Air Limbo

August 18, 2014: Maria Hill finally gets her meeting with Illyana. It proves to be rather enlightening. (Language.)

Quinjet patrolling off the South Carolina coast

An oil rig was recently lost out here due to an Atlantean attack.



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Mood Music:

It's been a few days since the oil rig disaster took place in the Atlantic. It hasn't been easy for those in the Division, a lot of lives had been lost. Not everyone had been accounted for, and the disaster that became of the rig itself remains one giant sore spot for the country at large. Hill's not sure what she's hoping to accomplish by taking one of the Quinjets out, going against better judgement in an unscheduled solo flight across the ocean in search of ..something. Anything. Bodies of their fallen? A visual reminder of what it means to fail?

It's not easy getting time away from responsibility, to begin with. A chance to take the controls of something fast and specialized is its own form of therapy, though it does nothing to ease the tension from her person. If not for the issued gloves she might end up leaving fingerprint indentations in the flight controls.


There isn't any warning, just the sudden blaze of light as a two-dimensional disk suddenly flares to life in the cockpit with Hill. It starts near the ceiling and quickly falls over on the co-pilot's side and then it winks back out. But it left behind something. Or rather, someone. Long blonde hair, a faded Black Sabbath T-shirt, an old, worn pair of jeans and thick-soled boots that come all the way up to her knees. One of which rests on the dashboard, just to the side of any controls. The boots have silver buckles in the shape of skulls and subtle designs of pentagrams and other arcane sigils on them. Silver rings decorate some of her fingers, bracelets of chains and spikes. But none of that agressive attire holds a candle to the eerie emptiness in those cold blue eyes as the blonde looks over. "So I heard you've been looking for me." She says, all casual-as-you-can-be.

Illyana likes to pick her moments to drop in on people. Especially dangerous people. Sure, she can teleport pretty damned fast but she's still emminently breakable. So she picks times when they're vulnerable. Less likely to be able to attack her. Of course, there's also the fact that it's damned funny to see their reaction and subsequently make them squirm. She's still part demon, no matter ho much she tries to play the hero.


Ever since humankind had learned the secrets of flight one thing had always remained constant. When someone is up in the sky it's a feeling of isolation. They feel properly alone out there, too fast or too far out for anything else to catch up to, let alone drop on inside. This holds true for Hill, as well. Aside from the various radio equipment she's out here by herself, and that's how it's going to stay.

With the flash of light it's all she can do to snap the seat harness open and dart a hand out to slap the autopilot, all but falling out from behind the controls as she scrambles for the sidearm holstered at her side.

She doesn't quite make it.

"You ever hear of knocking?!" she barks before holding a hand up to her forehead. "Scared the shit out of me. 'Illyana,' I assume." Hopefully she's had her laugh by now, too. Since it would seem that there's not much of an immediate threat the Deputy Director drops back into her seat, though she leaves the webbing undone for now. Just in case.

"I can see why you're such a difficult person to find. It's not every day I put this much effort into finding someone with your profile for a reason other than you being a serious cause of trouble."


"Awww, I'm not a cause of trouble?" Illyana gives Hill a grin that's all feral teeth. "That's the sweetest thing I've heard all day." The blonde does indeed chuckle, but doesn't seem to be laughing at Hill's reaction per se.

"Give I spend a good half of my time in a place you likely can't get to, and I just moved in to somewhere on this side of things I'm not too surprised. You're not exactly the kind of person I want to be looking for me. So. What's up?" Illyana asks, arching one brow as she looks over at the deputy director.


"You're not the biggest blip on my radar," Hill 'corrects.' "I'd be thrilled if you tried to keep it that way." (Good Lord this lady's unnerving…)

Here, however, Maria finds a smirk of her own which falls shy of anything openly friendly. "I am faced with a peculiar dilemma which is outside of my realm of expertise, and that of most of the Division. I happen to know a man who has recently come to acquire something of a powerful nature, whether you'd consider it 'infernal' or 'arcane' or whatever the Hell. He doesn't fully understand what it is and what it does, and -I- want to know how much I need to be concerned about what it is and what it does. Finding myself with a sudden lack of common-sense, I've decided to turn to you."

Leaning over in her seat a little, she asks "What would you say to becoming a personal trainer? Just long enough so that he doesn't potentially ignite half of Manhattan because he ate too much sugar."


Illyana listens quietly, the intensity of having the full of Illyana's attention can be rather disconcerting. There's a reason Illyana doesn't have a lot of friends. She tends to scare them.

"Well." She says finally, her own smirk playing about her lips. "That was vague." She drawls. "If he hadn't been the one to say you were looking for me we'd have to spend the next who-the-hell-knows how long with me trying to figure out what you're talking about. I'm not a telepath, you know. If you want me to read your mind it'll be painful. And messy. Is this your way of saying the place might be bugged and I should be circumspect in what I say?" That's asked seriously enough and while Illyana's manner tends to be flippant to mocking, it doesn't seem terribly personal. More like she finds the whole world some big damned joke. Or well, it's laugh or cry.

The offer has her brows going up a bit. "Personal trainer hmm? Why do I not think you want me to spot him lifting weights. Nice as that'd be to watch, mind you."


"I don't get in the habit of needlessly spilling information to people whom I do not know," Hill replies in a level done. "No, what it means is that I don't trust you. Before you take that as a compliment, I don't trust anyone." Which means it probably helps quite a bit that Illyana already knows who she's referring to as far as requiring some help.

"His partner might not be so thrilled about that," she offhandedly remarks. "If you both have had a chance to talk in person then I have to question why he didn't ask you about this, himself. He's recently come into contact with something he calls 'Rapture,' so far we know that he can sense things demonic in nature and that he seems to have a second personality which does not appreciate sensing these things nearby. It's changed him on a physical level at least once. Briefly, but I'm a firm believer of any change in that regard being unhealthy."

"I'll put it as simply as I can. I've reserved a location for you both, it doesn't matter if you trash the place or leave it in better shape than it's in. I want you to push him, see what he does and see what -it- does, and I'm thinking that isn't going to be much of a problem for you." Because, -yikes.- Even her aura's got thorns. "It seems to react to demons, and I hear that you have the power to summon a couple of friends. Let's put two and two together."

For science.

You monster.


There's that dry, low chuckle again as Hill says she doesn't trust the blonde. "I'm pretty used to folks not trusting me." Illyana says with a shrug. "When they do, it's usually suspicious." Her fingertips tap against the knee of the leg she's got resting on the dash, thoughtful. Unlike a lot of women, Illyana keeps her nails trimmed fairly short and while she's fairly slim, her arms show the muscle tone of someone that gets more than a casual workout in.

"He had questions for me, but it was more about another artifact that's come to his attention more than his own situation. How does he feel about you wanting to turn someone loose on him that he doesn't particularly know. I don't know his cpabilities and neither does he. If I'm going to push him, odds are good that I could break him in the process." Even without knowing his limits, she puts that on the table. That she apparently thinks it's in the range of her abilities.


"Perhaps you could," Hill concedes. "Though that isn't the point of the exercise. Manning seems to be on board with the idea, the notable exception being that he didn't wish to fight 'caged' demons. That he figured they would be incapable of fighting back is completely his own assumption. Unlike some people, I understand the importance of a proper skirmish."

"Similarly," she continues, "we would have the area cordoned off. Not knowing what we're dealing with I wouldn't assume throw him to the wolves and see if he survives the experience, the goal here isn't to find inventive new ways of murdering a New York cop. God knows we've got enough people living in Gotham that are happy to shoulder that burdeon. This is more a fact-finding mission rather than straight-up deathmatch."


"Soooo are you looking to watch then?" Again with that smirk. Like she doesn't know how to actually smile. "And yes, I 'summon' demons as you put it. But I think your idea of summoning them and mine are rather different. The demons that I summon aren't some nebulous creatures from some pit somewhere. They're mine. I'm their ruler. So I'm not going to toss them out like cannon fodder to see what Manning can do. They may be demons but they're my demons. I know their names. They serve me." Which might be a little disconcerting to those that feel demons are something other than a name for ugly extra-dimensional creatures.

"I could probably help find his limits, but depending on his reaction it could all go south and turn from 'fact finding' to 'clusterfuck'." Illyana states baldly. "Question is, do you have any kind of jurisdiction to make this kind of decision? He is, as you said, an NYPD cop. And you're definitely not his Chief."


"How else am I going to get my answers?" Maria replies with a less than genuine smile. "If the idea of having an audience doesn't make you uncomfortable. Performance anxiety can be a real bitch."

The part about the demons unfortunate setback. Though, she's not sure if that's necessarily a -bad- thing. Knowing that all of these creatures are named and looked after means that they're less likely to fly the coop and find an express route back to the Tri-City area just to cause mayhem, right? A housebroken pet isn't as big of a concern as a feral one, and all.

As far as jurisdiction goes, Hill's smile fades slightly. "As you've said you're fairly new here so I might understand if you aren't very familiar with SHIELD. I have jurisdiction, and I have his agreement, and I have the location. This is a rare opportunity for you both, given the number of strings I've had to pull to bring everything together. Now explain to me just how big of a 'clusterfuck' might we be looking at with something like this?"


Illyana's eyes seem to darken, from that crystaline blue of ice to something full of shadows. Cobalt. "He's an unknown quantity with a very powerful item that can apparently unlock doors to anywhere. There are a lot of doors you don't want open. Ever. And even if you know Manning, or think you know Manning, if this other personality you've mentioned takes the bit and rides his body like a prized stallion who knows what could happen."

Again her fingertips taptapatp against her knee. "If he wants to do this, we'll go somewhere I can minimize the variables. My place." Her lips quirk again. "You're welcome to tag along of course. I can't promise you'll enjoy it." Most people dislike Limbo. The evil inherit to it whispers to that human hindbrain.


Ooo-kaaaay then… Getting much more creepy by the second, here. There's an instinctive, primal fear in Hill that wants to have her spazzing out over all of this. The only setback is that she -can't- start spazzing out. She won't let it happen. Sometimes a person just has to cling fast to the confidence that they are still a badass. It's all in her head, nothing more.

Next she's being offered a trip to Limbo. Here's a question that feels self-damning. She could learn a lot by agreeing to such a trip, but it would take her away from the security umbrella that is the Division. It could also profoundly shake her very faith.

What becomes the deciding factor has nothing at all to do with her, or Illyana, or Limbo, and everything to do with Manning. She agreed to take a stand for the guy. Maybe he's not one of her own but she's not going to abandon the guy during something like this. If she doesn't make it back, there's still Fury.

It still comes with the feeling of signing off her soul to the Devil.

"And we can count on you to bring us back -here- when we're finished?"


Illyana pauses, and looks around the quinjet. She points a finger downwards. "Here? Well. If you insist. You sure you don't want me to 'strand' you in Tahiti or something?" The humor is quickly gone and she nods. "Assuming something doesn't go terribly wrong, yes." She holds up a hand before Hill can object. "I'm sure that Manning has let you know about my demonic tendencies. So let me help you out here. I'm not going to give you a promise unless I absolutely know I can keep it. And there's too many variables here for me to be positive. Not that I don't plan to. We can work out some alternatives until you feel like you have an assured way out."

Illyana's head tilts over to the side a bit, and her gaze slips back to that cold, cold ice. "Don't worry. I'm not terribly fond of visitors." There's that brief smirk. "They so rarely appreciate the place." With good reason.


Hill can't help but frown. Was that an attempt at humor? This is serious stuff she's trying to negotiate, here! "Earth, 'reality,' the living world, Midgard, whatever name you want to use for the place. Point is, I'm not looking to take up permanent residence in Limbo."

Tahiti. Why does that sound so familiar… (Note to self: Start looking for contingency plans. Fast. Maybe I can find teleportation services in the Yellow Pages or something.)

The explanation provided doesn't offer a world of comfort but it is helpful. Always helpful to have a better grasp of what she's getting herself (and others!) into.

"Then you'll understand when I say that I'd like to bring along a few extra agents. Much like yourself, I don't get many opportunities to leave home. The children get restless quickly."

She's gonna have fun trying to explain this one to the Director.


Illyana hitches a shoulder in a half-shrug. "Try to limit the number. You bring in a whole platoon or something, my critters are gonna start whining to eat 'just one or two'. I'm not looking to make off with you. If I wanted to do that I'd have yanked you out of your bed last night." Yeah, Hill's going to sleep soundly tonight, isn't she?

"I have a few ideas on how to make this fairly painless but sadly, it's going to require a bit of trust. And you are the one asking me for something." The blonde reminds her.

She might have to wait a week or so before she can find teleportation services in the Yellow Pages. Sadly, it will be with Illyana, under Da Costa International's newly planned project.


Hill knew she was going out on a limb with all of this. A particularly scraggly and partially rotting limb with a distinct lack of hand-holds. Still, nothing happens unless it's pushed for. She's got the safety of an entire country and then some to consider. Her own comfort is secondary, at best. Just another ornery cog in the ol' National Security machine.

That she's managed to get this far without any bargaining chip is probably by sheer luck. That it seems to be working could be seen as a hopeful sign. It could also be seen as putting herself way into debt. Mouth writing checks that her soul can't cash, etc.

"I'll be sure not to turn it into a party. This field trip doesn't thrill me in the least, but if you believe this is our safest option…" She'd be clueless to make such a call, herself. Which falls under the 'not knowing' category. Which she hates with a passion. She doesn't have a choice but to exercise a little trust, here.

"Does this mean that you're willing to assist?"


Speaking of payment…

"Sure. I've got a few more weeks before classes start." … wut? "But. As I'm sure hasn't slipped your mind. I'm a demon. Or enough of one for most people to consider me so. And you never get anything for free from a demon." Oddly, her manner isn't mocking this time. It's almost… grim.


Hoboy. Yes, Hill had honestly been hoping that this issue wouldn't come up. A frown passes over her face once more, silent at first as she reaches back to the controls to make a few course adjustments. They've been covering some respectable distance, and -some-one here can't simply teleport back home when she's done.

"Right," she says with a heavy breath. "Something tells me you're looking for more than some help with advanced trig homework." Being in classes, and all. (I know I'm going to regret asking this, but…) "What's the going rate for a few training sessions these days?"


"I'm not an Engineering major." Illyana says with a short bark of a laugh. "I escaped the evil of Math years ago, thank you." There's that long, long moment of Illyana watching Hill and those small, twitchy movements, required or not. Finally she chuckles. "Relax, Maria. I'm not asking for a piece of your soul." There's that flicker of shadows that cross her eyes. "I wouldn't do that to anyone if I could help it. A favor would be nice." She lets things drag into another pause. "But if that chafes you too much I'll just let you negotiate with my business manager. In the interest of building trust and all."


"Well congratulations," Hill replies in a manner that isn't..all that sarcastic, actually. "I also happen to believe that there's a level of Hell set aside just for that sort of thing."

Hmm. Not a telepath. Clearly Illyana knows something about this woman to have her first name. Maybe Manning is to blame on that one. "If by a 'favor' you aren't thinking 'nuke the capitol of my choice.' I would need to know the specifics before I could agree to anything, though I hope that you'd understand when I say that I'd rather try to figure out payment before rather than after the fact. It's nothing personal, mind. I'd feel the same way toward any deal."


Really, SHIELD's magical protections are sorely lacking. Scrying them is way easier thn it really should be. The suggested possibility gets one of those huffs of amusement. "No, nothing like that. And I don't need anything now but I might in the future." Though. That makes her think. Hmm. Hmm hmm hmm. "Actually. There is something you could do for me. Probably. If you can't you can't, and you can owe me a favor or face my negotiator." The smile she gives Hill is wan, and not at all mirthful. "I'm not going to make you promise or sign to it in blood. And you'd get final veto on if it's something you feel is something you can ethically do."


"Hill?" the radio suddenly kicks in. "Ma'am, are you there? Your flight pattern's not matching our-"

Still scowling from more than inner turmoil, Hill reaches over and turns off the comms without another thought. The situation is considered further as it's explained though she still hasn't heard what this little favor might happen to be. "You've got something in mind? Great, let's hear it."

She's had to deal with governmental bodies before. That's kind of like negotiating with hellspawn, right? Heck, Illyana's proving to be more cordial than a lot of the power-mongrels she's had to stand toe to toe with. Throwing this 'negotiator' into the mix adds one more unknown variable, which naturally has her feeling wary. As usual. Although, it does seem like she's being given a lot more lee-way with this situation than she would have anticipated..!


"I have someone with a… colorful past. I'd like that cleared up." Illyana says, with a too-easy shrug. SHIELD has a lot of pull, right? Illyana figures that she might as well see if she can use it. If not, then nothing lost. Well. Much. She's pretty sure that SHIELD is going to learn more than she'd like but with her and the other New Mutant's plans… Well. It's inevitable.


"I had a feeling this might be the case," The DepDir admits. She can't complain, though. Definitely not as bad as shaving off some of her soul! "I'll need a name, and some time to review their profile. I have limits of my own, I'm not a miracle worker." She could still make decisions which would cost the lady her job and leave her doing some time in a tiny concrete cell.

"-If- I can't," she continues, "then I won't dig any further. At the very least this won't place your friend into any deeper of a hole than they're already occupying." Which means she's going to have to do the investigating on the sly, on her own time.

Damn it feels good to be playing spy games again.


"Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin." While Illyana doesn't have any noticeable accent when speaking, very generic Anywhere USA, the way she speaks the name makes it pretty obvious the girl speaks Russian. Weather Hill knows that Piotr is the Brotherhood-in-hiding member known as Colossus off the top of her head? Well, who knows. And her digging might turn up some information on Piotr's siblings. One of which is named Illyana. She's only fourteen however, and this Illyana is decidedly older. "Get him a clean slate and I'll put your boy through his paces until he cries 'Uncle'." Obviously, whoever Piotr is, he means something to her.


Curious… At the moment the name doesn't mean anything to Maria, but she'll learn about it soon enough. The plot, it is ever thickening. "Give me a chance to dig up what I can on the name and I'll get back to you. some means of getting in contact with you, isn't there?" she inquires with a upturned brow. Even if she has to go through Manning. She'd rather not have to go through Manning. Control freak that she is. Hopefully she can find the connection between this Piotr and the creepy blonde chick riding shotgun in her Quin, too.


"Got a pen?" Illyana asks in that always-mocking tone of hers even as she seems amused. Finding some paper to go with it, Illyana writes down her cellphone number. "Now, I'm not promising that you'll get ahold of me quickly? There's no cellphone reception in Limbo. And it tends to make my phone cranky. But I'm working on something so I can get messages with some reliability." She sets the number down for Hill before looking back to the other woman. "I'm sure it's tempting to dig up everything you can about me. I'd prefer you not go tracking my every move. In return, I won't go nosing into your personal life. Deal?" Hey, it's more than most get from Illyana.


A -pen?- "What is this, middle school?" Hill scoffs. How the digital age spoils people… Having it written on a slip of paper makes it more difficult to track, so she won't complain too much about it. When offered, she accepts. "Understood," she replies though without being too pleased about it. Spotty reception, also irritating. Though, here she looks back to the resident other-dimensional misfit. "Now that is something I can ease your mind about. You're creepy and you unnerve the Hell out of me, but -some-how you've managed to keep a low enough profile that you aren't a wanted individual. So long as you keep doing as you're doing I don't see that this is likely to change." She's got way too many other things trying to claim her focus, if she tracked down every suspicious person she came across she'd have to dissect the entire Division from the inside out.

Tucking the slip of paper away, she says "I'll be in touch." Just her. The further this goes the further away from official SHIELD business it goes.


"Well. The whole low-profile thing is probably going to be going away very soon." Illyana says with a bit of a grimace. "But. It shouldn't be because I'm causing trouble." The assurance comes with a chuckle.

Illyana well knows the sound of a dismissal and with amusement glinting in her blue eyes she tilts her head. "Fly safe." Another portal opens and in a flash it's gone, leaving Maria Hill alone once again. As if she were never talking to anyone at all…

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