1965-09-16 - The Demon-Mantis was Not Invited
Summary: Sometimes, eldritch beings try to force their way into this reality. Thank the gods that both the Sorcerer Supreme and Iron Fist were around this time. Otherwise, things and people would have been eaten. Mmm, humans.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
danielle-rand strange 

The first aggressive attack against the veils of reality was enough to jar teeth in skull of anyone sensitive to the state of New York, much less the city named after it. Tea was spilled. It really annoyed a Sorcerer, who quickly donned his Master-blues and summoned crimson Cloak to his shoulders.

He arrived in time after a quick Gating to the epicenter, unfortunately in the middle of one of the main streets between burroughs. Cars honked and swerved and then honked more…and then got ditched once the air suddenly split asunder as four white-silver claws easily the size of a Reaper's scythe came slicing through reality. Strange was ready from the get-go, settled in stance and with dualed golden mandalas before his hands. But things get better!

No, sincerely, they do — since someone innately sensitive to the flow of energy within her environment was within easy arrival distance of the creature trying to dig its way into New York City from across the veils. Now the playing field is even — and a good thing too because once the initial onslaught breaks through the frayed seams, a flood of small three-legged, raccoon-sized creature flood in. The good thing? They're all very kickable or punchable. The bad thing? They seem like they're three legs to run, a round prickly body, and then mostly mouth. With teeth. Lots of teeth. That can take bites out of steel, given the taxi nearby now sporting a neat shark-like hole in it.

The steel-gnashing teeth of the eldritch invaders have never met the ferocity of Danielle Rand's Iron Fist Strike.

"HAA!" Danny shouts, and throws a straight-fist at a leaping little creature with her feet balanced under her. It's almost like a magic trick, the sheer amount of force the petite woman puts behind that blow. She turns, foot swinging over her head, and drops an axe-kick onto another vermin as it lunges for her. The first one screeches until it hits a brick wall with a *splat*. The second one makes a sound like a watermelon being hit with a brick, and goes still.

"Dr. Strange," Danielle says, shrugging off her fitted business jacket and stepping out of her heels pragmatically. She whips her hair back in a tight ponytail, using a hairband wrapped around her wrist to hold it in place. "I thought something was amiss here. Glad to see I'm not the only one." She glances around the area. "Can you lock down the locals— keep them from running into these little nasties?"

"Ah, Miss Rand." Both have apparently perfected the near-impossible sang-froid of speech that comes of experiencing multiple scrums over the years of their respective existences. One of the basketball-sized critters takes the edge of a halved golden mandala-shield to it and collapses like a moist balloon, its innards spilling to the concrete in a splash. "I was intending to flip the immediate area into the Mirror Dimension if — " He pauses to dodge an arcing leap by one of the small creatures and watches it flash by his head gnashing teeth like an angry land-piranha. " — if we can let the Big and Ugly enter entirely."

Not long now for that. Part praying mantis, part anteater, and a goodly part demonic entity, it's probably in the employ of Hell. Or one of the variants of the many Hells in the universe. Another heavy swipe on its part and now it can duck through, crunching its nine foot-tall body nearly in half to slide through. Scaly, pimpled skin has small stiff hairs all over it and there are too many joints, what on earth. Bulbous dark eyes, black all of the way through and faceted, don't blink, but instead narrow in on both defenders of the city.

"I'm not thrilled with a defensive strategy that requires admitting the enemy into our reach," Danny tells Strange, a bit primly. "But if that's what's required, I…"

She trails off, blanching, at the size of the thing crawling into their dimension. Her fingers curl into fists, calling white-yellow flames to her hands, and Danielle steps into a ready position that'll allow her to advance or dodge with equal ease. "That… is a rather large and terrible thing," she murmurs, standing in front of Strange protectively. "I'm assuming I can hurt it, or else I'll be resigned to trying to disable it with a firm scolding?"

"I'm very certain that if you wished to punch it, Miss Rand, you'd give it quite the headache," the Sorcerer allows as he watches the creature continue to eye them both cautiously. The four antennae on its head wiggle and twitch, perhaps sensing the auras of power about both defenders. "Hold on to your pumps," he adds with laughter in tone even as he dismisses the mandalas with a quick flick of each wrist. He shifts stance behind Danny and then one hand extends outwards. There's the sound of a breaking windowpane echoing over thousands of times yet and reality around them collapses into the Mirror Dimension. Now things take on an odd resonance and the experienced eye can pick out where the proposed edges of the dimension exist by the slowly-shifting fractals of walls.

Now everyone necessary to conclude this spat is present and accounted for, down to the last disgusting, tire-chomping Piranha-Ball. That one's a bit confused, paused in place with a mouthful of rubber. The rest seem to turn in unison towards the mantis-demon. It hasn't flinched. Rather, it's crouched down, slowly drawing the blades of its fingers back and forth in an eerie hissing schiff-schiff-schiff-schiff of sound. On a signal, many of the Piranha-Balls turn and launch themselves at Danny and Stephen with war cries!

Danny tenses. Not freezing — not stalling. Coiling. Like a spring gathering into position.

She explodes into a leaping pirouette as the Piranha-Balls attack, and it'd look like a dance maneuver except for the lethal competency behind it. Feet and fists, wrapped in the raw fire of her soul, lash out to punch, smash, and strike. It's a brilliant display of martial ability, but she only gets 4 out of the five. The fifth one gets a few teeth into the meat of her thigh, and Danny goes down with a scream of pain and a gush of blood. It's a shallow wound, comparatively, and she responds by jamming two fingers into the piranha's eyeball up to her knuckles and then channeling her raw chi power into the beastie.

She rolls away, gripping her leg with both hands, and forcing the bleeding to stop immediately by force-of-will alone. "I'm ok," she gasps, marshalling her nerves to stunt and ignore the pain signals flaring along her body.

As Danny executes her flame-limned attack, Stephen is reacting right behind her. What Piranha-Balls miss in their arc are summarily picked out one by one by the crack of the molten surujin, the whip made entirely of braided plasma, hot enough to sting many times over. At her cry of pain, everything seems to kick into the next gear.

The mantis-demon's shriek begins in the heartbeat after her exhale and it straightens in place, mandibled-jaw opening wide to showcase black lining and so very many conical teeth. So many. The Sorcerer takes a quick stride or two forwards, his own tight fists sparking with intent. He takes a hard kneel beside Danny before he throws up a half-domed shield about them. Orange runes and lines intersect to form an impenetrable barrier. The mantis-demon slams those claws down on it and the dome resonates enough to tense ear-drums. Its screeching is muffled; blackened edges of its claws smoke as it retreats a step, eyeballing them in frustration.

"I can't hold this and heal you at the same time, Miss Rand. Can you continue?" he asks, voice tight even as he glances to her.

Danny's eyes are a little distant, and she sets her jaw before nodding tightly. "I'm okay," she tells Strange. "Didn't hit an artery." She eyes the Mantis-monster, and the flames around her fists grow more intense and somehow sharper. "Gonna cut into my dancing for a few days. Ready?"

She inhales, exhales, centering herself — and when Strange gives the affirmation, Danny puts her hands on the ground and curls into herself. With a grunt of total effort and focus she kips off the ground, palms digging for traction, and her good foot lashes straight upwards. She turns her body into a single straight line of motion, one hand on the ground and in line with all her martial fury packed into the kick she aims up into the Mantis the moment Strange creates a break in the shield for her.

"Longer than a few days if you don't get it treated," says the good Doctor, unable to keep from his comment. Old medical habits die a hard death. "Regardless…" He eyes the mantis-demon right back through the Mystical shielding, holding those dark and depthless eyes with not a flinch. "Yes, ready when you are."

He grips at his hold on the shielding and readies a counter-spell that relies on reclaiming the energy spent to cast the defensive dome. "Go," he says on a breath and collapses the shield. Danny flies true as an arrow at the mantis-demon and the creature is caught desperately off-guard. Her impact is swift, brutal, and sends it flying back through the air and into the relative distance of the dimension. While this is occurring, Strange sends out Piranha-Ball-seeking orblets of pure golden energy. They home in like tank missiles and each of the disturbing creatures succumbs, one by one, even as they shriek and attempt to escape. The mantis-demon slowly gets up from its place of collapse, half-curled upon itself, glaring balefully at Danny. Oh yes, you next, it appears to think.

Danny lands on her good foot, and draws herself into a posture of exquisite muscular control. Even with a chunk of meat missing from her quadricep, she exhibits perfect balance and form. She trusts Strange to handle the little demons, and sets her sights on the big one. Eyes glimmer with the fires of the Iron Fist, and she draws her chi into a singular force of will.

The demon charges, and she holds position between herself and Strange. It gains speed, throwing aside cars, tearing up asphalt, roaring and slavering as it lunges for the blood and injury it senses in the woman.

Danny's eyes lid and she exhales through her nose, closing out the world around her.

The demon lunges, and at the last possible microsecond, Danny spins a half-step back. It's not a dodge. She's gaining enough momentum to give her leg some lift, and then pulls it back over her head. There's nothing wrong with her hamstrings or glutes or the rest of her body, and it's with the entirety of her body that Danny strikes. A slip of a woman her size — no matter how gynmastic — should not be able to put -that- much force into a blow.

And yet, there's enough power in her hips and heel to shatter even the most obdurate of barriers, sweeping down at the monster's skull.

Settled into his own defensive stance now, with a spell resting on the tip of his tongue like a captured falling star, Strange watches with bated breath as the creature bull-rushes at the young woman. He can see the blood well enough and even now, he's calculating how much time will pass before she begins to suffer the effects of exsanguination, moderate as it is considering the missed artery.

Those wicked scythes come down into empty space, leading the charge and drilling deeply into the concrete below, enough so to bury them knuckle-deep by the creature's make-up. Skull, meet heel. The sound is…frankly, rather gut-wrenching. With an appropriately-amplified crackle of collapsing bone, the mantis-demon then faceplants into the street. The anchoring of its arms means it half-flips, half-slams into the ground for further insult and injury, though neither matter. With one last disjointed spasm, it's deader than a door-nail. Pale yellow ichor begins to leak from its cracked jaws while the empty brain-pan is on full display. Yep, nothing within. Only the gods know how it was functioning in the first place. Or maybe the princes of Hell.

From where he then straightens in place, Stephen lets out a quiet sigh of relief. "Gods below," he mutters, rolling his shoulders and then shaking out his hands, as a cat might displace water from its paws.

Danny doesn't play for quarters. She lunges forward the second the beast drops, and her right hand replicates a blurring hyperactive engine piston as she drums the beast's skull and ichor into a six-inch deep crater. Some things don't have a 'brain' or analogue to it, but few creatures can survive being decapitated by blunt force trauma.

Covered in viscera, Danny rises to turn to Strange, and wobbles into his arms with a grunt of pain. "Oh, I'm going to pay for that tomorrow," she moans, her bad leg shaking perceptibly. She grips Strange by the lapels for a moment, trying to stabilize herself, then uses him to balance and pats his chest apologetically. "Hey doctor, it hurts when I do this with my leg," she complains in an ironic tone, flopping her injured leg back and forth.

Of course the Sorcerer catches her as she stumbles his way. He does his best to pull her into a better standing position and looks down her body towards the injured leg. An arched brow and repressed smile is proof that he knows she'll live to see another day if she can make quips like that.

"If you lose that leg, I'll have to stoop to calling you "Eileen" and I don't think you'd appreciate that," he replies drily. "We'll patch it up before we leave the dimension. After all, I can see that our efforts have attracted attention." Even as he's carefully helping Danny down to sit on a clean patch of concrete, the red-and-blue lights of police cruisers can be seen mistily through the refracting walls of the Mirror Dimension. "I believe a simple healing spell will be best, unless you can sense anything interfering with your Chi? I do not know if those creatures carried any intoxicants in their saliva," he explains, giving her a mildly concerned frown.

Danielle gets her breathing under control in the space of a few moments. Remarkably, the wound is not leaking more than a mild scratch, and she seems to be shoving the pain aside.

"I…" she frowns, then shakes her head. "I can't tell. It's not poison, but there's something in the wounds. I can keep the bleeding from going but it won't let me burn out the foreign substance. I don't…" she puts a hand to her forehead, dampness soaking out from under the viscera. "I don't think I have the chi to spare to fight off infection," she confesses. "There's only so much energy the body can handle and I am feeling a little spent."

The good Doctor looks from her face to the wound on her leg even as he nods in affirmation of her status. "You've a lot of strength if you're able to hold off the bleeding now," he murmurs even as he lifts a hand. "I can easily burn out what is within, but it may sting. I'm uncertain as to how the foreign substance will react to the spell, given the existence of the creature that caused the initial damage existed merely to kill."

By now, a faint light, akin to the reflection from a blue moon through the fog on a lake, has gathered about this uplifted hand. "Hold yourself steady if it does cause you discomfort. I apologize in advance if so," he says quietly and gravely before he places the scarred palm overtop the slowly-seeping wound on her leg. Inwards rushes the healing magic and immediately comes the insistent removal of the mucus left behind from teeth puncture.

Danny hisses in pain, gripping Strange's sleeve with her surprisingly strong fingers. But she holds still, obligingly, as if she were experiencing nothing more than mild discomfort. "It's a technique handed down from Buddhist monks near India," she explains, voice remarkably level. "They could… regulate body heat, slow their pulse. I've constricted the muscles around the wound site to prevent bleeding. It's a bit more advanced than what most of them can do," she admits, "but the theory's the same."

She looks across the street. "I can tell you're doing something gross, and I don't want to look," she says, flatly. "But it feels and sounds gross. How bad is it?"

"It's gross," Strange affirms with gentle dryness even as he watches the healing magic go toe-to-toe with the Piranha-Ball's infectious saliva. It bubbles and froths in a delightful spring-green up and around his fingers, but the color is slowly bluing out over the expansive seconds it's taking for the spell to do its good work.

"However…it's not…terrible. I can tell you that you'll keep the leg. I would keep your eyes averted still. Tell me more instead of this practice of yours, in constricting the muscle. Is it a mastery of mind over matter? Or can anyone accomplish this, such as the layman on the street?"

"It smells terrible," Danny says, flatly. She seems to be complaining more to take her mind off the pain than anything else, though her fingers relax a little on Strange's sleeve.

"It's not magic, if that's what you're wondering," she says, a small smile at the corner of her mouth. She casts around for a rag, and finding none, rips the sleeve from her blouse with a simple motion. "But it takes a certain…" she exhales steadily, trying to find the word.

"Can you wiggle your pinky toe? And only that toe, without moving any others?" she inquires of Strange. "Few people can. It's a technique for isolating muscles. In theory, anyone could adopt those techniques. But in theory, anyone could go to medical school and become a doctor. Right?" she says, sliding her glance to Strange with a bemused twinkle in her blue eyes.

"Eh…not anyone," replies the world's more foremost neurosurgeon…at one time. He then curls a crooked grin, glancing from her and back to the wound. It's very nearly healed up now beneath his palm, the connection of skin to broken skin becoming less chill-numb and more flesh-warm. "And I understand what you're implying. That some may be able to grasp it, but most are unable to accept the wisdom of the practice. Nearly done," he adds quietly, squinting now at her leg with eyes still lambent as frozen candle-flames.

"Some wizard you are. It's been what, a minute?" Danielle scoffs, wiping her face clean, and then throwing the sleeve aside. After a moment, she rips off the other one and discards it as well, for symmetry. "I thought you could wiggle your nose, like that lady on the television. What's her name? Samantha?" she says, face still a little drawn. "You're definitely ruining my idea of what witches look like."

Finally Strange leans back, and she dares a glance down at her leg. Fragile, pink flesh, not remotely matching the tone of her thigh exposed through the rent of her trousers— but it is healed. She pokes at it experimentally. "I suppose I'll refrain from shorts for a while," she grumbles, good-naturedly. "Winter's right around the corner, isn't it?"

Strange glances up at the sound of tearing fabric and simply shakes his head slightly before turning his attention back to the wound. The last bubbling to take on the true-blue hue is a good sign indeed; that and how Danny can continue talking evenly. He can't pick out how pain is modulating her vocal tension further.

"You'll have to meet my fiancee if you wish to comment on witches," he murmurs even as he lifts his hand, breaking his concentration on the spell and settling back onto one heel in his one-legged kneel. Pink skin indeed, but no more blood, and he can count himself content.

"It'll be autumn soon enough. I'm looking forwards to a break in the heat. This outfit is all well and good below, what…fifty degrees, but trying to banish elementals in the middle of July in it? A task." He rises to a stand and offers her a hand up.

"Someone brave enough to date you? I'll refrain from comment," Danielle says, mirth lurking in the edges of her voice. She glances at Strange's hand, then slaps her palm into his and lets him pull her to her feet. It's unlikely she'd let anyone else haul her upright, particularly if she thought anyone was looking.

"I'll be sure to call you if I run into a gas elemental," she grins. "Though anything else, I'm pretty sure I can punch it into submission."

"I don't doubt you in the least, Miss Rand." The Sorcerer glances over at the flash of patrol car lights beyond the translucent fringes of the dimension and sighs. "I think a Gate directly out of this place and allowing it to collapse will solve our troubles once I've closed up that rend." He nods to the shredded mess that is where the demon-mantis clawed through originally. "Would you like a Gate out before I get to working at it? It may take some time. The…thing made a mess of it." He's not amused at all in how he gives the corpse a flat glance.

"And she's brave indeed," he adds almost tartly, giving Danny a thin smile. "You might like her. She's…full of gumption."

"A ride home would be welcome. One moment?" Danielle walks off to where she'd dropped her shoes and jacket, stepping carefully into the former and bundling the latter under a toned arm. "By the way, that was a fifty-dollar shirt," she tells Strange, stepping up to the portal. She gives him a glance that's a little unreadable, but amused. "So, y'know. You can drop a check off anytime, and bill it to whomever employs you. I'm sure -you- protect the fabric of reality for free, but I only defend against overzealous monks and evil monasteries of Buddhists gone bad." She pokes his chest very lightly, a grin spreading across her sweet-faced features.

"A ride home it is." Strange pauses in summoning up the Gate that will lead towards wherever Danny requires, watching her fetch her ruined piece of clothing. He seems unimpressed at the cost quoted at him and outright snorts at the demand for a check.

"Miss Rand." A click of tongue and he tilts his head at her, smirking. "If you must have your clothing suffer for your actions, perhaps not attempt to assist me next time? After all, I could have handled it all on my own." It's a gentle dig and there he goes working at opening a Gate. Flicker-snicker-snap, with bright golden sparks upon reality, it opens and holds even as he steps to one side and lifts a plainly-scarred hand. "After you, young lady."

"Mmmhmm," Danny says, skepticism in her voice. "You very clearly had that whole thing handled. Next time, I'll just… stand back and applaud your decisive expertise," she tells Strange, eyes glimmering with mirth as she looks up at him. "You know. Because wizards are notoriously good at punching massive monsters."

She saunters through the gate, half looking over her shoulder before the construct closes. "Be seeing you around… Mr. Strange," she teases — and then disappears into the collapse of the gate, magic sparkling into nonexistence where she'd stepped.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License