2020-06-01 - Roads Not Taken


Illyana has to decide whether or not she really wants to remember, with all the baggage that it brings.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Jun 1 07:18:57 2020
Location: Triskelion

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Theme Song



Koa had ultimately made the call not to push 'Anastasia' to come to the Tri, figuring that being a menacing government monster was ultimately counterproductive. Which is not to say that it was an easy call to make nor that he hasn't had people keeping an eye on her. She is after all whether she knows it or not a person of some importance to very powerful outside forces.

What he did not have people keeping an eye on was K'nert. Not because he doesn't want to know what the damn imp is up to, mind you, no Koa hasn't had the imp followed because K'nert is impossible to track. He seems to show up where and how he wants, security measures and wards be damned. Whether that's through stepping disks or some other manner of travel Koa hasn't yet figured out. K'nert has been pressing he and Keiko to 'get the Darkchild back' and the two of them have been refusing to take direct action. Small wonder, then, that the imp ran out of patience. He is a clever thing and sometimes a rather manipulative one as well and he has decided that 'Anastasia' needs to see. See what? Well, he's been leaving things. Things that he hopes will jog her memory. Her very best set of demonic cutlery. A crude drawing of a staff. And finally - and various gods only know how he got his claws on this - a complete SHIELD dossier on her. With Pictures.

Koa has no idea. And it's coincidence entirely that he's by the receptionists desk in the Tri lobby, right arm wrapped in bandages and more of the same peeking out above his collar. He had survived that explosion yes but it was kind of a near thing.

"I got a message that there was a package waiting for me." Keiko is saying to the receptionist. The small peruvian isn't as badly as banged up as Koa is but there's a nasty gash down her face that's been stitched and she's covered in bruises and grazes.

Some of those bruises aren't as obvious as others because they're hidden by the tattooes on her arms and upper body.

"Now what is it?"

"I'm telling you, Agent Kurita, there isn't a package." The receptionist answers, very patiently, though she's eyeing the small WAND agent cautiously.

The distracting pain, or perhaps painkillers, might manage to distract Koa enough to miss the blonde that stalks up towards reception and, seeing Koa, over towards him. Certainly, she looks a *lot* like Illyana with that pissed-off expression though the long blonde hair cut into a short pixie-like cut with bangs left long to fall along one side of her face *doesn't*.

The SHIELD dossier hits the counter with one hand, manicured nails painted blood red, splayed over the top to the side of Koa. Pale blue eyes that, while angry, still hold the light and warmth of someone with, well, a soul, fix on Keiko as well before shifting back to Koa.

"Are you guys stalking me? Breaking into my apartment?" Anastasia demands.

"Keiko I really don't think there is a-"

Illyana, the way Koa remembers her, very literally glows and while he has seen her a couple of times now without that glow the fact that she doesn't have it causes a mental disconnect which is probably another factor in the reason he doesn't see her before the packet of paper hits the counter next to him and makes him start.

"Uh. I haven't been." He looks at Keiko. "Have you?" Koa rather doubts it but it's all he can think to say in the moment while he gathers his wits. He wasn't expecting to see her today.

And yes okay having her followed might count as stalking but he just… doesn't mention that. After a moment, he peers at the most-definitely-SHIELD-issued jacket over the dossier, slightly hidden behind the red nails, he manages… "Where did you get that?"

Koa. Master of repartee and persuasion.

The emotional rush of being startled, simple as it is, causes a shimmer along Koa's skin, the clear blue of his astral form rippling beneath the surface.

"Dark-Ch—-" Keiko bites her tongue as the blonde stares coldly at them. "Illy… Anastasia…." It takes a lot to get Keiko to show any emotion, but she does as she looks at the woman. "No. I have not been." That's said in a way that says 'what do you think I am?' to Koa.

Keiko had been all for leaving Illyana alone and working this out themselves. She was happy now and they should leave her be. No matter how much both of them missed her.

There's a faint frown at the dossier and the demon-tainted spirit caller, slides it from under the blondes hand. No 'by your leave', she just does it. "It's the real thing." she says as she flips through it. "That's my initials there …" on a report. Not quite done in crayon, but they might as well be.

"On the damned kitchen counter." Anastasia almost-growls, her mouth set into a thin, hard line. But still, it lacks something when compared to the Illyana they're familiar with which makes it almost comical. Ooo, the pretty blonde is all *angry*.

The glower isn't helped when it stumbles. Falters when that blue shimmer runs over Koa's skin. A reminder of what he's got lurking under the skin. Something she perhaps tried and succeeded a bit too hard in forgetting.

"It's the latest in a string of 'gifts' that I've been finding. I didn't get it at first, but this explains it all. And if it isn't either of you, then who the hell is it?" Anastasia holds onto that anger to help keep the fear at bay.

Koa has seen Illyana angry. Once. And he was thankful that it wasn't directed at him. So yes there's a lack of impact from the glower. Not to undersell the blonde but it is a little bit like a kitten being angry at you. Keiko displays more potent rage than this.

"A string of gi-" Koa cuts off and his eyes narrow. Actually his eyes narrow and slightly change color. There's certain unexpressive quality to them all of a sudden, like a shark. Like something that noticed when she stumbled. Like something that isn't Koa is looking out at her. Last time she saw it lean out of him, but she never saw it in his own human features. Now she does.

Mercifully, the look turns on Keiko. "Let me see… yes, those are your initials. And that's my signature on this report." Wet signature. If it isn't them…

"What… kinds of gifts?" The question is asked very slowly. Very deliberately. Like someone might be upset in a moment. Keiko probably knows who that gets directed at. She's regularly upset with the same being. But 'Anastasia'? She'll probably sense the beast, and the 'I'm gonna kill him' sentiment. But she won't, probably can't, know the target. Which possibly doesn't do wonders for either her fear OR her anger.

"Have you seen him lately?" That's to Keiko and she knows who he is talking about. But again, Anastasia might lack that frame of reference.

Keiko doesn't laugh at the impotent anger. She doesn't even crack a smile. She might have forgotten how to, unless it's the smile of a predator about to tear your throat out - then, she's got it downpat. Ask the Hydra agent the other day.

"Something we know is leaving them for you." Is all the other agent says, so very helpfully. "Seen him? More than I want to. He checks in on Elena fairly regularly - though doesn't say much and is never around long enough for me to threaten him." Whether K'nert spends more time with her daughter, Keiko doesn't know. "Last time was … about four days ago."

Anastasia shifts back a bit, giving Koa a bit more space. Another glance over to Keiko and she shifts a bit *further* away, giving the cat-eyed Peruvian a bit more space as well. It's there in her expression as the anger slips from her grasp as neither seems to be the culprit.

Perhaps this was a Bad Idea(tm).

The blonde's tongue steals out to wet her lips. A nervous gesture. As is pushing the long bangs back to try to tuck it back behind an ear. "A bunch of funny looking knives, a weird drawing on some funny paper, an old musty book that I couldn't read…"

"K'nert." Koa growls. Not that the sound it makes is particularly meaningful. And hey, maybe they're just deflecting.

Well YOU two weren't doing anything to get her back. Comes the twisting, hissing sound from behind Anastasia. Perched on the door. Not blocking it really but she would have to go right past him to get back out so… kind of blocking it. The little imp thing has a beak but looks kind of like a horrendous Jim Henson muppet come to life. Except those usually look fuzzy or cuddly on some level and this is most decidedly not. Nor does it have the wonky movements that mark it out as fake and thus safe and sane.

As Illyana's anger falters Koa's focus on her becomes more direct. His eyes return to normal but the backing up - the showing of weakness as it were - comes with the sense that he is now very, very aware of her, of what she's doing. Or not doing. Keiko can likely see the inner beast focus in in a very sharp way. Which may concern her. It'll almost certainly concern Anastasia.

Make her remember.

"I can't MAKE her remember." Koa says in English for Anastasia's benefit.

K'nert gives Koa a little glare and scrunches up his beaky nose as if concentrating on something.

Whatever is doing both Koa and Keiko's collar-markings begin to glow. And heat just a little bit.

A little pinpoint of yellow light appears in the air and very, very slowly starts to widen into a flat, opaque, glowing yellow disk that is - yes, blocking the door.

"I told you we wouldn't." Keiko snarls in the same hissing twisty language that seems to curl and slither over your skin when you hear it. "Do I have to skin you and make Elena a dress for you to get that?" That last is spoken in English as the lizard like eyes go more yellow.

"Control yourself." She mutters to Koa, nudging the other agent with her shoulder. "I you don't want her to ru——" A look of anger flashes across her face as the collar burns.

"Stop it now, K'nert." She snaps at the little demon. With the portal open and blocking Anastasia's exit, Keiko barely supresses a snarl. All they need is for the blonde to bolt through that - it will go smashingly well.

"Newt?" Anastasia asks, squinting a bit in confusion at Koa's growl, catching her lower lip between her teeth.

The slow drifting backwards comes to a halt as she twists about when K'nert speaks. It's a bit awkward, not wanting to put her back to any of them and Koa speaking English means he gets the bulk of her attention even if K'nert is the freakiest thing in the room.

"What's going on?" The twisting about causes her to trip over her own feet a bit, sending her stumbling towards the disk, arms spread wide to try to catch her balance.

"I know, I know…" Koa is in the middle of sighing to Keiko as he tries to get a handle on himself, but then Anastasia turns toward him and stumbles right toward the disk and Koa's attention snaps very likely to exactly that Keiko's does. Onto the stumbling blonde.

"Illyana!" Koa lashes a hand out but only manages to snag her shirt enough to twist her as she tries to balance. Yes he did forget to use her other name. Sue him he's still not used to it.

Aaaaaand in she goes. "K'nert you…" The stream of demonic invective that follows is cut short as Koa plunges into the disk after Illyana, motioning to Keiko to come with him.

On the other side the sky is blue. Blue, not red, thankfully. It's light but there is no sun. There are trees all around that look at a cursory glance like pines but really aren't if you know anything about trees. There's the sound of a waterfall not far off. The disk has opened up into a clearing about a hundred feet in every direction that appears to be about three quarters of the way up a mountain. Off to one side there's a large standing stone with odd markings all over it and in the center is a large black staff, forked at one end.

"Anastasia?" Koa says when he comes out the other side. Where's Keiko? He's really, really hoping that the time dilation isn't playing up right now because despite all going in at more or less the same time, coming out…

Well, it USUALLY behaves.

"Don't." It's a command that comes from Keiko as Anastasia stumbles. Not that it matters, the blonde stumbles in.

"You are Elena's clothes." the peruvian growls as moves to grab the blonde, but Koa's there and he blocks in. "Get her."

Without waiting, she follows Koa in and tumbles out on the other side. "Where is she?" There is nothing polite in the way that Keiko speaks. What humanity she had, she's slowly losing and its getting quicker, the more that Koa looses his and can't prod her to remember.

Anastasia/Illyana is some distance away by the time Koa gets through, standing a just before that large standing stone. She's moving in a slow circle to take in the view. It's a *nice* view, like someone dropped them into a Lord of the Rings scene or something, with fantastical geography.

Hearing her name, the blond turns towards Koa, looking puzzled. "This… isn't *there*, right?" The descriptions, the images in the dossier, all showed a much more hellish scape.

"Um…" Koa says as he steps away from the disk which hasn't closed and doesn't close even when K'nert ambles through it. The small demon takes care to keep out of arms reach of Keiko.

"It is. It's a long story. The short version of it is that the place was dying and you hit the reset button on it. And yourself."

He nods while he is speaking to that staff. The one that sits silently in the middle of the clearing. Keiko can feel the ground rumbling beneath her feet but it's not an angry rumble like last time. More like recognition or… hey. That standing stone just lit up. Silvery metal fills the circular grooves - well five of the nine - and that handprint. Elena's handprint.

"It is. Yes." Keiko answers still severely and watches as K'nert keeps his distance. She is so unimpressed with the little demon - he might not be as strong as the other demons but he's a lot, lot smarter. She's tempted to summon Bella and let the wolf have some fun.

The collar at her neck is still glowing and the burn just shy of unpleasant.

"When you hit reset, something happened and that staff … well, none of us can get near it." The rumbling beneath her feet has the peruvian crouching to place her hand flat on the ground.

When K'nert comes through, Anastasia points at the little demon. "What is that? It's… talking, isn't it?" Because they've responded to it in the same manner.

At least the blonde is able to keep all of them one one side of her, making it easier to try to keep her distance. It puts the staff at her back, the forked end framing her head like horns.

"So it and I were nasty and evil before and now we're not?" The question is said jokingly. She doesn't really believe it, though what part isn't clear.

"That's a K'nert." Koa says eyeing. "He's an… imp, would be the best word. And yes he's talking." Koa is very tempted to toss a few threats in demonic toward the little pest but doesn't. Not quite yet at any rate. Maybe later when he can actually think about following through with them.

Koa puts a little space between him and the rock and turns to regard the blonde. She might actually see the sides of his mouth momentarily quirk in a ghost of a smile when he sees the framing she has accidentally set up. "What's up Keiko, do you feel something?" She does, it, weirdly, feels like the mountain purring. When her hand touches the ground it gets louder. Loud enough that everyone can hear the faint rumble coming from below them.

"You and this place had a certain… character before." Evil? Well Limbo was tainted. And it might still be. Illyana was… not evil, or not what Koa would call evil. Not Sifror or Belasco or Nightmare. But it'd be hard to call her good. While he's thinking on it the beast shimmers beneath his skin and this time both Keiko and Anastasia see changes warp him, briefly, before he turns back.

"I know, it's kind of hard to believe. There's a reason we didn't lead with this."

K'nert has walked around to the staff itself and is looking specifically between Keiko and Illyana expectantly.

"It is talking and if it doesn't stop, I'll take it's tongue and wear it as an earring." Keiko answers. That might sound like a threat, but K'nert knows if Keiko can get her hands on him, she'll follow through and not think twice about it. "It's not saying anything of consequence though. Just more like an annoying bee buzzing."

"It knows she's back and its happy …" the spirit caller says to Koa. "Happy. Not angry like the other times." You know, when there was fighting.

If there's any connection between her placing her hand the increase in volume, it doesn't register with the woman.

"Labels are overrated, Anastasia. What is 'good' and what is 'evil'? That changes depending on who speak with. You … were you and it was enough for me to swear to your service."

The horns the staff form are noted but Keiko doesn't crack a smile. "WHAT!?" She says to K'nert for the expectant look he's giving her. "I told you, I won't do it. Stop expecting me to."

She won't even *ask* Illyana to try to take the staff.

Anastasia's expression is one of uncertainty. Certainly not an expression she would ever have *here* as Illyana. Keiko's comment about the place is -feeling- gets something closer to narrow-eyed skepticism. "It's… happy." Yeah, she seems dubious.

She doesn't like K'nert getting closer though, and when he moves closer to the staff, she moves further away. "Won't do what?"

"He wants Keiko to ask you to touch the staff. It used to be yours, so we think that you can unlike anyone else who has tried." Koa folds his arms and considers what to say next. He glances to Keiko though he doesn't really expect any help from that quarter. The mountain is definitely alive in some sense and it is reacting to Illyana's presence, or possibly to Keiko's. Happy? That he's not sure about. Is anything in Limbo, even this Limbo, ever happy?

The silence draws out for another moment and in that time the asteral beast leans out of Koa to peer at Anastasia. Really peer at her. She - and Keiko - can both see it doing something that very much looks like sniffing in her direction. Koa doesn't seem to notice.

"I have to admit…" Koa says as his beast disappears back in with him none the wiser. "… that I'd like to see what happened if you did touch it. But you don't have to. We can leave the way we came. I'll show you what we have on you that you haven't already seen, like I promised." That will, hopefully, at least prove to her that she is indeed who they say she is. Maybe, just maybe, that'll spark something.

"Either way, if you want to come back here, if you want to try that staff later, we'll bring you. It's yours so just say the word."

"Stop CODDLING the human. She's holding back the Darkchild. We NEED the Darkchild back."

We're doing this MY way K'nert. And if you argue with me again, Keiko wanting to practice her tanning will be the least of your worries." Koa snaps. K'nert peers at him and then settles his head down, seeming to smirk a bit. To Anastasia the exchange sounds testy though… a lot of things said in that language do.

"I think Keiko will agree when I said this wasn't the way we planned to introduce you to this… place." So, you know. Oops.

"He wants the Darkchilde back." Keiko says, watching Illyana. "I …. are you … happy, Anastasia. With your life? With what you're doing?" No one has really asked her that and both she and Koa have been making decisions based on that assumption.

"We discussed, yes, ways of getting you to see this place and perhaps jog your memory. K'nert decided to speed things up, I guess."

They do need the Darkchilde back, Keiko acknowledges this but she's not going to consign Illyana to a life that she doesn't want.

"If you don't want to, we will leave and can come back if you want, like Koa says." If she does though - well the staff is right there.

Anastasia flinches when Koa and K'nert exchange 'words'. It sounds more than 'testy'. Pale blue eyes shift towards the staff as it's brought up, her jaw setting a bit, fingers twitching ever so slightly.

The blonde's contemplation of the staff is distracted by Koa's beast as it 'peeks out', and he doesn't so much as bat an eye. "Should I worry that your ghost-beast there is going to take a bite out of me?" She asks jokingly. Well. Tries. It sounds a bit too serious.

Keiko's question of happiness has the blonde pausing. "I… guess? It feels like something's missing, and it's frustrating, but I'm not… unhappy?" Her gaze finally swings back over to the staff.

That actually gets a small laugh from Koa. It's a slightly sardonic one but it is a laugh all the same. "No, I don't think he will do that." Jake, yeah Jake might have gotten bit. But 'Anastasia'? No, she won't. He's pretty confident of that. What else might it - he - do? Good question. There's a part of him that wants to be… protective. Very protective. It's sort of an effort not to be. Koa manages it but it's a harder fight than it might have been a few weeks ago. His control isn't what it was the last time he, Keiko and Anastasia met.

"Try it if you want to. Take your time if you like. It's safe enough with the two of us here and believe me while you're here you've got time to think." If not, well, he's already made the offer. The staff just stands there. K'nert finally moves away from it going to sit on a rock under a tree. He might try looking cute if cute were a thing he did but it really isn't.

"Neither Keiko nor I will make you do anything. Just… understand that you're not just anybody, Anastasia. And while we'll do everything we can to let you live however you chose to, there might be others who aren't so considerate."

At least the imp has shut up, mmm?

"Not unhappy is not happy, though, is it." Keiko says. It's not really a question she's asking, either. "Can you live your life, knowing that you might get the answers you're looking for, fill in the gaps - and be not unhappy? Or would you like to live your life knowing you made decisions being in full possession of the facts?"

She's not grumbling or cussing. If anything this is the most the 'human' she's seemed in a while. "Take your time though… to make up your mind."

That's all she has to say as she turns away and goes to kneel at the stone, gazing at Elena's *older* handprint. What had the message meant?

"You don't *think*?" Anastasia's voice rises a bit at the end there. So Very Not Comforting. She gives a shake of her head that turns into a whole shake of her body, as though to throw off unwanted thoughts weighing her down.

With a mild frown, she looks at K'nert. Then Koa. Then Keiko. Finally the staff itself. There's that small twitch of her fingers again. She can almost feel it against her palm.

It doesn't take more than a handful of steps to close the distance, and like someone jumping into ice cold water, she reaches out without pause to grab hold of the staff and pull it free.

When she does, there's a sound that echoes out, like a tuning fork that's been struck. Eldritch light runs from the staff over the woman. Up the blonde's left arm, leaving gleaming silver armor in its wake. Up her arm, across her torso, down her right leg.

Koa doesn't add any more. Just watches as she makes her decision. When the staff comes free the force of the sound makes him turn his head and as the armor appears he stares. And then… it begins to rain. Not hard. Not enough to really make anything wet. But enough that there's actually - impossibly - a rainbow in Limbo. Just for a moment.

The entire mountain begins to rumble but not in the angry way that Keiko has heard before. It begins to rumble in a tone not unlike the one that was made when the staff pulled free. The handprint flashes once and then, well then Keiko probably has other things to look at.

Koa takes a breath in and for a moment no words come. Then he finds his voice.


K'nert has hopped down off his rock and is crouched very, very low. But not close enough for Keiko to grab.

Keiko adds nothing more. She learnt when to be silent in the Nightfall. What she thinks of Koa's beast or Koa himself, she keeps to herself. Would it bite Illyana? No. It would not. If she suspects anymore, she's not saying.

As Illyana takes the staff and becomes covered in armour, as the mountain sounds out its satisfaction - the small peruvian holds her breath. Then she lets it out again "Darkchilde …."

The armor-clad blonde's eyes have closed. Both hands wrap around the haft of the staff and slowly set the butt-end against the ground between her feet. She stands like that, quietly, for a long moment. There's a tic in her cheek and a clenching of her jaw. When she finally opens her eyes, they burn white with power. Power that Koa saw, her body becoming that familiar bonfire when she took up the staff.

"Yes." The tone is short as she answers Koa, and then glances over to Keiko and her mouth sets into that hard line. "Yes." She replies, her tone if anything even more short.

One hand pulls away from the staff, opening in a palm-out gesture to forestall a deluge of questions. "I'm going to need a moment." That hand turns and she snaps, summoning stepping disks to take Koa and Keiko back to Earth.

Guess she's going to need more than a moment.

Koa nods once. "Of course." He eyes K'nert who eyes him back. What's Koa going to do, he's on the other side of the-

There's a rippling sound as Koa's astral beast 'rushes' next to K'nert followed shortly by Koa's physical form. The imp proves slightly too slow to dodge the grab and the WAND agent scruffs it and pins it under his arm.

"Let's go." That's to Keiko. There's disks for them to use. She needs a moment clearly. He disappears though the disk with no further words.

As for Koa himself… the glow coming from the blonde once more tells him that she is 'back'. More or less. Questions, clarifications, all that can wait. Part of him knows he should regret this. He knows that he should feel sad that she's taken up that staff again. If she'd left it she'd be free. Koa and Keiko would have had a MUCH harder time of it, but Illyana would be free and clear. And yet, he can't help but feel that even here, in Limbo, something might finally after so long be going right.

And all it took was for someone to damn herself. Again.

There's no words from Keiko as Illyana seems to be back. Just a nod and her watching impassively as Koa tussles with K'nert.

Stepping on to the disc that has been summoned, the peruvian wonders what it all means. She's not sure anything is going right or if it ever will again.

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