Through a Glass, Darkly

Summary:
December 24 2014 (Backdated Scene): On Christmas Eve Jericho and Illyana fell into a stepping disk twisted by a magical vortex. They ended up… somwhere else.

Alternate New York

Just outside the Potts International Tower in New York


Characters

NPCs

  • Potts Troopers

Mood Music:
[* None]


The stepping disk opens and 'gravity' such as it is, abruptly shifts ninety degrees which does make it a little bit hard to manage a graceful landing. He does manage it though. The landscape of Limbo briefly flashes by before changing too fast to something else. New York, it seems. He doesn't have much of a chance to do more than briefly recognize it before he lands hard. At least he knows how to roll with it, pulling his passenger in to prevent- wait… he still has a passanger right?

The odd, amber winged, amber traced man and his passenger have landed in what seems to be the bowls of a very large building. There's piping and electrical conduit and other pleasant things. So not unlike the building they just left. Except less condemned… and less… built over. It does occur to Jerihco that he can see open sky. So some kind of recessed maintenance area behind… that looks vaguely like Stark Tower…

There's something subtly off and he can't quite figure out what. First things first. "Illyana?"

-

Well, said passenger is so much dead weigh in Jericho's hold. Still there and *warm* dead weight so not dead-dead weight. His query gets a groaned response, and Jericho can feel the pressure of a splitting headache that makes Illyana screw her eyes tighter together. Lying here sounds really, really good right about now.

-

Ready for a speedy response time? The pair that just fell through that stepping disk get maybe thirty seconds to recover and take in their surroundings before a gaggle of 'security' bearing the Stark Industries logo… wait, that says 'Potts International' converge on their location. These security people look more like SWAT troopers than normal security, wearing body armor, identity-concealing headgear, and carrying some serious weaponry. One of them speaks up, gesturing with the end of that automatic weapon. "On your feet. Now."

The Potts Corp people aren't the only ones on the street here, though. Not when there were signatures for unusual arrivals. There's a cell that operates in this area - probably one of the original targets - of resistance. "Better idea," says a voice from one of the alleys, as there's an electric crackle from another. "You let the nice people walk away, and we let you walk away too." Shadow starts to creep around the whole group, drifting in like a sinister mist.

-

Ah hell. Jericho stands up slowly, eyeing the Potts International guards. Er. Cops. Er… soldiers. Yeah, that doesn't look good. They're not in Kansas anymore. His wings haven't faded yet and he wraps one of them around his front, shielding the blonde sorceress in his arms as his eyes flash dangerously. The creeping shadows, the corporate police, none of this particularly looks like a place he wants to be but at the moment his options are back away slowly or take off and hope they don't shoot him in the back. Or, well, wolf out. He picks option one.

Who was that from the shadows?

"Not visiting hours I take it?" Jericho quips to the guard as he scans the network fo a sign of what's going on. Oh hell, this code is all wrong. Okay, new question: Where's Pepper… and what is she doing? Also, what's with the shadows…

-

Illyana has a finely tuned survival instinct. One that, even with the headache killing her and exhaustion weighing her down, Illyana gets her feet under her. Though Jericho's being used heavily for support as the world tries to pan-tilt around her. The blonde squints at the dark-clad weapon-toting sorts. "You already missed the bad guys." She manages. The shadows haven't really pulled her attention away yet. Hell, the SWAT-wannabes are in serious contention with her headache.

-

The Potts Troopers seem unsettled by the shadows and creepy-voice, but they are apprently well-trained enough to not let that send them scattering. So they stand their ground and likely create a stand-off that only ends when a familiar voice and familiar figure steps through the squad of troopers.

Virginia Potts looks at the displaced pair, wearing one of her usual power suits, but her hair is a short and spiky pixie cut instead of the soft bangs and updo that Jericho is likely accustomed to. "Your mode of travel was most interesting, and something I'd like to explore further." Her tone goes from mildly curious to as hard and cold as steel. "You're trespassing. And the haunted house routine isn't going to spare you from giving me the information I want."

-

Well, this is an opportunity, isn't it? It isn't every day that Miss Potts herself ventures out into public. And with a small crew like this, too. "It's all right," the voice says. It sounds young, and female, if hard. "The haunted house routine isn't really meant to spare anyone."

The shadows deepen, starting to creep up around the Potts SWATs, until suddenly they shoot upward, wrapping the soldiers in columns of shadow just as gunfire sounds efficiently from the alley, aimed directly at the soldiers. POP, POP, POP, POP!

-

Jericho reacts to the gunfire instinctively. His blade comes out, liquid silvery metal flowing around his arms to create bracers as he sweeps Illyana behnd him on the way to cover. This is not normally his pattern. Ordinarily he's confident that Illyana can take care of herself but as she is? Well, suffice it to say that protecting her is the only ting on his mind. Through the automatic combat training reaction though, he's still shocked enough to yell out. "Pepper?! What the hell?"

Some part of him knows that this isn't his New York and that's not the Pepper he counts as an ally and friend but… the sight is simply too jarring. The hacker shakes his head and flips his vision to thermal, eyes glowing red as he scans for the source of the voice in the shadows. "You going to be okay?" He murmurs to the blonde beside him. He can sense her headache and exhaustion and knows that whatever happened seriously messed with her magic. If they need to cut their way out so she can recover…

-

Oh by the Dark Lords she's going to be… Yes. That would be Illyana getting sick over there in the alley as Jericho sweeps her around and behind him and her world spins like a pinwheel. Don't tell Red Team. She'd never live it down.

Illyana's hand closes on Jericho's belt, her grip surprisingly tight given her weakened state and bleary blue eyes look around with a bit too-focused a manner. "Yeah, let's do the meet-and-greet laaAAHH!" As Illyana tries to summon a stepping disk to get them out of the crossfire it's like someone stabbed a burning blade into her skull that has her leaning against Jericho's back with a whimper.

-

A small, lithe figure with long hair yanks Potts clear of the shadows, and she disappears behind the now struggling troopers, though her voice can be heard practically shrieking as it fades with distance that she 'wants those infiltrators'. The troopers are trying, but they're likely not doing very well against shadows. Some of that gunfire might be getting close though…

-

Out of the shadows, a short, slender figure jogs out, keeping a cobbled-together gun aimed on the Potts goons. "So, cliche, but come with me if you want to live," she says to Jericho and Illyana, a wall of shadow flying up between them and the SWAT team. "Seriously, you're not going to like their questions, and you don't look like you're in a good way."

-

Given the situation, and the fact that Illyana seems to not be having a good day, Jericho elects to take the shadow manipulator at her word. Even if she could use a better gun. He's, sadly, not confident that they'll evade Pepper so easily. The one he knows is resorceful, clever and patient. This one seems to have added 'ruthless' to the list. "Right. Come on Illyana."

Jericho swings out from cover, keeping an eye on that wall of shadow. No fools, the Guards seem to be blind firing through it and he's more than happy to flip his blade back to gun and return the favor. One wing stays folded in front of him to shield Illyana…

He's about to make a break for it when one of those guards emerges from the wall of shadow, having just blindly blundered through it… right next to Illy. Jericho's reaction is immediate and visceral. His eyes blaze amber and his traces turn blue as he punches hard enough to throw the man against the wall with a snarl then, still one handed, grabs the stunned guard by the forehead and snaps him back hard enough to break his neck. The man drops like a destrung puppet.

Eyes still alight he turns to Illyana. "Come on. Lean on me if you have to." He'll carry her if he has to but they're getting out. It's going to be hard enough to lose Potts without getting caught like rats in a trap.

-

Most of Illyana's attention is admittedly given to keeping semi-upright, but she's still tracking well enough to follow the gist of what's going on. Those too-focused eyes come to rest on the shadow manipulator with lips pressed tightly together in concentration. "Let's hope that I like your option a hell of a lot better." Even rocked and reeling, Illyana can still manage to sound pretty damned scary.

Of course, who needs to worry about the blonde when Jericho almost literally takes someone's head off. The hacker gets a blink of surprise, but nothing more. Now's not the time. Instead she puts her hand out for his and nods. "I'll keep up." She assures him somewhat grimly.

-

The troopers are well and stymied by the shadows, but this is about when the entire building lights up like a maximum security prison when a prisoner is escaping. Spotlights glare down from every nook and cranny, a truly obnoxious siren starts going off, and MORE troopers start pouring out of Potts Tower to try and catch the two travellers and the shadow-manipulator assisting them.

-

Shadow apparently isn't the only thing the girl can do. As the one soldier breaks through the shadow, she throws up a massive illusion in a circle around the SWAT team. It's exactly like the view around them…except this one starts to spin rapidly. Why spin the soldiers when you can spin the view? And once Jericho and Illyana are far enough into the alley to be moving quickly, that illusion drops, to be replaced by the sight of all three fugitives fleeing down…four different alleys. Shell game!

The real Audrey, though, is jogging to catch up to Jericho and Illyana, directing them toward a grate into the underground.

-

Jericho takes tight hold of Illyana's hand and follows Audrey's directions. For the moment she's the clear not-threat. Also he's grateful for the help against Nazi Pepper or whomever the hell that is. What dimension did they get into that proper, friendly, agreeable Pepper Potts is a power hungry… wait Potts Tower? What happened to Tony?!

No time really for answers, just into the underground with Illyana and hope that JARVIS or Pepper herself don't come looking for them. It's a few minutes before Jericho dares ask the pressing questions.

"Okay, thank you first for the assist but who are you and what on earth is going on?"

-

Illyana grits her teeth and pushes forward, but as soon as it looks like they've got a moment to breathe the blonde does just that, leaning back against the wall and taking a few steadying breaths. "Not a mage or demonic." She says, tone strained. Which doesn't mean that the young woman isn't evil or dangerous. Just that she's neither of those things.

-

Clearly, even as well trained as the Potts Troopers are, this young woman knows exactly how to escape and leave them running in circles. As they get farther away, the noise and commotion around Potts Tower fades to just a faint murmur in the distance. Not that that means Potts will give up on finding them. Oh no. But, they're clear for the moment.

-

"You can call me Umbra," the girl answers, looking back over her shoulder as she replaces the grate. "And those were the Potts troops. I'm guessing you're not from around here," she says, giving the pair a long look. "But they pretty much run things here. And they do stock in weapons. Manufactured, or born. If you don't want to be a weapon, then you'd better hope they don't have a use for you." Jericho and Illyana both get a pointed look. "I'm sure they'd have a use for both of you."

-

That gets another one of those angry, dangerous flashes from Jericho's eyes. He's fairly used to the notion that people want him to be a weapon. Or would like to take him apart to make more. The prospect of someone doing the same to the blonde beside him? Quite clearly that's not an idea he likes at all. Silently he hopes that Illyana's able to recover relatively quickly or that K'nert shows up. The little guy usually does when he just vanishes.

"Umbra hmmm? Alright. Thanks then, Umbra. So Potts International runs things? And are you one of their former projects?" And who else is about? He doesn't ask that yet. One thing at a time.

The link between Jericho and Illyana doesn't allow, at least on his end, for verbal communications, but the sorceress does feel a query/concern from her Familiar? Just how bad is it?

-

Given a moment to breathe, Illyana's able to push awa from the wall and keep her balance. She glances over to Jericho at that sense of query and shakes her head. "We're not going anywhere quite yet. Feels like I sprained something." Which is an odd thing, given it's her mutant power and not a limb. She looks over to Umbra, giving the other woman a nod of thanks that might not be recognized for much more than, well, a nod. "You have somewhere we can lie low a bit?" She'll let Jericho handle the data gathering on where the hell they are. That's part of his schtick.

Somewhat unconsciously, she strokes her fingers up and down one of his arms to soothe that temper that keeps surging upwards. She can almost taste the heat of his anger when it rises given how close they are at the moment physically. It makes the sense of him keener.

Back at Potts Tower, Virginia is pacing angrily back and forth in front of a very simply clad and particularly stoic Cricket. "I want those two found. That blue-furred bastard of a teleporter was ultimately worthless, and Stark isn't any closer to developing that tech." She stops abruptly and looks at the small Asian woman. "Bring me the cat. I have a job for him."

-

"I'm my own person," Umbra says fiercely, slinging the sad excuse for a gun back over her shoulder. "And that's the way it's going to stay. We'll keep you safe, though. Until you can figure out where you need to be." She looks between the pair, considering a moment, then shakes her head. "If you've got any way to keep things quiet, you should. There are other people there. We try not to get too many together, it makes us easier to find. But…I'm not handing anyone over to them."

The way through the tunnels is complicated, and takes some time. But eventually, they reach a sort of central spot, where there are others like them. "I'll be right back," the girl promises, before slipping down a side tunnel.

-

Jericho watches the girl slip away and then glances around the… this is actually an old tunnel junction for water main maintenance if the stuff he's pulled up is right. Ugh. All this code is so wrong. It's like reading something written in the same alphabet that isn't quite the same language. He's still looking for hackable reasources… he may need them.

He's been slightly distracted though, both by Illyana's fingers on his arm and keeping an eye on the lady herself to make sure she doesn't have any other complications from their rough arrival. Which is a good thing since he might have gotten very, very upset otherwise. The sorceress' nearness and the fact that she wants him calm seems to help keep him calm.

For the moment they're being left alone in this central watershed. He does note that the insigia's everywhere are… sort of like a patriotic version of Hydra. The many headed snake creeping out of sight of the eye of the terrible Eagle. Where the hell have they landed?

-

Illyana takes a look around, and after a bit she tugs Jericho downwards to sit. So she can do the same and lean on him. She hates feeling like this. Helpless. Hates it. But she feels better with a more alert Jericho at her back. It keeps her from feeling like she's 13 again, when Belasco stripped her of her magic and tossed her into the blizzard. "So, my amazing powers of deduction have informed me we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Tell me we're not looking at a grimdark future and this is another reality."

-

Virginia watches Cricket nod and depart wordlessly, then goes to sit at her desk and steeples her fingers. "EDWIN."

"Yes, madam."

"Compile all visuals you collected of the intruders and start scanning all surveillance footage for their likenesses within a ten-block radius."

"At once, madam."

-

With the omnipresent cameras it's fairly easy to see that Jericho and Illyana vanished into the unused portions of the sewer system. The government refuses to monitor those no matter how hard Virginia pushes. Too expensive, they say. Not enough reward for the investment. Of course, she's not had anyone 'retired' over the matter yet. Howevermost of those tunnels eventually end up at the same place. They branch off to parts of the city, but alot of them use one of three central hubs. The old system was efficient like that.

"Well…" Jericho says quietly, watching as a couple people he vaguely recognize move into another tunnel. "That Pepper couldn't have been any older than the one I know. And too many things are subtly different. It's not like they've advanced so much as they took a different path. So yeah, I'm guessing alternate dimension." And now he can be added to the list of people associated with the Rasputins who have had 'dimensional issues'.

The hacker glances down. "There's a lot of CCTV monitoring up there. And a lot of wireless sniffing. Someone or something put a lot of investment into being able to watch everything."

-

Illyana lets her eyes close, even though this is far from a 'safe' area. Safer sure. But not safe. She trust Jericho to keep her safe. "Sounds like that's a terrible place to be, then." Her lips press into a thin line and she tilts her head to look up at him. "I can probably open a portal to Limbo with magic," Because she has him to draw on, "But I'm not sure if that'll get us back to the right Limbo or not. Theoretically, Limbo touches everywhere. That's why we're here most likely. But since Limbo's also allwhens, it could be another time/space of the Limbo we know."

-

Virginia stands from her desk again as the AI starts compiling the data she requested, and heads for a side door to her office and calls out as she steps through. "Stark. Tell me what you know about…"

-

Jericho looks over to Illyana, a light frown creasing his brow. Limbo, any Limbo, is likely to be more 'home' than this place which is actively dangerous. The trouble is what might happen if they were to run into a Limbo controlled by Belasco. That'd likely be bad… Less bad but more awkward might be what happens if they intrude upon a Limbo ruled by another Illyana. Still…

"If it gets us off the grid it might be worth it." Even tapped he can still fight if it comes to it, and the both of them can survive in the Limbo wilds…

He nods. If she thinks it won't be disastrous, then even an alien Limbo has a good chance of being less hostile than this place.

-

"Let's give it a little time. See if I can recover a bit. It lookss like things are relatively quite for now and if things are wonky on that side I'd rather be able to make a quick jump." Which might not be an option if she has to tap on Jericho to do it. She tucks her head in against his shoulder again, his chest guarding her back. "You OK?" She asks, tone quieter.

-

"Yeah… calmer now." The hacker murmurs quietly. "Worried though. I know what people who want these things are like." And there it is again. A flare of anger tinged with worry. Small though and more easily managed. "I'm sure they'd find you very, very interesting in all manner of unpleasant ways."

Jericho's sure Illyana's used to unpleasant, but there's a particular kind of inhumanity to being regarded as a tool or a puzzle that he finds particularly horrifying… and rage inducing when applied to… well anyone. But most especially her.

-

One hand comes up, stroking fingers against the side of his throat. "And I don't think they'd be too pleased that I don't break easy." Illyana says in a soft murmur, her blue gaze on him. "That guy. In the alleyway. That's not your usual MO." Which is a… .polite way of asking Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

-

No it's not. Jericho is no stranger to responding with overwhelming leathal force but his is usually the tightly controlled, disciplined kind. That wasn't. It was pure, instinctive rage.

"Yeah…" His eyes flash again at the thought before he glances down to meet Illyana's gaze. "It was just… he came out right next to you and the only thing I could think was that he had to go down… The fact that he was even there pissed me off." He doesn't quite say it, but next to his Illyana. His Darkchilde. Ready to do her harm. Yeah, that made him mad. "And I could only think of one way to respond to that."

-

Illyana's eyes narrow s bit as she sees that flash of his eyes. Feels the spike of his emotions. After a moment her lips quirk just a bit. "Possessive much?" The tone is teasing, but the undertone is quite serious and the smirk doesn't last. She's not bothered by him being possessive of her, but she is a bit concerned about the reason. "Have you had a response like that before?" Let's face it, Jericho's one of the more mellow guys she knows.

-

Jericho chuckles wryly, and blushes just a bit. He thinks seriously about Illyana's question, quiet for several long moments. "Once… when we were fighting Belasco and you collapsed. And it was a lot more worry than anger." Though it'd been there. It hadn't felt the same and she hadn't been awake to feel it. He waches her, aware that she may be somewhat concerned on some level, waiting for her reaction.

-

"But not before.. me." Illyana says, still in that quiet sort of mumur. She doesn't say before she laid claim on his soul. She curls in a little closer to him, knees drawing in some but she's not in any distress over it. She put up her fight, made her arguments and Jericho made his decision anyway. And stands by it. All that's left is to deal with the fallout. Yeah, she'll still brood over it a bit but that's sort of her nature.

-

"Well no…" Jericho murmurs, draping an arm across Illyana's shoulders. "Though in truth before you there wouldn't have been a chance. I was never quite that close to anyone outside my unit." And that's close in an entirely different way. Close enough to hurt though. Illyana knows he still has nightmares about it sometimes and it's telling that the last picture in which he really smiles is from that time of his life.

He knows she'll brood. But at least he can tell now that it isn't tearing her up. He also knows he's changed in some ways, though he'd still maintain that whatever has happened to him is worth it.

Which doesn't make the situation any less real. Nor the fallout any less present.

-

"I don't want to hear the dirty stories about you and your unit." Illyana jokes, but she's reaching and she knows it.

Her breath goes out of her in a long sigh and her eyes have drifted closed again. "Lemme close my eyes… just for a bit. Then we'll see if we're gonna be jumping from the frying pan into the fire, OK?"


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