2020-02-29 - A Handprint


A trip to Limbo with Elena reveals … something

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Feb 29 07:40:35 2020
Location: Limbo

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Theme Song



Koa and Keiko are back in Limbo and this time they brought someone with them. Elena, now older, but perhaps not wise.r Well. She is quite young. A child can be forgiven for being a child.

The teleport brought them in on the Mountain, close to the large standing stone with the handprint. Limbo is, as ever, wild and forested and really actually lovely. There's a sense that the place isn't safe, but not the sense that it is 'wrong'. It might almost be a scene from earth were it not for the fact that despite the bright light, there is no sun in the sky.

"Wards are still intact. That's good." Koa says to Keiko. He's watching mostly Elena, seeing how she reacts to this brave new Limbo they find themselves in.

Elena is five, nearly six, and as rambunctious as one might expect of Keiko's daughter. Well, a Keiko who allowed her emotions to show, anyway. "Stay to close Mama or Koa, Elena." She tells the child as she puts her on the ground as the agents work.

"Koa? I thought you said we were going to Limbo …" Elena questions the Agent as she peers around. "When will get there?"

"We're here." Koa says simply. He rolls his shoulder and peers around. Mostly he's looking for changes of which he does not see many. This form of Limbo seems to be stable and so far as he can tell nothing is causing it to revert. Or if it is the process is very slow. There's hardly any demons of course. None in sight for certain.

At length Koa steps over to the stone and motions to Keiko and Elena. "When your mother and I were here last we found this. There's a hand print on it. I'd like you to put your hand in it and see what happens."

There's power thrumming around that stone but then… Limbo is sort of magical sight overload. EVERYTHING here has some magic. So Koa isn't entirely sure, yet, what it will do.

"Keiko do you sense anything?"

"Where's home?" Elena looks around and frowns, clearly confused. "Why is it so green?" She looks at Koa and then at Keiko "And where's the demons? I don't see any."

She's right, there's none to be seen at the moment. Despite Keiko tossing them back in here.

Elena follows Koa and peers at the stone before looking to Keiko for … something. "Go ahead, Elena. If Koa says to do something, you mind him like you would Tia or Papa or Me." She says.

She's distracted as she turns her attention to her own demon, still watching Elena as the girl steps up to the stone and puts her hand in the print.

"The demons are scattered … and it feels … unsettled. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was holding it's breath."

But that's ridiculous.

Koa doesn't answer Elena, leaving Keiko to do so. In many ways he can't answer it. Oh sure he can say how he thinks it got that way but as to why? He has naught but guesses.

It is a little bit ridiculous for this thing to be holding its breath, but Koa knows they are very much in 'believe five impossible things before breakfast' territory and that means he really should pay attention when she says things like that.

The stone reacts. Silver - well, Promethium - begins to bleed into the concentric circles on it. Four of them fill up, the inner four. The remaining five are empty. The whole thing thrums and the mountain shudders a little and somewhere deep beneath the earth both Koa and Keiko feel a single heartbeat. A single, massive heartbeat.


"Something happened, Elena." Keiko says firmly. "Later. We will explain it to you." It's not unusual for Illyana to be gone for long stretches of time and it's likely Keiko hasn't told Elena that Illyana is missing.

The tone is enough to stop the child asking questions. For the moment.

Standing protectively behind Elena, she watches as the circles fill - the child doesn't remove her hand but looks around. "It's … breathing." She says.

Keiko looks at Koa and frowns again "How's your heart?" Is all she says. She's not happy or comfortable, but she'll never show it.

"Still in my chest." Koa mutters, putting his hand on his chest. "Doesn't hurt. Feels a bit odd though. Like a bell being rung or a champagne glass singing. Sort of… resonating on a frequency." Like he's linked to the place. Or rather like he is STILL linked to the place.

The hand print that Elena is touching starts to glow red. It's not hot, but something is happening with it.

"Koa. Mama." That's… Elena's voice. But… it sounds older. Like she's sixteen or eighteen.

"If you're hearing this then things are about to be… weird."

"Beating any faster?" Keiko asks, putting a hand on Elena's shoulder as that print starts to glow, ready to pull the child away but still willing to se——

It's impossible not to recognise the voice of her daughter. It's not accented like Elena's is now - but that might be expected if the child has spent a lot of her life in America.

"Koa?" It's a request for instruction, as Keiko's free hand shakes out her staff.

"No it isn'-" Koa looks around. He doesn't see anyone.

"The first thing you have to know is that Belsaco has to be stopped. I've seen what happens when you don't. It's not good."

"It's some kind of… recording." Koa says. There's no one to converse with. It's just like hearing a phone message.

"Elena. Stay close to mama. I know Limbo seems confusing now, and later it will seem like it is almost fun, but you must never forget that Limbo is Limbo no matter what it looks like. Mama, you do do it. You learn what you need to from Koa. And it helps. It helps you find people. It helps you find me, when the time comes. Don't give in to the darker parts of what you will be. The anger. The hate. Learn to laugh and to live. Your daughter needs it. I need it."

There's a short pause. "And Koa. I'm… so sorry."

"No." Keiko says. It's quiet and she glares at the stone, fingers curling in Elena's shoulder, making the child squirm.

"Mama …"

Keiko doesn't pay attention, Koa might need to intervene. "No. Don't … " That brand on her chest glows a little. "I won't lose you and I won't lose Koa…"

It might surprise Koa that Keiko has some context for what her … daughter … is saying. "What happens, Elena. What happens …"

"I don't know Mama…." the younger Elena says, still squirming.

"Keiko you're hurting her." Koa says quietly. He can see Elena squirming. "Breathe."

"I can't tell you all I'm sure you want to know, mama. I can tell you, though, that you don't lose everything. You have to have faith. Even when things look bad. Have faith. You're more than what you were made, Mama. You're more than what you were taught to be. You have to be. And you will be."

There's a short pause. "Koa… it's going to hurt. I didn't understand at the time, but I do now. But I think you already know that. Maybe it'll just be a relief when it's finally over."

Koa quirks a brow as the stone goes silent. "So, hopeful and ominous and unhelpful all at the same time."

Keiko's jaw is set, the brand glowing over the collar of her shirt. It's an effort to let her fingers lose - but she does it. When she does, Elena moves closer to Koa, still keeping her hand on that print.

"It wasn't hopeful." Keiko says, the anger in her voice barely supressed. "Have you learned what you need to here?" That's to Koa. "Elena, stay close to Koa."

She turns and starts to pace.

"Yes and no." Koa puts a hand on Elena's shoulder. "It's alright, little one. You can take your hand off now." He murmurs.

"So. She was here, is here, at some point. It sounds like she needed to be found. It sounds like you… learn something?" Koa isn't aware of what Pandora has asked of Keiko though if he thought about it he might suspect.

"She did give you a bit of a pep talk. After all she was still there to tell you all about it. The big question I have is how is this message getting to us years in the past."

Years by Limbo time, but maybe not that much by earth time given how things go.

"The events she's talking about might not happen for a while, you know." Or they might happen tomorrow. Limbo time is… annoying.

Elena takes her hand off and crowds against Koa's leg. "Mama's not angry with you, Koa." She says. But she knows Keiko is angry - she's just not sure why. "Who was that voice?"

When Keiko turns to look at Koa, her eyes are yellow again. "Does it matter? I think we can assume that she put this tablet here and found some magic to record the message when … she … activated it."

That gets a growl, Keiko showing fangs as she does.

"I learn stuff, sure. Stuff I don't want to …" Keiko shakes her head and keeps moving.

"I think we should see if she can touch the staff." Based on what Pandora has said, Koa's challenge is closer that she likes.

"You, I think. You a long time from now." Koa says as he watches Keiko pace. She looks like a caged animal, almost. Angry and not understanding why things are happening.

"Do you see Aunt Illyana's staff, Elena? See if you can touch it. Just be careful." Because it has zapped people before. Hard enough to throw them.

When Elena reaches out it starts to crackle with energy, but the energy won't let her hand get more than a few inches from it before it zots her. It's painful but at least she doesn't get hurled away like the last person to touch it did.

"Hrm. I wish I knew what that meant…"

That's a good analogy of Koa's. Keiko is angry and she doesn't understand. She's also scared, very scared, that something will happen to Elena and she *knows* something will happen to Koa.

And she can't stop any of it.

Turning to watch as Elena reaches for the staff, Keiko's eyes narrow. "It's a shame Piotr isn't around. I … have a theory… We know that it contains … someones … power, right?" She's careful to avoid using Illyana's name with Elena around.

"What if, it's tied to their blood and those who are the closest to … them … can get closer?"

"That's not a bad theory, though we should also assume that anyone with enough magic could overcome the staff's preference." It IS a pity that Piotr isn't around on that basis but this is what they have to work with. "It could also be that it resonates with Limbo itself, like the three of us do. I mean I got close ish before it zapped me."

It's a pity, then, that they really didn't see how close Madeline got before it threw her.

"The circles it was displaying. Four. Same number of teeth as I have filled in. I don't know if that's coincidence but…" They were filled in with promethium and they were the only things on that stone that were.

"I could get close-ish." Keiko shakes her head. It's all just guessing at the moment. There's no way to test it.

"There's nine circles right? Nine teeth?" Keiko asks. She remembers something that Illyana told her.

Elena leans against Koa's leg, playing with the seam on his trousers, watching and listening.

"Illyana once said something virtues. Dark virtues…"

"Black virtues, yeah. It's an old demonic concept. You know how in lots of religions there are certain values that are considered sacred? Well, demons have the same thing. Only unholy. It's not unique to Limbo but… Limbo does seem to have a deeper connection with them than even many hell realms. Probably something to do with the Elder God's influence. Or maybe even Belasco himself."

Koa falls silent for a moment and gives Elena a curious look. His pants cannot concievably be the most interesting thing here. Maybe it's just because she's a bit scared.

"Nine definitely is a number that means something. I wonder if Il- I mean Anastasia has felt ANY of this." If she has, then she still has a connection to Limbo. If she hasn't… that is in some ways equally interesting. "She certainly didn't mention, and didn't seem to have any awareness of 'weird stuff'."

"Illyana mentioned those when she was collaring me. I … wish I could remember what she said… It's just too coincidental though." At the mention of Anastasia, Keiko frowns again "Would you say anything? There are some things that fundamental to a person - and .. she grew up learning not to show weakness or fear …"

Would she even know what it was she was feeling?

"Elena, you can look around if you want. Don't go further than we can see you." Keiko says absently.

The child looks up at Koa and hesitates. He should remember that she was taught to stay close to adults - and her father had always taken a more … caring part in that.

"It's alright." Koa says to Elena. "Just don't wander far. We don't know who is left in here or what they will do." So long as she stays in this clearing she'll be okay. There don't seem to be any demons for her to go haring off after so… hopefully all will be well.

"I might not have mentioned it on the first meeting but… call it a hunch. She doesn't seem 'aware' of the weird things. She was caught too off guard by stuff as it was happening. I don't think that she knows. Or knew. She seemed almost… frightened."

That had been jarring to Koa. Illyana and Fear are not things he associates together."

"And you think she'd mention 'weird stuff' to us after all that was happening about us when we met her?" Keiko frowns. Maybe Anastasia would but it won't hurt to ask her directly.

"She's lost her memory and her powers. What would Illyana Rasputina be like it, Koa, if she hadn't had the experiences she had? We don't know but I think we're seeing what that might be."

Elena does wonder off, keeping to the clearing and looking around, particularly at the staff and the stone she touched before.

"Not to us, but I would expect some sign that it hadn't caught her entirely off guard. That it wasn't foreign to her." Koa clarifies, one eye on Elana as she starts to investigate the area.

"We might be seeing that. I'm still… conflicted about pulling her back into it but we've discussed this before. I don't think it will leave her alone even if we do. Her power will manifest again or someone else will take charge of Limbo." Koa and Keiko can't REALLY prevent that, not without one of them living in Limbo full time and even then possibly not.

"Do you think she'll bring Jake with her?" Koa half snorts. Neither he nor his beast had been impressed.

"Perhaps…" Keiko isn't convinced and she's still upset by that message. "We pull her back in. We can't risk Belasco finding her like he did when she was young." There's no question about that in Keiko's mind. It's a terrible thing to do, but even worse to not do it.

"Yes. I do. And I don't think he'll like it. Brian had better behave himself or I'll swat him with my staff."

Brian. She's … named Koa's beast.

"I want to punch something."

"Do not name parts of me." Koa huffs with some annoyance. The beast is Koa. It's a wild and unpredictable part of Koa but any talk of it as a separate entity is just… mental convenience, a way to discuss things that are deeper than they seem. That is, in fact, what makes controlling it so hard. It's not a contest of wills with some outside force. It's a contest of wills with himself, fighting against things he wants to do but knows he should not. And each loss on that front tips the balance.

"Well, he'll be in for an education then." Because SHIELD is one thing and WAND is quite another. Even veteran agents are often shocked and put off their guard when they first enter the WAND offices. Dimensional spaces. Whatever they are.

Koa's annoyance just gets a flat look from Keiko. She doesn't pay it much attention at all.

"Are we done here, then?" She's still watching her daughter like a hawk. "When we get back, I'm going to gym. I'm sure there'll be some agents there that think I'm just a little girl."

"Do they ever say that? Because I want to be there to watch when they do." It'll be like that scene from Miss Congeniality when Sandra Bullock's character is 'working out her issues' on someone who said something unfortunate.

Koa would put money on Keiko. "Yes I think we're done here. For now." He's sure they'll be back here. Because Belasco is still out there, if K'nert is to be believed and as much as he'd like to think K'nert is not… well… he's not that lucky.

"Sometimes. Most times they just look at me and say they'll 'go easy'. That doesn't last long however - I make sure of that." Keiko shrugs and calls to Elena, holding her hand out to her daughter.

The child skips over and takes Keiko's hand and then Koa's.

"Let's go then."

Koa isn't wrong about it being a bit like a Miss Congeniality - except Keiko isn't Miss Congeniality by a long stretch.

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