2019-06-27 - The Lesser Of Two Evils


Nightmare comes a'calling on Koa to torture him … offering one of the things that Koa wants most.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Jun 27 04:26:45 2019
Location: New York

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Theme Song



Koa has not slept well in the past several nights since returning from Limbo and the Dream realm. Some of that is due to the fact that he is in an incredible amount of pain: Physical, mental and metaphysical. However some of that is because when he does sleep, he has nightmares. It's something of a cruel irony, really. Eat dream magic, give nightmares. They're incredibly vivid and he always wakes up in a cold sweat. Or banging his right arm against something.

Still he is mostly human and he cannot stay awake forever. Those restless nights take their toll too. So here he is in the middle of the day trying to catch a catnap. He's just leaned back, feet up on the couch and closed his eyes. He doesn't want to. The nightmares come without fail. But he just can't stay awake any longer.

In an instant he passes from one realm to another. Out of the waking world and into a world of allegories and hidden truths. He finds himself today in a dark forest. His arm is a charred mess - it often is in his dreams - and his clothes are worn and tattered. He can't escape the feeling that he's being stalked through the mist and the moonlight.

Which is a bit odd. A lot of his dreams have featured water, or fire. Not many of them a setting like this.

There's a hint of wings behind Koa, the sound of hooves against the soft, damp, earth. It's normally behind him, driving him forward but sometimes, if he turns in a particularly direction, whatever that is comes at him from that side.

He's being driven in a direction, inexorably onwards. Towards the centre of the forest. Every now and then, he hears a soft, mocking laugh.

It's threatening and horrifying, keeping the pressure on the man. Moving him more towards the beast that he's trying to keep leashed.

Up ahead, the forest thins and he can see the soft glow of light. The feeling of relief - that if he just makes that, he'll be safe grows.

Like all nightmares, moving is… fraught. His limbs seem leaden. The effort to move them is enormous and his steps seem ponderous, like he's moving through wet cement. The sense of panic is palpable. The sense that he's about to be caught and horrible things will happen to him, but also that relief is just around the corner. Just out of reach.

It's hard to say how long he moves. Running because he cannot fight. Eventually though he begins to move toward that light. Scrambling. Pushing through the undergrowth. It's just ahead, seemingly, for hours. But after that interminable time… it seems like he might get there.

He's panting. His arm is bleeding blood of various colors. His sweat stings. He aches everywhere. His arm aches. His head aches. His soul aches.

Just inside the glow of that light he stops, hand on knees and bends over, panting.

From just outside the circle of trees that from this 'haven', Koa can hear the nicker of a horse. The muted hoofs fall silent now that he's here as the atmosphere of the area grows … expectant.

How close to the surface is Koa's beast? It shouldn't be far. Since the time they attacked Plokta with Sifror it's been hard to contain. The nightmare pulls on that, drawing it out.

"Ah. Just who I was waiting for…" The voice is deep, almost mocking. When Koa looks up, there's a throne in front of him. Seated in it a dark haired dressed in all green. It's almost Robin Hood, except … it's all green. "The creature that set my daughter free…"

Very close. Very. Very. Close. Koa's inner beast feeds on the magic he devours and for years the thaumivore had kept that part of him under control by barely feeding it at all. He's just gorged and not only is his beast very strong right now, but the part of him that enjoys the rush of taking magic wants more. Wants to give in and let the beast consume whatever it wants and consequences to him or anyone else be damned.

"Waiting for?" Koa narrows his eyes. He's not normally a lucid dreamer but he finds himself rather… alert. Aware of the figure he's addressing and the events of the past several days. "Your daughter…"

He pulls himself up, backing slightly. The fear flowing from this thing is overwhelming and Koa is not amused.

Where's that horse. He could hear it but now it's gone.

"The Dreamqueen. Your daughter is that… thing."

"Waiting for you of course. It was only a matter of time before you slept." The man in green waves a hand and the forest disappears. Koa finds himself in a throne room, before that very same throne, the green clad still lounging in it. "That … thing as you put it, is my daughter, yes. And you released her. That is something I can't abide."

Another gesture and chains slither out from the walls on either side of the WAND agent, as cuffs of iron close over his wrists, ankles and neck. The chains slither and writhe towards him … they're going to bind him in just a moment.

"I think you'll take her place till we subdue her…"

Is this real? Or is this a dream. This has to be a dream which means - he hopes - that he can't really be bound. He KNOWS that there are definite exceptions to that. Beings powerful enough to make a dream BECOME reality. Dreamqueen was one such from what he understands even if her power to do so was limited and fleeting. If this being really is her father he is possibly even more powerful.

Koa backs up even more to buy himself time. His eyes blaze red. His beast is very close to just pushing out now, or it feels like that. Whether that is possible in this dream, he's not sure.

"She's presently subdued. We have her locked up." He doesn't say that HE wasn't the one who released her for two very important reasons. One, he's not entirely sure he would be believed. Beings of a high order of power don't tend to listen to folks like Koa. Two, even if he was believed all that would do is sic this trouble on someone else. Or several someone else's.

And those people have suffered enough.

"I take it you're not a fan of her either? She didn't make a good impression with us…"

He's playing for time because he knows he's in big, big trouble here. Those iron shackles make it REALLY hard to move.

"There it is…" Nightmare reaches out and rips Koa's beast from him. Letting the astral projection hang in front of him. "You'll do nicely, won't you…" he says to the shark / wolf thing. "Let me show you what happens to things that intrude on my domain and interfere with my business."

He sounds so reasonable as he gestures again forming a small slim figure just in front of the creature. He knows that figure. The beast does. He hungers for her essence. Dark haired and heavily tattooed, Nightmare dangles the image of Keiko Kurita in front of the astral being.

"Isn't she … delicious …"

Koa SCREAMS when his astral self is ripped from him. Because this is a dream rather than collapsing downward he hangs in the air, arms and legs taut as if he were chained, which he probably will be in a moment. His arm burns. And there are glowing orange marks on the right arm of the astral self as well. Lines where power seems to have seared it.

Koa's beast growls. Or rather, Koa growls. He can feel his heart pounding in his ears despite the fact that it's ten feet behind him. The rush of all the power he's absorbed hits him like a truck and he struggles for freedom of movement in vain.

Keiko. She IS delicious. He's tasted her before. Her very soul. He growls again, fangs shown beneath his lip. Serrated teeth, sharp and knifelike. He'd very nearly taken another chunk out of her a week ago. And he'd so like a taste now.

Koa shakes his head. His will asserts itself, battered and shredded as it is right now. "Nice try. But she's beyond either of our reach…"

He's trying. He's fighting. But he's hurting. He's longs for power. He hasn't had a proper sleep in days.

But he still fights.

As Koa screams the chains close on the cuffs, drawing him taut and holding him there. "No, she isn't. She's well within your reach. But how about this …" The dark haired child appears beside her. "If the mother tastes good, what must a child born to her and Limbo taste like? All that power. And her …"

Keiko walks to where the shark wolf stands, tilting her head and offering her throat to him.

"So much corruption. She's got more power now. Power you can eat … "

As Nightmare talks, Koa can feel him trying to bleed the power from him. Making him hurt.

Elena… is probably also delicious. The Astral Beast's jaw half opens and he looks down at Kieko. Or, well, the image of Keiko. He can feel the power draining away and he is SO. DAMN. HUNGRY. He needs more. And she has it. Delicious, dark power of the kind he would never normally take but would feel so good…

And then the man in green suggests eating the child and Koa's eyes narrow. No. Too far. Even the predator that is Koa would not do that. Consuming Keiko from the inside out and leaving her a lifeless, hollowed husk is tempting. But the kid?

That's enough to snap him back. A bit. His head comes up and he SNARLS his refusal.

It's an act of defiance. Possibly a stupid one. Koa is at this creature's mercy. And there are so many ways to make him hurt. He's such a wreck right now. Physical pain is just the start. He could be emptied of power. Or stuffed full of it. He could be subjected to his worst fears. Or given the things he wants most, only to have them ripped away from him. Possibly… by his own hand.

"It's just a dream…" He mutters to himself. But is it?

And even if it is, what might be sent back with him?

"Good, good…" Nightmare smiles, straightening in his throne as he takes up Elena and sits in his lap. A hand smooths over that dark glossy mass of hair and down her back, before settling about the childs throat. "Eat from her or I'll kill the child."

Is it just a dream? Or is this real. The feeling of the iron about his wrists and ankles is real enough.

If he breathes in, he can smell the light fragrance of the spirit caller - she never was one for frilly body products. And he can feel her power call to him.

Worst nightmares? Could he take the soul of his friend to save her child?

Koa runs his tongue over his fangs, thinking. It's REALLY hard to think with the pain of being held both physically and astrally is pretty severe and the ache in his spirit is equally distracting. The hunger drives him. Urges him. Just one bite. Just one bite is all it will take. Does he think this being is bluffing? Does he dare take the chance that it might do something to Piotr and Keiko's child?

Does he dare take the chance that doing something to Keiko here will do something in the real world? And what would it do to him to consume a friend, even in dreams?

Too many questions. Not enough answers. This is often Koa's life. Just… not in this particular way. Not with seemingly everything on the line.

He looks right at Nightmare, not knowing who or what he is. Only that he's powerful. "No…" He finally says. "Do what you will to me, I'll not dance for your amusement."

How long can he keep giving those kinds of answers? Not long. But right now there's still enough of Koa left to summon up the reserves he needs to snarl and spit defiance.

"Strong. I like a challenge." Nightmares hand twists on Elena's neck. There's an audible snap and the child sags like a rag doll. The green clad man lets the body fall to the ground. Dead. Elena is dead.

Koa can feel the pressure on him forcing to accept that as truth.

Keiko is next. A ring forms on that collar she wears, a leash connecting to it, drawing her back to the throne. "I'll keep her as pet, seeing you didn't want her."

Nightmares dark eyes glitter as the shark wolf snarls and spits. He's been drained a lot by now and the Splinter Lord smiles cruelly. "Here's a gift for you …"

His hand is held out and Koa is flooded with his power.


This time more of it.

"I think… you may find… you have bigger problems than me… if you try that…" Koa grits his teeth. "Besides. She didn't loose your daughter. I did…"

Elena is dead. Dead because Koa wouldn't play this game. Just one bite and he could have spared them all. She wouldn't have missed it. She can barely feel her soul as it is.

Koa shakes his head, trying to shake the force of the dream pressing on him to accept the reality of it. It's working. Koa doesn't have that kind of mental wherewithal anymore. He keeps pushing it back, pushing it off, but it always comes back, weighing down on him like the chains on his arms, on his ankles, on his neck.

And then Koa can't think anything it all. His world goes blank with the rush of being pumped full of magic. And the agony of it. Both his physical and astral self lift their heads, arch their backs and scream. His right arm sizzles and cooks again. As does his neck. His eyes shoot out beams of light - not simply glowing but projecting like a spotlight.

Koa thought that consuming that collar was bad. This feels worse. And better. Both at the same time. The rush is surreal, but the pain is hellish. His mind isn't made to handle this. His body DEFINTIELY isn't. It feels like rather than pulling from that fetter to the dream realm, he IS the fetter. And he's being charged up.

The power burns through him. Any injuries he had are magnified, any control he developed is shattered. Koa thought he could just let the power burn off - he might have been right, except that now he's filled right up again.

It seems to go on forever. "We will meet again you and I." Nightmare is saying though Koa might not be able to hear him. "I like this game and you have my daughter…"

"Koa, Koa…" He's being shaken awake in his apartment. He recognises that voice, the feel of the hand. The taste of her soul. "Koa. Wake up… you're dreaming." It's Keiko and when he opens his eyes, she looks pained and pale.

How the hell did she get in.

Koa snaps awake with something that's a cross between a snarl and a pained cry. His eyes light up deep forest green and his arm (and neck) are smoking. His arm kind of smells like… barbque. Again.

His eyes fix on Keiko and she can see him touch a tongue to one of his canines as he eyes her. There's a hint of his astral self for just a moment, almost pushing through before Koa pitches off the couch to land on his hand and knees.

And then he wretches and spasms. "Keiko…" His voice is rough, as if he had been screaming for hours. Or… growling. "… the hell did you get in here?"

Beat. "Is… Elena alright?"

The skin around the collar that's melded to Keiko is red and raw, there seems to be slight blistering. She doesn't move when he looks at her like prey, following him to the ground, holding his head as he wretches. "I will take some, Koa." that strange way she has of talking. Asking questions by telling him what she'll do.

"Through the window." She answers. He'll need to call a glacier, there's glass fragments everywhere where something come through it. Probably Bella.

"Elena is with her father. He would not harm her." The answer, Agent Turner, is yes. Her daughter is fine and with the father.

"You were dreaming."

"You can't…" Koa wretches again. He feels ill. And he feels wonderful. And everything hurts. Such a range of things, really and none of them good. Even the pleasant feelings are worrying. He's full of power again. Full to bursting and past that. It's going to take days for this to burn off. And that thing can find him again…

"I'd have to push it into you and I really, really can't…" He can pull it. He can use it. Moving it around other than that is a little bit tricky.

"Dreaming… is way too…" Wretch. "Nice a word…"

Koa finally leans against the side of the couch, eyes closed, shaking. "How did you know? Were you… coming here for something?"

Or does it have to do with that collar? The metal in Koa's neck feels hot and his skin is similarly red and raw.

"I can take it. I can feel it." Keiko mutters, shifting so he can lean against her once he settles. "I felt your pain. It was immense." No weakness from Keiko but if she's saying it was immense it had to be bad. "My collar. Your collar. I knew." her fingers feather over that shark tooth pattering.

This is going to be awkward to explain to Piotr. The big man is trying so hard to make things work between them. At least she can recognise that, now.

"Not a dream. Nightmare. A real one." She's got the gist of some of it. "We are broken, Koa."

"Not yet." Koa says as a full body shudder races up his spine. He's got a big problem right now and the last thing he wants to do is draw it to any of the four people he recently pulled out of another dimension. That might be somewhat unavoidable but he'll give it is best shot.

How long, he wonders, before that thing comes back. One thing is certain, he's going to be having a lot more nightmares being full of power once again.

"Okay. Maybe a little broken. But not broken enough to just roll over…" He takes a deep breath and lets it out.

"You got here fast." His voice is steadier but that's a bit deceptive. He's struggling internally to maintain even the barest shreds of the control he needs.

Keiko tugs the man to lean against her. She thinks she knows what he's thinking. "They call me frustratingly stubborn, when they see you they'll say you've been taking lessons." It's not unemotional but it's close.

"Never enough to roll over, but broken." The next question gets a snort. "Onyxia flies fast and Bella is strong. Living in Limbo, you learn to be quick. Those that aren't usually die."

She's not going to go anywhere right now. She'll make sure Koa is settled before going to her find … her King. How long will it be before she stops thinking of Piotr like that?

While it's definitely nice to have someone here, that person being Keiko is especially rough on Koa right now. Because he had been specifically tempted to take a bite out of her and despite being gorged on power AGAIN, that temptation is very strong. His control is in absolute tatters. It's all he can do not to just turn and project himself.

"You are frustratingly stubborn." Koa says with a sharp, breathless laugh. "But I suppose it kept you alive." Is it keeping Koa alive? In a way yes. But in other ways it's also killing him.

"I'll be okay. Just… aftereffects from the rescue."

That is technically true. "But thank you. For waking me up."

"Me, my daughter and Piotr." Keiko agrees. It might also be killing her. "It isn't, you know that but you continue to believe it." she challenges. "I will go to SHIELD if it doesn't improve."

She's challenging him and she knows it. But it's for his own good.

The thank you gets a snort, as the tattooed woman lets him lean against her. "I would do it again and not going anywhere just now."

He'll have to try a lot harder to get rid of her. Frustratingly stubborn but incredibly, incredibly loyal.

He doesn't try very hard to get rid of her, though he's also not very entertaining. He simply lets her be there which she is for some hours while he tries to get his bearings and control. In truth he's rattled enough that the company is comforting even if this particular company is… someone he very much wants to kill.

And that's a kind of horrifying thought all around.

Hours later, though, when Keiko is finally drawn away by her own life and her own problems Koa goes into his room, powers the privacy wards, slumps down against the wall and buries his head in his knees.

This… this is going to be a very, very big problem.

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