashion is, well, Jay's.

Ninette stops short when the old woman speaks Jay's name. She looks to him for signs of familiarity in his features. Two me, fit, masked. Her hackles rise, figuratively, and she shifts a little to put herself between them and Jay. "And you are?"

Jay has had enough arguments lately over what his name is that when he hears someone call out, clear as a bell, the fair young musician automatically smiles placidly as he turns in the old woman's direction, fingers loosely holding on to Ninette's hand. "Ma'am?". a quick flick of his attention to each man as well. Intuitively gently tugging Ninette behind him, wings rising slightly to make his silhouette a little broader looking. "Can Ah help you folks?" They look well-dressed though, and a flash of concern appears written over his face. "Is Kale all right?" Weird well-dressed people? Could be associated with them.

\"Jay." The old woman inclines her head, and speaks past Ninette at first, her smile light but seeming warm enough, and she does answer the woman, though her attention is for the moment on Jay. "I am called Forever in Bloom. I have come to meet you, so speak to you, Jay. I come at the will of Ishad, the Voice in the Masks. He cast his net into the rivers of time, Jay, and what he pulled from the waters was your name, Jay Guthrie. Your name and your mystery; and he grieves for what you lost in discovering it. If only he had awakened earlier, he could have saved you your pain. You are honored above all so far thus in this— the Age of Mysteries— Jay. You are honored because Ishad bade me, one of the Exalted, to come to you, to take what gift he made with his own hands and bring it to you in an offer, Jay, where all others have been approached by the merely Chosen. It is my pleasure to meet you, Jay Guthrie." Her eyes then take in Ninette, her smile still on, "But your name was not heard upon the winds of eternity, though I sense that it would only be a matter of time. You are…" She lifts a thin, gnarled hand a moment, and seems to pluck something from the air, "Ninette Lauren."

The woman's voice is… compelling. There is a richness, a welcoming, an imploring, to her words. The more she says someone's name— with fuller names more powerful— for them alone, the more compelling the voice becomes. The less the oddity of her words seem odd. It is not mind control, not quite, but the enchantment of her voice could be called a close cousin.

"Jay, I bring you a gift. For you, Ninette, I'm afraid I can offer you only the promise of an introduction."

Ninette doesn't fight Jay for first position, though she does stand ready behind him, paranoid and possessive. Jay's her gay boyfriend. She hears the woman out, though, and the gimlet eye she casts the men in masks could be written off as upper class arrogance. "Yes, that's me," she says, though she doesn't sound too surprised that she's been heard of. In the world of torch singers, she's kind of a big deal. Still, all of this is unsettling, and she instinctively grows just a little colder, frost threatening to lick along her fingertips. "An introduction to who?"

Wh-what? The woman certainly has his attention, but the tone is uncertain. There's that niggling of suspicion as she explains, reading between the words and the flourid speech, what he can piece together draws forth some raw, bare wires of emotion and past. Zero ability to hide that feeling, his wings shiver and features fall into a sense of unease, conflicted sadness and morbid curiosity. It borders on violating, that feeling, but there's hope lurking somewhere along the edge of his periphery. Naive, hopeful, emotional man. He wants to believe the best in everyone, and if she has…answers or /anything/, well, Jay's interested. Holding by Ninette, fingers squeeze slowly on her hand. "Well, that's our names, Miss, uh,Forever in Bloom…but Ah'm not so sure you can help me much. Whatever pain Ah hold onto is mine. Ah earned it, but Ah'd be happy to talk to you if you'd like. But right now Ah'm having an evenin' out with my lady friend here."

"Ishad, the Lord of the House of Masks, Ninette. He who speaks through the masks, he who offers eternity and safety." The old woman explains to Ninette, inclining her head slightly. She shifts, and lifts her purse, and from it pulls an elaborate mask; its lacquered leather with bright feathers and a beak. She inclines her head to Jay, "Jay. Jay Guthrie." The woman extends her hands with the mask, "You have but to accept the gift, Jay, and hear Ishad's words. He will make you an offer, he can promise you something no one else can. He can give you immortality— true immortality— or, if you choose, he can allow you to finally die, Jay. The choice is yours. If you choose to don the mask, you will have the power to make sure no one else, Jay, no one else will ever be harmed in your place. You will become a power of ages, and no one you love will ever be at risk of being hurt again." She looks to Ninette, "Ninette. You, too, could have a mask made. You too could offer to join the Lord in the eternity."

Jay wants to believe the best in everyone. Ninette, she's looking for the catch. She eases off on the frost as she squeezes Jay's hand, though she tenses at the sight of the mask. "What does true immortality cost?" she asks, curt and to the point. Hers is a world of deals made, not relationships built, Jay being a shining exception. Maybe he's the proof her heart hasn't turned entirely to ice yet. There's a vein of squishiness where Jay's concerned. "I want to meet this Ishad. I want to know what his terms are, and why he wants Jay."

Jay murmurs to himself, confusedly, "Lord of /Masks/…?" the whole yarn makes that part of his brain devoted to his church sort of twitch, but he listens, politely. The idea of immortality makes his wings rustle and shift, a pang of hurt flashing across the young man's eyes for a brief moment, though he attempts to remain polite. Patient. Respect your elders, Jay. Gentle and understanding, but wounded by it. It's the offer of death that seems to catch his attention, immediately swallowed up by guilt and discomfort as he looks back toward Ninette when she speaks, trying to hide his own shame and reactions by looking her way. The /safety/ of the people he loves being an especially tempting nuance. He nods gently and turns back to the lady and her associates, "If you know enough about me, Ma'am, you know Ah'm not a man to barter his soul away. If what you got to offer is genuine, we ain't opposed to having a conversation, but masks obscure an' limit vision—no disrespect intended.". he doesn't shut them down, but seems wary. Talking never hurt anyone though.

"The only thing that Ishad asks is to share in your mystery, Ninette." The old woman inclines his head to Ninette, bowing slightly, "And as such, you will share in the mystery of the House. Why does he wish Jay? Jay." She looks to Jay, her voice swirling around in the air like an almost tangible, alive, alluring thing. "It is not your soul that Ishad wishes, Jay. He is no demon to make pacts for souls. He offers truth and power, and belonging. You have a mystery that has served you poorly, Jay. Will you ever meet heaven, if your own life conspires to refuse to allow you peace? If you but wear the mask, Jay." She lifts it towards him, "…you will have a choice. The choice to set aside this faux-immortality, and embrace the House and the sanctuary that is our protection… or to set aside your mystery, and have a life before you free of your unasked-for burden." She looks to Ninette, "Why, Jay, Ninette Lauren? Because while the House of the Masks can not die, it does not mean they can not suffer. Jay could help alleviate our suffering, and through us, the suffering of the world."

The woman, Forever in Bloom, looks to Jay again, "The masks made by Ishad do not obscure, Jay." And to demonstrate, there's a blurring on her face… and she is in a mask herself. An elegant one of ivory and gilded in silver, stylzed as a blossoming flower curving over its features, "In fact, the House of the Masks see more then you can know without sharing our vision."

Ninette eyes the mask askance. Talking can't hurt, she grudgingly allows in whatever silent communication couples develop over time. "I would try on the mask," she says. "To make sure it's safe. Jay has been through too much. He doesn't need more grief." She looks up at him and smiles, a rare touch of warmth in the ice queen. The smile fades though as she tells him, "I don't like that they're offering you death. What if they mean to collect now?" Always looking for the catch.

Jay is visibly surprised by the phasing of that elaborate mask, his brows loft upwards and lips part slightly in awe. The winged man tips his head forward, less cautious than his companion, admiring the craftsmanship involved in that design. He's still an artist at heart.

Exchanging a look with Ninette, his fingers squeeze gently on hers in solidarity. The temptation is strong. the promise of possible peace? Of helping others find peace? sure, they're creepy but everyone has damage and coping mechanisms. Seems reasonable. Those questions make him concerned, however, shaking his head mildly. "Ah'm less vulnerable than you are, Ah don't want you doin' anythin' first." She's protective of his innocent, kindhearted nature, but he has that protector nature to him as well that's already caused him plenty of harm. "Wouldn't make sense to 'collect', now. Go all this way an' find me? We can talk. We'll talk, an' listen."

"The mask was not made for you." The old woman's voice sounds sincerely apologetic, to Ninette, "You can not hear Ishad's voice until he bespeaks eternity and your name is spoken in return. Jay, Jay's name is written into every atom of this mask. We do not collect, Ninette. The House offers peace, and protection, for all time; we do not take your life. But the act of becoming one with us would allow him to *choose* to separate himself from his mystery. To become, should he wish it, human in all ways like every other. It is within the power of Ishad's masks for one to not only share their mysteries, but to give them up. That can not be forced. That choice is the maskbearers." She offers the mask out to Jay, "You have but to don it and he will speak to you. The choice will then be yours. Forever, among the House of the Masks, in the dance of life, sharing in all of our mysteries, or mortality without the burdens you did not ask for; or having heard Ishad's words, to turn forever from him and return to the path you now walk. Take the mask, Jay, and choose."

|ROLL| Jay +rolls 1d100 for: 96

|ROLL| Chance +rolls 1d100 for: 80

|ROLL| Ninette +rolls 1d100 for: 64

Ninette frowns, and she subtly tugs Jay toward her, but she's all of 5'3" and tiny so the tug doesn't have all that much force behind it. "They want to change you," Ninette murmurs. "You're not broken, though. There's nothing wrong with you that needs fixed." She'd never in a million years think of herself as the shoulder angel wearing white, yet here she is. She eyes the mask with a thin frown. "I believe you mean what you say," she allows, grudgingly. "But I worry that you might be deluded." Why not just put it all out there?

There is certainly a moment of repulsion (small as it is) when there's talk of making him human. The choice to die is vastly different than 'becoming' human. There's something else as well as he stares at the older woman, then the mask offered, then back to her once again. Something lingers there for an unspoken moment before the soft tug from Ninette draws his attention back to her."What if there was, though?" He frowns gently, brows worrying together as he searches Ninette's face over. His voice quiet and sincere while his wings shiver behind him. There's a decisive shift in the cornbread raised man's posture; gentle but certain, "Ah'm broken in some ways. Ah am. But none of 'em have to do with bein' a mutant."

Still. Jay looks back to the odd gathering of people who stopped them as Ninette's attention returns to them as well. He winces a bit, his polite sensibilities a little bruised when Ninette shoots straight with the older woman. "Ma'am…when you say 'share mysteries', you mean these powers. People's powers are somehow gathered up an' then shared? Interchangably? An' you can give them up, permanently?"

"We wish only to share in Jay's mystery, Ninette. It is Jay who may choose to change himself; it is not our wish that he does. It is our most sincere wish he chooses to become one of the Chosen of Lord Ishad." The old woman looks to Ninette, and for the first time he frowns slightly, though it touches only her lips since the rest of her face is masked, "Deluded? Child, I am a thousand years old and have seen empires rise and fall. We see what no others can, Ninette. Ishad has lived and died and lived again for thousands of years. He has gathered us, Chosen and Exalted alike, that we may share our mysteries." The frowns mooths away as she nods to Jay, "You understand. Once you bind your mystery to the House and its Lord, you become Chosen. The Chosen may never truly die, unless they choose to unbind themselves from their mystery and leave the House. It takes practice, to use the mysteries shared with the House, but all are available, to all." She smiles. "My mystery was with illusion, after a fashion. Glamours of self. Now, we all have it; observe the true Masks of the Chosen who guard me." She gestures. The two men, with such plain but fine masks, change. One is tall and skinny, and his mask is that of an angel. The other is on the fat side, and his mask is a bear. Both are… of quite poor quality, actually. Halloween masks, and cheap ones at that. The illusion simply… faded away, though, as their true selves are revealed. She smiles broader, "As each Chosen is gathered, the House grows, and the Lord guides us towards a better world and a better life, one where we are all special and safe."

Ninette still doesn't seem entirely certain, but she doesn't give any more opinions to the woman as to her sanity. She even ducks her head a little, though to call it an apology would be overstating things. "This isn't a choice I can make for you," she tells Jay. "Ultimately, you must be who you truly are, and you know that I will adore you no matter what you do." She smiles at him, that rare warmth resurfacing as it does mostly only for him. "Go with what your instincts tell you." She's been saying this for awhile lately, not just the mask thing.

Jay remains quiet and thoughtful while the discussion carries on so near to their little restaurant. His necktie feels weird, so he reaches up to tug on the knot a little bit while he watches the men's illusions fall away. Confusion paints his expression over the flimsiness of their own masks and their stiff demeanor, compared to Forever in Bloom. Confirming what he thought he understood, Jay nods slowly, then looks back to the small, frosty blond at his side as Ninette smiles at him and repeats her favorite phrase to him. He keeps hold of her hand, thumb traveling over her knuckles in attempted reassurance.

The young man turns back toward Bloom and her men. "So, Chosen share their powers. An', Ah guess, one of 'em must've had an immortality gift so…y'all don't die." He asks as politely as possible. "An' someone can die, butthe only way to do that is t'leave. So, if you leave, you die? Lose yer power, become human, an' die." Trying to get the details straight, because something smells funny to him. "If you don't mind me askin' Ma'am, what's t'stop yer man, ah—I-Ishad? Ishad from severin' that tie an' castin' someone out to die? What are yer laws? Yer rules? Yer goals?". Jay wets his lower lip, free hand gesturing mildly toward Bloom, and for all his guileless nature, he seems very genuine in these questions. A part of him /wants/ to believe. "Ah don't mean to be rude. Ah only got questions. Ah understand this is a weird place to talk about everythin'." A tender flick of an apologetic smile on his face.

"It is not that we have an immortality power; we do not." The old woman shakes her head, "However, the House is immortal, and if you are bound to the House, you can only be taken from it by choosing to forsake it. The Lord has the power to bring the dead back to life, and he will do so for the Chosen. The Exalted have reached the level of power where we no longer need his aide. But, no." She shakes her head more firmly, "Leaving does not kill you; leaving simply unbinds you from your mystery. Any can leave as they see fit. Some turn out not to have the… psychological makeup… to enjoy the turning of centuries, and… retire. It doesn't kill one to leave, it simply makes one *mortal*. The Lord will no longer resurrect you, and in the fullness of time you will simply die, as any would. Be it from old age, sickness, accident. Nothing, nothing, can keep the House from being brought back by the Lord, save choice to forsake the House." She is silent a moment, and shakes her head, "He is our Lord. We expect obedience; the Chosen obey the Exalted, the Exalted obey the Lord. I do not mean 'lord' as 'god', but as he who holds authority to govern. Lordship. Our goals? To save the world from war, from pain, from suffering. Five nations now have the power to end the world in nuclear fire. Two hate eachother for reasons as simple as…ideology. Here, in this nation, color of skin, mysteries, religion, these lead to hate and conflict. The Lord Clad in Chains will end all this, and when the Age of Mysteries is done, when the House of the Masks has the power to end suffering, so will the Age of Wonders begin, as foretold by the Lord in the pools of time."

"Hmm," Ninette says, pursing her lips. There's the catch. She squeezes Jay's hand and looks up at him again in wordless appeal. This sounds religious, Jay. Then again, Jay likes religion. Still, she's said it's his choice. Still, she says, "One should know the rules, I think, and the punishment for disobeying them. Jay? Maybe take some time to think about it? Some days, yes?" She glances to the woman with her mask, and past her to the others whose mask's illusions have fallen. "Surely for such a big decision, you will give him a few days to think about it?"

This is starting to sound religious. Which is just a more socially acceptable version of something sounding like a cult. But Jay does like religion. Though he seems rightly hesitant, looking at the mask again; the symbol of that apparently permanent tie to a group of people he knows nothing about. Slowly he nods, seeming to agree with Ninette. "Ah can respect a goal about tryin' to free the world from fear an' pain. Anyone would be, Ah think. The trouble is that folks all have a different idea of how to go about something like that. This is /my/ power, and that makes it my responsibility to make sure it's used right." Jay slowly shakes his head, reluctant. Hesitant to so swiftly turn over his freedom and powers to people he doesn't know. Though the concept does carry allure. Of course it does, otherwise they'd be some weird coffee clutch in the village with 3 members. "Ah can't make a decision like that without knowin' who Ah'm handin' it over to."

"Child, you have been chosen. The pools of eternity have named you. If you were a lesser mystery, we could wait… but you are not. You are the keystone that will bind the Age of Wonders together." The old woman frowns, and she shakes her head slowly, almost like sad, and the sigh is indeed such, "So be it. Lord Ishad! The chosen will not choose. I call and invoke you, I am your vessel." She carefully places the bird-mask into her purse, and as she does so… the silver gilding along the edges of her mask… spread. As the silver spreads, it loses some of its refinement, and it takes only moments for such a fancy, expensive mask to become one of plain, pure silver— but silver polished to mirror shine. There is… a power, to such a simple form.

The demeanor of the old woman changes, too; straightnes, becoming…stronger. Hale. The mask *moves*, the silver mouth shifting over her face to *speak* itself. It is a voice that shakes to the bone, a voice that no vocal chords are capable of, a voice that speaks beyond hearing to sear words into mind. It is, what some would imagine, the voice of a god would sound like, perhaps. But it is also, quite clearly, a *man's* voice.



Speaking of chains, they materialize around him, spinning in the air, twisting around the old woman's body, even as they lift her body up into the air in the swirling mass and threat of those impossible chains.

And just then, a man clad all in black, with his own mask— a black mask— flies down from the air to land with inhuman grace, and twisting immediately into a spin with a long staff in his hand. The staff, black and metal, slams into the throat of the Angel-masked Chosen, who gurgles, chokes, and falls to his knees, clutching at his throat, "Shit! These guys have been kidnapping people all over town to steal their powers and are bad news, whoever you are!" That'd be Chance. Freefall. Vigilante.

That's it. Ninette tried to be civil about this, and holding her tongue is not her strong suit. The moment Ishad starts introducing himself, she goes all frosty. Letting go of Jay's hand, she snarls and at least tries to leap in front of him, the better to pull ice from the water around them, puddles and pavement, the air. Ice starts to form on her hands into vicious, jagged looking sharp spikes.

Then there's this guy. Ninette comes awfully close to going for Chance, but his words stay her. "I knew they were bullshit!" says the dainty lady, and she lunges for the two guys by the car. "Get! Shoo!" She's all ready to go all slashy-slashy on these people.

"Wh-what?" Jay takes a half step backwards, looking confused at first. "If Ah'm so 'important' to y'all, then Ah'd think y'can do it right an' talk to me more about what's goin' on." He /still/ tries to reason with her as the bird mask is put away into her purse, gently trying to appeal to Bloom, though the way he says 'important' is clear that he is completely confounded why anyone would think he was that important or significant.

Then the changing begins and Jay freezes in place for a moment, shocked. I mean, it's pretty creepy and terrifying, but it's also really impressive. Until she basically seems to become possessed and Jay's soft green eyes go wide. "/Devourer/? /Choice/? Ah don't think that word means what y'all think it means." Resolve strengthens the framing of his relaxed demeanor, he goes from awed and afraid to defensive when he feels Ninette let go of his hand. Letting the petite blond woman stand in front of him this time, Jay moves to wrap a protective arm around Ninette's tiny waist, wings unfurling out to either side as she makes herself some vicious boxing claws. Ready to snag her away or try to protect her, his actions are pretty much the opposite of helpful for Ninette's intentions.

Still, Chance drops down all the sudden and Jay anticipates him being part of an ambush against them. The winged fellow pivots forward slightly to use his body as a shield between Chance and Ninette. Except the new guy doesn't attack them. "What? For cryin' out loud. Is everyone in this place bonkers?" Jay replies and frowns, looking up toward the figure hovering above them, surrounded by chains. Three against three now, Jay lets Ninette go to slash up who she likes. He? He jumps up and takes to wing, intent on trying to fly past the floating figure, challenging those dangerous looking chains as he attempts to dodge past them. "You want me, come get me!" Divide and conquer? Maybe?

"I'm not bonkers. Look, I wear a mask because the cops don't like mutant vigilantes! They wear masks because they stick their souls into them and whoever wears their mask gets their body stolen, that's what they call immortality! Stealing bodies through generations!" Chance says with a, perhaps, surprisingly calm tone of voice, though the emphasis rings clear. Chance engages the Lord of Chains, swinging his stave, knocking a chain aside, and only barely missing a chain shoot forward to hit him, and not gently at that. He misses it with a sudden standing backflip that defies a normal understanding of how gravity works. But only barely. He is not a match for this foe.

With Angel choking — for the moment — it is Bear that Ninette engages, but… the man masked in a bear… changes. He grows larger, and hands become hairy, clawed. He becomes a bear, in a way. But the shards of her ice slice into flesh that is but flesh. He roars, but he suffers at her icy hands.

A chain strikes to Jay, to try to hit a wing, and it is not an attempt to capture, it is an intent to injure, to cripple. The Lord Clad in Chains cares absolutely nothing for Jay's flying mutation: maintaining that is nothing to him. The chains are fast, but they are perhaps not quite fast enough for Jay's dexterity and speed in the air.

But the chains are many, and even with Jay distracting, and Chance engaging, more are free to harry and destroy.


Ninette swipes at the men, stayed by Jay, who probably saves their lives or at least the cost of their hospital bills. "I will kill them!" she pipes up. There there, murder-girl. Ah, but then she's free! But forget about the guys by the car, she attacks the chains instead, pulling water from the air to form ice, trying to immobilize them. "He's mine!" she cries out. "My Jay!" Chance she leaves be for the moment. He's talking like he's on their side.

Jay twists in the air as that chain goes for him, contorting his body uncomfortably when that wicked chunk of jointed metal swings in his direction. Instead of a direct hit, the chain whips past and breaks a couple feathers when it whips past. Nothing he can't live without, though it stings and Jay's heart races a little faster at the near miss, flapping a little more wildly to steady out. Exhaling a hollow breath when Jay shoots past Ishad, the man calms himself a bit and comes about like a pesky gnat, shooting past to pester Ishad again. But, holy shit, the bear guy gets significantly larger and more imposing. "'Nette! Watch your back!" Jay shouts down to the street.


Ishad, floating there in possession of the old woman's body, held up by the chains that swirl around him stares at them through his silver mask. Compared to Bloom's, its actually somewhat simple. As ice forms around some of the chains, they tremble, and do not immediately break free, but there are too many to be immobilized completely, and they are strong enough that it takes her focus to keep them restrained.

Chance manages to keep a couple chains distracted, as they strike at him and he leaps, and falls *up*, only to spin around mid air and strike back at the chain, knocking it aside. Its completely ineffective, as the chains don't really mind being hit with his spear.

Angel continues to choke, but the Bear stalks towards Ninette — she injured him, and he wants revenge.

Ninette pulls water from the air, causing ice to form along her hands. She molds it like clay into a jagged point, which she then hurls at Bear. It's not a hard lob, but it's still an icicle to the face. "I'll end you!" she says. So small, so bristling with rage. Frost forms along her skin, and the temperature around her drops. It's so cold her breath should frost, but it doesn't.

She gives a quick glance around to see where everyone is. Apparently she's accepted Chance as someone to help rather than someone to lob ice at. She doesn't menace him.

"Yer the one attackin' /us/, man!" Jay points out with what he considers sound logic, still trying to reason with people which reasoning doesn't seem to be high on their to do list. "Attackin' folks your tryin' to ally with? Not a good way to build trust!" Way to try to each an ethics course on teambuilding while someone's trying to effectively smash you like a fly, Jay.

Still in the air, Jay is effectively just trying to stay away from those wicked looking chains, his body twists and contorts with the flexibility of his wings to bend with him in the air as he attempts to dive through the flailing masses to test their sentience. If they're just mindlessly chasing, the diving young man and all his aerial acrobatics try to see if he can attempt to entangle and confuse them. "Ah would've sat down and /talked/ with ya, but you've upset mah lady friend now, and that Ah strictly cannot abide!" Threaten to kidnap him? Cool. Attack him? Cool. But upset his lady friend and Jay's going to have words.


The bear takes ice to the face, and loses an eye with it, which causes him to ROAR. He swings a clawed hand back at Ninette, to try to maul her just a little bit.

Angel has finally recovered from coughing, and he stumbles to his feet, woozy. But he doesn't, yet, engage.

Jay's acrobatics are quite adept at confusing the chains: they twist around eachother a bit, and between Ninette's ice holding some, Chance distracting others, and Jay's amazing dexterity in flight, the Lord Clad in Chains seems to be somewhat neutralized. But that just means held at bay, not defeated.

Ninette ducks, but isn't quite fast enough to avoid claws raking down her back. When Bear lifts her up for some quality mauling, she bites him on the arm, clamping down and savaging him for dear life. She also kicks at him and goes for his face. She's not a fighter, and though she's had self-defense lessons, none of them covered bear-men attacking her. But she's a biter, and that's got to hurt. She doesn't let go even as he claws her again.

Jay weaves in and out of snapping and frozen/stunned chains, holding his breath at points and barely squeaking by at others while he tries to weave a knot of iron around the silver-masked figure possessing the old woman. A blur of scarlet at points while at others he seems to hover in the air weightless before plummetting again, Jay flounders occasionally only to scramble back for purchase. Streaking free and wide, Jay breathes deeply when he hears the latest chain he was baiting shudder to a snagged standstill, whipping around in a tight circuit to check on Ninette and, well yes, Chance.

"Ninette!" Jay shouts and cuts his wings hard to dive down at Bear while he tries to tear the tiny icy woman apart. Jay is a shriek of red through the air as he tries to use himself as a battering ram; arms crossed in front of his headlong plummet, fists clenched. There's no real way to outright /avoid/ hitting Ninette if she's clenched to Bear, but it's with substantial and unapologetic force that Icarus tries to angle to hit the much larger target from behind and the left. He'll take the full blunt force of it, relying on his myriad 'mysteries' to help him take it.

Bear was not used to being bitten; he's stunned momentarily after the bite, even as his claws drip with blood. And then he is slammed into, and bear, bird, and icicle become a tangle of confused limbs. The mask goes flying off of him, and… he stills, reverting to a man, who immediately begins screaming and clutching at his eye.

With the civilians in trouble, Chance disengages from trying to keep Ishad distracted, and flings himself back through the air. Somersaulting, he lands on the ground just in time to *whack* the Angel just as a sword of fire appeared in his hands. He crumples.


Jay's impact with Bear shakes Ninette loose, and she goes tumbling to the pavement. But she drags herself to her feet, bleeding, clasping one torn-into shoulder, but she's looking around for another fight. Does Angel want some? How about the screaming mask guy? She… she probably needs medical attention. Just don't try telling her that. She spits out a bit of suit fabric and says, "Who is next?" The air around her is getting colder and colder. Ice crystals are closing over her wounds.

Jay colides with Bear and the sickly sound of bone and flesh cracking wettly against one another is audible as Ninette is shook loose and Bear turns back into a man. Sans one eye. Jay's recovery from that tackle isn't graceful, but he doesn't seem hurt from it beyond a little bit of road rash as he skids across the ground, tearing holes in his (let's admit it, they're probably Kaleb's) slacks. The raw skin knits up neatly as he gets back to his feet with a grunt and immediately searches out for Ninette.

A quick glance as flames hit the sky and are quickly quenched with a thunk of Chance's staff, Jay nods tersely to the unknown man who SEEMS to be on their side at least, and turns back to Ninette. Ninette, bleeding and looking rather feral at the moment for the cultured ice princess she normally is. Jay steals a moment to look just a bit shocked, then glances back toward the spouting sociopath floating above them, and rushes in Ninette's direction. "'Forfeit' mah ass…" he mumbles under his breath. "Ninette, yer hurt! C'mon!" Jay has zero shame in running.

Retreating, Chance's stave splits in two, and they are quickly sheathed behind his back in straps that were otherwise mostly unseen. He moves towards Ninette and Jay, "This guy is way more powerful then he's showing, we gotta get out of here, guys." He reaches out to try to lay a hand on Ninette, glancing over at Jay, "Come on!" And suddenly he and Ninette are *rushing* up into the sky, with him keeping a hand on her. Or trying to.

Chains stab into empty air where they are. "I WILL HAVE YOUR SOULS!" Ishad is angry. Suddenly, flame erupts around his hands.

Ninette is too startled by suddenly falling upward to bite Chance, and since gravity could start behaving at any moment, she doesn't try to break away from his grasp. On the contrary, she practically climbs him in an attempt to hold on. "What is this!" Her French accent might not make her words all that legible in her current state. Also? She's cold. Colder than a corpse. The ice patches over her cuts seem to be keeping the blood sluggish and slow, so she's got that going for her. "Jay! Be careful!" she says when flames start erupting.

Jay skids to a halt when gravity seems to suddenly reverse for both Chance /and/ Ninette. He stands there, highly flammable and gaping for a moment, then is shaken free when the sound of clinking metal rushes disturbingly close. "Jus' /hold on/!" Jay yells back to Ninette as his wings shuffle open again and he rushes forward, trying to scoop Bear's mask and steal the damnable thing while the man is screaming about his eye before taking off. Flapping hard to catch up with the other two, not letting Ninette out of his sight.

Jay manages to get the bear mask, and escape! For all the floating Ishad does, actual flight does not seem to be one of his powers.

"I control gravity! Uhh its really not nessecary to CLING quite so much!" Chance, still masked in black, exclaims. He angles 'down' that way, and they speed forward through the air, but slows down quickly to let Jay catch up. And then.. they come to a complete stop. For Ninette, it feels…weightless. "Hey, I'm Freefall. I've been fighting these dicks for awhile; they kidnap people with powers— mutants like us— and steal their powers. Got some people working on it,…" He glances to Jay, nods to the mask, "That's got one of their souls inside. Whoever wears it, they possess. The *body* is just an innocent person. I know someone who will want to get a look at that mask. Good job recovering it."

Ninette holds on all right. She's not falling, damn it, or if she does, Chance is coming with her to soften the landing. Then she's weightless, and she doesn't seem to know what to think. She still grips Chance's arm. though. He's not getting away if she can help it (though to be honest, she's a little thing and he could break free with no trouble). "I knew they were rats!" Ninette says. She looks at Jay. Did she not smell a rat? She then admits, "I don't feel so good." Still, she's looking over Jay, and she frowns as she spies a few singed feathers. "Did they hurt you? I'll destroy them."

Jay catches up to Chance and Ninette, though it's not exactly within his bailiwick to hover, it isn't impossible to remain in place. The delicacy of that move is apparent and not entirely within his control yet, so as the angel-imposter's body rights itself, there's some wavering and adjusting up and down, to and fro, left and right between flaps as they converse. A peculiar /look/ given to Chance and his gravity manipulation, canting his head slightly to one side in a humorously bird-like manner.

"Freefall," Jay repeats and nods once. "Pleasure. Ah guess you already caught mah name from the loudspeaker psycho back there." THANKS, ISHAD! Jay looks at the mask, still clutched in his hands. "Their /soul/ is in here? So what about the guy we left back there? He gonna be okay?" Jay asks, horrified. Attention shifting to Ninette, Jay glances to his torn slacks first and sighs before looking to one wing, then the other. Yeah those chains weren't nice to him those first strikes he took and he has to compensate the snapped primaries with effort. THOSE don't immediately grow back. "Ah'm fine. /Yer/ in a worse shape than Ah am. We need to get you patched up." Because everyone's always in worse shape than he is by the end of the day.

Adjusting gravity slightly as Ninette says she doesn't feel well, they begin slowly falling actually down, though the pull is quite light. But perhaps enough to make it so she doesn't throw up. At Jay's look, Chance lifts his free hand up and pulls his mask off, wearing it on the back of his head. He grins at Jay, "Yeah I don't fly, I fall creatively." But then he nods to the mask, "This Lord of Chains has willing followers, and he pulls their soul out and sticks it in a mask, as a kind of immortality. The other guy…" he winces, "If its anything like the last one I interrogated, its a random innocent stranger who got tricked or compelled into putting on one of the House's masks. He, uh, doesn't look like he's going to have a good day. That's why I took the angel guy out in as non-lethal a way as possible. They appear to use innocent people to throw us off." He pauses, "Right, so I'm Chance. I can get us to a hospital for …" He nods to Ninette.

"I'm Ninette," says the icy one, as an afterthought. She shows no apology for the maiming of bear guy, though she does frown at the mention that, without the mask, the people under them are innocent. "We have to stop these people." She winces. The ice slows the blood loss, but given her immunity to cold, it does little to numb the pain. "Can't I be patched up with first aid?" she asks. "I would have to tell my boss I'm not coming in, and Lucian doesn't take well to weakness." She takes a few deep breaths as she falls in slow motion. Not going to lose her lunch. She's far too dignified.

Slow motion falling is more graceful when you can just tell gravity to chill a little bit. Jay ends up wavering a bit more back and forth as he slowly drops down to the ground as well, meeting the other pair. Jay, the bleeding heart that he is an all, winces and glances back the way they came when it's mentioned that the people are just innocent folks. "So the mask they tried to give me had someone's soul in it, an' they were goin' to use my body however this Ishad guy wants." Hairs stand up on the back of his neck, a shiver running through him. "The same with that old lady. So if we just…take the masks off, they should be okay?" Relatively simple all things considered, but also easier said than done. Jay looks down at the mask in his hands, turning it over and over with a thoughtful frown written on his face. "Ah can take ya t'someone, 'Nette. A guy over in Brooklyn owes me a favor, an' you should be good fer work."

"Actually… it sounded like— I was spying— they were trying to recruit you. We haven't worked out how it is they get souls into the masks, but it involves a sort of ritual suicide. I suspect once the mask was on, someone else would ride you back to base, where they'd give you a choice. Kill yourself and become a Mask, or they steal your power— through a process we don't understand yet— and share it amongst eachother." He frowns a little bit, nodding, "If you get the mask off, the regular person should be there, and okay. They don't remember anything that happens while they wear the masks." He nods to Jay, gestures to the mask, "If you would let me— but its your decision— I can take that to Constantine. He's leading the investigation of the magic. It'd be the second one we captured, the first… uhh, the soul burned itself up once we separated it from the mask. Ishad appears to *alter* the souls, change them. Make them dependant upon him. Maybe you can meet my friends? Who are looking into this and trying to stop it? Pool resources?" He looks to Ninette, and eyes her wounds, "Those are nasty, you want at least some antibiotics and a proper clean and stich up."

Ninette's wounds ice over freshly as they start to melt. There's enough moisture in the air she can keep her makeshift bandages intact. It buys her time to talk, and damn it, she has opinions. "Yes, I want to meet these people," she says. "I want to stop this bastard before he tries to hurt Jay again." She then admits, grudgingly, "and me. Or anyone else." She looks to Jay. Fretting over him means she doesn't have to think about just how badly she's gotten scratched up. "He'll take good care of me," she says to Chance, mustering up a smile. "He always does."

Jay's eyes squint slightly in a mild wince of general discomfort, though to be perfectly honest, he doesn't seem as put off as perhaps he should be to hear that someone just tried to suck his soul out into a mask. The winged man nods his understanding and looks at the mask in his hands again. "Ah'm not familiar with magic and all that jazz," Jay admits mildly, holding the mask out in Chance's direction. As if it would be that easy to simply wash his hands of that. "But Ah don't suppose this means they're going to be leaving me alone any time soon. Ah'm not sure what Ah can do to be of any real help, but whatever Ah can do…" Bright eyes flicker toward Ninette, exchanging a look and a mild smile in her direction.

"I don't know *shit* about magic." Chance accepts the mask with a slight nod, "I stand there and listen to them talk magic and ask stupid questions; I'm a private investigator. Mostly what I do is fight. You held your own there, Jay, so I'm sure you could be of use." He nods a quick smile to Ninette, "Its good to know who you can trust." He pulls his wallet out from a hidden pocket, and hands over a business card to the both of them. "Tell my secretary you're looking for contract work. It's a code." He nods slightly though, "They have a way to find people with powers— specific powers— so I'm afraid you might want to keep an eye out." He nods to Ninette, "And just because they came for him today doesn't mean they mimght not come for you. Be careful. I'll be in touch."

Ninette takes the business card, though her brow furrows. What about her fighting? She put a man's eye out! She tells Chance, "If they come for me, they'll regret it." Though she doesn't seem to be dismissing the warning. "I don't think I will be taking any risks." She goes over to Jay and leans against him with a quiet sigh. There's a little blood smear to spread, but for the most part, she's got it contained. "Thank you both," she murmurs, "for saving me."

The card accepted in return for the mask, Jay fingers the small rectangle, turning it over in his fingers now instead of the mask. A couple glances between Chance and the card, he nods softly, taking in the information attentively, then tucks the card away into his back pocket. "Thanks. Ah'll let y'all know if anything else happens." He promises, then looks to the small woman when she leans against him. An arm lifts and curls obediently around Ninette's slender shoulders. "Ah think it's fair to say that this one's chalked up to some mutual savin', considering Ah'm the one who put us in danger in the first place."

Chance inclines his head to Ninette, but he does add gently: "Remember these are almost all *innocent people*, who are themselves victims, they've been kidnapped and possessed against their will. So that…regret it thing. Try… to moderate how destructive you are." He then nods to Jay, "Mutual saving. I couldn't have stood up to Ishad for long myself, you all did well. Anyways. I'm going to go look for more. I'll be in touch." With that he nods, and vooshes straight up, falling up way faster then normal falling happens.

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