2020-06-02 - A Rebeun


A skin walker decides it wants red hair.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Jun 2 07:40:09 2020
Location: RP Room 1

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Sun Tzu once said in his oft quoted and poorly understood treatise that 'all war is deception.' In this… he was wrong. All war is waiting. Soldiers wait for orders, they wait for H-Hour, they wait for the enemy, they wait just to find out what they'll be waiting for next. That is no less true when the conflict is supernatural. Fenris and his allies have a plan and a plan that has to be enacted as soon as is reasonable. But some things cannot be rushed and between locating a missing sword, Ambrose training up and trying to catch Gurim, Hathis and Huzurth out, there's not a whole lot of immediate impact to be done right now.

Funny thing about waiting though. Sometimes while waiting for one thing you can stumble into something else entirely.

Sometimes it's just unavoidable, going out at night. Pepper knows the pain. She has the kind of boss who can occasionally inflict it, but then sometimes there are business needs that need a late night seeing to and sometimes one just needs a good deli sandwich at one in the morning. Whatever the case it is late. So late that it has become early and about two miles from Stark Tower, despite this being a very safe part of town, it does not feel safe. There's something about the shadows that seem sinister, like they're hiding threats. The feeling is very much an atavistic throwback to the times that humanity huddled near the firelight for fear of what lurked in the dark forest beyond. Only it's all the more uncanny here in this man made forest of concrete and steel where humanity should be the apex predator.

Tonight, though, there is very much a feeling that humanity is not.

Scratch. Scratch. Scraaaaaaatch. Goes something in an alleyway. Unsettlingly.

There is NO way that Pepper is actually eating this late at night, but considering the back to back meetings she has on deck tomorrow, she already knows that she's going to be eating while muted on phone conference calls, and with that in mind as well as the typical late night demand for a reuben, she opted to make a quick run to the local deli. Well, not literal run. Brisk walk. She even opted to put on a pair of flats she keeps in her office.

As she approaches the deli, she lowers her phone, glancing around with her eyebrows furrowed lightly. She's made this deli run numerous times before. What's different n— The scratching makes her pause, and she can't help but feel like a rodent freezing to try and avoid the sharp eyes of an owl flying overhead. This is NOT a sensation she enjoys, not at all, and her standard kneejerk reaction is to want to out-intimidate whomever is trying to intimidate her. But… there's no one here. Just that scratching.

Happy happenstance that another slinky shadow is in the area at the time? Maybe so, maybe not, but on one of those idle wisps of instinct he's come to trust more fully than the average human over the near century and a half of his life, Ambrose is in this section of town as well.

In fact, he's across the street and pauses just out of immediate fall of one of the yellow cones of streetlight. In a dark jacket and equally dark beanie-cap pulled down over his silvery hair, he's gone very still because two things have occurred to him.

One: that is Pepper Potts, he'd know the red hair and that carriage of self anywhere.

Two: he can barely hear the scratching sound and it sets the fine hairs on his neck to rising. Unknowns are uncomfortable and this absolutely qualifies.

"Miss Potts." The greeting, accent crisp as always, floats over even as he does, at a measured pace, glancing left and right to avoid street traffic. "Good to see you as always. Shall we continue?"

Sitting on a the eave of a rooftop not far from this sound is an overly large raven. It's easily the size of a small dog. The aura the bird emits probably isn't helping Peppers sense of well being but its bright eyes are fixed on that alleyway.

As for Ambrose, he might feel the antibane stir as he draws near to the bird. Just before it speaks to the pair beneath her "Have a care, Ambrose. There is evil afoot."

There is a maxim in horror writing that the unknown is scary. That the longer you can delay showing someone the horror in your tale, the better because human imaginations are so much better at terrifying us than concrete objects. Making something an object or creature demystifies it and makes it less unfathomable and thus less frightening.

This is also untrue.

A… mass… about nine feet tall drags itself from the alley. It is entirely difficult to describe. It looks like it is covered in rags, until one realizes that those rags are in fact tatters of skin. It has legs which are constantly a bit crooked and too long arms with FAR too long claws, claws long enough to drag on the ground and make that SCRAAAAAATCH sound as it moves. It turns to look at Pepper and Ambrose and while its face is cast in shadow there's a sense, somehow, that it is smiling.

"Ah. Good. You look suitable. Rich. Respected. Yes. You'll do." The voice is rough and gravelly and very deep. "Yes… quite a good skin for me…"

Not talking TOO Pepper really. More talking at and about her.

And to make matters worse there is a sudden sense of primal, unknowable dread coming from BEHIND Pepper, Ambrose and the talking Raven. Nevermore, surely.

Turning quickly, Pepper tries to not let it be blatantly obvious how relieved she is that Ambrose just happens to be here. She's failing on two counts: her relief is written as boldly as a billboard, and why is it that Ambrose /just happens/ to be here? Then There's Astryd's warning just before the … THING reveals itself from the alleyway.

She can't help the gasp and small step back in shock and horror at the knuckle-dragger, her hand disappearing into her shoulder bag. Those with sharp ears and eyes might be able to tell she's blindly rummaging through her bag's contents even as she's trying to not visibly let this creature scare every last bit of composure out of her.

Upon hearing the familiar avian voice, the Jackal glances up. Of course ambient light flickers through his pupils in carmine, but then it never leaves, courtesy of the Bane lingering shallowly beneath his skin.

He confirms drolly with the Raven, "Of course, Astryd. The very sensation of it is making my molars hurt." A joke or not? Doesn't matter once the source of the scratching makes itself known. Ambrose turns and even his knee-jerk reaction of reaching for a revolver slows at the sheer impossible horror that slaps him visually. The shiver to run up his spine is visceral in the most basic manner, stemming from his lizard brain.

"Whaaaaaaat…theruddyfuck?!" he hisses, knowing that if he speaks any louder, his voice will fracture. Then that thing SPEAKS — and he can't help the unconscious snarl pulling his lips back to fully expose those canines a hair too sharp to be purely human.

And then the feeling of dread from behind has the Jackal wheeling now with both revolvers drawn like some demented magician's trick and so very ready to be fired at the barest necessity of self-defense.

In an instant the raven launches into the air and by the time she lands on the ground she's a woman. A tall, stern looking, blonde. Perhaps incongrously, the blonde removes the pin from her hair and it transfers to sword and shield. "You are not wanted here. You are not to be here. Begone before we banish you back where you belong."

It's so very, very confident.

The creature laughs. "Do you think, psychopomp, that I am frightened of you. I'll skin the redhead and wear her like an expensive suit. I'll hollow you out and keep you around for when I wear her out." The creature raises both arms and takes a couple of steps forward. It smiles unpleasantly at Ambrose. "You I won't wear. I'll turn that curse of yours inside out and make you Just. Like. Me. I'll even watch you hollow out your first skin. It should break you nicely, watching yourself do that."

Another step. And then it stops. Perhaps waiting for the reaction.

Orrrrrrr maybe it's because something just silently glided out of the darkness behind them. A black wolf with glowing crimson eyes as big as a house. Or as tall as one anyway. But SO very quiet. And with all the horror in front of them, Pepper miiiiiight not notice what has arrived behind. Well. Unless Ambrose starts and shoots.

Pepper backs up as the creature steps forward, because it's either that or curl up on the sidewalk and freak out. But her dad didn't raise a wilting flower. Pulling her hand from her shoulder bag, she quickly brandishes two honestly tiny and potentially useless items: a thin and delicate looking hairstick made from a blackish metal, and a simple letter opener that gleams silvery in the surrounding street lamps.

She'd very much like to snark back at this thing, but she honestly doesn't think her voice would work. She'd probably just squeak. And that's just undignified.

He knows, somewhere in some quiet, calm place in his mind, that Astryd has landed nearby and, assuredly, the sword and buckler have come out. Ambrose, however, is busy staring at the sudden appearance of a very large, very darkly-furred, dreadfully scary wolf with red eyes that — oh wait.

"Oh ffffffffffuck me," he wheezes, the dead-on aim of both revolvers dropping an amount to betray recognition. It doesn't stop his heart from continuing to dance up in his throat as if it wanted to crawl right on out, knowing this particular wolf.

Knowing who this is doesn't ease up one ounce on the miasm of malevolence in the air. He does, however, managed to turn in time to catch this creature's apparent intent for himself. The threat makes the Bane flare up in self-defense like the corona about the sun as he aims the revolvers towards it.

The Jackal does manage a few things in a dusty-dry, hissing language in retort. His courage is buoyed by the Bane's insistence that this thing should, quite frankly, go away. It's not polite. It's really, reeeeeally impolite. And probably anatomically impossible.

"Nice of you to make it, my heart." Astryd says calmly as the feeling of dread creeps up from behind. "Our … guest … here was just telling me what he would do to me."

"I say it again, creature, you are not welcome here and we will do what we must to eject you." Astryd moves so Pepper is behind her and hands her a small dagger that she had concealed … somewhere.

The big black wolf stops, letting his leg get illuminated by the streetlamp. The creature backs up a few paces. When it does everyone can see darkness leaking out of her. As if Darkness were something tangible. A goop that could evaporate into the air. The creature growls and then turns back into the alley.

"Perhaps…" It says as it departs. "We shall meet again…"

After a moment the dragging of its claws can no longer be heard. It's gone.

The next thing Pepper knows there's an ENORMOUS furry paw and leg beside her.

"Well." Says the house sized wolf. "That was interesting."

Pepper is perfectly okay with Astryd stepping in front of her, and she even accepts the small dagger without complaint, holding it in the same hand as the black metal hairstick. She stares at the hideous creature with wide deer-in-headlights eyes, not even realizing that the growing feeling of dread getting very close to drowning her composure is NOT coming from it, but from behind them.

The the hideous shapeshifter decides to not pester further and leaves, and she flinches in surprise at the positively enormous lupine paw and leg next to her. But after the initial startle, realization hits and turns to hug the furry leg and hide her face from where that thing just departed.

The adrenaline crash is a bitch, she's not felt this since her first college swim meet, leaping into the pool to help a fellow student who hit her head on the high dive. She even now doesn't clearly remember more than just standing there as the medics arrived to whisk the girl to the hospital, and then finding herself sitting in the locker room wrapped in towels and shaking irrationally.

And, aw, damnit, now she's shaking just like that again. Son of a bitch.

"I would listen to the lady…" growls the Jackal as he takes up a place beside Astryd, so very ready to come to blows with this thing. How dare it show up — how dare it threaten them — threaten him — claim to think it could force him to do such a thing —

He watches the thing suddenly begin to retreat, to ooze out that oily anti-light, and even takes a single bold step after it, teeth still bared. But no, it's gone, and Ambrose with his adrenaline-heighted senses can't hear any slithery slip of long talons on the ground any longer.

With some true effort (and really only because he's been training like a fiend in controlling both Bane and Anti-Bane), the Jackal is able to bring the curse to beneath his skin rather than attempting to lash out at everyone in fury. Inhaling deeply, he then swallows down his mouthful of metal and fear-tang and puts his revolvers back into their hidden places on his coat with irritated shoves. "As interesting as something I wish never to see again." His voice is quiet, forced to something just sturdier than a quiver. His eyes flicker to Pepper and his brows quirk. "Deep breaths then, Miss Potts. Kent would tell you to bring yourself to the now — use your senses to anchor yourself in the present," he suggests softly.

"Are you alright, Miss Potts?" Astryd asks as she turns to the redhead, slipping an arm under the other womans surrepticiously to keep her upright. "I'm sure that was a shock for you. We will do what we need to, to make sure you aren't bothered by that thing."

"You have a way with words, my heart. Do you know where it's retired to? And Ambrose, I take it you took no harm in the encounter?"

"No…" Fenris says slowly, glancing down as Pepper hugs his leg. Which is at the moment rather like hugging a lamp post. He's huge. He's got legs like trees. Well. Fuzzy, warm, sort of soft trees that smell like summer in a living forest.

"That a creature that mortals used to call a Skin-Walker. It comes from the Void and it wears skins to prolong it's ability to remain here. The very fact that it is here at all means that we've had a breach in reality and that's a problem.

The big wolf lowers his massive head down near Pepper and Astryd and Ambrose. "It's alright Miss Potts. You were quite brave." It's not clear that brave would have been enough but he doesn't say that.

"What are you two doing out this late, if I may ask?"

"Pfft." Yes, Pepper just scoffed at Fenris, though it was likely more felt than heard. She mentally rewinds what Ambrose said and tries to do what he suggested. Touch. The fur on Fenris' leg is warm, and only slightly wiry, and Astryd is here now supporting her. Smell. Huh. He doesn't smell like dog. More like … walking through a forest. Hearing. Cars in the distance.

She steps back from Fenris' leg finally, completely trusting Astryd, and feeling a bit steadier besides after doing the little mental centering Ambrose suggested. "That was a Skin-Walker?" The name's off. Figures.

"Oh. Astryd, thank you." She offers the small dagger back before she accidentally cuts something with it. "I was heading to the deli to get a Rueben for Tony and lunch for myself for tomorrow."

"No harm whatsoever. That I cannot sleep is a grand boon indeed," opines the master-thief in reply to Astryd. Yep: nightmare-free, this one. Flash-backs? Not so much. Still, he looks from the Raven and then up into the large — very large face of Fenris. To hear of what the thing is makes him glower in discomfort. Shit. He's going to have to let Kent know and it's yet another complication in this whole mess.

After Pepper explains her reasoning for being out and about in the area, Ambrose chimes in. "I had an intuition something was…incorrect, in the area. I think it may have been per the inclination of the anti-curse." The Anti-Bane, he means. "I have learned not to ignore my gut instincts over the years. It was insistent this area be patrolled." Blunt nails scratch at his jawline in passing, this covered in a fine field of silvery five o'clock shadow. "I was not wrong and I am uncertain that I am pleased for it."

"Were you now?" Astryd asks of Pepper. "Fenris knows the best place for Reubens. Perhaps you'll permit him to convey us that way." It might not be in New York, but Astryd doesn't expound on that fact.

"And yes, it was, Miss Potts. A skin walker with a touch with the Void. As you rightly surmised, Ambrose." It is in fact what had called to Astryd and alerted, at least her, to its presence. Finding it wasn't difficult from there.

It's a small miracle though, that the maeljin hadn't urged the blonde to attack.

"It was, well yes. A bit of semantics. It was the void creature behind the people that the Navajo would eventualy call skin walkers. yee naagloshi. They're very dangerous beings. But like most void creatures they can't distinguish mortals well. You all look the same. So the odds of you getting a return visit are low. Still, we should take precautions."

Ambrse gets a concerned look. "You, unfortunately it might remember better. You are rather distinctive or rather your twin banes are." There's a short pause. They should do something about THAT too. Maybe they can find this thing. Or maybe another opportunity will present itself to put a dent in Gurim's plans.

"I can take us to Los Angeles if you really want a good Ruben." It's late there but, hey. Fenris KNOWS people. Besides how many people say no to a house sized dog when he scratches on your back door? Fenris has the most adorable begging face.

Well maybe not the MOST adorable but being as big as he is, he can get fed in a hurry.

After Pepper lets him go he shrinks down into a more human looking and very familiar financier. Pepper has of course seen him before (and Ambrose and Astryd see him all the time) but… he might actually WORK with Stark fairly regularly. People in Finance in this city tend to.

Los Angeles? Oh. Pepper knows the place. It's where she orders from when she and Tony are at SI's California offices. And he would definitely recognize the difference if she brought him that sandwich instead of the one from this local deli. She really doesn't think she could handle the questions that'd elicit. Not tonight.

"Thank you, but next time perhaps? I don't think I have it in me to explain how I just ran down the block and brought back a reuben from L.A. The deli here is perfectly fine."

A nod of agreement with Astryd again — indeed, the Anti-Bane had yanked on his proverbial chain until he'd come to check on things.

To hear that he might be even more recognizable than the standard being on the street to this Skin-Walker creature has Ambrose pressing his lips together before he sucks on a canine tooth. Shifting his weight on place, still subtly filled with tension, he blandly comments, "It is an absolute curse to be this handsome." More seriously, the master-thief adds, "And I refuse to be bait for this creature unless very serious precautions are put into place. Regardless of the quality of these reuben sandwiches, I doubt it would be interested in one of them. They likely will not work."

He then looks between Astryd and Fenris in particular, his gaze slanting to take in Pepper briefly as well. Inevitably, it returns to the Dread Wolf. "You said there was a break in reality? Where? It should be immediately addressed, yes?"

Astryd finally takes the dagger back from Pepper without mentioning it at all. Where she stores it, is any ones guess - but it disappears. "Well if that's the case, we shall walk with you and make sure you return safely to the … office?"

Fenris can answer about the breach.

"If it were going now I would know about it." Fenris says. "So mostly the we have to deal with the fallout of the breach. Of which it appears this Naagloshii is part. The biggest problem I can see right now is the fact that it occurred at all. That means that something has weakened reality enough that something like the Naagloshii can break through. Or that it had outside help. Either is bad."

Fenris motions to Astryd. They'll walk with Pepper for a bit. It's only a few blocks. And they can make sure that Ambrose is indeed as okay as he seems to be.

"Well, since we're going, I'd like a Ruben too." Maybe Astryd can think of something she'd like.

"And a cannoli."

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