More than Ice (Sins of the Father I)

Summary:
November 1, 2014: Lorna arrives to the Savage Land, becomes separated of the X-Men and crashes in a swamp. Not a good day for Polaris.
This scene happens at the same time than the Outsiders scene Crashlanding

The Savage Land

The Great Swamp of the Savage Land, where snakes average 30' long


Characters

NPCs

  • Gaza and other Swamp Men warriors (emits by Magneto)

Mood Music:


Flying at match 3 the Blackbird makes the trip to the Antarctic in a few hours, instead what would have been two days if following Zala’s directions. But, as expected, when the aircraft reaches the coordinates, just beyond the Eternity Mountain Range, there is nothing but a vast plain of ice. At least nothing the sophisticated instruments of the Blackbird can detect from ten miles up. Perhaps there is an igloo or something small down there. There are some low hanging clouds several miles under the plane that make impossible to see the ground, but according to infrared scanners, there is nothing but ice down there.

Strapped into the pilot's seat, Cyclops checks the instruments one more time. "Nothing but ice down there," he reports, before turning to look across the way toward Lorna. "You absolutely sure about this?" He's suited up for this trip, considering recent developments. The man still has missing students to hunt down, but sometimes, a little distraction helps to clear one's head.

"Not even slightly." Comes the reply from the co-pilot's seat, although there's not a lot of co-piloting going on. Polaris' voice is tense, and not only because she's dragged the leader of the X-Men to the bottom of the world on what might turn out to be a wild goose chase. That, she can apologise for later. She's more worried about what they might find if Zala's letter is in any way genuine.

Polaris shifts in her seat, the brand new green and black uniform she's wearing for this trip not having had time to get properly worn-in and comfortable yet. "But I couldn't exactly ignore someone claiming to have dark secrets about my family. You /know/ that'd just come back to bite us sooner or later." Polaris takes a breath, trying to make herself relax. "OK, let's see if I can pick anything up." Polaris closes her eyes, preparing to reach out with her electromagnetic senses, then hesitates and opens one eye to look over at Cyclops. "Just in case this goes badly, I'm going to apologise now in case I don't get chance later." Closing that eye again and leaning back in her seat, Polaris scans the area beneath them with her powers.

Nothing in the radar, nothing in the sensors, nothing odd in the magnetic… wait. Lorna can sense something strange. But what is it? She wouldn’t have any frame of reference. An anomaly, definitely. But it is vague, and some miles under the Blackbird.

Polaris is about to admit defeat, ask Cyclops to turn the Blackbird around, and offer to pay for the spent fuel (and hope he doesn't take her up on that) when she feels… something. It's nothing she can identify, but it's all there is. "Got something." She says, opening her eyes, before honesty compels her to admit. "Maybe. Can you take us down a bit?" Quickly, she explains where she feels the plane needs to go.

There is something strange with the Earth’s magnetic field down there. It is not a troublesome point; it is a broad area, although subtle. As the Blackbird goes down several miles, it doesn’t become more obvious, it remains elusive, almost at the edges of Lorna’s perception.

Then the jet hits some turbulence. Strange, because the instruments didn’t predict unusual winds. But the weather can be mysterious and treacherous.

Then, suddenly, all the instruments go crazy. The engines splutter. And it feels as an invisible hand has grabbed the Blackbird and tossed it down as if it was a toy. Also, the magnetic field changes completely!

Did Lorna black out a few seconds? Next thing she knows is the co-pilot seat has ejected and she is flying, or falling. Still about a mile high, and the ground is no longer white, it is green.

As the Blackbird turns toward the heading she'd indicated, Lorna closes her eyes again, frowning as she tries - and fails - to get a good reading on whatever's below them. She feels she /should/ be able to understand what she's feeling, but it's frustratingly ephemeral, thwarting her every attempt - and causing her a rising amount of annoyance into the bargain. Her expression had hardened into a fierce frown of concentration when everything suddenly goes to hell. Lorna's eyes pop open, but she doesn't really see the chaos within the Blackbird, because her powers are telling her that the Earth's magnetic field is trying to turn inside-out…

…and then, she's not even IN the Blackbird any more! Her head's spinning, figuratively and literally as she tumbles, still strapped into her seat, the motion making her feel quite ill. "Scott!" She shouts, reflexively, but wherever he and the Blackbird are, they're clearly not within earshot, and Lorna needs to turn her energies toward saving herself! Reaching out for the magnetic fields that are suddenly so wrong, she tries to arrest her descent. If that doesn't work, she'll have to hope the ejection seat's parachute deploys, but she'd much prefer to land under her own power.

No, the Blackbird (or Scott) is nowhere close and the ground is approaching quickly. Lorna has a few seconds to protect herself with a magnetic shield before impacting the ground. The parachute system of the chair does nothing!

The impact with the ground is nasty, even with the shield, but fortunately she is not landing on hard ground. Lorna falls in the middle of a swamp, making a pretty large splash.

Whatever's wrong with the magnetic field in this place, it's preventing Lorna getting a good enough hold of it to levitate herself. The tighter she tries to grasp at it, the more it slips through her fingers. It's frustrating - and the whole situation of suddenly being blasted out of the Blackbird is unnerving enough as well - but she only really appreciates the gravity of her situation when the parachute - if it's even still in place - fails to deploy. As the ground rushes up toward her, Lorna feels an icy wash of terror, and instinctively curls up into the tightest ball that she can manage, throwing up the strongest magnetic shield that she can muster.

She still expects to be smeared across the landscape, so a heavy splashdown in a swamp should be an improvement, right? Bruised, battered, astounded to be alive and fairly sure she's drowning, Lorna flails and struggles in water that's no more than knee deep until she manages to stagger to her feet, looking around wildly, breathing in quick, shallow pants. Locating a piece of ground that looks a bit more solid than the rest, Lorna wades and squelches her way over to it and collapses, concentrating on getting her heartbeat and breathing under control for the first minute or so. Once she's sure that her heart isn't actually going to hammer its way out through her chest, she raises her head, looking out at the swamp through her soaking and even more green than usual hair. Pushing it out of her face, she wrings it out as best she can and says in an aggrieved tone, "I definitely preferred being an only child."

It is a swamp, it is warm, there is mist, and it is raining. It is also impossible, since it is Antarctica. Or it is?

There is a hole in Lorna’s perceptions: for the first time since her powers manifested, she can’t feel the Earth’s magnetic field. And that is probably why flight was difficult.

Otherwise the swamp looks like a normal swamp. There are snakes, some birds chirping and a hungry alligator coming her way… except it stands, and it is not an alligator. It is some kind of biped reptile like 10 feet tall. It could be a dinosaur, but of course it can’t possibly be a dinosaur. Really. Also, it is going to bite her.

Things are indeed even more weird than Lorna had immediately appreciated, but she HAS just survived a plunge from an aircraft without a parachute, so perhaps she can be forgiven for missing the blatantly obvious. It becomes clear to her before she's taken her first squishy step away from her temporary refuge, however, and she abruptly halts, looking around again. "Where the hell am I?" She asks in a low voice, before hesitantly reaching up to check her head for trauma. No, plenty of the rest of her is bruised, but her head seems OK. She has to assume that she's not hallucinating.

The next thing she does, since she's starting to think a little more like an X-Man, is go for her communicator - which of course, is nowhere to be found. "Wonderful." Lorna grouses, wondering what on Earth she's supposed to do next - alone, standing in an impossible swamp, with no way to contact anyone… and the Earth's magnetic field has apparently gone missing. At least the ten foot alligator answers that question for her, what she's going to do next is RUN!

Not trusting her command of her powers in this strange place enough to risk flight - because she's fairly sure she'd faceplant into the swamp, and that would be fatal - Lorna runs as fast as she can, staying on relatively solid ground as much as possible, leaping pools of stagnant water - and all the while searching for something she can get a grip on with her magnetic powers. She needs SOMETHING to throw at the giant lizard, and soon!

The swamp is sadly scarce in iron or anything easy to manipulate with magnetism. It is possibly she could keep the lizard at bay with a forcefield. Maybe. Definitely it is giving chase, it is fast, and only that it needs to break through the dense vegetation clusters where Lorna can move easily is slowing him down enough he has not bitten her yet.

To make things more interesting something very large passes over Lorna just a few yards up, casting a huge shadow for a second. The mist swallows up whatever it was, but the beast chasing her stops and roars loudly.

Lorna grits her teeth as she finds nothing within her magnetic range that she can use to protect herself. If she doesn't want to get eaten, she's going to have to try flying after all - but then that shadow falls upon her, and Lorna ducks instinctively, still running, but now with her head down and her shoulders hunched. Maybe going up there ISN'T such a good idea… She glances back, despite herself, at the bellowed challenged the big lizard lets out, realising with a flash of surprise that it's not aimed at her. Instead, whatever's just passed overhead seems to have annoyed it. Lorna does the only thing she can think of, cutting to one side and running at a right angle from her previous path, away from both the lizard and the flying… thing, trying to lose herself in the mist while her pursuer is otherwise occupied.

The chasing lizard turns and hisses like a snake, and Lorna can see more shadows past the mist. Huge flying beasts. And best of all, she can sense some iron up there. Before she can do anything about it, one of the winged creatures sweeps down and Lorna can get a good look at it. It is not a bird, at least not completely. It looks more like a flying reptile with a long beat and bat-like membranous wings. Much larger any flying animal has the right to be, too.

It carries a rider. A hirsute, very muscular man that throws a spear to the lizard before the flying thing beats the wings and climbs up. The spear has a point of iron, but it hits the lizard on the chest and sinks just half an inch, leaving a swallow wound that serves only to anger the monster.

It's the metal that catches Lorna's attention first. It's like finding a piece of driftwood to cling to in the middle of an otherwise empty ocean, and it's an effort not to just yank it towards her there and then. It's only the relief that, despite being unable to sense the Earth's magnetic field - at least as she'd normally recognise it - her powers aren't /completely/ broken. As the flying shapes loom out of the mist, Lorna slides to a halt, her booted feet finding little purchase in the slimy mud of the swap. Keeping her balance involves some undignified flailing with her arms, but it beats a second dunking in the fetid ooze.

Turning to watch the battle unfold, Lorna's tempted to check her skull for damage a second time, because this is something straight out of a fantasy B-movie. For a moment, Lorna watches wide-eyed, then makes a decision as the spear hits the lizard. She doesn't know who this guy is, has no idea if he's on her side - but he's the only chance she's got to find her way out of this place. Lorna reaches out with her powers and grabs the spear, drawing it towards her at high speed. Before it can hit her, she slingshots it around her body to build up speed and sends it back toward the lizard with as much punch as she can put behind it.

Another spear flies to the lizard, bouncing on its tick skull, but Lorna can see some of the riders are landing close by. They all have iron-tipped spears, and some have short swords and leather armor reinforced with some bronze or iron.

Most of her attention is on the spear, because it responds well to her powers, even though she has to craft the magnetic field out of nothing instead of insinuating it among the power lines of the magnetosphere. Different, but not really harder. And tossed with the strength of her powers it sinks a couple feet into the dinosaur’s back, making it roar in pain.

With metal to work with again, Lorna starts to feel in control for the first time since she found herself falling from the sky without the Blackbird - or her team leader - anywhere to be found. As the spear strikes home on the wings of her magnetic powers, it's almost a rush - but that fades soon enough when the creature roars in pain. "Run." She tells it under her breath. "OK, you were trying to eat me, but now you're going to get skewered." And she helped. Well, it WAS trying to eat her!

Making sure she's well out of range of the lizard - and trying to keep out of the line of fire completely, Lorna picks her way through the swamp as quickly as she can towards the… flying lizard riders? What the hell is going on here. "HEY!" She calls. "Thanks for the assist, but… assuming any of you speak English… can anyone tell me where I am? Maybe give me a ride?" Her words sound ridiculous in her own ears, but what else can she do?

The lizard is not running away. It lies down a little, sniffing around it, and then springs towards Lorna light a freight train. Or at least it tries, it has time for just half a dozen steps and one of the spears hits it between the eyes. This one was thrown with enough force to sink a good six inches into the beast skull, deep enough to reach the brain. The dinosaur falls down, dead instantly.

The spear-thrower is a very tall man, well over seven feet, which allows him to tower over the other riders (all of them shorter than Lorna) like a giant. But the most remarkable thing is not his size, but the blindfold he wears over his eyes.

"I speak English!" He states. His accent is pretty bad, but it is English. "I am Gaza. Are you Lornadane?" One of the other men leans and murmurs something. "He says you have green hair. You must be Lornadane, daughter of the Creator. Welcome!"

Only a few minutes ago, the sight of the lizard barrelling toward her would either have had Lorna sprawling in the mud as she tried to leap back, or at best spinning around and taking off running once more. But that was before the local reptile-riders brought so much wonderful metal into Lorna's range. The lizard's barely taken two steps before Lorna's relieved some of the nearest riders of their spears and swords and has them floating in the air before her like a very sharp and pointy barricade. She's got her teeth clenched, ready to spike the lizard from three or four directions at once, when someone else gets there first.

Lorna finally DOES take a step back as the lizard falls dead, pretty much at her feet. Turning around in surprise, the purloined weaponry still floating in mid-air, Lorna's surprise only increases when she sees the blindfold. "Well that was a heck of a throw." She says, too startled to think better of it, and the surprises keep coming as he speaks her language. "Great!" Lorna says, determined to make the best of this insanity. The fact that he knows her name rings some alarm bells, though. "Uh, yes? I am? Were you expecting me?" She asks, then remembers all the weaponry she's still hanging on to you. "Sorry." She says, a bit sheepishly, and floats the weapons back to their owners.

Most of the warriors seem quite impressed, or maybe afraid, of what Lorna did with their spears, and seem reluctant to grab them. Gaza, however, appears unperturbed. “Yes. Expecting you. The…” he seems to struggle to find the right word. “The queen of the Sun City told us you would come. Queen Zaladane.”

Queen. Zaladane. NATURALLY. And just when she thought this day couldn't get any weirder. Lorna shakes her head, and looks up at Gaza. "Y'know, Gaza, I don't think someone told me the full story before I got here, did they?" Lorna doesn't like this. She's marooned in an impossible place, surrounded by impossible people and impossible creatures, she has no idea of the fate of Cyclops, and now she's being told that her 'long lost sister' is apparently running the whole show. The situation has 'trap' written all over it, and Lorna's mind races as she tries to come up with some options. Unfortunately, they're distressingly few. She could probably escape what's apparently her welcoming committee, but where would that leave her? Alone, lost, in a swamp. At least if she can make it to what passes for civilisation she might have a chance of getting back home - after all, this Zaladane got a LETTER to her, and she's pretty sure she didn't find a postbox HERE. And if it is a trap… Well, these guys' weapons are agreeably made of metal, and Lorna's getting the hang of using her powers in the strange absence of a magnetic field. She's confident she can handle herself. "Never mind." Lorna says, firmly. "Take me to your leader."

"I will take you to Zaladane," replies Gaza, ignoring Lorna's previous questions. "She waits for you at the Ancient Tower, it is not as far as the Sun City. We can fly there in our…" he says a word in a strange language, gesturing to the flying mounts. They look like pteranodons, but are much larger, the wingspans of those beasts, which seem to be halfway between reptile and bird, must reach 40 feet and likely they weight almost a ton. Gaza assigns one of the riders to take Lorna with him, picking the one that looks lighter.

Lorna almost, almost declines the ride after taking one look at the flying reptiles. She's fairly sure she could lift off under her own power if she really needed to but… that might be hard work, and she wants to conserve her energy. Plus, she's still far from happy about this whole situation, so in the small hope that they /don't/ know that flight is within her repertoire, she'll keep that hidden for now. "Sounds good." She says, attempting a bright tone and not really succeeding. Joining the rider who's been lumbered with her, Lorna grimaces apologetically. "Sorry about the swamp." She tells him, aware that she's wet through and not smelling particularly great. "Bad landing." She says, as if that explains everything, and mounts the reptile gingerly.

“The Great Swamp provides, the Great Swamp persists,” replies Gaza, translating what must be a proverb of his people. “Zaladane is not of the Swamp Men,” he adds, before heading to his mount. “She is your sister, but was raised in the City of the Sun. You will remember this? It is important.” Important for who, or why, that he doesn’t explain. Off they go, flying on dragons.


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