1964-12-29 - Project Gemini: How the Nazis Lost Christmas
Summary: And what happened then? Well… in New York they say / That the Nazis' small hearts stopped three times that day! And the minute their chests didn't feel quite so tight / Groggy children stumbled out of their beds on a misty night. And they searched for toys! And stockings hung with care! And they, Nazis themselves! They went onto their next plan in despair.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
able strange jean-grey tony wanda 


It all appeared to be going well — at least, at first. He can hear Tony's music well enough, which means far below, that volume must be reeeeeeeally cranked. Jean is a quick learner and the resonance of the bowl expands slowly throughout immediate reality, encroaching farther and farther with each passing moment. It's reacting with the bell-tones precisely — wait.

His half-lidded observations of the fiery redhead include a detached state of mind and the sudden backlash of the dark magic is about as rude and abrupt as yanking a chair out from undernearth him. With a whuft of expelled air, Strange clutches at his stomach even as he suddenly plummets a good three dozen feet down towards the mists. The rapidly-flowing stream swallows him briefly, its surface disturbed and smoothing out within a second.

As if coming up for air, he flits back up from its cloudy collection and towards Jean, one shade paler than when this all started and greyed at the temples with stress-sweat. His innards are a tangled knot of concern now. Beyond the young woman playing that bowl as if Hell itself couldn't stop her, he can see the sky — and the oddity of it gives him more reason to pause, hovering short of Jean.

"For now, Jean, don't stop! Hold — " Oh gods below, he can sense, even from his distance, a very harrowing and familiar secondary aura about her. Oh no. Oh no, he knows that one, bright-eyed and glaringly interested in him so long ago. "Just don't stop," he grits out, leery as hell for the moment.

Able can't fly, so he's been making laps of the surrounding area in his car. It's not the most efficient way of searching for clues, but it's what he has to offer.

The sights and sounds leave something to be desired. Mist. Noise. None of it easy to explain. The doctor grits his teeth as he takes another turn at a higher than reasonable speed. He hasn't managed to pinpoint a source, but it's not for a lack of trying. Once all four tires stop screeching and leaving tracks, he reaches inside his jacket to loosen his revolver in its holster. Just in case.

In houses all around Midwood, that infernal racket wakes up tired parents. Curses are muttered and "come back to beds" fall on deaf ears. Parents peek into bedrooms awash in stars, nod to themselves, and stumble off for a midnight snack.

The peculiar clouds overhead continue to siphon the delicious energy into their heart. In some places the thin tendrils swirling down to ground level fade out. Efficiency is the mystical rule of the night, speeding along the ephemeral transfer. Every second counts.

Vroom! Tony's work in the immediate vicinity is done; the bells have been silenced. He cranks the Kinks up another notch, and he flies low over buildings, then dipping down into streets to spread the frequency-disrupting rock and roll. Merry Christmas, Manhattan! 'Girl, You Really Got Me Going' on infinite loop. Somewhere, Satan laughs. Woosh! Through the streets. He casts a gimlet eye in the direction of that brief but bright Hydra symbol. He's still not sure what's going on, but he knows it'll be a cold day in Hell before he stands by.


Ring ring ring goes the booowwll…


"No, I'm doing something!" Jean shouts back at nothing, though for those who know her, knows that it's something else. She was making that bowl sing like it was out of style, same pace, same speed. Same pace, same.. Strange?

'Let the bastard fall.'

"Okay." And.. sing sing sing goes the bowl!

There was a glance up towards the sky to spy the figure that begins to form, her brows lowering in a slight grimace as her eyes burn fire red. Yes, both of the women were looking up, then down again, then towards Strange as he.. stalls?

'What the hell is wrong with him?'
"What the hell is wrong with you?" She snaps out in near unison.

'Stop it with the godda-..'
"I'm -NOT- stopping, okay?" Jean snaps, quite possibly at Strange, quite possibly at her. "Just.. work whatever mojo-jojo you have! My arm is getting tired!"

Jean Grey, She who forgot she could use telekinesis for this bit.

Strange is perfectly aware of whom the redhead might be speaking to and he rolls his shoulders as if loosening up for a bar fight. But not right now, she's got the entity under control…it appears.

"So impatient," and he even manages a click of his tongue after the statement couched in Saharan-dry humor ends. "Keep it ringing." On that note, he looks to the heavens, towards the eldritch seal and the escaping flow of slip-silvery souls. The Cloak snaps in the speed of his ascent. Higher and higher he goes, approaching the nauseating edge of the aura eminating from the black magic's rip upon reality. Yep, the sleeves are literally getting rolled up as he stops short of the vertical stream of life-force. Swallowing down what little exists in his stomach as is, the man sets his jaw and articulates a very specific set of mudras.

This close to the aperture, his Words are lost — but as he speaks, he flies around the soul-streams once, twice, thrice — widdershins, utmost importance in the world of the Mystic. The air around him wavers and condenses, momentarily blotting out the crimson swath of Cloak like condensation on a pane, and then comes the sudden torque of his spine as someone else rushes into his body. A low throb of ambient energy emits out from him like a giant heartbeat, slow and ponderous, and then comes the next part of the incantation…now that he's channeling a Goddess. It seems that the massive crank in power comes with a massive attempt at sympathetic concepts.

With hands outspread, almost in supplication, he speaks again, albeit with an overlay of an alto voice overtop his usual baritone. The doubled voice calls out to the souls beyond the rift, attempts to cajole them home as a shepherd might bring in the flock for the night.

Streetside, in a car with a powerful V8 engine, the music is faint, but it's still audible. "What the… ?"

Able opts to draw his revolver and lay it on the seat next to him. What's he going to shoot in a situation like this? Excellent question. But whatever it is, he's ready to shoot it. Right now all he's sure of is that the mist isn't natural and he isn't any closer to figuring out whether or not it has a single point of origin. It seems to be coming from anywhere and everywhere, though some sources are stronger than others. Same with an alarming array of noises that are less than musical.

Somewhere, Satan does not laugh. He doesn't care much for the Stones, and Keith is already marked for going to the realm he abandoned. Mephisto and Satana might giggle outside the boss' earshot. Just saying. All the boroughs of New York and even benighted New Jersey contribute their soul-energy to the seal <ref: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CLvVtDWXAAAa8dB.jpg>. But not equally, Tony whips through the undisturbed pillars while his music interrupts the bell-chimes. In those quadrants, the uptake rate slows. Jean can be fairly certain that bowl is not helping things. Something about clanging on its ancient surface causes a negative pressure imbalance, speeding up the absorption rate around her. The HYDRA symbol flashes again in the sky, more coherent than before, and the energetic columns contract like an anemone stuffing flotsam into its maw.

Does it anticipate the mystic defender rising up? Can a great big pile of clouds react to the mundane? Apparently this one can.

Midnight lines in violent array pierce into the heart of the gargantuan body and slurp up the remnants from a cosmic straw. The sky is oddly quiet except for Strange shouting in a duotone register. Sparks and flecks tumble out of the mist, greenish snowflakes. A few land on Able, others stick to Jean. Tony might fly through a cloud of them and get all sorts of problematic white fuzz, like a channel out of tune. The shepherd is calling. The soul-sheep gamboling around are not doing well, and those in the depths of the seal are effectively plastered up against the windowpane.

"Have a Merry Christmas!" Tony calls out to someone who yells "SHUT THAT OFF" at him. He loop-the-loops, vroom! There's laughter echoing inside that metal mask.

JARVIS inquires politely, "Sir? Is something funny?"

"Christmas in Manhattan," Tony replies. "Ah, ha ha ha we're so boned." Vroooooom. He spreads out in a lopsided spiral, covering as many city streets as he can before circling back around.

Under control? Only slightly. Jean has given the Woman allowances every now and then. A little leeway to let the bird out for a fight every now and then to appease the life giving God. But that was neither here nor there, even Jean was starting to get irritated with the sounds of the singing bowl, even more so, the feeling it presents. Was this useless? Should she take a chance and stop? Even with the Phoenix's urging, all sighs point to 'YES'.

It was a slow roll to allow the song to die, Jean tossing the bowl behind her which floats within the air by way of her TK, she glances around and flies a little higher, her arms lifted as if she were someones personal jesuit, capturing the falling green flakes upon her shoulders and within her hair, one soon batted from an eyelash which lands upon the tip of her nose.

~Able? What do you see?~ She says through the telepathic link. Her mind was at work, searching out for a spot of joy within the nights sky. Pinpointing it, and attempting to gently nudge it into a tiny link for communication.

~Iron-Man?~ No, she doesn't pry. Never that! ~It's me, Phoenix. The redhead. Don't freak out. Just.. picture me right next to you and talk to me without speaking.~ Simple enough, right? ~Where are you? The Magician went into battle..~

As for Strange? She'll just float nearby. The man is at work.

As the ringing of the bowl dies away, the Sorcerer's chanting takes precedence. In a language not heard on this Earth since the time of the first magician himself, the god Agamotto, he continues to hover with open arms inviting every last speck and glimmer of misplaced soul to home.

Home. Come home, the dual-voices implore, harmonious in every tonal nuance and note. Home to your fonts, to your bodies and livelihoods. You are young — be young, be swift, see the hearth-fire and return to it. One hand curls fingers in towards his palm and the sense of deific demand upon the souls still slowly filtering out increases. He's got to get every last one out before he can enforce his mantle upon the rift and shut it.

Green flakes continue to tumble down. Not emerald, these are the soft silver-green of fish scales. Easy to brush away, easy to inhale.

This is all a bit much for Able to process, but he has noticed one thing. The progression seems slower anywhere the man in the suit flies with his music turned up alarmingly loud.

~The music seems to be helping,~ he admits. ~But I've never seen clouds like this. Or fog. Or mist. Or snow. I'll thank you to make it stop ASAP, my dear.~

Understandably, the situation is strange enough to be causing some panic. Ahead of him, a car abruptly brakes, only to be rear-ended by another. The drivers, both terrified, being an argument that rapidly escalates. The doctor breaks up the squabble just in time to spin around and tackle a woman out of the way of a third car. He's clipped by the bumper, but the woman remains cushioned against his chest and is unharmed when he lets her go. "Get inside," he urges her.

Souls on the HYDRA autobahn have to determine their whereabouts. Those freshly through the black hole might be able to throw it in reverse and turn their essence around. Bit harder for those halfway to Munich, stopping off at an oasis for a doner kebab or currywurst, and realizing someone is calling them back to pay a toll. The inevitable argument about who gets to ride in the front or who drives slows them down. But they come, motes and bits, converging around the spiral band.

More relevant, wispy tentacles wrap up in a ball around Strange, enveloping him in an orb of mist that keeps growing by the moment. The sky-octopus is giving him a hug. Long strands wave past Jean, four streets long. Iron-Man gets more than a few fists shaken in his way. The noise keeps the infernal racket of the Elflights down, though things are in mayhem as it is.

Adults are largely ignored in this process, it ought to be said, unless they're damn hoarders against their children. The black hole pulsates. The churn of energy flows around and around and around with Strange as the drain, but nowhere to go. He called them all. So? What's he going to /do/ with them?

"What's doing that?" is Tony's first response to there being someone in his head. Instinctual blockage rears its head until he wraps his mind around the concept that it's Phoenix. The redhead. On his team, so whatever's going on, chill. "All right." Tentative, that tone. "I'm not talking aloud." Honest. "I'm halfway to Coney Island, but I'm coming back around. Just putting a little coal in Hydra's stocking. Did Strange tell you his play?"

Vroooom, up into the sky, and he returns to the Jean as the crow flies, his work down below done. As an afterthought, he kills the Kinks. Ahem.

~It is, the bowl wasn't working. Hold on.~

It took a little mental manuvering, but with Tony's initial blocking, then finally letting her in, she draws the bridge in between the two minds with her as a conduit, for now.

~Iron-Man is on the line with us. Iron-Man, meet Able. Wait..~

Jean floats a little bit further away from Strange as he begins to speak in that voice. A voice that invokes all inner irritation which makes one of her eyes flare a bright red.

'It figures he would call -THAT- one. Of all the others he calls -HIM-.'
'That no-good hack of a sorcerer supreme. Its no -wonder- he chose this bastard as an heir, they look Sooo similiar..'

Jean shakes her head a little, her fingers pressing against her temple to rub out the noise of the Woman, then tries at least to focus upon the connection.

~No game plan, but it looks like whatever Strange is doing is.. working? Hold on.~
'Jean. Jean. Grab the bowl.'

Jean turns her head, slowly reaching out for the bowl that hung behind her, grabbing it with the tips of her fingers to look inside.

"It's just christmas snow, and we've come to the conclusion that the bowl doesn't work. Now stop it, I'm trying to relay information."

Which, is sad, since Tony has arrived on scene just as the tendrils fly past her. "Hi." She says to Iron man, to at least -seem- as if she weren't talking to herself.

'Eat it.' The woman says.
With lips smacked shut, Jean shakes her head vigoriously.
'Eat it!' The woman demands.
"WHY?" Jean snaps out at the air.

'Trust me. I have a plan.'

When the cosmic bird says trust, you do so. And with a huff, Jean cups the bowl with both hands and proceeds to dump the entire contents of the gathering snow into her mouth. It was.. not really a flattering sight to see. It was as if she were far too starved for far too long, which.. it really -is- the case right now.

Come along, little soul-flakes, come along. As the swirls increase around the Sorcerer, he seems…at least somewhat content with the outcome thus far. There's an enigmatic smile hanging about his lips, not quite feline, but he'd certainly give the Mona Lisa for a run. With arms still held out, he rotates towards both Tony and Jean, just in time to see the redhead down her bowl of snowflakes.

"…I suppose that's one way to go about it." The baritone hops above the alto only briefly before submerging again beneath it. "You. It is…well to see you after such a time." Those eyes, wisping smoke at the corners in shifting auroral hues, hold no constant color: fox-brown to glacial-blue to forest-grey to slate-grey and all the impossible hues in petal-pink, bumblebee-gold, and on and on. Life's palette blends through with each beat of Strange's heart. The one within the Sorcerer's body is none other than Oshtur, mother of the man's patron, and she nods to the host of the Phoenix. Those supernatural eyes shift between the two others and linger briefly upon the rift above before he speaks again, Her voice blending through.

"You will need to aid in shepherding these souls home. They are younglings, before the growth of self. They require a hand in their travels." All the while, the flickers of souls flash in their nacreous hues in a galactic sphere around him. "While you do this, I shall aid in the Conduit's efforts to close the wound upon reality. You understand, oh everburning one." Strange nearly manages to look down his nose and into Jean's fiery eyes. "Intact, please," is the addition, toeing the line in snide. Agamotto got his terse speech from somewhere and it looks like it's the maternal half of things.

~Guten tag.~ It's all the doctor has time for. The city is large and he's only one man; right now the best he can do is keep this area from descending into chaos. When people are afraid, unfortunate things happen. Lucky for him, he doesn't see Jean eat the strange snow. Lucky for her, it's not yellow.

Another fight is broken up, this one requiring a bit more force and a sterner talking-to. There's a second collision, a t-bone that pins one driver inside her vehicle. The other motorist is nowhere to be scene. "Relax," he urges the trapped, tearful woman. "Try to relax. I'm going to get you out of there."

The car was hit hard enough on the passenger's side that even the driver's door has been knocked askew. It takes a considerable amount of force to free it, along with a great deal of grunting and straining from Able. He's forced to pull it off its hinges, after which he tosses it aside. A scalpel makes short work of her jammed seat belt. Once she's free, he checks her to make sure she's not seriously injured. Miraculously, she's not, so he sends her on her way. "Find somewhere safe and call emergency services. You're going to be fine."

The edicts be clear: guide home the web of souls wrapped around Strange in a great oscillating bubble. Carry those chunks of ephemeral matter to their proper places, to the limp staring bodies without any semblance of self.

To Tony, a portion.

To Jean, a portion.

To Able, a portion.

They might be mildly alarmed by the silvery-green tentacles rushing in their direction and the glittery motes that writhe in the mist. This is the stuff of life itself, the definition of matter for a person. It's hard to shape them with physical touch, though telekinesis helps. But to the three servants of a man in an odd red outfit ho-ho-hoing about rescuing people, they have their jobs. Pop down the chimney and stick these sugar plum faeries back in their beds.

~Hey, how're you doing,~ Tony 'says' as though this is something he does every day. One of the upsides of spiraling is, past a certain point, surprises just don't stall you anymore. People are talking in his head, okay. If they see what he thinks about, that's on them (p.s. it's redheads).

He's not particularly certain how he's gotten the souls in his possession, but it's like suddenly being handed a baby. Fragile, not something he'd ever want, and he doesn't dare drop them. "Well, shit." he says.

JARVIS says, "Sir?"
Tony says, "Let's deliver the payload. Quick and accurate."

It all tastes so.. so.. fizzy. Like she just opened up a lemony flavored Coke and drank it all in one go. Her eyes sting a little bit, though.. it was just them growing brighter. Agamotto, She and He approach.

"Well? That is all? Well? You think me dead and gone?" Jean says, obviously relaying the message. For what better way to shun and bite her thumb at her than to send a messager in the form of the skinsuit that you wear. Besides, Strange is doing it too, right?

Jean was mildly uncomfortable at this, and perhaps others could see it as well. Her shoulders hunch, her arms lift to draw around itself, it was like mom talking to pop through the kid who had to run back and forth in between the two with the fear of getting the message itself wrong.

"We understand." Jean finally states, taking back most of the control, for the Phoenix was at work within, even forgoing the moment to snap back up towards the Sorcerer Supreme with a witty remark of the ages. Besides. Mother was watching. And when she's not?

Tony receives his payload, as do Jean.. and with a few paces back she floats, both hands open up to summon the life-fires of the bird within. It starts as a small egg; one that seemingly grows in size until it disperses in flame to reveal wings, beak, tail.. fire..

The bird releases a shriek within the air that no doubt upset the already awoken New Yorkers, but bless them, they shall return to sleep soon enough. Her hands lift high into the air as the Phoenix Raptor takes flight, its color not the fiery red or orange, but the green that it was imbued with. Internal delivery system? Here we go…

..for she rose for this occasion, birth from the soul-ashes of the children who were taken, revitalized and filled with vigor.. returned to their bodies with dreams of puppies that wag their tails and kittens who purr their favorite songs. Just look at her go!

Strange nods to each in turn, his movements smoothed and alien in nature due to his current possession. Imagine the grace of Tolkein's Elves with a level of godly poise that outdoes even Thranduil. Elf King, be jealous. Even the Cloak takes on an odd fluidity of hyper-slowed waving in the atmosphere about him. His blink is measured, sending off a minute banner of Mystical smoke before it returns to its incessant trickle from the corners of his eyes, like cigarette smoke rising in curls.

"You have the gratitude of myself as well as the Conduit. The innocent should not suffer through the whims of the morally-decrepit. Go now, and be well." For a fleeting second, a wrapping of warmth surrounds both Jean and Tony — and even Able far down below, benevolence found in the goodnight kiss bestowed by every mother.

Once the division of the lambkins has been handed off, he flits up towards the rift. "This will not do." Equal measures of musical disgust falls flat for the soul-deep intensity of opinion. Aided by the influx of Her might, the Sorcerer forms the mudras of banishment and begins a counter-rotational circling of hands before his chest. A multi-tiered mandala is drawn in a brilliant, end-of-spectrum violet, further complicated by perfect triangles and esoteric symbols rotating both clock- and counterclockwise within their ribbons. In retort to the vibration above, the magic arcs back up towards the rift in incadescent arcs of lightning that would make Tesla scratch feverishly at his notes. Not too unlike shoving a rusty door shut, accompanied by all of the horrifying screeching across any sensitive psyches nearby, he forces the inversion of space in upon itself until it finally fully collapses upon itself. Like a tomb's tunnel falling inwards, the opposite side remains shut away…for now. The ambient barometric pressure stabilizes around Strange once more and slowly, he lowers his hands as he focuses on simply breathing. Well, at least, She makes him continue breathing.

Human bodies are so frail, geez.

This is… new. Able still hasn't determined whether or not he has a soul of his own. Now he seems to be in charge of many. The sensation leaves him somewhere between being elated and completely, utterly terrified. The warm envelopment saves him from panicking, though he'd never admit it.

He halts in the middle of throttling a man who tried to use the confusion to snatch someone's purse. The petty thief is dropped and sent packing with a growl to speed him on his way.

"Go home," Able whispers. It's too tentative. There's no force behind the words. The second time is louder, but no less confident. "Go home!"

Finally, he closes his eyes and focuses. The multitudes are cradled gently. Rather than volume, he uses the will of a man who's lived through unimaginable pain and still emerged intact. ~Go home, little ones. Back to your beds and your sugar plums.~

Tony flies along, an easy sail now, and he isn't sure what to do at first, but he thinks while he speaks. "Go on, small souls, attached to children — many none of you be mine — and just… go home. There you are." He relaxes as they little soul motes whirl off toward their small, inhabitable bodies.

"Strange," he think/says, "you're helping me in the lab after this." Fair's fair, right? Magic gets Tony's help, Tony gets Strange to schlep in his shop? The scotch-jolly red-suited man makes his rounds, and slowly but surely, the payload is delivered without a single one accidentally dropped or eaten.

There was no way that Jean was going to give a lip to the matronly force that inhabited Strange, even though she wanted to. But the raptor was off, and Jean was slowly losing momentum, moment by moment.

~Good work guys. I'd like a lab invite!~

Though, she was probably kidding, for she was already flying in the direction towards Able to watch him work. She lands with a light crouch, then lets out a little yawn, slowly staggering towards the car to open up the passenger side to flop right in.

"I'm tired." She says loudly, and without another word, she sleeps. And once the raptor was done? It'll disintegrate, leaving no traces of itself behind.

From high above, the Sorcerer on loan to the mother of the All-Seeing Eye simply observes. Well, rather, She observes — and when it seems that the deliveries are all arriving on time, She takes a moment to commune silently with Her Conduit in his mind. Whatever is exchanged is of a personal note and as soon as his next blink, the Goddess leaves him to his own willpower and decisions.

The Cloak catches Strange as he sags in place, momentarily limp-limbed, and groans quietly.

"Ow…" It's not too unlike being run over by a small herd of cattle and he shakes at the lingering pins-and-needles lingering at his fingertips. Wait — someone said something to him. Short-term memory finally catches up with him and he takes a moment to kythe on what may be the same wavelength as Jean.

Fair enough, Stark. I'll visit your lab soon enough. Jean — thank you. And you — This is to Able, someone briefly touched by the Goddess, though unknown to the Sorcerer himself. Thank you as well. With enough snuff to open a Gate, he does so, and immediately stumbles into the Sanctum. Gods below, time for a shower and a nap! He'll find more answers after waking than stumbling about with fried nerves.

Exhausted and elated, the doctor collapses into the driver's seat of his DeSoto. There's a perplexed smile on his face. This would be a rare experience for anyone, but for him it's something he'll never forget.

"Schlaf," he says, urging Jean to enjoy her rest. A brief touch tucks a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Always protective of her, he reaches over to buckle her in, but gently so he won't wake her. Then he turns the car over and starts the drive back to the mansion. "You earned it."

Payload: a few hundred infants and toddlers each. Jarvis cannot exactly read what these things are other than bits of flash and soulstuff that still defies any categorized energy. It's more dynamic in his hands than it should be. So too for Able, the cloud of amorphous ephemera whirls around in lively, changing squalls of mist. They race 'round him and they leap off in all directions, carried by that impulse greater than the nascent consciousness of their own. Hard to tell a one year old about individuality. Flaming little birds fly this way and that, wielding protection under their spreading plumes.

The black hole flowing over the city provides a flat-out form of destruction. Pitting Oshtur against this power implies a serious threat battled out in the sky. That aspect of magic is violence and fury, deriving doom from multiversal energies shredded apart. Where those go when not traipsing around in octopine form only the gods know, and maybe not even the Mother of the Eye. Does it really matter?

For Christmas morning will come, and there will be 297 noise complaints filed against the Rolling Stones and the Kinks.

And what happened then?
Well… in New York they say,
That the Nazis' small hearts stopped three times that day!
And the minute their chests didn't feel quite so tight,
Groggy children stumbled out of their beds on a misty night,
And they searched for toys! And stockings hung with care!
And they, Nazis themselves! They went onto their next plan in despair.

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