2019-12-10 - Into the Abyss


What was meant to be a security job turns into a four year tour in another dimension.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Dec 10 04:11:31 2019
Location: RP Room 1

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Theme Song



Day 1.

As far as contracts go they don't get any easier. Some guy going by the name 'Mallovoy' had been looking for a small number of individuals to go out to a remote facility outside of New York City to park their butts in the back of an armored vehicle and make sure that the cargo reaches its destination. There's no mention of expected resistance or complications, simply warm the bench for a roadtrip with their equipment of choice then get paid.

Had there of been fine print it would have been a very long read.

The journey begins in an underground building with the vehicle in question parked in the center of what sure looks like a giant lift. Everything's loaded in, including five others whom had signed up for the job. The usual testosterone-fueled grunts make up half of the team while some tattooed lady with brown hair and an honest to god albino gal make up the rest.

There are also guns. Plenty of guns are generously spread out across the team. Someone had the bright idea to call the motley crue 'Stormwatch.' Despite some eyerolling the designation stuck.

It isn't long before the 'lift' proves to be something much different and infinitely more complex. Arcs of lightning dance across the room, the ground thrummed with power, then the truck and everything inside start to fall.

The good news is the plummeting doesn't last long. The truck hits the ground hard and immediately lists to one side before tumbling down a steep hill, gaining momentum before slamming to a halt with a hollow *KLUNG*.

Then comes the sound of groaning metal, seemingly coming from all the way around the vehicle. Those inside are yelling and trying to right themselves. One of the grunts forces the rear door open and is almost immediately yanked out in a spray of blood by -something- with exceptionally long talons, his agonized howls rapidly growing faint as he's carried away.

The cool recirculated air of the facility is replaced with a stifling hot blast. Dark blues and greys give way to bright oranges and reds outside. Steel and concrete are replaced with a fine crimson-hued sand twenty-some feet below. Blue lightning has turned into pink arcs flickering amongst sickly colored clouds. And the thrumming of machinery?

That's been replaced with a rib-rattling shriek as some great beast tries to crush the truck like a can.


Thea, or "River" for this particular mission, had shown up in simple black military tac gear. Bright copper hair was braided back tight, and she definitely had RBF - Resting Bitch Face. It generally keeps testosterone - fueled lunkheads a little more wary. She's got a tightly strapped backpack, which she doesn't open once she's joined the group, along with a couple visible firearms.
She had settled with her back to the side of the truck, carefully watching each of the others that had been hired. The call for the job had come on her encrypted phone, but this was not the usual call she got. Delivery insurance was not something one generally needs her skills for, but.. it's easy money and she's been feeling restless lately, wondering if she did the right thing by no longer taking contracts out. Maybe this will scratch that itch. Surely Peter can't be too mad if she's paid to guard cargo - even if it's probably a shady deal.
When everything starts into a freefall, Thea can feel the air trap itself in her lungs a moment. She's felt plummeting speeds before, she rides around with Spider-Man, she's felt all sorts of weird physics. But there's no web-line to swing this up - She starts to barely crouch, trying to find a hand grip on the side of the truck. She's knocked down, wind out of her lungs when the truck hits, holding on to herself as they tumble down a hill.
She checked herself first, getting to her feet. "Anyone…" Before she can finish the question, the grunt disappears in a spray of blood. "Okay, who is hurt?" She snaps it out like a drill sargeant, as she lets her powers take over, to view the bodies around her. "We need to move, so if you're hurt, say so now so you can be taken care of."


The driver and passenger are still present up front, Grunt #2 and Tattoos, but there's an armored wall separating them from the cargo area. It's uncertain if they've heard Thea's call to assist. Grunt #3 is still in the back, as is that pasty white lady who's got a hand to the side of her head. No obvious blood so far but she must have gotten clocked during the tumble.

The yelling up front quickly turns frantic before a crack of reinforced glass sounds out, immediately silencing Tattoo's cries and striking the inner cargo wall with enough force to dent it inward. Down to four.

Grunt #3 has his rifle ready, yelling "Let's do this!" before throwing himself out of the back, yelling bloody murder and shooting off quick bursts of automatic fire. He seems more intent on playing the hero than worrying about the cut over his right brow!

Thea and the white skinned lady are the only two left in the back. Outside there's a lot more unearthly shrieking as if a flock of -something- nasty has started to surround the truck. On the inside the frame is starting to give, the crushing force too great to resist.

It's the albino who calls out "I'm right behind you, go!"

Before she can brace herself and open fire the center of the truck fails with a heavy crunch, causing the whole thing to tilt…and dumping out everything in the back including the albino.

Outside the sandy red hill continues downward. Creatures akin to giant mosquitos are buzzing around the scene. The truck is suspended in the air by what look like massive brown vines coming off of some monstrous creation with numerous tooth-filled pod mouths.

One of the vines lashes out at Grunt #3 at the same moment that one of the flying creatures makes a move for him, the two forces so violently clashing for the same prize that the man gets ripped in half. Down to three.

The White Lady's struggling to keep her balance while taking shots at the flying beasts, trying to cover herself and Thea. "What the hell is this?! We're sitting ducks out here!"

Some immediate shelter might be had a short ways further down in what looks suspiciously like a massive ribcage sticking out of the ground…


Thea doesn't even bother to try and stop Grunt #3 - if he wants to be stupid, that's on him. She's not emotionally investing in stupidity, or in any other way, come to that. Thea nods, hand pulling a gun from a holster as she slips off the back of the truck, moving to skid down the sandy hill. She's got her eyes peeled, checking all directions, and letting her powers see if she can find the biosigns of the monsters around them. If she can, maybe she can cause something interesting.
"Run. That might be a place to duck and cover for a moment! I can handle the cover fire!" Because Thea's done something dumb, like telling herself she has to ask a person's okay to heal them - barring unconsciousness and the like. She will turn, other hand finding her left hand, so she can aim both - first at the flying monster that's closer than she'd ever like.


Bullets stop the winged creatures but they're really tricky to hit! The one that had its eyes on Thea comes darting forward looking like it's lining up to impale her through the sternum before it gets peppered with handgun rounds. The critter veers off course at the last second and hits the sand, tumbling away.

The albino doesn't need to be told twice to run, digging deep furrows into the loose ground while rushing toward—yeah, that's totally a giant ribcage. Some manner of sentence is being rapidly repeated from her, probably a mantra of someone who is either furious or questioning her own sanity.

With the truck dead and gone and most of its goods having spilled out the vines release the remains, the ruined vehicle hitting the ground with a large plume of dust. Moments later Grunt #1 falls out onto his back and is immediately set upon by four more flying creatures, ending his involvement with an abruptly silenced cry. Down to two.

Nearby Thea are the scattered remains of one of the crates they had been meant to protect. Rather than some expensive piece of equipment it had been filled with rations, canteens, and weapons… The area's far too hot to go rooting around for supplies. Both flying critters and the massive plant thing now only have two intruders left to focus on, but those flyers? There's blood running through their veins.

Between the echos of rifle shots Whitey's soon calling back "Hurry up, it's not safe here!"


Thea does note the supplies, it's just time to clear the field, first. She can do that if they can find some cover. One gun is holstered, as she focuses on a flyer. Her empty hand will clench in a fist, as she starts to push the blood to the extremities of the creature. Here's hoping the heart or anything else vital is now being starved of the blood they need to run.
"Get cover. We need to clear it out, there's supplies in that crate! If we can take out the flyers, we should be able to run some retrieval! "


The response given is "What, are you crazy?! What about Little Shop of Horrors!"

The plant beast doesn't seem capable of uprooting itself but it's close enough to be a cause for concern. The flyers, while numerous, are individually pretty easy to stop. The one which Thea's power lashes out at causes the bug to wobble back and forth as if it were drunk before careening off and striking the side of the ruined truck with enough force to pop it like a melon, leaving behind a large splotch of gore.

Some of the others take notice, drawn toward the fresh kill. There's no honor amongst their kind, it would seem.

"Ah shit we're making a stand" the other woman hisses while digging in behind one of the massive bleached ribs and taking aim. Another shot from the rifle gets a lucky strike, the slug punching through one flyer then the one behind it..and a third one further away from them both.

Holding their ground is a risky proposition but if they can survive the payout might make all the difference.

"If we have to do this one at a time we're gonna be here forever! Hey, can you get these bastards to go after the plant thing?"


There's only a tiny bit of thrill when her targeted flyer crashes and burns. She'll turn once she's at the ribcage, before she'll glance at the albino. "What do I look like? The Monster whisperer?" Now is *totally* the time for sarcasm.
"You can save your ammo. I can take them out without it." Thea explains, kneeling in the sand. If she's going to try and use her powers on a pack of them, it's better to not be standing. Gun in one hand, she takes a deep breath before her head tips back just a bit. She just lets loose, grabbing the systems of several of the flyers at once. She can make them hungry, and using some tugs at their bloodstreams, she can try to disorient them to send them towards the giant nightmare Audrey II wishes she was.


"Hey, after what you did to that last one… That -was- you, wasn't it?"

And of equal importance… She can -save- her ammo? But everything's going to hell in a handbasket and—what on earth is happening to those flying things?

The pale one's about ready to shoot at another when it seems to up and lose interest in the two. Slowly her rifle lowers before she turns to give Thea -such- a look.

"Yeah. Hi, Monster Whisperer. I'm Domino. Whatever it is that you're doing, keep doing it."

Seriously, what..? The rest of the team just got annihilated, their only vehicle is a sad sorry wreck, they're ankle deep in scalding hot sand standing inside of a whale-sized ribcage and this gal just flipped a switch somewhere and put an end to their fight?

"Lady, I don't know who you are but you're not leaving my sight. I—" The next thought trails off as her mind only now has a chance to start catching up. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. I mean seriously. This?" She raps the barrel against one of the two story tall ribs. "This is a freaking -rib.- Ribs don't grow like this."

A short distance away giant brown tendrils are whipping through the air while dozens of wolf-sized bugs zip and dart to safety when not dive-bombing the hellplant.


"Yes, it was me." Thea says, but her voice is almost robotic, without any sass or sarcasm. Of course, she is a little busy at the moment. "Thea. If we're going to be stuck in this hell together, you should call me Thea." There's the barest dart of a look at Domino. "Less syllables."
"Thea, like I said. Not a monster whisperer, not telepathic. Made them hungry and sent them at the plant. Biokinetic." There's a snort. "I'm very aware it's a rib. I've had extensive biology studies and training. And they grew like that for like a brontasaurus or something."
There's a swallow, and her gun lifts. "Listen. I will keep them busy with each other, if you go raid that broken case. When I'm pulling on multiple circulatory systems, it's sometimes better I stay stationary."


"Oh you're gonna be a load of fun" Domino grumbles with an eyeroll for effect. "Last I heard dinos weren't a known threat so forgive me for skipping that day."

Still, she can't argue the results… It's still a fight to the death out there but with the metahumans no longer on the immediate menu. A cautious glance is soon returned to Thea. "You gonna be okay by yourself? There could be something more that we aren't seeing."

But… -Guns.- Supplies. Much needed water! The air around here is like trying to breathe the fumes from a blast furnace, it isn't likely going to have a lot of water. Thea's right. They can work out where they are later. Right now their eyes need to be on the prize.

Dom glances out to the scattered supplies then back to Thea. This time no words follow before she starts fighting her way up the steep, slippery incline.

"Ah—dammit! Next time the fingerless gloves stay home…"

The endless buzzing, shrieking and roaring doesn't make for a serene backdrop but at least they're all occupied somewhere else. What would have easily been a half hour effort is cut down to just shy of ten minutes, the albino using a broken section of the crate as a sled to haul necessities to relative safety. She's still looking distracted.

"All of the radio equipment was in the truck. I don't—where did we even -come from?- How are we supposed to get back?" An angry flick of a hand motions toward a box full of rations. "Mallovoy friggin' set us up, he KNEW we would be stuck here."


"Fun is for later. Right now, serious me is probably a better choice." Thea can't help the hint of a smirk. "I'll be fine on my own. I can still shoot if I have to."
Thea keeps a part of an eye, so to speak, on Domino too, to make sure she's all right. She only stops worrying about the albino when she's back with her improvised sled. "The question is, WHY would he have sent us here? What's the end game? And you said it. We're not in Kansas anymore. From the look of this ribcage, we're not on the plane we knows as Earth, anymore."


Domino rearranges some of the supplies enough that she can take a seat right on top of them all, wiping sweat off of her forehead. "Never jumped out of a plane like this before," she dryly mutters. "I've seen some pretty crazy stuff but do you really think that we're not…" She trails off while looking around with wide eyes.

The off-colored lightning in the even more off-colored sky, the rust hued sand, the ribs, the creatures, an erupting volcano in the distance… None of it is particularly Earth-like.

"This is Hell" she decides with a snort. "Like absolute stereotypical fire and freaking brimstone -Hell.- I am so confused. This place isn't supposed to exist, right? Does this mean there's also a heaven? Am I..seriously about to lose it. Okay."

A moment is taken with her face coming to rest within her hands. When they drop back down she's got orange colored stains across her face from where the dust and sweat mixed together. "I think we were meant to be the scouting party. They must have found the door and the key but no one wanted to be the first to go through. Jeezus, and we're a third of the team. Now what."

A wary glance is cast back up the hill to the feuding locals. "We need to get out of the open. Grab whatever you can. Underground is probably the best place. I'm thinking…there…ish," she motions with a dip of her head to where sand starts to give way to rough rock formations.


"It does appear to be some sort of hell." There's a smirk, at the mention of there being a heaven or hell. "I stopped believing a long time ago in religion. I don't believe in a true heaven or hell. Of course, if I did, well me being in hell would be appropriate."
There's a couple of snaps, as Thea slides out of her pack. She will loosen the side straps to expand the interior space, before she will start packing supplies in a neat, tetris winning manner. "Anything away from the plant that saw too many hentai movies sounds like a start."


"Likewise, but I'm not feeling terribly inspired to give this craphole a better name."

There's some concern in trying to carry too much with how soft the ground is. It's already tough going without the extra kit. Dom gathers as much as she can manage without running the risk of falling over with each step. It's not nearly as much as she would have liked to carry but the ribcage should provide a decent marker if they ever need to come back for more.

"Yeah, that'll definitely be a good start. Hey, aren't you at least a little freaked out here?" she presses while checking the rounds in her rifle's mag. "I'm starting to think you're half Vulcan. There is -no part- of this that doesn't suck."

"I mean, I've been trained to survive in all sorts of hostile climates but those were all in -another damned dimension- or whatever. This isn't a time where we can look at the moss growing on a tree or follow the north star." Both hands come out then drop back to her sides. "I've got nothing. I'll be trying to make sense of our situation days from now. I've got…NOTHING."


Thea has run on sand before, loaded down. She's learned a lot of things most young women her age would never have dreamed of. She will glance at the flyers, not yet daring to let them out of her control.
"Don't be silly. Vulcans don't make jokes." There's that smirk again, as she shrugs into the filled pack, settling it and securing the extra web belt around herself. "This all sucks harder than a prostitute at a frat party, sure. I'll freak out later, when we figure shit out, and have some time and safety to freak out in."
She rises to her feet. "I've been taught to live in the desert, I've been through monsoons and all sorts of crap, all over Earth. I've got nothing to work on in this puzzle yet, but if I freak out, I'll end up like the guys charging out of the truck into hell." She dusts off her knees, before she's turning to head for their agreed on spot. The flyers? They'll all suddenly start to death spiral.


Everything which Thea has to say is given a quick response with another dash of sarcasm. "Oh good. So you are from the same species."

Freaking out later Domino can understand. Trudging through the sandbox with eighty pounds of gear she can also understand. The fineness of this particulate and the steep slopes feel more like climbing the dunes outside of Dubai but it's the oppressive heat radiating from the reddish hued granules which transforms bad conditions into horrible ones.

Trying to think too hard about where all of the heat came from might not be a good choice, either. There's nothing masquerading as a sun overhead. Just angry clouds and -red- as far as can be seen.

By the time they reach the rocks a powerful windstorm has turned the Mars-like landscape into an endless sandblast. Dom's face is looking pretty raw once a small cavern can be located, found more by sheer luck than anything else.

"Alright. Here we are," come her exhausted words while slumping back against the wall. "We should do a sweep then hunker down and check inventory."


"A medic must keep a level head in the field, Domino. If we fall to pieces, so does everyone else. Sometimes literally." Thea will say, with the faintest hint of a crisp British accent. Then she will fall silent, pondering on her own thoughts, as well as using her powers to try and keep herself alert to any possible threats coming their way.

Once they reach the little cavern, Thea will look at Domino again. If the redhead is tired, hurt, or scared, none of it shows. "You rest, I'll check it out." There's a tiny pen flashlight produced, turned on as Thea steps deeper into the unlit depths. From deeper within, her voice will echo. "All clear. Come get away from that wind. Then I'll take care of the whack to the head you took from the truck."


Day 26.

Supplies are running low. Ammo is almost completely out. Venturing outside has always been a risky proposition but in nearly a month's time the two displaced mercenaries have managed to recover a fair bit of gear from the ruined truck including some working comm gear. Domino had made numerous attempts to establish radio contact on the slim chance that something might get through but the last of the batteries had failed a few days ago with nothing to show for such efforts.

Survival has become increasingly demanding of them both. Whether they like it or not food can still be found, there seems to be no shortage of abominations roaming the crimson wasteland. Where water is concerned came a lucky break in the form of a sickly pink fog in the distance. Fog leads to moisture and moisture led them to something akin to a swamp.

Beneath the haze is a barren marshland with standing pools of murky water amidst a field of softened clay. Making progress here isn't easy but if it provides an opportunity to fill the canteens…

It's still going to require a hell of a lot of boiling later.

"I don't think anyone's coming for us," Domino quietly says while scanning the limited horizon through the sight on her rifle. She's dropped to one knee and already most of that leg has disappeared within the clay from the thigh down. The gun itself has been repurposed, bits of material scrapped from the wreckage bound to the receiver with spools of wire. Lately it's been seeing more use as a crude spear than a firearm.

"Looks clear. You sensing anything?"

There is some life out there but if they don't make too much noise then they -should- be alright… Compared to everywhere else they've been this area seems eerily calm and muted.


Thea glances at her co-hort, bound together by fate. Still, they've managed fairly well, even if they're not exactly best pals. She's tired, in a way she's only been once or twice before in her life. She's using her powers every day now, and there's never enough time to recharge. She's been more and more grim, her mood darker as the days go on.

She looks at the canteen she's filling with a grimace. Boiled water just lacks something, even if this water obviously needs to be boiled half to death to make it potable. Still, they're making do on what they've got. That's all they can do.

"I doubt most people even have any idea what could have possibly gone awry, to even be able to come get us." Thea responds in a near monotone, as she switches from one canteen to another to fill. "There's a bit here and there, but they're not paying us any attention, so if we don't make a ruckus we should be all right." There's never any promises, though.


With a bit of reluctance the rifle finds its way across the albino's back but when she tries to stand the one leg remains stuck and she tips over into the sludge. "God—! Eugh, I'm fine," she automatically waves off any concern which may or may not be forthcoming from Thea. It causes some of the sticky goop to slough off of her hand and plop into the shallows. "I -hate- this place," she seethes. "Gonna take forever to get this shit out of my guns."

"So…I've been thinking," she switches back to a more conversational tone while turning around and pulling her leg free with a fantastic sucking sound. "There's gotta be an exit somewhere. I don't believe a place like this can exist with a way in and no way out. I don't know what it might look like or how we might find it but we barely have any gear left to lug around. I say we pick a direction and fucking go for it. What do we have to lose, right?"

"So we…FIND…this exit," Dom grunts while pulling her -other- leg out of the muck, "-hope- we wind up back in the right dimension..then I'm gonna find Mallovoy and burn the whole damn thing to cinders. Whatcha think? Want in on a little targeted murder? 'Cause it's gonna be -great-" she promises with something akin to a feral growl at the last word.

If Thea's still looking out for signs of life those distant pings are on the move. Approaching. Maybe they sensed something other than noise?


Thea was capping the canteen when Domino fell over, but her hand hadn't even the chance to be offered before Dom was waving off any support. Thea takes the last of the canteens to fill, as she listens to her compatriot. "Definitely hate this place. Bad yelp reviews as soon as I get somewhere with power and signal." It's a weak joke, but what do they have to joke about these days?

There's a nod, a shrug at her plan. "Picking one direction until we have to turn left or right works. Maybe we'll get lucky like Bugs Bunny, though this sure as hell isn't Albequerque." There's a long pause, as Thea watches the canteen. "I'm all for payback. Can you let me torture him first? I'm really good at it." It's still all in conversational tone.

Her head tilts, as if she's listening for something. "Time to go. We need to find cover, at least. What is out there is coming this way."


Torture? "Yeah, sure. Knock yourself out. Maybe we can trade tips." In that situation it may be more literal. 'Here, try this knife out!' The idea brings a grim smirk to Domino's face. It may never come to pass but the mere idea is something worth holding onto. Something to keep pushing her forward when things get even worse for them both.

Time to go? "Did we get all of them filled? I don't…"

Splashing. Something moving through water. It's getting close. -Fast.-

"Ah shit we've been clocked—"

It's one creature to start, a black speck which launches forward from the thick fog. Broad paddle-like feet help it to traverse the difficult terrain while a sleek black skin makes any details difficult to discern. It might almost look like a giant newt if not for the way its entire snout splits open to reveal three 'petals' all full of short spiked teeth.

Domino's not going to have her weapon brought around in time.


The best course of action for Dom is to simply fall over into the slop again as the creature lunges forward, clearing the pale mutant before going right for the other woman.


"We got all but one filled, and that's at half. I'll take half rations, but we got to move." Thea's trying to get moving, though through the clay muck it's like trying to walk through cement.

"Don't pay attention to me. Move, damnit!" Maybe Thea was a drill sargeant in a previous life. She's got her pack attached, heavy with the filled canteens. There is no way she can run in this, and the water is too precious to give up.

Instead, Thea stops, turning even as she draws her longest K-Bar style knife. She'll meet that lunge by trying to just take the damn thing's head off.


Some creatures hiss. Some shriek. This one howls and it's nothing like any sound which might come from a hound or a wolf. Its entire head is practically mouth and it seems to use this to good effect!

It also has a really slippery and tough hide, made all the more apparent as the beast slams into Thea and gets tangled up with her and her pack. Those deranged toothy pedals flick and lash about as they try to stick themselves to her shoulders and head. Its breath is something born of nightmares.

Thea has an edge above it, though. Powering through this terrain requires a significant amount of strength, muscles which are generously fed by large arteries. Piercing its skin may be tough but she only has to do it once, and when she does…

It's a mess. An absolute hot -mess.- The creature goes absolutely berzerk in the sudden moment of so quickly bleeding out but their struggle bought the mercenaries some time.

Domino's idea on getting through its skin involves jumping and throwing all of her weight into the gunspear, catching the beast in its side then ripping the wound open on her way down.

There is SO MUCH BLOOD. It seeps into the clay and sticks to -everything.- There's also a slick, heavy body hitting the ground. Thea's going to get caught beneath it if she isn't careful!


There's another difference. Thea knows she's fighting for her life, and maybe even Domino's. Once that skin is pierced, it almost explodes in blood. Only once she's sure it's dead, stumbling away from the fall of its carcass, does she look at Domino.

Thea has looked better. Her hair is still braided, but a couple locks came loose, and now part of her face is doused with blood. "You okay?"


A single thumb comes pointing upward from the sludge and gore. "Peachy. Let's not do that again."

There's one more lifesign on Thea's radar. It might feel like another one of the newts but it's moving much slower than the first. Where the now dead critter seemed to have pinpointed the two this other one shuffles through the fog while making a peculiar snorting sound.

It sure looks like it's sniffing the air. Seconds later it stops with a low rumble which might be one of curiosity, the bulb-like head turning to 'face' the two.

Dom's raised hand shifts from a thumbs up to sign 'hold still.' Hopefully Thea notices. The albino can't tell, she's too busy staring at the approaching beast. Gore and ground ooze out between her fingers as the other hand grips her rifle tighter.

A closer look at the approaching newt shows those three petals rippling slightly with an idle growl, still closing in but doing so with a strange sense of caution. More like it's wary of a threat without realizing how close the threat might actually be.

Only when the newt is almost on top of them does its mouth open in a deep warbling grunt before it stops and seems to check its immediate surroundings. The damn thing's close enough for them to catch its stringy drool but it doesn't seem to notice them at all. Instead those pointed teeth all sink into the back haunch of the dead newt before yanking on the corpse, sliding it away from the two and deeper into the muck.

With an infinite slowness Domino turns to stare at Thea. Did they just learn something new..?


Domino hadn't had to warn the biokinetic who currently looks like a horror movie heroine, to go silent and stop moving. She's been looking out towards the encroaching creature, head tilting slightly. She's staring at it for a long moment, that knife barely moving an inch as it gets close.

She's about to lift the knife, to strike and try to kill it as she had the first, when it drags its dead fellow back out into the muck.

Her gaze meets Domino's, more than a little bewildered, and suspicious.


The living newt continues to drag the dead newt back into the mire. Maybe off to whatever counts as the creature's home. Now that the two foreign bodies have been removed there is a certain pungent odor which lingers. Domino experimentally goes to sniff at her bloodied hand and recoils in disgust.

"Jeezus!" gets hissed under her breath. "Like getting kicked in the face."

Regardless, something about it had worked to mask them both. A gob of blood-soaked clay is scooped out of the ground and stared at with an expression both of puzzlement and utter disgust. "I think we just found an equalizer," she thinks aloud before starting to chuckle. Then the chuckle turns into a quiet laugh. "Holy shit, Thea. Demon camouflage. It smells like ass but -we- might be able to start hunting -them.-"

Which is good! Because they're both going to need to keep eating.

The sludged up rifle is used as a brace to help pry herself free. She'll offer a hand to Thea if she happens to need one. There'll be some trial and error in their near future if Dom has anything to say about it!


Thea arches an eyebrow at Domino when she's sniffing at her hand, the redhead gesturing to her face. "Trust me, I'm well aware how bad it stinks. I can't wait to get washed…"

She goes silent as Domino goes on. "You think the fresh blood diguised our smell, or that because of the temperature of the stuff, they couldn't tell the difference between us and it? Because that second thing looked blind. "


The red-tainted albino slowly shakes her head. "I haven't the slightest idea, but you know what I -do- know? We kill a couple of these nasties, weaponize their innards, and try ourselves some field testing. I've seen what you can do to them with your power, if something goes sideways you can remotely shut 'em down." Domino pauses with a slight frown before adding "Yes, I'm offering to be the guinea pig. I might even survive the tests, especially with you watching my back."

While she's voicing her thoughts a spare rifle magazine is removed from her gear and emptied of its very few bullets. Those get stuffed into a pocket. She's more interested in disassembling the mag itself, pulling the coil spring out in order to make more space that she can scoop the bloodied clay into. It's not an ideal container but with the thicker consistency it should hold well enough.

"One way or another we're taking this to the next level. I'm not dying in this place."


Thea will fall silent, watching Domino. She lets the other woman's spark of excitment flare in her language, as Thea slides her knife home. She'll have to clean it later.

Eventually, she'll speak. "So you want to smear yourself with blood and clay and stake yourself out as bait?" Thea asks, every word sharply annunciated. "I'm flattered you have so much faith in my powers, but what if we run into something I can't kill with them?" She hates to be the buzzkill, but she will not have the albino's death on her hands.


Domino blinks. "Whoa, hey. I never said anything about -bait.- I intend to -hunt- these things. Look, we start small scale. Remember those weird gremlin-looking things from about a week ago? They were fairly tame." Again she pauses, looking off to one side while bobbing her head a little. "Sssomewhat…"

Then shaking her head, "I'm tired of -us- always being on the run, Thea. We need to figure out how we can meet more of these threats head-on and that's going to involve taking some risks. I can't do this without you. We'll play it as smart as we're able to. Alright? It would be stupid of us to forget about this intel."


"Good. Because that would be dumb, and we both need to be anything but dumb right now. I just.. I don't like the idea of someone else being point, guinea pig, whatever. I'm used to being the one who does the stupid shit solo, without backup. Most of my career." Which is you look at her, can't have been that long a time, could it?

"Two is one, and one is none. And I've been none too many times. We have to stick together. Promise me you won't get a wild hair with this idea and go off too hard on it."


Domino takes the moment to wipe the sludge off of her face as Thea speaks, which turns out to be helpful as in another moment she's going to be staring back at Thea because of what she says.

"Wait..I'm sorry. -You're- used to taking point and doing stupid shit solo? Because that is -absolutely- my M.O. Hah! Oh god, leave it to us to end up stranded alongside like-minded crazy!"

Not that she looks all that old, either! Maybe they both got a head start into this game?

"See, after you go and make an admission like that it's gonna take a promise going both ways."

Turning to directly face Thea, Dom drops both of her hands onto the other woman's shoulders with a spatter of mud. "If we do crazy stupid then we do it together. You may be a pain the ass sometimes but you're still way better company than anything else I've seen around here, and you're not about to get rid of me that easily. We're gettin' through this, girl. You and all of your drill-sergeanty ways."


Thea's eyebrows lift.. well, one does. The other struggles against trying blood. "Generally assassins work alone, so yes, I was taking point and doing all the stupid shit solo. It's what I was trained for. It's only recently that I've had any sort of team to have to work with. Which comes with its own headaches, believe you me."

Thea's look is the look of a society woman who has been insulted, almost looking down her nose. "Do I strike you as wanting to do anything crazy? I want to live long enough to get out of here, just like you do."

Thea tenses minimally at the drop of hands on her shoulders, jaw clenching. She's still not used to people being close and touching, no matter that Peter does it all the time. "You're not exactly peaches and champagne yourself, you know. And that's how I was trained. I was drilled. You took the orders and you did your job. I guess that's kicked in."


The tension which builds up in Thea's shoulders is noticed. She probably would have reacted the same way.

For a time Dom's hands stay right where they are, keeping that bit of connection along with the uninterrupted eye contact. They've been stuck out here for nearly a month simply trying to get by, there hadn't been many opportunities to actually -talk.- She shouldn't be all that surprised that they share a fair bit in common, it takes a certain mindset to draw someone to the mercenary life, but it's certainly nice to know more about who she's working with.

"I suppose that's one place where we differ. I had the same training, though I balked like hell at it toward the end. Wound up turning into a defiant little ball of trouble and somehow learned to make the chaos work for me. Still not entirely sure how to explain it but I have a knack for making things work out in my favor. And..hey. Since it doesn't seem likely that we have to hide behind any codenames, Neena works too."

A thin, lopsided smile is offered here before her hands drift away, now keeping themselves content with scraping goo off of her arms.

"This is gonna go counter to you wanting my promise not to do crazy shit but you need to know that it is going to happen. It helps trigger my party trick. I can't expect you to do all of the heavy lifting around here. Just keep in mind that I'm as unflinchingly determined to survive this as you are."


There's a laugh, when Domino admits to becoming a little ball of chaos. "It took me three years. Three years of him training me, then isolating me, being my only connection to the outside world… which was on the other side of the world from my father and family. But my father sent me to him, so.." There's a half shrug when Dom's hands drop. "I waited for him to leave the little house he had me at, in the middle of legit nowhere. I packed a rucksack and left him a note telling me if he came after me, I would kill him. Slowly and painfully. By then, of course, he knew I could do it and he'd never get a shot off, let alone close enough to hit me. I hit the road, travelled the world, and rather than being his slave, was my own master."

"Neena, then. Thea /is/ my name. Codename was River. So.." Another shrug, as she watches the albino. "Your party trick. Like that first day we dropped into this shit hole, and you nailed three of those flyers with one shot? Things like that, that happen when everything starts to go sideways?"


Neena looks impressed. "You learned all of that in three years? I'd say you're in a better place without that tool but you're kinda stuck in Hell with me, so…" she trails off with a good humored smirk. "He's lucky to have been given the choice."

It's always easier for her talking about someone else's past and personal details than getting into her own. It's probably obvious to Thea that she's not anxious to go there. "'River.' Like the river of blood you leave in your wake, I'm guessing."

Following this is an impish grin. "You saw that, huh. Yeah. Things like that. You ever have someone point a gun at your face and pull the trigger only to have it misfire? For me a one in a million shot has a one in ten chance of happening. I have better odds of survival by running head-first into the fight rather than diving for cover. It's not an exact science. Sometimes it backfires something serious. Just another roll of the dice."


"That was all I had. All day long, but for quick meals and a couple hours for schoolwork. I've always been good at languages, but these guys… they were all specialists. It's easy to learn when it's all you have to do. I spent the first two and a half years at a compound. Other mutants, all with training. That's how I learned it all.

There's a snort. "No. It's from an old sci-fi one of the guys loved. The girl has a line "I can kill you with my brain." ..so they all thought it was funnier than hell to nickname me River. But my kills tend to be pretty bloodless, really. They look like heart attacks, strokes, aortic embolism, blah blah blah."

"Of course I saw that. I'm trained to observe. It's how I've gone without ever being caught." There's a chuckle. "I don't need a misfire. I can make it so they can't pull the trigger." There's a pause, before Thea tries to hide a smirk, and can't. "So they misnamed you Domino, when you should have been snake eye." She's laughing, trying to run away through the muck. Neena can get back at her later. First, use the camo and try it somewhere they can walk versus slog.


Day 304.

All supplies and ammo which had been carried over from Earth have long since been used up. Attempts at using the blood from the various creatures has been met with mixed results. Some species seem to inherently react with aggression towards certain types, a discovery which had led to several very close calls.

A select few others have had the opposite effect, causing something akin to apathy from some of the more dangerous beasts unless disturbed too much. When mixed with a peculiar and foul smelling form of berry found across the landscape the two powerful odors seemed to cancel one another out, resulting in a 'hunting paint' which has been much more tolerable to the senses.

During their travels other discoveries have been made. Some form of higher intelligence does exist, the evidence having begun to show up in strange carvings etched into ancient stone foundations. None of it was legible to the untrained eye but there have been signs of more familiar patterns such as circles and five pointed stars.

Then there's the underground stone temple which time seemed to have forgotten, a crumbling structure which over the last few days had proven itself to be useful shelter against the raging sandstorms and acid rain. Primitive stone furniture remain inside including a dark stained altar which has worked well for draining and dressing their kills.

Over time Neena's weapons have been altered further with available resources, metal bits being replaced with bone and chitin to keep them operating as melee devices. Various hides have been roughly cured into leather and stitched with the filed down firing pin from her rifle. Springs have been heated then stretched out to stitch all manner of materials together. Resources are quite limited but the two have been able to make what remains go a long way.

Today had been a successful hunt, tagging one of the more 'prey' oriented species which looks like a cross between a deer and a crocodile with an extra pair of legs thrown in. It's heavy to drag back into the temple with cords tethered to the creature's horns. Outside the weather's starting to get quite bad again, the wind howling at the cave's entrance.

They might be forgiven if they didn't hear the scratching sounds like hundreds of needletips scuffing against stone. If Thea's power works on giant insects then she might start to sense some company from above them…


Thea is glad that she tends more towards blades than guns - she's had less repurposing to do than her cohort. One of her favorite little knives, one generally held between the knuckles for a quick shiv - has been turned into a spear with its triangular shaped blade. K-Bars have become the multitool of choice, with Neena given use of the second one she generally keeps hidden.

Roughly cured leather has been used to patch up their poor remains of clothing, as well. They look like patchwork people, which remind her of the sci-fi she got her codename from, though she and Neena aren't insane cannibals. Yet.

The biokinetic herself has lost weight that wasn't necessary to lose. Her cheekbones are far more defined, and Neena has discovered she's naturally blond, from the roots growing out. There's less smirk in her expressions, and a lot more snarl. Not at Neena (usually), but if it comes down to the kill. She's learned to strike harder, faster, and meaner with her powers and her body. The lame jokes are fewer and further between. If not for Neena, who knows what she'd be like?

She pauses, shaking her head as if she could mute the screaming wind. "Something's inside, but it's like fuzzy reception on a TV." She will share with the albino with a look.


It's something about the dimension which they've been inhabiting. It brings out the animal side of people. It encourages all living beings to become feral. Having to rely upon bladed weapons and sheer might has only further pushed such an agenda, turning the two mercenaries into something more of a tribal hunting party than military-trained soldiers.

Domino almost spends more time with her skin coated in the red mixture than not, helping her to blend in with the environment. It had been one of the easier adjustments to make, almost no different than applying grease paint while pushing through a rainforest.

The Ka-Bar has proven itself time and again, the familiar weight of a blade re-honed against the native rocks making fairly quick work of cutting through the animal's thick scarred hide. The motions are automatic, direct and decisive. This is how they survive.

Until Thea's warning is voiced.

The blade is removed from the carcass and neatly flicked around in her hand as she goes stock still, frowning and listening. When she speaks it's in a voice just above the wind outside. "Like fingernails on stone."

Up above them something causes a small amount of dirt to fall on top of their kill. It draws Neena's gaze upward…

The ceiling is crawling. Grossly oversized centipedes start weaving out of holes formed within the stone, their numerous needle-like feet scraping against their surroundings. It's a new kind of creature, nothing like they've seen yet. There seems to be a LOT of them, possibly drawn in by what would have been the pair's dinner.

Dom quickly grabs her riflespear and backs away from the altar, eyes wary and unblinking. "Can you shut them down?"

Their numbers only continue to grow and they're quickly descending upon the two and their would-be dinner!


Thea pulls her spear from where it had been strapped awkwardly to her back, as her eyes slowly lift upwards and she takes a tiny half step back. "Bugs. It has to be bugs." She mutters, as she holds her spear at the ready.

"They're different than most of the creepies we've come across. It'll take me a while to navigate. We should probably start stabbing, or abandon ship."

Thea starts stabbing, of course, or more accurately slicing. She will try to swipe through the bodies, hoping to kill them easily.


Weapons which have more easily carved into the hides of other attacking creatures aren't faring so well against this threat. Tough rigid exoskeletons cause the blades to either bounce harmlessly away or stop short. Individually the centipedes may not weigh all that much but with the sharpened points of their legs and the power behind each limb they're actually scoring the rocks beneath them. Killing one might provide some very useful new materials to work with but the odds of them surviving more than one at a time are clearly not in their favor.

The decision is quickly made when the GROUND starts to shift around them. "Run!"

Outside would lead to a quick demise from the weather. Further inside is all that's left. Domino leaps over one disturbed patch of ground and attempts to slam the spear down into the critter but it deflects off to the side and upsets her landing, leaving her tumbling across the floor. The bug lunges toward and gouges the side of her leg before she can kick it away, nearly losing her foot to a massive pair of pinchers.

Another one tries to cut off Thea's escape by dangling from the ceiling, all of its hypodermic-like claws stretched outward as it waits to try and wrap itself around her and never let go.

What had been their kill is soon completely engulfed by the shifting segmented bodies, mandibles tearing into the corpse with enough force to crack the bone beneath.

They're everywhere! Like the temple suddenly turned into the home of an entire -colony- of the nasties. The only place they can't seem to worm their way into is the stone chute leading from the temple into a pitch black space below the shrine. What had once served as a drain for the blood of the sacrifices now seems to be a precarious escape route.


Thea moves, taking a step to the side, to see if striking /around/ the crawler will yield a blow to a softer, possibly vulnerable underside. The sound that goes with it will tell Neena just how frustrated and angry Thea really is. They needed that kill, needed the protein. They need a safe place to rest. Now it's being taken from them. Again.

She tries to reach out and pull with her powers, but there are so many, and so little to work with, all she can seem to do is slow them down, make them clumsy. She'll fight her way to the shrine, a glance around for Neena. "It's the only escape. Go! I'll cover you."


The bugs may be new but looking for a chink in a foe's armor is not. As fast as these critters are the first strike made by Thea is faster, finding a segment between the chitin armor of the one's underside where her blade can sink home. It's like driving a wedge between two steel plates! The attack is met with an immediate response as the injured bug drops from the ceiling and starts thashing about in every direction, both in an attempt to protect itself and to attack anything and everything nearby.

Thea may end up losing one of her beloved Ka-Bars today.

Nearby the normally white mutant calls back "Don't wait too long!" before diving feet-first into the unknown.

The chute is steep and rough, if not for their leather-reinforced clothing it would feel like trying to slide down a beltsander. Two seconds, three, four, then the chute opens up and she's left to freefall another fifteen feet into a pool of warm, sticky ichor. Whithered old bones snap like twigs beneath her while the foul, bitter goo washes the 'warpaint' away. Not that anyone would be able to see… The cavern below is as black as pitch, though also blessedly bug-free.

Thea may hear the echoes of some frantic splashing and gagging sounds before diving in, herself. There doesn't seem to be anything alive down there besides Neena.

"I'm here! Alive!"


Having never gotten a glimpse of what's down there, Thea had been intending to grab their lone torch that they used to illuminate their kills. But there were just too many of these damn near impossible crawlies, and while she could grab some of her little incidentals near the altar, there was no way to get to the wall.

"Incoming!" She'll yell, before it's her turn to drop feet first down the shaft after one more swing to keep the beasts back. Here's hoping Dom moves before Thea crashes down feet first into the ick.


Fortunately there isn't a slightly battered albino waiting to break Thea's fall. Many of the old bones beneath the chute have been crumpled so there's less risk of getting impaled by something unseen.

The cavern could have been mistaken for a hotspring if not for the smells and texture of the fluid which fills the darkened space. It has a consistency more like warm honey but tastes infinitely worse.

Away from the bugs, the storm, the noise and the light itself, something else may come to Thea's attention. Something's different in the other mutant. Her bio-rhythm is being interrupted. When the one critter had attacked her leg it injected some manner of toxin, strong enough to cause her one leg to drag as she tries to move around. A telltale rasp has fallen into her breaths, as well.

"Thea… I..I don't feel ..so…"

A stumble and a splash, causing a few more unseen skeletons to crumble with muffled pops.

There's still no sign of the centipedes pursuing the two. There should be some time and space to work.


"Aw shit." Thea says it in almost a sigh, as Domino's very familiar bio signs start to stutter. "The fuckers must have been venomous. " Then she will begin to curse in other languages, which is normal. It's when she goes on a long rant with nothing but curse words one should worry.

She will dart towards Domino, her powers letting her 'see' where her comrade is, to pull her up out of the thick, oozy sort of fluid. Already she's isolating the venom with white blood cells, and pushing it against the normal flow to force it out through the already present injury. "What am I going to do with you, hmm?" She will try for that light note of humor, though she's not exactly wasting focus on conversation.


The feeling is a little too familiar. Neena's pushed her luck plenty of times and there have been moments where it didn't turn out so well. She can feel the peculiar efforts of a body being made to repair itself in a focused and accelerated manner. Her condition is quick to improve.

"Just keep doing what you're doing" she grumbles in response, more embarrassed to be needing the help than afraid that Thea can't make all of this right again.

While the other mutant is at work the albino moves to sit herself up better. Finding something to brace her hands against proves difficult with the unseen jagged debris. She just about goes for another quick swim when something unusual brushes past her fingertips.

Upon lifting her hand out of the muck there's a gentle clinking sound of metal bits. Once the object is taken into both of her hands Thea will sense a telling moment when Dom's heart skips a beat out of surprise.

"Did someone just turn on the lights?"

A quick look from one way to the next soon has her announcing "I think that's our way out." It's said as if she's expecting Thea to be able to see it as well but from her perspective all that's changed is that she doesn't have a mortally wounded ally.

Neena may be able to see but she's still not going to interrupt Thea's work! Only once they're ready to move will she lead the way, though it's still tedious to move around at first.


Thea will playfully bop Neena on the head. "No, I think I'll take a coffee break, and let you get sick." There's a pause. "Dumbass." There's just that faint little thread of affection in the words - nothing like only having one person in a hell dimension to team up with to foster fast friendships.

While Thea is jokingly chiding Domino, she will feel that leg getting warm, a pain as the isolated venom is forced out before the tingling starts so intensely it might hurt. But Thea needs that healed up /now/ before anything else can get /in/.

There's that metallic sound, but come on. Both of them have saved and repurposed every bit of metal they had that could be used. It's not completely unheard of, even if that sound isn't the usual, more dulled clank.

"Lights? Way out?" Thea of course, doesn't see it. "No. Don't go into the light, Carol Ann." Old movies are the best. Thea is going to binge watch old movies when they get home. Thea is frantic, feeling at Neena's throat, as if she could miss something. "I don't get it. You're nowhere near…" She muttering. "Talk to me, Neena."


After having been in this dimension for most of a year it takes Domino a moment to realize that Thea is quoting a movie about not going into the light. It's a few seconds before an amused snort can be heard. "Not that kind of light. You really don't see? I..found this thing, and…"

Trailing off for a moment she tries to rub the molasses-like gunk off of the object. In doing so Thea will be able to see a part of it, looking like a single eye from a feline when a source of light reflects off of their stare during a midnight hunt. As the object is moved around this 'eye' fades in and out of clarity.

"It kinda looks like a necklace. I don't know, maybe one of whatever got sacrificed down here was wearing it. When it's in my hands..I can see. I guess my luck hasn't run out on us yet," she suggests with a slight note of humor.

The pendant hangs from an interlinking series of curved panels rather than a chain or cord. She winds it around her palm then movescarefullyto stand on a freshly healed leg.

"Let's make use of the moment while we can, I don't want to stay lost in a deathpit."


Thea worries another moment. "See what? A light? No, I don't." Thea will move to help Neena up, a glimmer of the pendant making her pause. "So, when you hold it, you can see a light."

There's a pause, where Thea would have once told Neena she was crazy, when you've been in hell this long… "Well, if you can see a light, lead the way, Moses. I'm not keen on staying here either. Who knows what else might show up."


"Not -a- light," Domino corrects while Thea helps her up. "More like a ..dim glow. Twilight under a clear sky. It's not perfect, everything's dark and hazy, but it looks like there's a break in the wall over this way. Just..go with it. I don't want to be stay here any longer." Heh. 'Moses.'

The first signs of improvement which Thea will notice is a loss of the bone-filled goop. The cavern narrows into something more like a subway tube with the way the sounds carry. The ground, and anywhere else she might feel in the rounded passage, is ripply but smooth like blobs of glass. Occasionally something will crinkle underfoot from the weight of their feet.

Then there's the air which seems to be getting hotter the further along they go. It's complete with the unforgettable rotten egg smell of sulfur.

"Hey. You ever been to Hawaii? They have these things called lava tubes. I'm feelin' like that's what we found, except one that isn't quite so dormant."

A hazy orange light in the distance will soon prove as much. Waiting on the other side is a simply massive open space with an ocean of lava below and numerous magma falls pouring into it. Sure it's really really hot but in some ways they've gotten to be pretty used to it by now. The ledge they step out on all Indiana Jones-like is far enough away to keep from being burnt to a crisp. There's a low rumble from the falls and more than enough light for them to realize that they look like they had both bathed in old motor oil.

"Aaand for the next trick, 'Moses' is going to part the lava sea…" Neena mutters before her expression completely changes. "Wait—I know exactly where we are! This is the Nether from Minecraft!"


Thea sighs. "I can't see what you see, so humor me here. Just..lead me. Anywhere has got to be better. Even if it's somewhere with dim light, it's light."

One hand trails along the wall, feeling the odd, uneven and yet mostly smooth surface. It's almost comforting, in a worry stone sort of way. It's got such a different feel than anything where they have been.

Thea can feel wisps of her hair moving in the thermal drafts. She will look at Neena, then down at her hands. "A week in a spa, when I get home, I swear it. Facials, mud wraps.." She's fantasizing about a massage. "It's the what? We're in a video game?" Thea has never played Minecraft, but she'd heard of it!


"I will -live- in a hot tub long enough to evolve gills as a secondary mutation," Domino longingly sighs.

Then she gently shakes her head. "Nevermind. My brain's trying to make sense of seeing a cave as large as the Grand Canyon which is full of active volcano, or..whatever any of this is. We're lost, well on our way into the center of the planet if this is even a planet, and we don't have anything lined up for dinner. Find a way out and keep an eye out for anything that looks remotely edible."

They'll come across something looking like blue grapes which melt the rock with their juice. Probably best to avoid those.

There's something like a pus-colored grub about the size of a fist which looks awful but could make for some decent protein. Its innards have a consistency kind of like a fresh clam with an earthy flavor.

There's also a wiry kind of grass or weed growing out in places that's almost like gnawing on a piece of over-cured jerky but with absolutely none of the flavor. All little sources but enough to keep them going.

Then comes a peculiar break. -Stairs.- Stone-cut stairs leading up and away from the magma hell. -Finally- they find a way back to the surface.


"Now I've seen that movie, and if that total hottie isn't in this mess with us, I don't think we need to stay here." She means Journey to the center of the Earth - the one with Brendan Fraser. "We need to stick to the plan. Keep moving."

Thea will mentally fantasize tht she's slurping back clams, enough to make herself almost taste the lemon and horseradish. The weed stuff at least can keep a mouth busy, helping to fool the stomach into think it is getting more than it is.

She's still a moment, just looking /up/. "Those are stairs. I'm not hallucinating, right? I mean, I don't think I am, but it's not like it isn't possible."


"If you're making this up then we must be hallucinating together," Neena suggests with hands resting upon hips. "We already found the temple. Why not stairs? Maybe there's more to this place. And more importantly… Maybe there's a way -out.-"

Not just out of the lavafields. Out of the dimension at large.

Despite a notable lack of hostile creatures around she unslings her demonically upgraded rifle. "It's not exactly the yellow brick road but I have a good feeling about this."

A good feeling, but it still takes about an hour worth of climbing steps.

Back at the surface a large stone archway marks the path they arrive from, leading to a worn and badly damaged stone slab road which winds down the side of a mountain into a ravine. The outward view is striking, magnificent in its own way. The churning oranges and reds overhead. The jagged Mars-like landscape making up the mountainous region. Large lizard-like monsters can be seen flying in the distance with the occasional mournful howl. But the natural beauty can only do so much to distract what lies at the far end of the road.

There's a goddamned city down there. Well..maybe the ruins of one.

Neena turns to give Thea a look, the beginning of an actual -smile- edging into the corners of her mouth as she reaches out to grip the back of her closest shoulder. She's plenty winded but for the first time in months she's also seeming hopeful.


"Never touching a stairmaster again. Ever." Thea manages, once they are at the top. They may both be in shape, but some things just take more effort - especially after almost a year of less than optimal rest, food sources, hydration and basic hygiene. She will take a couple deep breaths, looking down over the view.

"We'll need to be careful. Who knows what new beasties we'll meet, and the road looks like it's had some hard days. But if that's a city, even just the remains of one, it could be a treasure trove. So we should probably start walking, and keep an eye out for possible food sources until we find a spot we can rest. " Does she ever stop? Not yet.


Day 837.

The previously discovered ruins hadn't held so much on their own but they had led the two down another path. After more than two years in the abyss their aimless wanderings had begun to focus. Domino in particular had moments of feeling driven, of seemingly knowing which direction she wanted to go next. Sometimes what she seemed to be hunting for were days, even weeks out, and yet she had always marched forward with a purpose.

Maybe it was her luck guiding the way. It could also have been something even more difficult to explain. The amulet which had seemingly allowed her to see in the dark had found a closer home upon her, the flat paneled necklace of the dark matte grey amulet adorning her neck. At first there hadn't been anything strange about it beyond her clarity of vision in the dark. Over time there had been some other warnings.

When the dim light hit her eyes at just the right angle they have a sort of mercurial sheen to them, almost identical to the single polished eye-like gem set within the amulet. Thea would have also noticed some moments where Neena seemed to get a sudden runner's high, a boost above and beyond what she normally had to work with. If Thea was really paying attention then she might have also noticed that some of the albino's teeth had become a little more pointed than they originally were…

Any comments which might have been made would have been quickly dismissed. The amulet had proven quite beneficial over the last year. In fact, whenever Dom looks at more of the rune-like carvings of some native language she at times almost seems to -understand- some of it.

It's all led the two to this twisted place of stone and overgrown roots. She keeps referring to it as the Crypt but there hadn't been any obvious signs on their way inside. Unlike the temple they had left far behind this place is constructed more out of densely packed bone and dirt with the occasional rust brown detailing of metal mashed into the walls for whatever reason.

Also..there are torches. Some of them are already lit. Wherever Neena has been leading them both it's been taking them further away from the wilds and more toward where the creatures seem more like actual demons. Bipedal abominations with horns and tails, some in possession of crude weapons. None of them have been welcoming of the two intruders.

This crypt is not a quiet place, nor as dead as she might have implied by its name. Forces within are still guarding its halls.


Every now and then, Thea does worry about Neena. The runner's high - most people would write it off as a second wind, but Thea of all people knows better. Whatever it is, it's not natural, and they have not been the sort of meat eaters that require the pointing of teeth. Then there are the times when Neena almost seems like she's communicating with the amulet, and that also worries the biokinetic a lot. She's considered a time or two to try and slip it away from the other woman while she sleeps, but they have so little to take comfort in here.

This place that Neena calls The Crypt, keeps making Thea think of 'Tales from the Crypt' - she just keeps waiting to see the Cryptkeeper pop out. She does not think this place is as dead as a crypt should be. She just.. is not as sure as Neena that they are going in the right direction.


It's asking a lot of Thea to take all of this 'on faith' but what other option is there? Pursuing some wacky pipedream offers something akin to a goal if nothing else.

The torches may be here for the taking but Neena leaves them where they hang from the walls. Her hunting methods have become a little more animalistic over the months as well, what should have been military training had been replaced by something more like raw instinct. Whatever the deal is it seems to be working for her.

As the first demon sticks its head around a corner its cranium gets completely driven through with enough force to pin it to the far wall. The makeshift spearpoint affixed to the end of a very much non-operational assault rifle breaks into a second skull which has gone into the construction of this hallway.

With a wet sound the weapon is pulled free, leaving the twitching body of an imp-like creature on the floor. "Idiot," she grunts with something of a sneer toward the remains.

Seconds after the imp's blood seeps into the ground Thea's senses would go off of the chart. She had been getting dull readings on other lifesigns down here before. Now it feels like the crypt itself has turned into a living creature! All of those overgrown roots flash into life like electricity coarsing through wires and all of them eventually come to lead into one central point…

Already there's howling. Whether from multiple other imps or from whatever entity has entwined itself with the crypt isn't immediately obvious. Neena's already looking toward this living center when she asks "You see it? That's where we need to go."

Something's definitely going on with her.


Thea keeps an eye on Neena, a frown slowly starting to form on her features. But she just can't put her finger on whatever it is that's bothering her in the back of her head. They've both gotten a little more vicious, they've had to.

Then her powers get a jolt that's like a screaming siren. Eyes go wide, a stare at Neena that doesn't actually see anything. It's like a hurricane inside her head, and not in a good way.

"Neena, No. No. This whole THING is alive. It wants to eat us for dinner, not give us salvation home." Her hand will lash out to wrap around Neena's wrist. Thea will pull herself close to the other woman, before she just lashes out with her power, trying to hurt anything outside of that little bubble around them. "Neena, listen to me. This is a bad idea, okay?"


Something about the mournful howling becomes much more anguished when Thea's power is used as something of a proximity bomb, the living force around them suddenly gaining a notable dead spot. The ground under their feet quickly begins to shudder in response, the creature responding in fury or pain. Entire hallways suddenly close off, roots and rubble knotting together to bar any passage. Where the roots had seemed dry and stringy before, now they're oozing a strange ichor, leaking over so much yellowed bone like tar.

This isn't all that Thea has to contend with. Her grabbing of Neena's wrist and telling her it's a bad idea is met with a glare which she has never before received from the other mutant. For a flicker of time it's like she's dealing less with the albino trapped down here with her and more of some ..feral -cat- or something. Almost as if Dom's considering going straight for Thea's throat with nothing more than her -teeth.-

This glint disappears from her eyes soon enough but some of the damage has already been done. "My life revolves around bad ideas, Thea. The crypt has something we need and it's -right there!-" she almost snarls while pointing right back at the core of so much life force.

Two more imps come bounding on all fours at the mutants but right as they start to leap sharp thorns shoot out from the floor and ceiling, impaling them both in the center of an intricate mass of large black needles.

Neena's on the hunt again. Eyes dart from one passage to another, some of them already sealed off, some in the process of closing. Only a few remain open. One of which she chooses. "There. Come on. We don't have long. -Move it- soldier!"


"Neena. Listen to me. Do you SEE what is going on around us? It's trying to drive us where it wants us. It's herding us to our death." She doesn't even have the time or need to handle those imps before they're killed…by the Crypt itself.

Thea will regrip one of Neena's wrists, and use her powers to try and turn her partner into a standing statue by making muscles stiff. Her weapon is slid into it's makeshift sheath, and with a deep breath, Thea will snatch and yank hard on the necklace that Neena's wearing. If she's right, all the better, if she's wrong, she can fix it and give it back. But she needs to listen to her gut, and her gut is telling her than her sister in arms is being held in some sort of siren call.


Thea isn't far off the mark, and Domino's quickly going to discover that her partner throughout this hell is capable of a few new tricks. The look in her eyes says it all, the only means by which she can communicate any shock and emotion when all of the rest of her suddenly loses any ability to move or fight back. Thea here had an ace up her sleeve this entire time!

She then discovers that the amulet itself has one of its own, and Thea's gut is absolutely on point. She can get a hand around the choker but when yanked upon it doesn't give. Rather, it almost seems to yank -back!- The pendant has five subtle thorns around the outer radius like the points on a star. Now that it's being threatened the points grow and try to take root in the albino's skin. Kind of like the black roots of the crypt, in fact… Despite this similarity to their surroundings the energy isn't the same as what can be found in the crypt. Like with the imps in these dead halls, all are alive but none are in tandem.

Neena's clearly in the thrall of -something- from this cursed realm but there's no way to know for certain what it is…or what it might be after.


Thea will push back, making it hard for those thorns to do more than prick Neena's skin - but maybe that pain will help. "Neena. You need to get this thing off you. It's helping things influence you beyond what it should. I'm sorry." Thea will even try to shove her hand under the thorns, to make it attach itself to her. Better her than the albino woman, at least that's the biokinetic's thoughts.

"Leave this place with me. Just for a little bit. We need to make sure there isn't magic or evil trying to overtake us." Though that doesn't make much sense to Thea, because she /doesn't/ feel influenced at all. "If we clear our heads and you still think this is where we need to be, I will come right back in here with you. Hell and high water, right?"


Having such a sense of urgency is only made worse by being stuck right where she stands, even if this urge to leap into action isn't entirely her own. With what seems like an infinite patience in comparison Thea's hold eases back, leaving one very stunned Thurman with the realization that there really -is- more going on with that weird piece of jewelry. And more still with her fellow soldier!

"What the hell did you DO to m—"

What did THEA do?! What did the AMULET do??

Thea's request is hardly unreasonable. Any level-headed person would have agreed to it but that's what led them into this mess, isn't it? The albino's been compromised, at least to some extent.

"You can kill whatever's down here, Thea," she counters with a look in her eyes that's bordering one of desperation over the previous rage. "The crypt is trying to keep us out -because it knows- what we're after. I've been following the signs for a while. Their language, there's certain—"

This isn't working. It's only burning precious time. Dom goes so far as to bare teeth, subtle fangs and all. She'd jab a finger toward the 'core' if she's able to.

"There's a -key- in there that we need to leave this place and whatever's telling me this wants out as much as -we- do. It didn't lead us across the wasteland for over a year just to kill us down here, okay? Now—let me GO, I'll get the key myself if I have to. You know I can!"


"Neena. What's down here is the whole thing. I can't kill the entire …Crypt. It's got a life force all of its own. That's what I'm saying." The soft, soothing tones of trying to talk reason to a madwoman. "If it was trying to keep us from the key, it wouldn't have left any of the paths open. They would all be thorned over. Trust me, I can feel that it's alive."

Thea doesn't flinch from the fangs. "We don't know what's down there. We don't know that we need a key. Come with me, and if you still feel that way in a little bit, I will come in here with you and slaughter anything in our path." That need to get out… it's a new light in Thea's eyes, and she purposely floods Dom's amygdala with adrenaline to try and cause the fear/flight response in the albino.


In this battle Thea has the upper hand. As she starts to trigger an adrenal response within Domino the amulet fights back in the only way that it can, proving that the 'runner's high' is also its doing. Neena's dopamine receptors take a hit of their own, the collision of 'run for your life' and 'everything's fucking amazing' making it really difficult to think at all!

The former has her muscles twitching with the need to act -right now- but the latter has her ..chuckling.

"Oh shit Thea I am totally going -out of my goddamn mind- can you stop doing whatever you're doing and holy -Fuck!- Yes! Alright! Out! Out now! Stop messing with me, jeezus what isahah! I think we mightthe exitthat thingy that you're wanting more than the key? Hahah, it'sit's closed!- It's that way and it's closed!" she points to one of the sealed off passages with something of a hysterical laugh.

"You can tell by the..by the thingy marked on the arch and we're all stuck down here and -both of you stop fucking with my head!-"


Thea is done playing nice. She will pull her poor, seen better days KAbar out. "Neena, hold still. That necklace is what is fucking with your head. I'm trying to /free/ you from it, so you can think for yourself again. I will fight it off for you, but you have to /let/ me/ " Thea will start to freeze Neena in place again to slip around behind her to see if she can find a spot to sever that amulet from the albino.

"If I can get this off you, you'll see what I mean. We can think together, and plan without anything else clouding your mind. I'll fight our way out of here so we can take a beat and a breath." She will try to pry that amulet away from the albino's skin.


'Hold still.' Like Neena has a choice! To be fair she wouldn't have made it easy for Thea otherwise, at the first opportunity she would have bolted down the original passage leading to the key. She can't do anything to slow Thea down. Not even her mutant power seems to want to get involved with this struggle.

It's still not easy. She's had more than a year to bond with the magical trinket but despite so much exposure it's still..weak. It may have latched onto her like a parasite. Quite literally at that. Each panel making up the choker pops free while leaving behind tiny puncture wounds in the albino's neck like it had been stapled into place. As Thea really puts her mind to it the object can indeed be separated, both from Neena and from itself. The hidden clasp may not have ever wanted to open again once it found its strength.

It might be due to this connection with Dom that the amulet doesn't try to bite down into Thea's hand. Almost as if to say that it made up its mind and wants to stick with who it knows best. After a short fight and what might amount to a minor surgical procedure Thea's got the piece in her hand, the polished stone set within the pendant still glinting like a catseye in the flickering torchlight.

Who knows if Neena might have been screaming through the process. Being kept still has helped to keep her silent.


What is also handy about Thea's powers is that as Thea pries the piece away from Neena's skin, she can also heal the markings left behind, while dampening the pain. She will gather each panel in her hand one by one, before the whole mess of them is dropped into a ragged pocket made of animal skin sewn into similar skin that reinforced her pants before her pants were worn away. After all, she wasn't sure how to make a whole pair at once, so she'd built over them instead.

Once that is done, and each little puncture healed over, Thea will step back and slowly release Domino so the albino can find herself on her own feet and free without being dumped into control at once and maybe collapsing.


The slow and gentle release almost isn't enough to keep Domino from falling down. The earlier hit of adrenaline and dopamine together really messed with her head, she had been feeling dizzy -before- the amulet was removed.

It's a short stumble toward the wall, reaching out to hang onto what may have once been some creature's thigh bone while she leans forward and tries to pull herself together. Starting the process off is a low growled "You bitch…"

The thought isn't expanded upon. Either she doesn't have the energy or she knows that there's no ground for her to stand on if they really got into such an argument.

When she makes eye contact with the other mutant her free hand comes up in a partial shrug then drops right back down. "Well. Here we are. Stuck in the abyss without our GPS. You want to aimlessly wander around for another couple of months? Because I thought we were united on this whole 'finding a way out' idea."


"We are united. But this thing?" Thea will tap her pocket to make the little plaques click together. "You can't see yourself in the mirror, we don't have one anymore. It was changing you. I'm the one looking at you, and it was slow, but I see it now. We will find a way out. We will find it without you being used by something.Without you being changed."

She had been ready since the growled insult that's not even an insult anymore, with how many times they've goaded each other on by calling each other names. She's still ready, though she's not tense. "Are you still so blinding certain we're supposed to be in this Crypt that's alive all on its own?"


"The mission is to get home," Domino counters. "It doesn't matter how. Whatever might happen to us in here we can fix back home. We just have to GET there."

Fingers run through her choppy mess of dusty black hair. Steel knives may not do a great job of keeping it trimmed but they had been better than nothing.

Is she so certain? Domino steps away from the wall toward the path she had claimed was the way they needed to go. The gunspear is brought into play, using the tip to point at some flatter piece of bone that could have been a hip or part of a shoulder. What she's pointing at isn't easy to see, you really have to look for it and it helps to know -what- it is that you're looking for. It's a small mark, probably in the same alien script they had first found back at the temple.

"Safe passage. Remember a couple months back when the floor gave way and I nearly fell into a chasm? It had a different mark. It was that ..-thing- that told me NOT to go that way. I didn't feel like being told what to do so I went for it. Nearly died because of that decision."

The spear is roughly set down next to her foot, still held onto for support. "I've had two instincts to sort through. My luck which led us to the damned amulet in the first place and the feeling in the back of my mind that keeps tugging me along through this nightmare since I started wearing it. It's been tugging me in the direction of -this-" she points back to the crypt's core, "for months. And when we're done here?" she asks with another slight shrug before pointing in another direction. "I think it's going to tug me somewhere out that way. That's all I've got. Oh, and I have a feeling that whatever the key is it's also what's keeping the crypt alive, so..two birds."

Slapping a hand to her face and holding it there, Neena groans "Ooooh fuck me I need a vacation…"


"Neena. Your teeth were starting to get sharper, like the fangs of some of the things we've seen. It finally got to the point I had to be SURE, do you understand?" Thea won't apologize, but she will explain. She will watch her partner in hell with tired eyes. "If you still think this is the way to go, let's go." She made a promise, after all.

"When we get back? Weekend at a high end spa. On me. Head to toe pampering and the best food. Deal?"


At first Domino only stares at Thea, any thoughts kept to herself. When she does respond it's by dipping her head. Trying to see the situation from Thea's perspective helps. How would she know if Dom could still be trusted, especially with everything that's been going—

Dom goes so far as to run a fingertip over her teeth. "Jeezus, I knew something was different but it's gotten worse" is muttered in admission.

Back to Thea she looks, complete with a weary sigh. "It's all I've got," she repeats. "But since we're having this little heart to heart there's something that I should point out."

A thin smirk comes into play. She hasn't shown too many of them lately. "Seven billion..seven hundred and forty-eight million and change..to one. Those are the odds that out of all of the people on Earth I would have gotten stuck here with you and your powers. Thea, I may be the one with the luck but you're the glue that's been keeping shit together. You can read me. You can reel me in when things go too far. You are uniquely qualified for this exact situation. Take that however you want."


There's a slow, deep breath in, held for a beat before it is exhaled. Maybe Neena will understand and Thea won't have to thump her on the head to recalibrate her. That's a relief, mostly.

Then there is a faint lift of Thea's brows, that she will order waxed the moment she gets home, as Neena goes on. "I am not that keen on statistical math, so I'll take your words for that." She will state quietly, and then remain quiet for a long moment. "I would take it as a compliment, if you hadn't just called me a bitch two minutes ago." But then there's that flash of a smile, the real thing that's been even more rare here in hell than back home. "Don't you mean I'm a boring Vulcan with no imagination?" No, she's never forgotten that.

"Come on. If this is still the way you feel we need to go, I'll go. If you're wrong, I will totally fucking tell you I told you so until we die. Or get back home. Whichever comes first."


"Then it's a deal on both counts," Neena says with a chuckle.


Day 1,461.

The walking had been endless. Wherever it was they had been going, whatever it was that they had been trying to find, it would have truly been impossible without the strange and silent assistance which came from the tainted amulet. It had been a lot to take on faith, two years of hard living and countless skirmishes with the creatures of the realm.

Mountains had been traversed. Volcanic oceans had been circumvented. For weeks they had seemingly been lost within an underground labyrinth. Forests both alive and dead had come and gone. Even a treacherous crystalline field had been discovered along the way, some of the formations making for very useful tools and weapons.

Between the tome they had taken from the crypt and the amulet it eventually led them to the mountainous peak of something best left to nightmares. It's only once they can see past the hazy pink layer of fog that the jagged spires of five other mountains can be identified further out, appearing to be evenly spaced in a miles wide pentagram with the two now almost dead in the center. The wind at this altitude is harsh but still as hot and dry as ever. It swirls in a vortex with a deeper red and black ring of clouds directly overhead of a most peculiar and disturbing tower.

There is no stone in its construction. The entire structure is built of bone, muscle, and what seems to be freshly stripped skin lined with the scabbed and bloody brands of the bizarre language. Thea's life sense would be off the charts as they get closer. Not only is the tower itself filled with all manner of living beasts but it also seems to be one massive organic amalgamation, much different from the crypt which had been overtaken by roots.

The red painted albino points, following the outline of an immesurably tall spine grafted into the side of a sheer cliff face to where a tiny ledge overlooks the drop. "You aren't gonna like this, but we need to get up there. They know we're coming and they're going to try to stop us."

Turning to Thea with that mercurial glint in her eyes, Domino adds "The tower lives. Can you feel it? You have the power to get us inside."

Somewhere within the tower a pulse can be felt, carrying its energy through every door, every stair and every room. It's almost as if this final obstacle exists solely to challenge Thea's abilities.


Thea has been wary, keeping an eye on Domino, and making her give up and wrap the amulet in cloth when they stopped to sleep. She doesn't want it literally sinking into Domino again, and she is watching for more physical changes. Things have been fairly… stable, between the two women.

The biokinetic pauses, looking up along that spine to the ledge. "You know that I'm not afraid of heights, but that seems insane." She will give Domino a flat look.

"Of course I can feel it. It's like someone screaming in your ear - you can't miss it." She shifts some of her tattered clothing, and things she carries. "Well, we should get climbing. We'll figure out more when we're up there."


"That's good but it's not the height that concerns me so much," Neena admits while looking back to the ledge. "I don't know what we're actually going to -do- when we get up there but something about this place has been my northern star. We'll have to figure it out as we go. What's a little more insanity, right?"

With the call to get climbing she dips her head once then heads up the weathered cut rock stairs to the temple's main entrance.

The 'doors' could have been like almost every castle of lore if constructed of iron and wood, twin panels rising much higher than necessary for mere people with a split down the middle. There's no possible way that they could pry the doors open with strength alone but around here the rules are a little different. Hinges and locks don't bar their access. These gates are held together with muscles.

Being up close to them it's easy to see that there's an actual pulse flowing throughout the structure. Neena's already looking around for something looking like the bulge of an artery beneath its skin that she might drive her spear into. "I hope you're up to this. Otherwise we could be here for another month bleeding the place dry."


"Insanity is the only sane thing we have here." Thea mutters with some sass behind it. She's humming as she climbs up behind Domino, completely comfortable bringing up the rear. Her powers work in all directions, even if line of sight is way stronger. She's always been in shape, but right now some of her skinnier jeans might not fit right over her thighs. Still, she longs for her closet full of clean clothes, her shelves of shoes. She dreams of a real bed.

Once they're on the level with those huge doors, Domino is hunting, and Thea is more… staring at the doors. She's looking at them with that faintly unfocused look to her eyes, something Domino has gotten used to at this point. She's looking for the way in, the weakness that she can exploit to make them open. There's a faint snort, before Neena is spared a glance. "Have I not been up to anything, yet?"


"You haven't lost your way with words, I see" Neena teases.

Has she not been up to anything yet? A glance back to the other mutant mercenary has the painted albino grandly gesturing toward the doors. "Then by all means, let's dance."

The application may be different than what Thea is used to dealing with but the fundamentals are all there. The expansion and contraction of muscles, the way that bloodflow happens to affect them, joints and cartilage and tissue, it's almost like moving an arm within its socket but on a much grander scale. Indeed, 'bleeding it out' might be one way to start but then the doors would become dead weight. This would be much easier if one were to 'trick' the doors into wanting to open on their own.

Dom turns to stand facing Thea, arms draped around her riflespear with a look of idle amusement creeping across her face. She doesn't have to say a word to be an ass, staring and grinning more than does the job.


Thea will spare a moment to roll her eyes at Neena's staring and grinning, giving her a flippant single finger salute. There's a slow breath in, before the doors bear the brunt of Thea's biokinetic force. She's maybe being a bit more brutal and forceful than necessary, but the doors are huge, and she'd rather have them open and broken than able to snap shut again behind them.

One hand curls into a fist, as if some sort of physical representation of what she's causing to happen. Her eyes are focused on her work - Neena may as well not even be there - at least for a moment. The albino will hear the doors moving, a quiver at first, before they will jerk open wide, with a fleshy slap like a slam in a normal door.

Then there's that exhale, a cool expression given to Neena with a faintly lifted left eyebrow. "Shall we?"


There isn't much of an echo but there is a boom and a meaty thud as some thirty vertical feet of organic doors get thrown open with enough force to fracture many of the bones within. At least nothing is screaming in pain this time but it might seem worse somehow that so much blood starts seeping from the broken joints in perfect silence.

"No kill like overkill" Neena cheerily replies while batting the upright spear from one open palm to the next.

Inside all signs of being on a mountain vanish, replaced by a chaotic interlinking mass of curved bones woven together into a surface which can easily be walked on but should still be done so with care. It creates a natural drain so the weeping doors won't leave a pool for them to deal with.

The central spire has a smaller set of doors directly in front but if Dom and her strange amulet are to be believed then the row of stairs which winds up around the spire is the way to go. It's really for the best as the doors in front are about bursting open with life, there's enough wickedness getting ready to storm the small courtyard that it can be heard over the wind.

The good natured attitude Neena had a moment ago is instantly replaced with a showing of those new pointed teeth, hunkering down and tensing her shoulders with the spear brought to the ready. "We aren't getting a second chance, Thea. Waste the fuckers."

More denizens start coming down the stairs. Fewer than behind the door but enough to bar their path. The first one takes Dom's spear through the heart, slammed back to the ground with a savage yell born out of fighting hellspawn for the last four years. The serrated crystalline tip is only freed for a second before it slashes into another, the body spraying gore as it's flung over the edge.

If they don't find what they're looking for then this could very well be their last stand.


Thea had started to take advantage of the doors and the leaking, forcing more and more blood out of it, bursting the hols wider. But then Neena is telling her to waste the creatures, and Thea side-steps away from the albino. Her own crystal augmented, makeshift spear is to hand, and ready to go. But instead, Thea will let out a sound like a growl, and Domino will see them slow, stumble… and then start to fall apart in washes of blood.

She looks at Neena, and for the first time - it's an almost animalistic, evil expression on the biokinetic's face.


The third is about to get a taste of the albino's spear when it doubles over, lean tail aimlessly whipping about in the creature's death throes. It is..perhaps the single most disturbing sight Neena's seen yet. Like every one of the creatures is having the life sucked out of it, leaving behind dried wads of monster jerky while the stairs, porous or not, start to run with so much ichor.

Where a moment ago there had been an entire army trying to stand in their way… Nothing more than withered corpses remain.

Domino slowly turns to stare back at Thea. The moment of silence and shock gives way to a triumphant raising of the bloodied spear with another savage yell. Let it be taken as a threat, a warning to anything that MIGHT still be left alive. Get in the way at their own peril. Up here the only monsters are the two that are trying to return home.

Unfortunately, neither of them have powers which will make climbing a shit ton of stairs any easier. But hey, they've had four years to adjust!

The next foe is the wind. The top of the spire leads toward that narrow unguarded ledge overlooking a sheer drop far enough for the ground to be veiled in fog. All that's waiting for them besides one hell of a view of Hell is an altar, still made of flesh and bone.

Carved into the center bone is a symbol. One which matches the front and back of the tome they had taken out of the crypt.

Before the two objects are brought together Neena looks down at the vacant space, fingertips lightly brushing the amulet's face. "I get the feeling that we're not gonna like what's about to happen."


At least Thea can help the muscles displace the lactic acid, so they can keep climbing…and climbing. The wind pulls bits of red and blonde free from her ever longer braid while they've been here, but Thea doesn't feel them moving against her skin, barely sees them catching in her eyelashes. She looks over the foggy view with something of a bland expression, as if nothing about it moves her.

There's a glance at Neena as she speak, a look to the altar. "Well, that's not much different than every day we've had here, now is it? This might be awful, but it might get us /home/." That one word, is filled with a longing that exposes the feelings Thea usually keeps locked up. "Do you want me to take over?" She's eyeballing the altar, looking for spots to take it apart at with her powers.


To the offer Neena slowly raises a hand without making a sound. Where a short while earlier Thea had been locked into concentration now it's the pale lady's turn. She wears a frown like she's trying to hear something within the wind itself, something which is not meant for ears human and mutant alike.

"I need the book. And then… I think you might get to meet whatever's been riding shotgun with me."

As far as demonic possession goes this one seems to be somewhat considerate to offer a bit of warning. Or maybe Dom's been fighting it off a lot more than she's let in on.

With the tome in place the energy around the two changes with the opening of its cover. The symbols and diagrams printed upon the pages hurt to look at directly, seemingly alive and slithering about without ever actually moving.

The change within the albino offers no such drama. The Ka-Bar Thea had loaned to her years back, heavily scratched and marred but still crudely kept sharpened, comes into one of her hands.

Then she actually starts -reading from the book.- It's Neena talking but it is NOT her voice, twisted into gutteral snarls and hisses which chew through the words as if she's gnawing through bone.

Around them the swirling wind picks up. Unseen thunder rolls in lingering echoes overhead. It's all so very dramatic, Hollywood would approve. There are some creatures in the air, however, which really do not seem to approve. At all.

Thea may recall their first day in this realm when there were dragon-like monsters flying in the distance. They've never had to deal with them before. Now it might seem that their luck is running out… They may be guardians of this realm because the two at the altar have just become the focal point for at least one of the beasts. Thea would see it coming. Hundreds of yards out, but approaching.

Neena doesn't seem to notice. The pages flip. The knife is drawn. A neat flick across a palm soon has her squeezing blood directly onto the pages which seem to ignite with an ethereal white flame.

When she spins about to stare at Thea there is absolutely nothing of Neena Thurman left in those eyes. There is no asking for permission. Whatever has taken over wants to draw blood from Thea's palm as well, to let her life be the next to fall upon the hungry pages.


Thea is left to be lookout, eyes squinted against the wind. Those dragon looking things make her shift, a twist of her spear in her grip. "Read faster, Neena…or whatever your name is." She's been wary of whatever effect the amulet has, while she hasn't felt like Neena was possessed…at least not in a biological manner Thea could detect. The spear lifts a little in one hand, as Thea's eyes focus on the flying beast heading their way.

Her focus is so tight that she's far too slow stop the Neena suit wearing whatever force from snatching her hand and slicing into it for the blood to be obtained for the purpose that suits it.

"Hey!" She glares. "What the hell!"


Nothing is said back to Thea beyond a meaningful hiss, her wrist firmly held long enough for the blood to find its mark. Hopefully the reason for this part of the ritual is in Thea's interest rather than the demon's…

Wind continues to pick up. Streaks of -blue- lightning arc across the sky, one of the few times this realm has shown any color beyond some variation of red or black. One bolt snaps directly past the ledge they stand on, vaporizing a corner on its way downward. Down into the ravine! So much for lightning striking the higher points!

Meanwhile the dragon is bearing down on the two, the whoosh of air displaced from its wings becoming audible before its scream drowns out everything else that the mountain has to offer. It's seconds away—

Domino firmly grabs Thea's closest shoulder, seeking eye contact long enough to deliver one wordless message. She looks to the other mutant then rolls her gaze downward. Off of the ledge. Down into that murky abyss.

They're going to have to jump. At least she's not boldly throwing Thea off of the tower…

As if to prove that it isn't a trick Neena backs up to the edge, arms crossing with the knife still in hand. There's a proper darkness to the grin which she gives Thea before rolling off of the edge, freefalling in silence towards a hazy swirling disc of blue energy which lies within the fog.


Thea will growl back at the hiss, face contorting. "Look, I don't have time for this shit. I have that thing coming in, and I don't want to be close enough to have to spear it!" The lightning makes the biokinetic step a little more back from the edge. Silvery-blue eyes hold those that no longer have any Neena noticable behind them. She'll glance down, before looking back up. "Wait. What?"

Thea's not easily rattled, but she'll snatch at Neena's arm and miss, to try and stop the other woman. "What the fuck!" But there's that spinny blue light, and that beast is too close. With curse words rattled off in multiple languages, Thea will throw herself off that ledge after Neena. Insanity, indeed.


Way down.

The spine set within the rocky drop-off seems to extend forever, ribs and vertebrae streaking past in a blur while the vortex provides a feeling of skydiving in the eye of a tornado.

The dragon thing sounds PISSED. It crashlands into the top of the tower, demolishing the ledge and the altar. Burning orange eyes sweep down after the mutants and a maw full of so many damn teeth opens in a deafening, bone-rattling shriek. What's left of the tower is torn to pieces as the beast lunges straight down after them both, wings beating against the air in its pursuit…

Thea will know she's reached the portal when a wash of static coarses through her like a thousand needles repeatedly poking away, there before she's completely swallowed in darkness. Some hallucinations may occur on their way through the gate.

The air is COLD on the other side. The sensation of falling straight down does a sudden reversal, Thea falling -up- out of the portal which collapses in a quick thunderclap. It's going to be a rough landing if she doesn't find some way to slow her descent.

What's left around her is a complex charcoal black etching of another pentagram, seared into the very much urban ground. It's still winter. It's dark outside. It looks like New York City. Sounds like it, too. Hell, it even -smells- like New York City. If she happens to catch sight of today's date she may come to realize that it's the exact same day that the two had climbed into the back of that armored truck for some guy named Mallovoy…

Only a few HOURS had passed.

Knowing Neena's luck she made it through as well but there's no sign of her around here. For the first time in four years Thea's on her own.


The reversal, the static and needle feeling, the sudden cold after years of heat… it's so dizzyingly disorientating. The landing hurts, making the biokinetic whimper and curl up in a fetal position. She will just hold still a moment. Then it's time to get up, and figure out the next step…again.

It takes long moments for her to realize she's on concrete. There's no mistaking the smell of the city - Thea knows it well - she's been away from it for years before. It's enough to make her sit up, then slowly get to her feet. She knows it's home.

A few minutes of frantic searching for Neena has her warmed up - exertion and panic. She makes herself slow down, to slink down alleys. She'll ask a guy what day it is…then what time. Her mind is awhirl again with the information…they were there in their own hell for /years/.. but no one here even had time to miss her, to worry. How could it be?

She will stick to shadows and alleys, slowly divesting herself of her hell gear and improvised weapons - in random trash bins and dumpsters, zig zagging her way home and making it random.

Since she's never been 'gone', at least that means she doesn't have to worry about her apartment, glad she's got a hidden key for her lock. She will stagger inside, the door shut and locked. The fridge is attacked, several bottles of water chugged down. Then she'll eat letovers - day old chinese never tasted so damn good as after four years without. She will straggle to the shower, rinsing and scrubbing until the water runs clean. She'll slather on deep conditioner in her hair, and then draw a hot, scented bath to soak in. She's already trying to think - she and Neena had not gone into the portal together. Neena had been out of sight completely before Thea herself had reached it. Had it meant a time difference? That makes more sense than the idea of the different geography - the pentacle had been no accident for her to 'land' in. She can martial up some people to look for the albino, though she'll look herself as well. She has to be here in the city, now, somewhere.


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