1964-11-19 - Season of the Witch: A Kind of Magik
Summary: A crew of X-Men heads out to save Cypher
Related: None
Theme Song: Martha and the Vandelas - Dancing in the Streets
sophie-rousseau warlock julie cannonball nightcrawler danielle douglas illyana kitty 

Illyana has been itching to dive into Limbo and get Doug back, but the fact is she doesn't quite know what she's up against. Her double, White Magik, healed her over a week ago, and the only reason she hasn't gone to challenge Black Magik and her boss is… well, she doesn't know who the boss is. And she wants to have all her ducks in a row. Because rescuing Doug and losing somebody else, or relosing Doug, would be a bad thing.

She has acquired, somewhere, a massive military vehicle. It's decommissioned and there are definitely missing parts, but she feels that nobody will care that it's vanished. The winch may be the only part that works. She's called for all hands — a process that involved teleporting into peoples' private space and informing them that the rescue mission will be going down shortly.

As people come out to the gathering point, music is blaring from the trucks stereo system. Such as it is. Somebody has wired a phonograph into the passenger seat. And recorded a record just for this event. Clearly it wasn't Illyana. She probably bullied people into doing these things. Right now the record is playing 'Dancing in the Street' And Illyana is sitting atop the truck's cab, a combat helmet askew on her head, wearing her usual flannel and jeans. Fierce. Rar.

In Limbo, Black Magik is smirking as she wanders into Doug's quarters. "They're coming for you."

When Black Magik walks in, Doug is doing pull-ups. The magic circle he's been practicing on is scrawled on the floor, and others are written on the walls. "Mmm." He says, as sweat drips off of his forehead. He has golden stubble on his face, from having been here so long. Then he says, "So now I finally get to meet Nasty, huh?" He says, before he drops to the floor, and then grabs the magic book and his shirt. "Well all right then. Let's go see if your boss is as smart as he thinks he is. The only way out is through, Illyana… and I have unshakable faith in my friends." He pulls his shirt on. "After you."

Nightcrawler was more than happy to answer Illyana's call for help. He didn't even really need to know what was going on; if she needed his help, he was more than happy to go! He even brought his sword along, which probably looks a bit incongruent with his worn leather jacket, jeans, and bowling shirt. "So…are we fighting more demons this time? That demon-teen has not come back, has he?" is asked before he realizes that there's a large, military truck there. "Are we…driving somewhere?" Can one drive into Limbo? He deftly climbs to the top of the truck to better converse with the flannel-clad Illyana there.

Warlock has been *fretting*. What does a fretting alien look like? Literally anything imaginable. He doesn't go more then a few minutes in one coherent shape. Its not entirely that he's a bird one minute and a cat the next, though that surely happens, but the little changes. His hands have a tendency, in sorta robot form, to become weapons. Blades, guns, laster blasters. When he's not thinking about it. He's sort of reconsidering his entire take on pacifism, and that manifests in…well, what he manifests as. He eyes the vehicle for a long moment, then eyes Illyana, eyes bright and yellow, "Self can be a superior vehicle if it is needed." And suddenly Warlock is a fancy sports car, right there. Shiny. The transition between person-shaped Warlock and car-shaped Warlock is a blur of motion and mostly mechanical looking shifting.

Julie may have been the first to know about the military truck, in the planning stage, …she's bedecked in a belt of tools, some of them odd, including a pair of her 'dinosaur-sized' sets of bench-built bolas hanging lasso-like at one side, and of course, a leather jacket and boots, looking the thing over. "She'll do," she concludes. "We got electrics, anyhow, I can manage the rest, …Or Warlock, maybe." She does lift the hood with a creak and poke around in there with an angle-headed flashlight, pausing. "Hey, Blue Jazz guy, good to see youse!" Also looks to Warlock, and says, "Hey, let's save you for a surprise, Warlock-friend, I wouldn't want to drive you through a wall or nothing. Also we could need you flying, I bet."

What, no Wagner on the phonograph? A shadow briefly crosses the sun, before resolving into a dark shape. A dark shape with wings. And hooves. And a general horsey quality. Also a rider. Danielle sits comfortably astride Brightwind as the big white horse gallop-flies down from the sky above, landing with all the grace and dignity that only a flying horse can muster. His rider thumps his neck proudly, then dismounts with a bit of a clank. As soon as she's clear, Brightwind launches back up into the sky, quickly vanishing.

Dani.. well, Mirage, since..reasons.. is decked out for war. Literally. Her Asgardian armor gleams, from the winged headguard to the surprisingly comfortable metal boots. In one hand, she carries a vicious-looking spear. At her hips are a pair of long knives. Strapped to her back, her favorite bow, and as many arrows as she could cram into her quiver. Long black hair is tied in a tight braid. She looks less like an X-Man and more like one of those Valkyries from the whole.. y'know.. Asgard thing. "Are we ready?" she calls as she approaches.

For Sophie, being called to this mission amounted to being intecepted by Illyana just as she was arriving back at the mansion from spending Sunday in the city with her parents. A quick dash to her room to change into her uniform, and she was ready. Or as ready as one can be for something like this. She's been to Limbo before, not so very long ago, and wasn't particularly eager to go back. But this is Illyana asking. And Doug who is in need of rescue. Duty accepted, no hesitation.

Now the young blonde Frenchwoman is hovering a few feet to one side of where 'Yana is perched on the vehicle, in her 'ghostly', body-of-air form.

Cannonball saunters to the meeting spot with a body full of bravado. He grins crookedly and if there's a threat, he acts like its just…nothing.. at the moment, playing it the ultimate cool. He has his goggles and a reinforced uniform in black, but he's also added a bomber jacket in brown leather. "Hey guys…" He's chewing on a toothpick, "Oh whoa there, Warlock. Lets…find out what we need. this car looks broken…" he gestures to the junk she picked up.

Black Magik regards Doug with a raised eyebrow. "Why on earth would I take you out of here?" she asks. "I'm sure you can do any spell you intend from here, Doogie m' love. And you probably think it's going to win the day for your friends, too." Her nose wriggles like a certain witch on television. "What do you need for your spells, hmmm? Tell me. I can get you anything. You know that."

"We can't drive into Limbo," Illyana says. White Magik is nowhere to be seen. "But we've got a team member who can do a lot of good with a decommissioned military vehicle in there." She rises to her feet, straightening her helmet. "Folks, if you don't know him, this is Nightcrawler. He teleports through Limbo, so if you need to get out, he can get you out of there. As can I — but I suspect I'm going to be running a lot of magical defense. Kurt, if I can't handle it, you won't mind?"

Without waiting for a reply she jumps down from the top of the car. "Sorry, 'Lock. It's not about you. Julie wanted a Power Wagon. I got her a Power Wagon. I figured you wouldn't want her making bits of you spin as needed." Her arms spread wide, and a disk starts to open beneath the group. "If you need anything else, grab it now. Here is my handbasket. We're heading out."

"See, that's the thing." Doug says. "The way I see it," He says, "What this really does is it forces Nasty's timetable forward. There's too much risk introduced by the rest of them coming into Limbo—too many variables for a thinking demon to be comfortable with. Especially since the real Magik is doubtless involved, and that throws everything into doubt." Doug puts his hands on his hips, and says, "In essence, if he wants his shot at victory, your master needs to play ball — with me. Also, you are totally Endora, not Sam, so." Then he strokes his chin. "That and, I need a bigger space to work."

Nightcrawler gives a three-fingered wave as he's introduced and another wave to Julie as she's kind of the only one he recognizes. "Hallo! It's Kurt…" if she remembers. There's a look to Illyana as she asks if he'd mind helping getting folks out if necessary, "Ah…of course. I will help any way you need me. Do you need…uh," he looks to the sword he brought. "Should I leave this here?" If he's pretty much transportation.

The car shrinks down and becomes a marginally robotic looking Warlock again, his tendril-dreadlocks in a perpetual state of STICKING OUT, which has him looking a little crazy. With laser blasters for fingers. He heads to the power wagon and hops on, becoming a turret on top with bright yellow eyes for sights. He latches on and makes ready for the rescue. "Self does not mind being spun! Self is ready to rescue self-friend Doug! Self will have very stern words for Black-Illyana during rescue, self assures you!" To demonstrate words, the turret fires off a fifty calibur bullet that bounces off a tree over there. See, the bullet was plastic. 'Lock is still working on the pacifism thing.

Kitty looks aroung the assembled rescue party. "Room for one more?" she asks. There is a small purple… dragon? perched on her shoulder.

Julie thumbs ups to Warlock, and smiles to Kurt, "Thought we'd meet again some time like this," she says, climbing up toward the driver's seat, but adding, "From what I know of the place, you could need that. The bad guys got a lot of these, ah, demon guys, part of why I figured wheels might get us through em quicker. She winks to Sam, "We'll be quieter if I don't use the engine, anyway."

Pacifism is well and good, but sometimes… Well. Danielle eyes the power wagon uncertainly, but finds herself a spot to climb on, where she can get off again easily enough. "Everyone make sure to keep track of each other. We don't want anyone getting lost or left behind," she reminds. Once she's settled, she positions the business end of her spear where it won't accidentally poke anyone, and double-checks the rest of her weaponry.

As the stepping disk starts to form, Sophie — okay, Mistral — tucks in closer to the truck, reaching out one 'ghostly' hand to be in contact with it just in case. "I'll probably be invisible at least part of the time, but I'll try not to be too far away."

Cannonball hops into the nearest available seat, and puts his hands on the dash, pre-bracing himself for whatever sort of ride this is going to be. "Ah'll go under my own pow'r once we get in there. Just point at what needs ta be destroyed…and what prob'ly shundt." He lowers his goggles into place on his eyes, and his straw-like hair sticks out at odd angles, not unlike Warlock, whom he eyes a bit. Kurt gets a smile. So does Kitty.

Black Magik smirks faintly. "You think this is the end-game," she says. "I see. No. This is a rescue attempt. We'd like to put it down, of course, but His plans go on. I'm not even sure he'll show tonight, Doogmeister. It may just be your friends and you against me and an Army of Darkness." She waits a moment. Then grimaces. "That hasn't been made yet, right. You'll love it. Anyway. Extra space. I can do that." A bright disk appears, enveloping her and Doug, carrying them off to…

ANOTHER stone room. This one is larger and has evidence of dark rituals having happened in the past. Among other things, there's an altar at the center, blood stained, an obisidian kris buried in the stone. "Will this do?"

"Keep the sword," Illyana tells Kurt. "You're back-up transportation if somebody needs out and I'm occupied. You're way too valuable a fighter to stick you in a total support role. Kitty come on over. We've got plenty of room. C'mon, folks. Let's move!"

The handbasket opens into Limbo. For those who haven't been there before, it's pretty hideous. The world is made of red and black stone, the former basalt, dusted with iron oxide, the latter glittering obsidian, sharp as glass and, again, covered in flecks of rust. The sky swirls with ugly colors — rust red, olive drab, a hideous shade of black that make one nauseated if they stared at it too long. There is no greeting party, though. The truck and the heroes land in a valley between basalt spires, and at the end is a palace done in basalt.

"There," says Illyana. "He's in there. It's a trap."

Julie tosses a generator belt she'd just pulled off onto the floor, and points there. There's a Vrrrr sound, and headlights come on, and brighten. puts the transaxle in low range, and announces,"So youse know, I'm gonna be a bit out of it for a few seconds when we go through. Limbo don't spin, not like Earth." Whatever that means. At least she's made the adjustment a few times before. A similar sort of motion at the floor, then a release of brakes and more 'VRR' as the truck rolls forward… ….into the handbasket. "We better just hope Illy's got directions."

Doug looks around, and then puts his hands on his hips. "*Very* Howardian. Straight out of 'A Witch Shall Be Born'. I'm impressed." He takes out a piece of chalk, and begins to draw. He does so with astonishing alacrity, since he's been practicing, though it still takes time — his magic circle takes shape on the floor. "You know, once I figured out what Magic was all about, it doesn't seem so mystifying. Are you familiar with computer theory? Probably not. Well, basically, a computer operating system is programmed, using a language created for that purpose. That language enables the computer operating system to function. Reality, then, runs the same way. It has an operating system," He draws, "Which is built on programming code, which we've viewed glimpses of through math and the laws of physics. Stay with me…"

He draws another circle. "So in programming code, the computer programmer builds what you'd call backdoors into the system, which let you access it and play with it in ways a front-end user can't do. Those backdoors can be used by others to access the system… and they can use them to make adjustments to the program or even to make new backdoors only they can use. So it logically follows… reality, running on a programming language, would have backdoors of its own."

"And those backdoors are what we'd call 'magic'." Doug inscribes a third circle. "Now, I believe there's a root language at the core of reality — and this demonic script you've had me working with is a debased form of the language, the true language even demons no longer know. But even their corrupted version of it is highly compatible with those backdoors in our programmed reality. The problem is, it's also conductive to what a computer programmer would call garbage code — whatever you try to use it to do, it's damaging to the program. Am I on the mark so far?"

Nightcrawler nods to Illyana and looks over at the others, quickly making note of them in case he needs to act on that 'secondary transportation' role. He doesn't quite understand why they have the truck but he's willing to just go along with things. He knows what needs to be done and will do his very best! The entry into Limbo gets him placing a hand on the small gold cross about his neck. Just because he teleports through doesn't always mean that he enjoys going there for extended periods of time.

As the distinct and unforgettable atmosphere of Limbo envelops the assembled team and vehicle, Mirage grits her teeth. Few things unsettle a Rockies girl more than the Big City, but Limbo manages. It's just.. so Not Right. Smoothly, she secures her spear in the back of the truck, then unslings her bow and takes up a position near the Warlock-turret, eyes scanning the nasty skies overhead more than the ground ahead. "Of course it's a trap. I'd be fairly disappointed if it wasn't a trap." Although, going up against a Baddy who isn't even competent enough to set a proper trap would be a relaxing change of pace. Hmm. As something high, high up flits through her field of vision, she pulls her bowstring taut and lifts her aim … just in case.

"Taking CAP, pattern zero," Mistral states, once the truck arrives safely(?) at its destination, the French mutant filling the role she has on a number of missions, both practice and real, making use of her stealth and flight speed to fly combat air patrol above her friends and teammates. As she lifts off from her hovering-spot by the truck, a ripple passes through her airy form as she gives up colour to blend in with the surrounding air, or what passes for it here. 'Pattern zero'? Simply a large circle centred on the others.

Cannonball closes his eyes. Because…this will make him throw up. Limbo, whether being used to teleport, or as the destination, Sam's just sure that it can't be good going against his tallies when he meets St. Peter. "UGH…" he complains, and only peeks open his eyes when the transport is truly over.

For the moment, Warlock is settled in and being a turret of plastic-bullets, waiting. He doesn't really grasp what this whole other-dimension-limbo thing is, so he's ready and waiting to boop things when things need booping.

Kitty scunches in close to the rest as they all enter limbo. Lockheed shifts his weight on her shoulder, tail wrapped around her shoulders and head jutting forward. His nostrils emitting small tendrils of nervous smoke. Kitty reaches up to give a reassuring scratch under his chin. Not that she feels any sense of assurance herself. "Let's do this." she says to no one in particular.

Black Magik watches Doug drawing his circles, shrugs when he asks his question. "I do magic. I don't study its grammar," she replies. "If this is what you got from the magic book, you're probably on the right track. You'd do better to ask N'astirh. I'm sure he'd be happy to discuss it all with you later. But I might note that trying to apply scientific logic to magic is -probably- not going to work out that well for you."

Illyana remains with the truck. On top of it, that is. Her legs are crossed beneath her, and her wrists resting on her knees as she chants, casting wards to protect the vehicle and her allies. And none too soon. From the spires on either side of the valley, flying demons rise into the sky. Some immediately dive toward the truck and its guardians. Others move to intercept the flying mutants. And meanwhile a discomfiting rumble is starting to rise as the ground starts to shake.

Julie sort of lurches in her seat as they enter, the forward motion of the vehicle slowing, she has an almost woozy look like someone drunk or seasick trying to concentrate, still sort of concentrating on the truck's generator a few moments while she adapts. "Jeepers, this place can make me feel my name for once," she says, "Where to, lady?" she says out the window to Yana, before spotting the demons on approach." "Hang on, is all..!" Not being foolish, she doesn't take off quickly, though, obsidian flakes on the ground could be a good reason to have chosen military tires. The vehicle will gather speed as they go, though, and she says to Sam, "I just hope Illy knows where we's going!"

Doug finishes inscribing his circle — and the outer ring is all lines from Shakespeare, not latin or demonic or any other language. From the Tempest. This thing of Darkness…

Doug straightens up, and brushes his hands off. "Another fun thing I've learned — when you know how to access the backdoor, you can start to play with it. And learn about it. For instance, did you know that Nasty left the spell that created you half-finished? If he'd completed it, you would've been a whole person."

Doug takes out a pocketknife, and he slices his hand. His blood drips into the center of the circle, and it begins to glow. "You really should pay attention to the grammar of the magic," Doug says. "Did you know Nasty left the spell he used to make you half-finished? If he'd completed it, he wouldn't have had control over you. I can't finish his spell, but because he left it half-done, I can splice in one. THIS THING OF DARKNESS, I NOW CLAIM AS MINE." He meets Black Magik's eyes. "Say the magic words…"


…And then he glows—and something flows out of his nose and mouth and into Black Magik.

Nightcrawler draws his sword as the demons start swooping towards them. He's done this fight before and he'll do it again if necessary. "We have defeated you before, demons!" he calls, defiantly, "Und we will do it again if you do not let us pass!" Or whatever they need to do. He then *bamfs* away to end up on the back of one of the flying demons, jabbing the hilt of his sword at the back of the demon's head.

"Kitty, if your little buddy is here to help, now's a good time," Mirage suggests. Her voice is not panicked. Not freaked. She sounds calm, assured. Despite a wave of flying demons. She shifts her legs slightly to maintain her balance on the back of the truck, the tip of her first arrow aimed skywards, eyes narrowing as she tracks a target. With a satisfying *THWIP* her arrow zips through the air, towards the spot where a center of demonic mass should be in a second. Without waiting to see the result, she nocks and looses a second arrow, then a third, aiming primarily for the attackers closest to the heavy vehicle. Trying hard to make sure she doesn't shoot Kurt or one of the others in the process!

Above, Mistral takes on speed, not nearing her peak yet, but flying more swiftly than she had been moments before. She's not taking her invisibility for granted, given that for all she knows, the demons see in an entirely different, or at least wider, spectrum than humans do. She's also not counting on them being unable to touch her, given that Physics Is Kinda Wrong Here. So she'll try to keep them from getting the chance.

For what it's worth, that ear-troubling tearing sound her bolts make as air compressed nearly to solidity shears through the still air around it at nearly the speed of sound seems somehow more at home here, as she looses blows at demons in passing.

Sam really has just a few talents. One is unmentionable. One is holding onto his beer. One is NOT landing. But the thing he does best…is crash into things with explosive force. He climbs out the window of the vehicle, like a Duke of Hazard, and plants his feet on the roof for a moment. He spits out his toothpick in Limbo, the one place he's not worried about being called out for littering. Little wiggle of adjustment on his goggles and then he drawls out in a heavy, southern accent, "Ahm guessin' these here demons don't need ta be spared, in par-tic-u-lar. Mamma did always say to meet them head on." He grins all big, then boils on his feet before suddenly blasting off into the red sky. Mistral need not worry about hitting him, at least, sinc ethe blast field protects him from even the friendly fire. No deft maneuvers, or special moves…just…heads straight for their angry, demonic bodies, to ram through them like a…you guessed it…Cannonball.

Side effects of a Cannonball attack may include falling demon bits.

Warlock-turret begins shooting; granted, the bullets are presently plastic, so he's not killing any demons, they have quite a lot of power behind them so they will inconvienence anything demonic he aims at. Boop! BOOP BOOP BOOP! It's hard to rush on with demonic fury when you're being pelted with dozens of thuds a second. The turret does its impersonation of a cringe when the real carnage happens, especially when Cannonball slams into the beasts and demon bits go flying. "Self is not sure about any of this." Pause, "DOUG! SELF-FRIEND DOUG WE ARE COME TO RESCUE YOU FROM TRANSDIMENSIONAL ALIEN NOT-MY-PEOPLE-BUT-STILL-APPARENTLY-REALLY-BAD's!" is shouted. In the momen where shouting is needed, giant speakers grow out of the sides of said turret.

Kitty nods her head and points in the general direction of the encroaching demons, "Sic 'em boy!" The little purple dragon launches himself into the air, mouth opening to emit a stream of yellow fire, scorching any demons in it's path. Kitty opts to stay closer to the war truck, reaching out for any demon that manages to get past the defense being laid down.

"What the.. glk!" Black Magik is cut-off in mid-sentence as something flies from Doug and into her. She struggles against it, grabbing for it as it disappears into her own mouth and nose, and then falls over, flopping back and forth on the floor as she claws at her throat, and then collapses, gasping for a moment before she says, "Oh, Doug. Oh, my Doogie. I think you just made a big mistake."

"Yes," agrees a deep, grave voice like the vizier in any movie based on the Arabian Nights. "I believe that is an accurate statement." A creature unfolds from a stone chair in the corner of the room. It is taller than even S'ym, though leaner, built more like Nightcrawler than like the Hulk. Its face is elongated and horselike, its scales red and green and glittering like gems. "You think you have claimed my creature, Mr. Ramsey, but I have a lien on her. Illyana, I command…"

"Oh, fuck that," says Black Magik, fear showing in her features for the very first time. "C'mon, Doogie, we got places to be." She opens a stepping disk of her own, grabs Doug and yanks him through behind her. They fall into the back of the Power Wagon.

The demons are, as usual, not hard to defeat on an individual level. The main problem is the sheer numbers — particularly since there are now tunneling demons starting to rise out of the ground, creating deep pothols in the path of the vehicle. Happily, Illyana's wards are holding — and every time the power wagon strikes a demon, the creature splatters. Their ichor starts coating the windshield, but the wipers, at least, are in working order.

Julie finds her way onto something like an approach to Castle Del Trap, grinding into a higher gear range as she spins the transfer case with her powers and a 'louder' VRRR that gathers intensity as she pushes the truck on, barreling on fast, now, and skirting rivers of lava, and saying over her shoulder, "Would you look at that? I think that's rivers of lava. Hey, Warlock! Pour it on with the suppressing fire! Cover our rear when we get through!" She's flicking the wipers indeed, but pulls down some shop safety glasses in case it becomes time to just bust out the windshield, or it's busted for her. The truck barrels toward the drawbridge and main gate, if perhaps alarmingly-obliquely.

Doug reaches down to help Magik up. "Funny thing about souls. Illyana always talks about them like they're finite, but I was never taught that. A soul, like love, isn't something you dole out by the ladleful, Endora, it just *is*. These monsters that've been competing over Illyana-Prime's have her convinced that she can lose it… but she earns it every day. And once you've got one… you can't ever really NOT." He helps her up—

And then he looks up at N'astirh and says, his eyes wide, "Holy cats. You really did earn that nickname, Nasty. Also, I can smell your breath from here! It smells like the worst smell I ever smelled until now ate Kim chi and yogurt, then took a dump. Phewwwww!"

They vanish through the stepping disk… and Doug waves. "Round one goes to Cypher, Nasty! Round two begins… now~"

They fall through, into the back of the wagon — and Doug, who looks a little Robinson Crusoe-ish with his messy, sweaty hair and golden face-scruff, blinks, slowly. "Hey guys. Nice ride."

Nightcrawler continues to bamf from demon to demon, attempting to stop them before they fly too close to the truck. He does try to keep an eye on those on the truck to see if any need rescuing. As someone appears on the wagon he teleports back down, "Are we good? Is this who we are finding? Or is he another demon?" The sword is at the ready just in case; he's fought human-looking demons before!

"Yana," Mirage thumps the top of the wagon's cab with a fist, calling out, "We got a Doug back here!" With more and more ariel cover, Dani slides her arrows back into her quiver and hooks her bow across her back again. "Hold tight, yeah?" she advises Doug and … rrrm. The Bad Illyana. With narrowed eyes, she smoothly passes Kitty one of her knives. "Keep an eye on /that/ one," she warns both Kitty and Kurt, then grabs her spear and vaults out of the truck. Nimbly darting alongside, then ahead of, the big heavy wagon, she starts to fight the groundlings trying to surround the vehicle. Her goal isn't really to kill or stop them, just keep the path reasonably clear. Also, dancing her way through 'hand-to-claw' combat is always a rush!

As she's executing a barrel roll, diving under two demons to fire on them from below before righting herself again, Mistral spots the new arrivals in the back of the truck. She swoops close enough to call out, "Illyana! We have Doug. Time to go home?" She doesn't slow, not wanting to remain in one spot for long in case the demons /can/ see or otherwise sense her, but she circles more tightly for long enough to get a reply, if one is coming.

Cannonball has no idea that Doug has rescued his own self, and another Illyana! He just keeps flying around and trying to do crowd control so that the stress on those wards don't get too crazy. He does, however, sometimes glance down at the vehicle to make sure its not about to gate away without him! ZOOOOOOOOM!

"Confirmation! Suppression mode engaged!" The turret swivels and Warlock lets bullets rain. Really, since he's being non-fatal, suppression is actually better a task for him anyways. But, he grows up some helicopter blades, and disengages from the top of the truck, the better to strafe and distract the bad guys. "Self-friend Doug!" He calls out, "Status report?"

Kitty blinks in surpise as Doug appears in the back of the vehicle. She dumbly accepts the knife from Dani before scowling at the dark Illyana. "What is she doing here?" she asks darkly. Lockheed divebombs back to Kitty, landing lightly on her shoulder. He preens, seeming to be very proud of himself, he then sniffs an the dark version of Illyana that arrived with Doug. He looks from Doug, to dark Illyana, glancing toward Yana then back to Kitty, huffing in irritation. "Yeah, Lockheed, I don't get it either."

Black Magik gives Doug a look that says 'You know nothing, Douglas Ramsey.' "She literally has two fifths of a soul left. You have known about magic for a week. They are finite. That is not the problem. The problem is that I -don't- belong to you. I belong to -Him-. And I still have to do what he says. I'll just feel bad about it!" And then she reaches out and smacks Doug on the forehead. "Bad linguist! Bad! No biscuit!"

Illyana stops chanting, looks down, then leans over to peer into the window of the vehicle. "Ah crap. Julie, turn around! Back the way we came! Everybody retreat!"

The dome at the top of the basalt palace explodes, and N'astirh flies free of it. "Kill them!" he announces, deep voice echoing through the valley. This is not the voice of a villain whose plans have been foiled demanding that his minions kill the heroes who have outwitted him. This is the voice of a villain who still knows he's winning.

Black Magik pauses, her hand still on Doug's forehead, looking at those staring at her (even as they turn to other tasks to get everyone out of this mess). "Um," she says after a moment, trying to look innocent and, of course, failing. "I'm defecting?"

"Kurt!" Illyana shouts. "Start getting people out. Everybody, get to Kurt, or get to me!" She leans over again. "You and I are going to have a very long discussion when we get back to Earth," she informs her double.

Julie hears Dani's pronouncement, eyes dash back through the little cab window a moment, and she yells out, "Everybody hang on, then!" she says, turning her oblique run toward the gates into a fishtailing J-turn, hauling on the big military-truck steering wheel, throwing the whole transaxle into neutral, and spinning the rear wheels to bring the tail around, while the front ones pull. 'VVRRRR' sounds abound. It'll toss everyone around a bit, possibly. For good measure, she honks the horn, one long blast, two shorts, one long, …Doug may apppreciate that it's Morse Code for 'X.' The truck blasts back the way it came. "We're going, just do your stuff!"

"Well, Warlock," Doug says, "In about thirty seconds a big ugly horse-faced balrog with dirty butt-breath is going to burst out of that— oh hey, he's early! That's Nasty, everybody. Nasty wants to take over Limbo, and presumably, the world."

Then he looks at Black Magik, and says, "Look, it was the best I could think of on short notice, and it got me out of there. Warlock—if he dive-bombs us, you've got to run him off! He's… he's like Macbeth, Warlock! He's mad with power and beyond saving!" He pushes himself up, and says, "Can somebody flag down Sam and have him help keep Nasty off of us till we can get out of here?"

Then he glances up to Black Magik. "Pro tip — when a being is brought into being, whatever its creator's reason, those reasons immediately become moot! A person doesn't exist at the pleasure of their parent, no matter how twisted their creation was. They CAN choose for themselves." He drops back into his seat. "It's just that sometimes the choice *hurts*."

Nightcrawler nods to Illyana when she gives him the instruction and he teleports back down to the truck. "Take my hand…I can take two, I think. Do you need me to take more?" The sword is put away as he holds his hands out for any who come to him to be teleported out.

Mirage waits long enough for Julie to whip the heavy truck around, cooly stabbing and whapping a few extra demon minions in the meantime. Her eyes track up to the explosion and the sudden appearance of the Big Bad Demon. "Nightcrawler!" she yells, as she settles into a defensive stance, spear braced, gleaming armor splattered in .. what's probably not mud. "Get me back to the truck on five-count!"

Basic combat tactics. Suppressing fire while the unit withdraws. Except in this case, it's not quite 'fire'. Instead of arrows, or a perfectly good spear, Dani lashes out with her mutant power at N'astirh, gritting her teeth as she makes an attempt to yank forward a major demon's deepest, darkest fear. "..please don't be gross, please don't be gross," she chants under her breath for focus, giving herself five full seconds before making a dead-sprint for the truck.

Suppressive fire it is. Mistral keeps close to the truck, or at least close enough that she can be there in two seconds or less if she really needs to, like it's driving into a big glowy disc home. But given her flight speed, and her acceleration when in airy form, that still gives her considerable room to maneuver. Zip! *SHRACK!* Zip! *SHRACK!* Zip! *SHRACK* She keeps relocating between barrages, so as not to let the demons work out where she is by following the direction of her bolts back to their source.

|ROLL| Cannonball +rolls 1d20 for: 2

Sam is just zooming around! Zoom Zoom! He does keep an eye out, and he's definitely NOT expecting a giant horrible demon to come through after Doug…because he's still not aware that Doug's even in the car. When suddenly N'astirh bursts out of the palace area and comes mwhaa haa haaing into the area he's at, the mutant veers off at an angle, away, and then down more towards the cars. He attempts to land on it, and can be heard saying something about 'Saved you!!' as he flies by, totally missing the vehicle. However, he DOES plow into the ground, kicking up dirt, rubble, in a big cloud that might somewhat visually shield them, even though that's not his intent. Before he gets covered in lava, though, he takes off again, this time in a big arc.

"Macbeth!" There's some reconfiguring as helicopter-lock switches his machine gun from the plastic bullets, into a more lethal laser powered variety. Apparently, in Warlock-speak, Macbath is practically his father. He zooms left and right as he sends beams of energy out, though his power reserves are not inexhaustable. Someone is going to have to plug in when he gets home. He does call out, "Self-friend Doug speaks truth. Parents do not define rules of existance. See example: I am not dead and not murderous overlord of vast techno-organic empire!"

Kitty reaches out for something to steady herself as the vehicle rocks and turns. Lockheed frantically flaps his wings in an effort avoid being thrown into the walls of the vehicle. Both gawp in horror as the large demon bursts forth from the dome. "Aww crud." Kitty groans, pushing hair out of her eyes "Doug, man, you are popular these days." She turns to check on her fellow passengers. "Are you oaky? Doug?" She pauses before continuing "Illyana?" she finishes weakly.

"You really do not understand magic," is all Black Magik says right now. She'll let Illyana confirm this for her, eventually.

Limbo's demons have, more or less, two greatest fears. For most that fear is Illyana. They exist at her whim. She rules through fear.

For most of the rest, the greatest fear is Belasco. He's gone, but not forgotten. Many of them follow Illyana because she was strong enough to get rid of him.

And then there's N'astirh. He believes he's stronger than Illyana, and thus does not fear her. He lives on the outskirts, out of the sight of the dimension's rulers, and thus never came under Belasco's direct scrutiny. When Dani pulls his greatest fear from his mind, it's amorphous and vague. It's darkness, and cold, and stillness. And within this void there are tiny bits that can be recognized up close. The remains of demons. His own remains. Crumbled basalt and obsidian. The ruins of Limbo itself.

But most demons are cowards. Most demons follow their leaders because they fear them, and can't think of ways to escape beyond finding a stronger leader, who they will likely fear more. That is not N'astirh. N'astirh seeks to avoid his fears by fighting against them — and believes that Magik's rule is what will bring them to fruition. And so instead of cringing away from his terror, he roars in rage and refocuses his efforts, diving toward the Power Wagon to snag the blonde woman off its roof and rend her limb from limb.

"You're not magical either," Illyana grumbles under her breath at Warlock's announcement. She sees N'astirh coming for her, but she's not diving out of the way. She's opening a portal, a large one, a hundred yards in front of the Power Wagon.

The dirt and stone that Sam has kicked up to hide the vehicle are helpful, but not enough. "Go!" shouts Illyana, even as she's grabbed by the demon prince. "I'm not that easy to kill!" Her armor has not appeared, but her sword appears in her hand as she's swept off into the sky.

Julie swerves into a little circle to allow Dani to jump aboard, which is about the first time she gets a decent look at the big baddie demon. "Holy cromoly, that's …" She yells, louder, hoping Kurt will hear, "Hey, Jazz guy, would you get Sam out?" The truck, amid VRR sounds and meshing of gears, resumes its course for Out of Here! She repeats the horn blast, in case anyone's straggling behind.

Doug shakes his head. "Lady, I know you well enough to know no matter how right I was you'd tell me I didn't understand it" He watches the Illyana he knows turn to face Nasty, and get carried offand it's his turn to say 'NO!' - But too late, and he doesn't have the power to follow. So instead he's reaching up to grab Sam. "Decelerate before you kill your blast field, Sammy! Elf-guy, *help me*—" And then he's trying to pull him down into the wagon.

Then he curses, in a plethora of languages. "Hell. I freakin' *hate this place*—"

Nightcrawler nods to Illyana but starts as she's pulled away. "Nein!!" But he knows that she's able to take care of herself…and he can try and come back to help her. Maybe. He then looks from her to the others and back before he crosses himself and *bamfs* over to Doug and Sam, reaching to grab hold of them, and then look around to see if he can find Sophie. If he needs to, he'll try and teleport the entire truck back if it can't make it through the portal with everyone.

This is why we keep in shape, kids. Mirage races full-tilt to the truck, angling her approach with the swerving circle to align herself just right. She can't do anything to help Illyana just yet, so she focuses instead on getting back on the vehicle. Planting the butt of her spear against the ground, she launches herself forward, vaulting up to a foothold. The spear clatters into the bed of the wagon, as she swings one leg over the edge, pivoting to face backwards. Clutching to the sidewall with her thighs, she tugs her bow free again and nocks an arrow, ready to shoot at N'astirh if and when she has a clear shot. "Everyone but 'Yana accounted for?" she calls without looking. "If so, go!" Not that she wants to leave another friend behind, but Illyana is much more adept at handling Limbo, and getting home safe, than any of the rest of them.

One problem with a power that makes as much noise as Mistral's air bolts do — Sometimes, like when you're firing as fast as you can to try to discourage oncoming demons, the thunder of your own attacks can keep you from noticing other things. Like, say, the sound of a demon lord erupting from his castle.

So it's not until she happens to face the right direction that Sophie becomes aware of 'Nasty' incoming, and she watches in horror as the demon plucks Illyana off the roof of the truck.

This can no go unanswered.

Roughly 1.3 seconds later, the young blonde is swirling into visible solidity in the back of the retreating truck, standing near the tailgate. Over her shoulder, she calls out urgently to Kitty or whoever else is handy, "I might need you to catch me after this!" And then she's putting her full attention on the demon lord, a look of sheer will and concentration on her face, and especially in her eyes, as she raises her open, splayed hands in his direction.

Now, Storm can make, say, the entire state of Wisconsin have a horrible weather day if she so chooses. Sophie has nowhere near that kind of power over that kind of vast area. But in a small, tightly-focused field of effect? Like, say, that between her and N'astirh's ugly horseface? There, the French girl can give the African goddess a run for her money. The wind rushes. Howls. Shrieks. Like it wants to pick up a Kansas farmhouse and deposit it along a brick road somewhere. It's a Class Five hurricane in a narrow cone, and it's all for N'astirh. He has Sophie's friend. If she can do anything at all to change that, she will. Even if it takes all she has in her.

Cannonball notices he has a Nightcrawler beside him and he turns off his forward momentum to allow the blue devil to do this thing, assuming that its what is needed right now! He closes his eyes for the bamf, as if that'll make it better. He has brimstone in his hair and everything.

Pew! Pew! Pew! As people retreat to the wagon to escape, Warlock covers them. He's not *really* trying to kill Macbeth, though it might hurt the guy if he gets hit. He's more trying to run interference, right? He flies back to attach to the top of the vehicle, even as he continues to shoot.

Kitty moves to catch the young French girl if needed. "On it." She calls. "Lockheed, stay close, but try and keep things off our backs!" She is desperetly trying not to think about how far south this rescue seems to be going. Lockheed reverses his position on her shoulder, ready to toast anything that comes too close before they manage to make it home.

Sophie's winds have at least part of their intended effect. They catch N'astirh's broad wings before he can get too far with Illyana and send him tumbling across the sky. He drops the blonde.

They have an unintended effect as well: Illyana, too, is caught by the winds, and, being lighter than N'astirh, she's blown off into the distance. She'll probably be fine, though. Probably.

But the truck disappears into the portal, leaving the Ramsey Rescue Crew, minus Illyana, plus Ramsey and Black Magic, back where they started, rolling across the grass behind the X-Institute.

Black Magik looks distinctly uncomfortable. "Um. I said I'm defecting, right?"

Doug closes his eyes, and furrows his brow. "Hey." He says. "Can we sort this out later? I've just spent… I don't know how long twisting reality and I really want to sleep in my own bed that isn't in hellbut first" Doug pushes himself up, and grabs hold of Warlock, hugging him tight. "It's okay, buddy. I'm here. I knew you'd come for me."

Then he glances to Sam, and rubs the back of his neck. "…Thanks, buddy. You took on the devil himself to save me. I'll never forget it. That goes for all of you—" He looks at Black Magik. "…We'll figure this out. Sleep first though."

There's a moment — a brief, glorious moment — of elation for Sophie, as she sees N'astirh lose his grip on Illyana. But it just as quickly becomes horrified anguish as Illyana herself gets swept away. The impulse to take flight after her is powerful. Even if it might mean missing the ride home. But after the way she just exerted herself, flight does not come. Transformation into airy form does not come. Instead, she collapses to her knees in the back of the truck, rage and helplessness filling her mind until seconds later when she slumps over unconscious.

Julie had barreled toward said portal like, well, a mutant-driven miliatry surplus Dodge out of something-like hell, "Hit it hard, Warlock, we gotta go!" she shouts. Looks over to Kitty, as they go, and lurches, jabbing the brakes, nearly, it seems, rolling the vehicle as she returns to normally-rotating Planet Earth. Well, other students and alums have left bigger divots in the estate's lawn. She sighs. "So, terra firma, multo bene. How'd we do?" She does glance back up toward Warlock, though, and says, "I told you we was gonna go get him."

There's a lot of blasting, and on the escape, he returns to more or less human shape. He nods to Julie, "Self will remember those who helped self-friend!" Warlock returns Douglas' hug, clinging carefully; partly because crushing Doug is bad, and partly because he has a lot of weaponry on his arms and back and every one of the tendrils that look somewhat like robot-dreadlocks looks like its tipped with a blaster, at the moment. "Self will NOT allow you to be taken again." He looks over to Black Magik, "Do not make self put you in box." he warns gravely.

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