|Is This New York?|
|What: Nate Grey arrives in NYC with a bang and then some. Fortunately--maybe--he's stopped by a handful of passers-by before he gets too far out of hand.|
It is early in the night, a warm and humid night typical of the New York summer. The sky is overcast and the weather forecast said there could be some rain during the night. The truth is there is the rumbling of thunder on the clouds, but down in the streets, under the bright city lights, it is hard to notice.
But there is something in the air beyond a summer storm. For those sensitive to strange disturbances, the dimensional planes ripple as in a parallel world the cosmic energies of the M'Kraan Crystal are manipulated by heroes and monsters, trying to alter the past or escape a doomed world. For an instant one of the shards of the Crystal becomes the focus of a powerful psionic discharge, and then it is washed in the atomic power of another super-being. Time and space shatter, and one single young man is torn from that doomed world and sent across the planes to a distant alternate Earth.
In Central Park, a silent explosion tears apart a stone bridge and several dozens trees. The Astral Plane flares as if someone had set it on fire. A thousand psi-sensitive humans awake screaming all over the East Coast of the United States. And almost every telepath in the world notices Nate's arrival.
The Cuckoos have been prowling Manhattan for hours, searching for more agents who could be hunting them. Their gestalt mind is ranging far and wide--trusting Laura to warn them about danger to their bodies--when something rips through them and tears them apart. Before they know it, they're kneeling in Central Park, without their illusions, in their diamond form. Everyone is staring.
The echoes of the telepathic shriek are still ringing in their ears even though they can't be touched that way now. They grab at each other, pulling to their feet, and go racing toward the explosion--if only because it's the area from which they think the pain came.
At the JLA headquarters, not far from Metropolis, a Martian sits, or rather was sitting, in a meditative pose. It is J'onn's bad luck that he was specifically 'listening' at the precise moment this happens. He lets out a scream...and a moment later he is gone, out of the window of his room, before any of his teammates or the army people who work there make it through the door, finding only the open window and the blinds caught by the wind. His course? Directly towards the center of the disturbance, at full speed. For a moment, his form closely resembles the true natural form he seldom shows to humans...and then it stabilizes into the familiar-to-some green form of the Manhunter from Mars.
It's early evening, and that's a great time to people-watch. It's a hobby of Illyana's and so she's sitting on a bench, one arm along the back and some sweet frozen concoction in-hand that she sips at. She has heavy leather boots that look punk in style that buckle all the way up to her knees with silver flames and skulls that form the buckles. Leather pants and a worn, ripped T-shirt go with it, spiked bracelets and chain belt and suchlike complete the mostly-black attire. People give her a pretty wide berth without even realizing it, a chill touching the spines of those that wander too close. She pauses, lips pursed about the straw at the first ripples in dimensional reality. The cup is lowered and her head turns one way and another to try to locate the source of it. All too soon it's damned clear what it is as reality detonates, the shockwave slamming into her and sending her drink flying, her sprawling, and the bench skipping and tumbling away.
Warm and humid, that bodes well for working up a sweat. Something Heather does regularly. She's some obsessive workout fan these days. Tonight, she's running in the park... a sheen of sweat on her exposed flesh, and marks of moisture on the parts that are covered by her modicum of clothing. But nobody expects explosions in the park, especially not when every trained sense tells them that there's no threat, no suicide bomber running under the bridge. Heather's running over the stone bridge as it explodes, and when the smoke clears, she's on the ground, riddled with stone shrapnel holes, some fifty feet away. After all, aside from her ability to heal from nearly any injury, she's mostly human and gets flung about with annoying regularity in combats and explosions of the superhuman variety. For a moment, she's still, but then a groggy, "Ow.." can be heard from her direction.
Laura, due to the information that agents of the Program were floating around, has been sticking close to the Cuckoos while they search with their minds. When Nate's arrival sends them into disarray, she of course assumes the worst, going into a sort of hyper-alertness, like she's ready to fight or run. "What happened?" she asks, eyes roaming the park warily for threats.
Tearing dimensional holes violently is something nature rarely takes well. Pressure plummets, and the summer storm breaks off with unusual force. Lightning dances through the sky and strikes multiple lightning rods over the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Thunder strikes follow, loud and clear, and a few seconds later comes heavy rain.
From the crater when he has landed, Nate stumbles forward, his memories scrambled by the M'Kraan Crystal energy. But he remembers fighting for his life seconds ago, he knows he is surrounded by enemies. An halo of golden light surrounds his form, his uniform looks worn and ripped at some parts, and there is blood in his hands and his eyes. With a wordless scream, he punches the already broken remains of a centennial tree. Backed by his telekinesis, the tree shatters and falls in pieces. Lightning falls on the park, two dozen yards from him. Blinding. But he saw something at his left. A harmless statue, but in his mind is an Infinite soldier. A stream of golden light bursts from his left eye, shattering the stone statue as if it was made of delicate glass.
"Laura, come!" One of the Cuckoos shouts behind her as they're racing across the park. They're incredibly fast like this, kicking up clods of dirt as they cross the park at a dead run. Their diamond hair unravels from their braids and the red ribbons whip away on the wind. Whatever it was that landed, they have to know what it is.
They come sliding to a halt at the edge of the scene, holding on to each other for balance. The grass kicks up around their feet like a crumpled rug.
"It has to stop," Sophie says. "Like this?" Esme whispers. "I think it's safest," Phoebe says, squeezing her sisters' hands. "I think it's in pain," she adds.
Slowly, they let go of each other and spread out, walking toward Nate at a measured pace, hands at their sides.
At full speed, through the air, and then slowing, a green bullet that comes to a halt directly above Nate. Not telepathically screaming now, but clearly half-insane, attacking the harmless things around him. This has to stop, but J'onn knows he can't just knock the other psion out. Perhaps not as powerful as J'onn himself, the boy is, nonetheless, remarkably potent. The three diamond figures approaching...oh, interesting. Immune to telepathy, or with shielding so high and subtle they look that way even to a Martian. He cannot, thus, read their intent, and thus, he risks it, for now. Descending from above like a green avenging angel, so quickly his cape blows up around his shoulders, then stopping again. Not landing. Not getting too close.
"Calm." A voice enhanced by telepathy, rich and deep and masculine. Hard (but not impossible, especially for the currently telepathically null Cuckoos) to completely ignore, and filled with authority. "You are safe."
Illyana pushes her upper body up, a shake of her head to toss her long hair back from her face as she squints over towards the cause of the trouble. There's a gash along her forehead that drips blood down her face. She pushes herself up more, getting to her feet though she's wobbly and entirely lacking grace. She wipes at the blood with the back of one hand, which smears it across part of her face like some odd tattoo. The stone statue was behind her, and though she just got up she's diving away to get out of the way of that blast. Which has her working to get back up to her feet again as she spots the diamond girls approaching Nate followed by the descent of the Manhunter.
Well, it's a good thing for Heather that nobody seemed to notice what appeared to be the blown up bystander hurting through the air when Nate arrived. Everyone is focused upon the new arrival it seems. She sits up and looks down at her body with a scowl, "This was my favorite workout shirt too." she half-whines. Then it starts raining and she turns her eyes skyward, "Really? I mean seriously? Blown up, and then it starts raining on me? When did I break a freakin' mirror or have a black cat puke on my carpet or something?" she asks aloud as she painfully levers herself to her feet and then looks over to see... glowing guy... shattering trees and such, "Hey! This park's a landmark! Stop...." and then there's the green guy, and she inclines her head, "Right... Calm." she mutters as she starts walking forward, okay so walking is a bit strong. Staggering that is... looking like she was at ground zero for a claymore mine, but healing already.
Direction makes Laura happy in strange times like this. She doesn't argue with the demand, just takes off after the girls, vaulting benches and low walls nimbly. She seems like an unusual presence among the diamond figures-- just a short, slender girl in tight pants and a hoodie-- but her mind is precise and focused, like a knife. Or a trained assassin, to be exact. She sways a little in place, as J'onn arrives on the scene-- she wasn't what anyone would call un-calm, exactly... catching the edge of the declaration of safety, though... that part seems to be warring with her mind and confusing the girl. Safety... really doesn't exist in her world.
Large and commanding? Nate snarls at the Martian. "Apocalypse!" Was Apocalypse green? He can't remember those little details now, and he can't see well either, there is blood in his eyes and it is raining. Most people would worry about the holes in the memory, doubt and perhaps think, but Nate just lets his rage guide him. He takes off and charges the Manhunter, aiming a telekinetic-charged punch to the alien's face. In the periphery of his vision he can see the women moving in the area, but he only senses Heather and Laura minds. But of course his enemies would hide of him! But Apocalypse must fall first, "die, monster!" He screams.
The girls turn to Laura--even separated from each other, their motivations are in alignment--and make sure she's not being affected in any way, then share a look. The one closest to Laura says, in a voice pitched only for her hearing, "We should restrain it, since we are already seen. Wait and watch." They can't be hurt, Laura can, even if she does heal. And this way they have her in reserve.
While Nate's attention is focused on the big green man, they make their move, one taking him at the knees, two for his upper body, arm around the neck, arm around the body. All they want is to put him down as quickly as they can before he draws even more attention. They hit and the impact pulls him down into the dirt.
The rain quickly drenches Illyana, and she's scraping her hair back. Things are already a bit blurry from the blow to the head she took from Nate's initial arrival. She can still make out what's going on around him though, given that he's all glowy. She takes the few steps to put her behind a tree and then her arms go up over her head as a stepping disk opens beneath her feet and she drops out of sight. A moment later one opens nearish the Manhunter, a disk of light winking to about three feet across and dropping downward to leave Magik in her white uniform there. "You need help, Manhunter?" She calls out over the roar of the rain. She knows him of course, since he's JLA.
Okay. Well, drawing the guy's fire is not as good as getting him to calm down...but it will do. The punch sends J'onn flying, into the statue that was destroyed earlier. It is now very thoroughly destroyed. It's safe to blink now. The green Martian picks himself up, not wanting to fight back, not when the guy is clearly not seeing or thinking straight. |”He is not thinking straight...we need to contain him until he calms down.”| he sends telepathically to the Titan. Good to know he has backup.
When Nate makes his move, Heather shakes her head as if she were transfixed for the moment. Standing there letting the rain at least wash away much of the blood from her wounds.. not to mention soak her clothing to her skin. At least she's not wearing white!! She crouches and picks up a rock that she fully intends to throw at the guy with all of her strength... which isn't inconsiderable, but nowhere near the diamond girls or the big green guy. But that's when the diamond girls... wait, didn't she seem them someplace before? She shakes her head again and watches the multi-divetackle take place, and she just heads towards the impact site, rock in hand. Yes, all of the advanced tech of this world, and she has... a rock. Creative, eh? "Can we all stop and think here for a moment?" She asks, not really sure who is on which side right now. At least, she's fully healed by now.
Laura knows when the Cuckoos are more appropriate to a situation, and strange telepathic/kinetic men in the park causing a ruckus is one of them. She just nods with a quiet "Yeah" when they tell her to hang back. She's well aware they intend her to be backup as well, which is why she backs off a little, and works her way around to one side, watching out the corner of her eye as the Cuckoos make their move.
Since punching 'Apocalypse' was more important than protecting his back, Nate goes down to the dirt, which is more like mud now. Augh. Crystal women? Obviously minions of Apocalypse! Despite the strength of the diamond girls, the young man seems stronger, and manages to shake one of them, sending her flying ten yards and into a nearby pond. Then she pushes away another one with a short telekinetic burst, and grabs the third by the neck, slamming her against the ground. Then charges up his other fist with energy, preparing to smash the diamond girl's head.
The nearest girl--Esme, for what it's worth--is back on her feet and this time she means to obliterate whatever has her sister down. Sophie, surfacing and flinging herself onto the shore, calls to her sister, "Esme! Don't hurt him!" It may seem senseless but she holds their conscience, steers them. She's running as well, though she won't get there in time.
For once, Esme listens. She flings her body over her sister's, trying to protect her from the blast.
Magik's mind is closed to telepathic intrusion, but she can still 'hear'. The things you learn growing up at Xavier's. She projects back at him, the thoughts pushed out past the daemonic shields that hide her thoughts, |”I'm not so good at 'contain'. I can try to relocate us, but it looks like there's a whole mess of commotion going on. I'm a teleporter, not a brawler.”| The name says it all. Magik. Means: Hella Squishy. She tries to keep her distance from the fight itself and instead keeps an eye on any potential collateral damage that she can try to keep from escaping the immediate vicinity.
|”Then perhaps you should focus on removing anyone who is in danger from this”| he sends to the oddly shielded girl, before moving towards Nate. He doesn't want to hurt the guy, but he does need to stop him before he kills those girl...and he abruptly moves to tackle the guy to one side, hopefully before he can punch the diamond girl. She MIGHT be able to take it. J'onn is not about to take that risk.
And then there's Heather. She doesn't know why the girl yells such instructions, but she's right there by Nate. One thing she knows, is when people intend harm... and Nate does. However, rather than striking Nate, she tries something else. She reaches out to grab the guy's wrist and holds on tight, the rock dropped to the ground. Her hair is stringy with a combination of rain and sweat and she just yells, "STOP!" as she tries to get the attention focused on her. She figures she can take it if she becomes the focus of the glowing guy's attacks. But big green rips Nate away just before she can grasp the wrist and she blinks, "What the..?" she asks, turning her head as she asks the diamond girls, "Are you all okay?" even as she turns to place herself between those girls and the tackled form of Nate.
Well, that just tears it. Sophie and company are not exactly her sisters as such... except they still are in the ways that matter. So when Nate goes for the brutal smash on Phoebe and Esme throws in, So does Laura, dashing in with Intent to do Bodily Harm. She's clearly quite serious about it, seeing as how the strike comes with the telltale >snikt< of claws coming out and a rage-y snarl. They're already exposed, the girls are full diamond, and agents will probably be on their way regardless. There's pretty much no reason to be cute and restrained about it, even if she doesn't have anything against the guy aside from present actions-- She also pretty much fails to care about the others defusing the situation. Nate needs putting down.
To see Esme trying to protect Phoebe makes Nate hesitate a second. That is not normal behaviour among Apocalypse troops. And then the green 'Apocalypse' tackles him, sending him again into the mud. Mud that shouldn't be there, weren't they fighting inside a tower, indoors? The young man keeps struggling against the Martian Manhunter, but the alien is far stronger than the Cuckoos and Nate is already pretty battered, wounded and exhausted.
"Laura, stop!" Sophie flings herself forward to intervene before Laura stabs anyone, reaching out to wrap both arms around her. She's had a heartbeat--not that her heart beats right now--to assess the situation. That's all she needs, even separated from her sisters. The threat is contained for the moment. To wound, to do something irreversible, even if it heals, could only make their situation worse.
Esme is pulling Phoebe out of the muck. "Laura, NO!" They can't let her do something that will anger more people. "They will come sooner if you hurt someone!"
Magik frowns at the Manhunter's instructions. Everyone close by seems to be running *at* the danger. Screw it. "Everyone back up!" She says, moving in closer at a run as the Manhunter tackles Nate away. "Give him room to work!"
Martian Manhunter is trying to firmly but gently restrain Nate at this point. "Calm down. I would rather not have to hurt you." He'd have to knock the guy out physically...he's not trying to get into a psi duel with the kid. There's a lot of raw power there. Laura? He's not oblivious to her, but her friends are handling it, freeing him to focus on Nate.
Well, Heather's happy to stand back, and apparently the diamond girls -are- okay though they didn't respond to her inquiries. They're at least ambulatory. And then there's.. "Whoa.." she remarks as she steps a half pace back away from Laura even as the girl's being restrained. "Kitty Valium..." and she looks back over towards Nate and MM, "Are we good here?" she asks in general, a bit confused, and unwilling to just walk away, but she knows she's totally out of her league.
Laura slams bodily into Sophie, but she doesn't weight enough to bowl her over while in diamond. She-- very briefly-- tries to scrabble loose, but gives up with a frustrated growl. The claws pop back into her hands with the same quiet >snikt< and she just sort of flops limply against Sophie. "Fine," she murmurs. "But they're coming anyway. We all know it."
"Hurt me! You did much worse than that!" rages Nate. He glows brighter again, his left eye becoming a blinding beacon of light. J'onn can probably feel the tremendous power buildup. But fortunately the young man seems unable to focus his strength correctly. When he strikes, it is like a hammer, when a sword would have been much more effective. He hits the Martian mind and body, but fails to break either, merely throwing him away a few yards. He staggers to his feet, the glow fading, and then looks up, seeing the city behind the trees for the first time. The sight leaves him stunned.
"I know," Sophie says to Laura as she lets her go to rejoin the others. Still, she keeps hold of Laura's hand. "We must see the end quickly, then go."
"Are you done? Please, you must stop," one of the girls asks Nate. The girl he had down in the muck--it's possible to tell them apart a little right now only because Phoebe's hair is full of filth and her dress has been torn open--holds up her hands. She's not out of breath, she's completely composed, as far as the senses can tell.
Esme is a step behind her, dress muddied to the waist. None of them have their shoes anymore. In the blink of an eye, they are all flesh and blood and mind again, momentarily unaware that they are in the presence of more than one stronger telepath.
Nate's mind is a churning morass of violence and war and death, humans and mutants killing each other. |"Whatever you were fighting is not in this place,"| the gestalt says to Nate gently, |"wherever you were, you are not there now, and what you remember has never been here."|
"Does anyone need medical attention?" Magik asks the quintet of women that all jumped in on things, looking at each in turn. She didn't miss the diamond-form of the triplets, but she's keeping focused on the task-at-hand. Contain the immediate threat, make sure no one's injured. She catches sight of Nate staggering, and that pause as he looks to the skyline. Hopefully that means he's starting to calm down, right?
"I'm fine." offers Heather as she reaches a hand up and peels hair out of her face. She steps towards Nate, kinda alongside one of the girls. "What do you think? Is he gonna keep attacking folks?" she asks towards the girl, before saying towards Nate, "Wherever you were, whomever you were fighting, we ain't them!" She has no idea anyone is talking mind to mind, she's kinda out of the loop.
Martian Manhunter lands...unceremoniously on his butt. But he can sense that the kid is coming to his senses. He doesn't get up right away, though, not wanting to make himself a target until he's SURE the kid isn't going to do anything else. Nor does he try to read Nate's mind. If nothing else, he probably won't like what he finds in there.
Laura, at this point pacified and much more concerned with the people she and the Cuckoos are expecting to show up pretty much any time now. So she just follows along behind Sophie, shrugging a shoulder non-committally at Illyana's question. "Why do people always say that?" she muses. In her personal experience, people running like this guy don't really respond to reason too well. She certainly doesn't when she's been like that.
Nate growls when he feels the Cuckoos mind-scan. His telepathic shields are full of holes, and it takes him a few seconds to close them up. His mind also feels full of holes; accidental dimensional shifts can do that to you. He is also bleeding from the ears and nose, besides the now mud-covered cuts he had before arriving. Despite that, his response to Illyana's question is an automatic, if breathless, "I'm alright." The rain is cleaning up the blood, too. "The city is... whole, it is impossible," but it is not an illusion, because he feels millions of minds around him. He turns, and yes, there are more buildings there too, and city lights; even at night and raining Central Park is full of lights.
"Well, if psycho glowing eye guy there isn't gonna keep chewing up my running park, then I'm gonna go home and wash off all the blood." That said, Heather turns and stalks off into the rain. She's a bit peeved and frustrated, but hey, at least she gets to go shopping for more running outfits.
|"We should go."| That's to Laura. Sophie squeezes Laura's hand, her other hand has already found Este’s and Phoebe clings to Esme in turn. Now that the crisis is past, they're filled with a creeping dread. They pull their mind back from Nate's--they have few manners but they try not to go where they'll cause distress and they don't want their fear to set Nate off again.
"Good luck," they say aloud to Nate. "We would stay, but we can't. We're sorry." He's interesting and strong and they know what it's like to be lost, but they'd only make things worse for him.
|"We're sorry,"| they say again, this time to Laura, as they step away. |"We'll figure something out."|
As the others head away, Magik doesn't try to detain them. Sure, some are obviously mutants or metas but she has no problem with that. They were obviously trying to help and no one's tried to tell her she needs to stop people from doing the right thing. That conversation would go badly anyhow. She nods to the others in mute thanks and then steps over towards Nate and the Manhunter. "He doesn't look so good. Did you want him at the Hall or somewhere else?" A local hospital is probably a bad idea if he freaks out again.
Laura leads without being asked, dragging the triplets along by the chained hands. Of them, she's the conventional evasion expert. "It's fine-- they haven't caught up with us yet. But we better get out of here." She's not unsympathetic to Nate's obvious plight-- she of all people knows what some of the aspects of his situation are like. But his situation is resolving and theirs is still impending. Weapon agents in the city and they're in the middle of an incident. Not a good combination in her book.
Martian Manhunter is also not asking them to stop. He will have to thank them if he ever sees them again. Mutants, no doubt, from how fast they beat feet. "It is whole." The kid might be...given that astral explosion, he could be from anywhere. The future, the past, a different present, another planet. "I am J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. And I assure you...I mean you no harm."
Nate looks at the girls. He has been fighting girls that look his own age or younger. That feels very strange, but compared with everything else in the last ten minutes... wait! Taking him somewhere? "No. I said I'm alright," well, except does not know /where/ he is. He is sending his mind to scan the people around. Those who saw the fight are either panicking (normal) or curious (weird). Beyond there is an immense multitude of carefree minds thinking about trivial things. That is much, much stranger than fighting teenage girls. Then he looks at J'onn J'onzz, which maybe is not Apocalypse. No, definitely not, because his mind feels very different to anything he has experienced before. "I... my name is Grey, Nate Grey," he states, quietly. "Is this... New York?"
"You don't look alright." Magik says, stepping up next to the Manhunter and letting her cloak drape down in front of her. It's at least treated to be water resistant and will help her from getting wet. Er. A glance down at her boots has her sighing. Mud. She's beginning to hate mud. Then she looks back up to Nate, "Let's have someone check you out, alright? Bleeding like that is *not* a good sign. Not to mention you look like you've been in a warzone." Her words would probably be a lot more reassuring if he could touch her thoughts like the millions of people on the island. "I'm Magik of the Titans. This is the Martian Manhunter, of the Justice League of America." She smirks, amused even as she says it. "We're the good guys."
"I was in a warzone, why I am not in a warzone now is what is impossible," explains Nate, a tired smirk appearing in his lips. "Ah, yeah? Nice to meet you, blondie, but I rather find my own way out. A little blood is not going to slow me down much," see? He can still limp away just fine. He stops after a hundred steps, and looks up, because it is raining, but it does not feel as if the rain is acidic or radioactive. That is new too.