1965-05-05 - Constellation: Ancient Tidings I
Summary: Confronting Volga.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
bucky strange rogue 

The Sanctum Sanctorum is no stranger to chaos, its incarnated saint dwelling on site ninety percent of the time. Wards meant to contain explosions and sorcerous messes find little issue dealing with a vanilla supersoldier and a standard issue astral-form bohemienne. It's all par for the course more than likely. No radio klaxons wail of impending divine invasion. No wards ripple under heavy bombardment.

Containment, on the other hand, is the primary issue for a fair stretch of intangibility so far.

Scarlett could just sit there nicely in lotus-form, dispensing wisdom of the yogis taught by her guru and a number of millennia-old books. More on that later. But for someone incapable of an LSD high about as bad, or worse, than Bucky ever getting drunk, try processing the sensation of being flung out of body halfway across creation and spun round the other side. "Out. We have to get out."

She flits around the assassin multiple times to decipher no immediate threat and goes tearing for the nearest door. "Do you suppose Lazar gets this every time?" Opening it would be a nicety. Screw that, it's right through. Chimney flue, if she must, grate as need be, out a window, the purpose is egress at speed. The wail is infinitely louder in her head, the one not many hear other than a riptide of agitation pouring over the link.


Buck's blank. "Get out where?" he asks, turning to follow her as she flits around him. HE can't follow, still being tangible himself.


No hyper-defensive warding spells actively pursue the Astral form of the red-headed apprentice, erstwhile as she may have been as of late. Instead, they follow along in her wake rather lazily, as curls of heavy fog might when one walks a path in the moors on a cold morning. Starshine in silvery-blue, the wisps eel about the foyer as well. Visible to only those with the Sight or Mystical inclinations, it most definitely feels to the mundane as if someone left a fridge open. Cold air pools in around Bucky, twining about his feet with a near-sentience, before traveling up and around his body in a serpentine manner. It flirts with the hairs on his arm and on the nape of his neck. Simply the wards sniffing him over as a guard-dog might, its tail at the horizontal and no wag to indicate anything beyond tepid interest.

But where is the Master of the manor? Minutes have passed now and he remains unseen. With the separation between reality and the Mirror Dimension a firm if malleable one to his whims, nothing leaks over into view or facet of sense, whatever tremendous altercation is continuing beyond.

…but what of the feline of the Mansion? Down the steps, one by one, slinkity-sly, a pair of wide jade eyes inset in a skull nearly as large as an English lab now watches from the landing of the Grand Staircase. Ink-tipped ears perk to the rush-about of Scarlett's Astral form; what can't a cat see? Much less one of Fae ilk. She sits now, a la statuettes of Bast, in slant-shadow, tail curled about her paws.


What the holy hell is *that*? Bucky may not be Lamont, but god knows bad karma and ill luck have dogged him since the war. The motion catches his eye, and Buck's turning, very slowly, to eye the cat. "Good kitty," he says, in a voice gone flat with unease. "Good kitty."


Her own form may radiate the slightest edge of the auroral fire common to the highest latitudes of the earth. Scarlett's mystic signature trends naturally phosphorescent green over the liquid blues of ice, though a heavy dose of that borrowed by way of the Siberian steppes and the white-washed terrain that links her to the network of American-Russian hybrids ensures the redhead — no longer the least bit rubescent — has a tangible visibility. "Of here." Her voice trails away, oddly thin, as she vanishes through the door again. Bucky can see her, at least, and opening a door isn't impossible unless this is the house of no doors, like the circular room of corners. If he fails to follow the ghostly incarnation of his gal, she isn't beyond reappearing to assess cat, man, and things between. "See? Reasons to get out. We have no idea what intends to react to me or you or unanchored spirits arrowing for a man doing soul surgery. Whatever he does."

Cut from a different arcane cloth, the slow-motion rotation of her tunic's loose hems favours an aquatic comparison. As well it should.

Strange is bound to find her body still water-logged and shifted far more to an aqueous composition than it has any right to possess. Thus that lithe build, already deadweight, is considerably more deadweight. Also capable of plunging a human into lifelong unconsciousness without its mistress to check tabs.


Good kitty?

…well, one supposes. The large feline, easily the size of a juvenile puma, simply lifts a paw and licks at it, her large eyes never leaving the catious form of a one Mr. Barnes. After placing her soot-dark foot back to the floor, there follows a tilt of her head, eerily intelligent by mannerism, and ambient light flashes gold across the tapetum lucidum. From across the foyer comes a sussurance of words, more 'mrowl' than crisp clarity: "Good…kitty?"

Oh gods below. The Malk's talking now. The wards swirl over nearby her, as if intrigued by the turn of state, and she looks away briefly up and at them, silvery whiskers fluffing forwards at the approach of an old play-mate.

Then the ears swivel and she rises up upon her feet, all leerie and vaguely-predator attention back on Bucky once more. A hiss escapes her as the air not too far in front of him, just on the cusp of entryway and foyer, begins to fracture out in fluidly-shifting panels. Bottle-brush threat zooms away back up the staircase as Strange stumbles out of the dimension and immediately collapes to his knees. Two hollow-sounding thuds resonate even as he attempts to coddle the limp, waterlogged physical form of Scarlett to the mosaic-patterened floor. As best he can, he sets her down, though she may roll once as weight shifts too quickly for him to manage. Immediately afterwards, he grits teeth and claps a hand to his inner thigh as he falls back on one hip.

"Barnes, help her," he spits, face gone pale and eyes overly bright. The sleeve along the outer bicep of his left arm shows proof of a slash, a wound taken at the edge of a shaska, nothing less than a legendary Volchek. At his leg, a similar wound, albeit one meant to break the sanctity of the femoral artery — and the Doctor knows it. "Get her stabilized." Still, he cares more for the Bohemianne. A puff of air is proof of concentration against pain. The dark-blue leathers like as not hide more evidence of a sword-bout barely gone in his favor; the crimson Cloak huddles close, as if warding off what it can of further nonexistant dangers.


Buck dashes forward to accept that limp body, even as he's looking around for its inhabitant. "She's, uh, she's here as a spirit," he tells the Doctor, lamely, even as he cradles her. "Did you just have to fight Volga?" The idea of something that gives the Doc a run for his money is frankly terrifying. "Scarlett," he says, even as he starts to check her vitals, old battlefield medic training rearing its head.


Old is new, and new is old. Certainly the feline risks her own furry ruff by playing with those fingers absent of gloves, and the leather bracers buckled half a dozen ways tend to appear only for select appearances — flight, motorcycle rides, attending riots, and the like. A stray scritch and universal visits to the realm of Sekhmet the satiated wouldn't be a happy outcome.

Scarlett responds with characteristic unease at any sign of distress in a feline, especially a fae-born one. Secret truth, her affinity for random animals may be limited, but not when it comes to snow leopards and their greater or lesser cousins that act as one of her totemic images. The Malk blowing out of the way sends her wispy silhouette out at dramatic speed through the Sanctum wall. Forget the windowpanes, she resorts to her natural instincts on flight. No sonic boom rips through the intangible dimension, but for that singular, shining moment, the skyline of Greenwich Village is not a problem.

Unfortunately no one wrote in the manual of Asgardian tantric balancing practices or middle Olympian protocols, a primer in the fourth decant, 'act judiciously when in a ghostly shape.'

Moving fast without physical limitations is a great way to find herself upside down, staring at the huge antenna of the Empire State Building, terrorizing the one sensitive kid there on a field trip who waves his arms and wails about the lady in the sky, who is promptly told by Sister Mary Augustine, "For the ninth time, you are not having a vision like Fatima! It's the strap and forty Hail Marys for you."

"But she is right there in blue! I see her!" Poor child, he points up as the nun schoolmarm drags him off.

Her vitals are slow and fine in body, albeit her heartbeat runs a little more like a current than steady thumping of a basso drum. Clammy? Of course. But breathing just fine as if asleep, or unconscious, or apparently inspiring visions of the Madonna.


Arts-glow eyes flicker about the Sanctum, resting briefly on the wards, who give him their annotated report in the usual stilted cadence. Her Astral form has gone…where? …oh great. Another choked groan from the Sorcerer before he replies rather sharply,

"No, I sung him a lullaby and he went to sleep — yes, Barnes, we disagreed." He may ask forgiveness for these terrible manners later…maybe…if pressed for one. Pride's a hard thing to put down, especially in the one whose ego knows little challengers, even in New York proper. "Relax," he whispers at the Cloak, and the relic seems to gently deflate about his frame rather than quivering with tension.

Closing off his eyes, he ignores the persistently-screaming cuts on his body and projects out to the distant beacon that is Astral-Scarlett: Your body is here, in…Sanctum. …back. Come…back. As a TV signal might cut in and out during a storm, so does the intensity of the communication waver as blood loss steps in. Paling another shade, Strange opens his eyes and looks upon Barnes.

"I told her to come back. She should…be here soon…soon enough," he murmurs, wincing again. "Keep her here. Her heart…beating. Make sure it's beating. I need…need to close this before…before I bleed out." Even to Bucky's eyes now, as the Sorcerer tucks chin to chest and frowns as if heavily concentrating, a pale blue glow appears about the hand firmly clasped overtop the thigh wound. This is healing magic on display, slowly knitting shut what could have easily been a killing blow in a mundane fighter.


He does as ordered, hands on her ribcage, hard enough to leaves bruises, were she an ordinary woman. Pale with fear. Something big enough and mean enough to hurt *Strange*….that is terror indeed. But he's focussed on her, now, even with his heart in his throat.


Sister Mary Augustine's faith is exemplary, but neither is she correct in her assessment. Things do not help when Scarlett offers an upside down wave 'ere Bobby vanishes into the Empire State Building, still protesting about the Madonna delivering benedictions. He may just keep some details to himself until Sunday Mass.

With that twenty-four hour clock slowly ticking out health grain by grain, the redhead isn't in immediate danger of her limp body going into cardiac arrest. Nor is she disassembling into a puddle of water on the floor, but sanctum wards may be upset about the fact the soggy clothes do that on their own. And blood! No! Yet more marshy stains rquiring their attention, uncommenting staff restoring the building to its acceptable appearance once more.

Too many months flying over New York allows rapid orientation, though she keeps overshooting the mark on account of the whole experience being so damn strange. Cold patches, tumbling rainbow tunnels. It's only a wonder she bounces off a bus and manages to walk across Washington Square Park without getting far too distracted by the whole adventure. Bleecker Street, this way. Messing with New York University on Columbia's behalf, that way.

Fine, she heads on for the mansion.


The spell putters out and disippates as mist might in the morning sun. The wound is healed over, albeit pinked and tight scar-tissue, and the Witch might have questions. It'll take a night's rest to regain the gumption needed for the total-body healing. Thus, Strange looks up blearily at the brunet working at keeping her alive.

"I should have…have been more precise, Barnes. Stop. She can…a body can remain alive and separated for upwards of an entire day. 24 hours. Just keep a hand on her so you can feel the heartbeat," he amends wearily. The Cloak stiffens behind him as backstop against a flop to the foyer's floor and he continues looking on. A bleak laugh from him and he reaches carefully to feel at the cut on the outer left bicep. "If I'd known he was such a master swordsman, I would have gone with another approach. Bastard." He hisses through the consonant as he carefully feels just how wide the clean slice is. Volchek blades are wickedly sharp, easily on par with scalpels. Nerves send a tremor down the wounded arm even as he draws the forearm to lie across his lap. "I'm fine, however. Everything's fine." Begs the question as to what world-view's definition of 'fine' he's proposing here.


Buck leaves off his efforts, still holding her in his arms. But it's the doctor who gets that owl-eyed stare for now, even as he cradles her against his shoulder. "….did you just swordfight him?" It's rather flat, not really a question, considering. "…..I didn't know you knew how to fight with swords." Someone's level of respect for the Sorcerer clearly just went up a notch or two.


That heavy, clammy wetness settles in around the redhead. At least she does not have the unusual twitches and tremors sometimes incurred in the slumbering souls, and neither is she the figure tortured on a table in a Russian hellhole. Meanwhile, her wandering soul roves wide and far, passing lightly through walls and bypassing doorways in favour of the most direct path to nowhere.

For the sheerest sake of alarming people, she manifests through the damn floor, rising from the underworld's depths, those grave eyes hollow green, deadly fingers splayed wide. Jazz-hands behind Strange's head.



|ROLL| Rosemarie +rolls 1d20 for: 11


"Yes, Barnes. I know how to swordfight. A side hobby of mine, practicing with bladed weapons. You never know when it may come in handy, especially when the Arts has no claim upon any specific field of weaponry." Strange blinks a few times and frowns, as if suddenly realizing something.

Or sensing it. The collars of the Cloak wiggle about like leaves in the breeze and he does start in place at the sudden little word flitting across the psychic plane. His aura jolts about him, briefly visible even to Bucky as a opalescent mirage of translucent energy. Then comes the wince as wounds pang all over his body.

"Wards, STAND DOWN." The silvery guardian spells pull up short and linger about ten feet back, mulling about in place as innocently as fog in a gully — and capable of taking things apart at the atomic level. He barks again, "Apprentice, get back into your body, right now!" Yep. That's the Teacher's Voice.


«How?» One note, one sound, an interruption traipsing out of the void.


"If literally interposing your Astral form overtop your body does not work, I will damn well put it back in myself," growls the Sorcerer, craning a look over his shoulder at the green-eyed spirit.


So, that's honestly kind of scary, and Bucky makes this leaky balloon noise. Scarlett is being frightening, so is the Sorcerer, and the Soldier is shrinking in on himself, clutching her body like a teddy bear.


Everyone has their wildcard factors. That odd underlying intuition for immediate threat is one of Scarlett's, above and beyond a strange skillset and habitual talent for finding riots as the lone peaceful participant. When nuclear threat levels teeter over her, the girl reacts on principle, a point almost unconscious. Her ghostly silhouette is perfectly visible, if translucent in a watery moonlight, and she retreats directly away from the Sorcerer Supreme.

If it were a boxing match, the results were determined from the start. Neither of them stand a chance of going more than a round. The deadly mists are to be avoided, doubly so when the streamers of curious threat resolve into a flat reaction etched in steel and astral streamers of plasma. Watching someone shed their identity in actual shapeshifting magic or power is one thing.

Watching it in the astral is considerably different. A soul is a soul, after all, and this is the truest way of beholding hers short of divine insight. But with that, Scarlett interposes herself between Strange and Bucky — thus, herself — and, in doing so, things skew wrong on a lateral axis. A ripple goes through her like water and every last incarnation of selves stretch in opposition, like staring at reflections between two mirrors lined up. They run seemingly forever on a curve, diminished smaller and smaller, except the lineup forever changes. There's the girl with the flaming hair and fire in her eyes, Volga in all his illustrious pride, Bucky and behind him, twin shadows of a man fallen to the sea and one caged in ice, a laughing golden haired minx, creatures that aren't in any sense human, horrors and spectres and lean-boned youths seperated by a dark elf queen and a blue-skinned giant of titanic stature. They shift in the procession that fades in and out of sight, each of those receding images there and not.

And it's Stephen Strange staring back upon himself, an imprint cascaded in less time than it takes to read a sentence of Ulysses, or blink and breathe twice. Stephen, albeit Stephanie, and not Stephanie, but decidedly so.

"I probably could, no?"


A dozen souls and a dozen souls again, possibly even another interation still. The Sorcerer watches, intrigued despite the aches that plague his body, bone-deep in the case of nearly-depleted stores of Mystical energy. But when it comes to the final choice?

When Strange looks back into eyes gone Indicolite-blue and refracted through with greens and golds in the Astral form?

His own flash neon-amaranthine. "Yes. You probably could. Now. Let's see you do it." Each word is bitten out piece-meal, crisp and calm, almost coolly so.


Buck is confused. That shows plainly in his face. "Honey, please come back to yourself," he asks, quietly. The ranked images….well, he knew, in the abstract, what she held. But to see it….he falls silent, peering at them.


Azurine reflects on the sorcerer, the pristine intensity shattered by a dash of steel and flecks of unyielding darkness that capture the shadows in contrast to the light so very well. Her fingertips lace together, echoes of the cordite scars traced in faint definition wherever one turns to look. Bright purple flares set off against the atmosphere of the sanctum fail to completely impress her, more a point of professional inquiry.

"Ever in a rush. Patience used to be a virtue." The corner of her mouth indents slightly. "Earned with a brush, wasn't it?" A casual response when Scarlett takes another step back, rolling a slow gesture back and forth. How can so many facets of a self be contained in so small, so limited a finite space. Any sort of possibility, where the flesh contains the probabilities derived from a hundred lifetimes, ought to be at least a bit taller and broader in the shoulder. Never mind a few of those visible incarnations wavering like ghosts superimposed on Scarlett are taller than the building proper. No fault of the building on that front.

A nudge to her own leg fails to produce a kick or any such troubled refrain. "I never quite left, James. Though as a matter of course, he has rather mucked the place up some, hasn't he?" The weight of her gaze teases along her fingers, up her arm, down again. How does one re-enter the atmosphere but with horrendous friction and great speed? She smirks at Strange and falls up into herself. It shouldn't be gravitationally possible. Maybe it is.


The mute gesture from Strange is a bloody-palmed hand graciously outstretched towards her prone body. This is all the answer that the soul-imprinted Scarlett gets — along with a decidedly toothy grin devoid of true amusement. Demonstrate, by all means,, it implies with utter clarity.

Once he sees that the Astral form has gone home to its body, he slouches back into the supportive weight of the Cloak. "Gods below…" he mutters, idly twitching the fingers of his left hand to ensure that nerves still respond well enough.


Once she's back in her body, she'll find herself kissed with unashamed fervor. So much for PDA - well, Strange is family, isn't he? Buck's hair is loose, veiling both their faces, but it does nothing at all to hide the passion. Strange is forgotten, at least for an instant or two.

"We'll see, Barnes," the Sorcerer replies quietly to Bucky, his lambent scrutiny then shifting back to the Bohemienne. "It greatly depends on what information I can extract." He makes no move to confirm or deny the thoughts on visiting Russia. Far too late now, especially given the slip in personalities, as quick and easy as disappearing beneath the surface of a twilit lake.

Even as Strange considers precisely what tack to take in sussing out the answers he needs, the corners of his lips are rising into a smile far more toothy than kind. There's a visceral element of delight in looking into those sepulchral eyes. No small wonder the Witch worries at his confidence overtaking his sense of personal safety.

He keeps it simple: "Why?" In terms of answers, it spans a huge gamut — it's a tell inandof itself in how the memory chooses to respond.

Scarlett still carries that ghostly essence of the tea proffered by way of greeting, though the notes attain an infinitely more aqueous run. Winter carries an odd scent to it, clean and clear, tinged by snow and a whisper of pine perhaps. Enough that Bucky clearly ought to identify it with his sharpened olfactory sense, though that wars with the permanent neroli overlaid on cream-pale skin. Other than the restrained visual notes, little about her changes: posture remains the same, and the tension ratcheted up to place her between Strange and the dark-haired soldier, for good or for ill.

In some ways, the lupine metaphors are altogether too real. At least her lips aren't peeled back to bare white canines in a razor-sharp mezzaluna smile. Yet. Sudden movements, on the other hand, may be met with uncharacteristic force on her part, something to bear in mind, given how she rides the lightning of a stolen soul.

"I love my home. You do the same to protect the Earth. Don't begrudge other methods when the spirit is the same, Doctor."

There's no sniffing retort at that from Bucky. But his expression has tightened further yet, a hint of Winter's utter lack of affect. He's raised his head, nostrils flaring faintly, definitely lupine. The dark elves have certainly left their mark.

"Mmm." One could squeeze the acidic derision from the word and it would splatter and hiss on the Mirror Dimension's reflective flooring. "On another day, I might agree with you, but for this…" His irises, gone electric-violet, drag from Scarlett's face and to her toes and back up. "I make an exception. For the sake of medicine bent against the will of those beneath your touch…that becomes personal. There are other methods to vouchsafe your land, Volga. When did it come to blood?"

The Cloak continues to slowly riffle at its base hem. Bucky, with his training, will likely suss the slow creep of readiness into the Sorcerer's person.

English rolling by way of the rose fields of Kent or another home county permeate the redhead bohemienne's soprano, lening the same sound in a familiar instrument. But the betrayal lies in the certain pronunciations and slides through vowel and consonants that no native English speaker on either side of the Pond might commit. Not even the Far Eastern dialect learned by the Asset still harboured somewhere in Bucky's mind uses those inflections, and a linguist would be extremely hard-pressed to identify their origins. Mostly because the last time they were used, a Byzantine emperor shuffled around in silks and a sandy desert was busy maturing the third great religion of the Near East.

The ember-wrack swirling around her murky pupils flashes, catching the fractal lines of the Mirror Dimension where light plays all too wrong. Her hand lands upon her hip, contrapposto position that of the classic Greco-Roman statues rediscovered mid-fourteenth century in the Northern Italian Renaissance. They never sculpted with her proportions, though, no Madonna given that physique ever. "Medicine bent against?" Echoed measure there, her bemused undertone nailed down. "Your meaning is not clear, Stephen." The slow roil of her aura follows those Arctic curtains, hypercharged plasma stilted exceptionally aquamarine rather than her typical emerald, but those phased hues still persist.

"He is born of the Rodina. Shared kinship, a tie of life. Always, then?"

Now he can't help but break in, and the accent is all Brooklyn impatience. Rude to interrupt when the magical adults are talking, but he can't wait. "Wait. What? Who? Me? The kids?" HE glances between them, brow furrowed.

"Volga himself," Strange supplies as answer to the local Brooklynite, his tone perfectly even and cold as a frozen pond. "And allow me to clarify. I don't appreciate his methods. I take offense to what he's done in the name of protection, given the current state of both Barnes and yourself, Autumn. I want him out of you and out of my Sanctum." His bright eyes narrow at her subtle positioning — oh yes, he's aware of what his blood is telling him, even as his own aura cranks up another few notches, the flicker of distant starlight thickening in the miasm of energy about himself.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d100 for: 3

No sooner said than done.

Redoubled mystic capabilities dredged from the genetic abyss give the Sorcerer Supreme exactly what he wants in a second, no more. The malleability of the Mirror Dimension may be one of its prize hallmarks for the mystically inclined. Its links to other layers of reality is yet another.

A precise flip of those deadly, soul-draining fingers rips a wedge out of true, spinning the redhead along a vertical trajectory that rightly invert her relative to the men. Shattered facets erupt outwards from a point of manipulated impact, kaleidoscopic needles erupting in starbursts that themselves splinter and rotate again. Before she hits the noon-mark on the proverbial clock, she falls headfirst into an aetheric incision for one. Not even so much as a drop of water hangs midair. It's probably worse than being kicked in the teeth.

There is a moment of utter, blank-faced panic t that. Buck's jaw has dropped, and he stares at Strange helplessly. "What….what just happened?" It's a plea. And then it's closer to an order, "Doc, please find her!"

Even as she's in motion, Strange is stepping back into a balanced stance; his hands flicker about as quickly as can be managed and the charged air around him takes formations in defensive mandalas. Even as the string-fire strands spark to life with wickedly-sharp crackles, she's…gone.

A hiss, akin to a cornered cobra, and teeth flash in a snarl. "Just how literal can they be?!" Who's he talking to? Bucky receives a flicker of a glance even as Strange grounds himself again. One mandala is dismissed with a flick of his hand not unlike a paw-wetted cat. His stance takes on width and even as he inhales, the very air in the Mirror Dimension takes on an extra element of charge — something absolutely palpable to anyone within, Mystical or Mundane. Storm-blue fabric and loose hair is set to wafting in the kinetic atmosphere of his intent. His voice drops into a register that echoes within the reflective walls and sets them to quivering.

"By the purview of the Vishanti three,
Through willpower innate to me,
By skein of Fate and truth of Name,
Autumn, your presence, I reclaim."

The edict resounds across the reality proper, echoing even into the parallel dimensions.

"And in my presence…do remain," he adds, tritely, before snapping his fingers with literal sparking.

A rift in space shuts and a brief reunion twinkles countless twists and turns on the cosmic journey away. Reunion cut short, but significant all the same.

Any arcane battle betwixt the Sorcerer Supreme and a being less than an Eternal may be weighted unfairly, at least when the gods involve themselves. Nonetheless, powers of a lesser standard may yet contest certain loopholes in reality where they lie, for not even the Vishanti govern with a complete golden, gem-studded fist.

That reaction takes some seconds to complete, yanking back the absent redhead. Through marigold panes spilling eldritch fire she returns, soaked to the bone, that sunset tunic gone nearly transparent and her nylons vanished entirely. Every braid drips water onto the floor, such as it is, and what traces of kohl outline her eyes washed into a hazy raccoon shadow. Streams trickle down her temples, fingertips collecting beads. Even that faint motion of her hair would imply being underwater, dragged at by a current. Those dark lashes even carry tiny diamond dewdrops. Speech might be ill-advised at the moment, thus she doesn't bother.

It may also have something to do with the fact her mouth and lungs could just be harbouring a significant amount of water, or pent up air, or glitter.

Buck's face is a study in puzzled horror. He doesn't understand what he's seeing, what's going on, so he's gazing between them like a bewildered dog. But when she returns, he's sidling closer, unable to help himself.

The Sorcerer's classical features flicker through concern and back into obdurate neutrality even as he too begins to step forwards. He lifts a hand, scarred palm facing outwards towards Bucky, and snaps, "Barnes, stay back."

"Volga. You — and you alone. Leave her." The long fingers, equally at home at the keys of a piano as once wielding the delicate blades of scalpels during impossible surgeries, spread in a ray towards Scarlett. His eyes have nearly blanked out in ultraviolescence with the intensity of repressed emotions, shoved rudely aside but no less reactive to the wellspring of the Arts within him. "I summon you, Vseslavovich — son of royal blood and ancient earth — he who wears the skin of life — leave —- her."

What terror reflects in Bucky's face only doubles down on that certainty not to remain where she is. The slow blink or two washes over her vivid gaze. Freshwater perfumes her cool skin, and the melodic cascades keep splashing in a growing puddle around her feet. The redhead shakes her damp braids, every aspect of her nature to contain, to drown, and to steal. It's no more separable from her than honour from Steve Rogers, albeit one is something of a genetic vice than a nurtured quality.

Skin shouldn't be translucent in a true sense, either, but there it is, the extremities hovering between their usual cream pallor and the curious liquidity charged around them. Her head shakes at the searing crackle, and for all the girl can be damn resolute when she wants to, something in that summons — resisted, no less — is all the worse when some twist of fate tosses the entangled threads apart from one another.

The body drops like the mere flesh trappings that it is. The girl floats in space, dark-eyed sorcerer rounding out the corner of the diamond.

HE does stay back, but his hands are out, beseeching. Where is his girl in all this? What's Volga and what's her? Bucky can't wrench his gaze away, apparently frozen in place as if Strange had cast some spell on him.

With the circumstances as they are, Strange looks beyond the fallen body on the floor of the dimension. He ignores the assassin entirely. The panes flicker again with a fine and resonating thrum as he cycles through a breath, his hand still upraised. Fine light dances around it affectionately, arcing between line-mapped digits in a hue slowly shifting towards a brilliant infrared.

"This is between you and me now, Vseslavovich, practitioner to practitioner. Surely we can come to an agreement." The blurred flick of his hand announces the fruition of the spell at hand: crimson bands, formed to immaculate geometry, arc around both the ephemeral form of the Bohemienne and the stalwart Soldier, and for the vision of the foreign sorcerer beyond. The other hand, warping and wefting to all sights even as he raises it, is abruptly brought down. Air disappears into a vacuum even as the world blurs. Around both of Scarlett's forms and Bucky, the dimension abruptly collapses into nonexistence — taking Strange and Volga with it.

Around them, the familiarity of the foyer stands in stark contrast to the faint rumble of metaphysical thunder in the distance. This is true reality, this, down to the curl of incense from a nearby taper and the muted honking of a taxi on the street outside, beyond the front doors with their frosted windowpane.

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