|Dark Mirrors: (Prologue) Limbo Bleeds|
|What: Illyana drops in on Xavier's unexpectedly. And she has company with dire news.|
It's a Sunday. Quiet. Lazy. At least it is at Xavier's. It probably makes those that have lived here long enough a little anxious. The calm before the storm.
Sure enough from one of the rooms in the girls' side there's a sudden shriek, followed by a crash. Then another as something hits the inside of the door, blowing it out into the hall where it hits the wall. A white-clad figure falls to the floor amidst the broken, splintered wood.
Back in the room, one of Illyana's teleport circles fills the room, the normally placid surface crackling and sparking disturbingly. Bolts of energy leap from the surface and the girl whose room it is (as opposed to the one whose room it *was*, namely one Illyana Rasputina's) flees out the window.
Scott is taking some idle time enjoying the weekend football games. He's got a blanket, a drink, and all of his homework done for once. He's already gone through a training session with Anole and Jubilee this morning so he's feeling he can relax for a while. Finally. But he's never really relaxing.
His minds wander to Bobby and the attack on the hospital, the angst amongst so many of the team, the progress of the students...and if you give him long enough his thoughts always drift back to....Wait. What was that?
Scott shoots out of his recliner and into the hallway. In stocking feet he bolts down the carpeted runway, trying to get to the scene of whatever's happening.
When Piotr's doing classwork, and doesn't mind being interrupted, he leaves his door open. This lets students know they can bother him. It also lets him hear things like what he just heard: a not uncommon occurrence in the school given their students. Setting down the papers, he stands up and heads for the source of the disturbance, much less disturbed than certain other people. Mutants will be mutants, after all.
Doors have started to open, heads and bodies peeking out and Piotr and Scott have to make their way around the sudden obstacles but other than that, nothing impedes them from arriving on the scene.
Illyana, dressed as Magik hasn't moved yet, partially covered in pieces of the door she crashed through with a dusting of drywall from the wall both she and the door hit with enough force to crack it.
The surface of the portal warps and stretches as something seems to try to push itself through. Finally the strain seems to be too much and a clawed hand breaks through the luminous surface, followed by an arm and the rest of a demonic form. Deep red-skin, horns that scrape against the roof, a pair of leathern wings folded tight against its back. The portal shivers, and starts to tear apart, and then disappears completely.
Scott reaches down to feel the side of Magik's neck, looking for a pulse. He stops abruptly as he sees the demon arrive. "Julie! Steve! Get the rest of the children out of here and into the garage. Go now!" Scott puts himself between Illyana and the demon and gives the being half a second to consider before being blown back to hell.
Piotr pauses at the beginning of the hall as he sees who's there. "Illyana? Is she well?" Clearly, that is more important than whatever else Scott is worrying about. ... Just what is Scott worrying about? Running toward Illyana's former room, he shifts to metal in midstep then takes up a stance between him and his sister.
The Xavier kids have, almost sadly, drilled for events like this that when Scott gives the orders they're on the move, clearing out in record time. Other schools have fire drills and can only wish to have the response time here.
Illyana has a pulse, and seems to be breathing. There's no obvious bleeding which should show up really well on all that white she wears.
The demon narrows its eyes at Scott, long tail lashing behind it. It has to hunch over to fit in the room, which takes some of menace out of its appearance but when its lips skin back to put row upon row of teeth as long as fingers and sharp as daggers on display well, that makes up for the odd position. As Piotr joins Scott in forming a mutant wall between it and Illyana the demon goes still. It's tail pauses mid-swish and then after a long moment clawed hands flex and close into fists. Slowly, it drops to one knee with the *thud* of a great deal of weight hitting the floor. One arm comes to rest on the upraised knee while the knuckles of the other fist are pressed to the floor.
"She's fine," Scott says as he looks to Piotr. Fine is an interesting term. And relative.
His eyes seem to go back to the monster in front of them. "You're the expert here, Piotr. Do we..." His nose wrinkles. "Shoot it?" But as it goes down to one knee, it looks as if it's prepping and Scott reaches up towards his glasses.
Piotr puts a hand on Scott's shoulder and gently shifts him to the side just enough that he can move into the room and stand in front of him. "Explain yourself." he demands of the demon. Why is one of Illyana's demon's here? Why is Illyana unconscious? He's aware of the power games in Limbo so is ready to tear the head off a demon that's trying to usurp her position. But this one might have been on her side so... he waits.
The politics of Limbo are nearly impossible to follow for those that are good at them and live there. For an outsider such as Piotr? No way. One of the kneeling demon's hands flex in clear agitation but he stays like that, on one knee and one fist even if he obviously doesn't like it. When it speaks, the demon's voice is a deep rumble with a slightly sibilant hiss. "Give us back the Darkchilde." There's the sense that it would let things stand with that demand but with a twitch of one finger, it speaks again. "Limbo bleeds."
Scott, now behind Piotr, leans down to try and see if he can bring Illyana to. He figures that Piotr has the negotiations handled, so he makes himself busy.
Actually, the politics of Limbo are very easy for Piotr. If it's good for Illyana, it's good. If it's bad for Illyana, it gets torn limb from limb. Simple. "We'll let her decide that. Stay there while we see to her. Once she's conscious, you can speak to her."
Illyana twitches a bit as Scott works on waking her up. He can see some blood at her ears and when her eyes open they're glazed. She squints up at him, trying to bring him into focus. "Scott?"
The demon's lips skin back in a snarl of agitation. Piotr knows that most demons aren't very good at hiding their limited range of emotions more than actual aggression. When Illyana speaks, the demon goes still a moment, and then starts to stand and move forward, Piotr's large intervening form forgotten.
Scott nods down at her, "Hate to tell ya, kid, but the nightmare is still going. What happened? Can you stand?" Scott curses inwardly, but then spies something. One of the students stands at the entrance to his room, points to his face and then points to the room. Scott nods very slightly and slowly to the student, who disappears.
"STAY!" Piotr commands. "Your Queen will speak to you when she is ready." No authority himself, he's happy to use Illyana's for the moment. That's one big demon and he has no intention of moving out of its path.
Wood slides to the floor as Illyana sits up with the slow control of someone that probably has broken or cracked ribs. But none of it shows on her face. Despite the hazy look in her eyes, her expression is an empty mask. Hearing her brother's voice she looks past Scott and then has the harder task of looking past Piotr to the demon that fills so much of the room. She reaches out to put one hand on Scott's shoulder to help her get to her feet. "He's not one of mine." Illyana tells Piotr, strain in her voice. "How'd you get here?"
When Illyana says he's not one of hers the demon, that had paused when Piotr made that command, glances back over to the man of steel. "Not yours, no." It admits in that slow, almost gruding rumble, burning gaze fixed on Piotr. "His."
The young student reappears with the visor that Cyclops keeps by his bed. In a bowling motion, the child reels back and lets it rips. PIK! the visor hits the wood and slides down the hallway....Right into Scott's hands. With a quick motion he changes out and slides the rubyquartz glasses to the side. Scott helps Illyana up and braces her.
Wait, what? "Mine?" Piotr's so startled he turns his back on the demon so he can look at Illyana. She's the expert after all. "What does he mean he's mine?" But if he's not hers, she might not know. He turns back to the demon and asks "What do you mean you're mine?"
Piotr's response is almost comedic, but no one is laughing. Illyana really doesn't want to laugh at the moment. Breathing is painful enough and she does so through gritted teeth. Her hood having fallen back, Illyana shakes her head. "I don't know. I was looking into a cult that was ripping holes in reality. The edge of one of their holes caught my Disk and next thing I knew I was here.
The demon makes a sound like it's clearing its throat as Piotr directs his question at it. "Limbo bleeds." It says, repeating its earlier statement. "As there are other realities, there are other Limbos. Mine, you rule." It tells Colossus, bowing its head. "But now, one bleeds into another."
"Multiple limbos," Scott says with a raised eyebrow and a sarcastic twang to his tone. "Wonderful." He looks to Illyana, "Did you know about this? What does that mean: Limbo bleeds..."
Now that actually makes sense. "Well." Colossus says. "First thing is, you're not to attack anyone in this dimension." He pauses and surveys the demon in the very small room. "And don't straighten up. We'll get you out of this room another way. Illyana? You know how to fix this? You can do just about anything in your Limbo right?" ...And by that logic, can't he do just about anything in his?
"It means instead of those idiots ripping down the walls of reality *here*, they ripped down the walls of Limbo." Illyana says in a low growl. "So denizens from different Limbos are obviously crossing over." And by that logic, their leaders could as well. It's a sign of how hurt Illyana likely is that she's still leaning on Scott.
The demon's lips pull back, putting all those teeth on display again in a wicked grin. "You are a version of my Darklord, but you are not he." It sounds... amused. "The doors of Limbo are unstable. I came to find the Darkchilde to bring her to my master that they might fix them."
Scott looks from the demon to Piotr and back to Illyana, continuing to prop her. He'd pushed aside a lot of this side of the Rasputins. It's a natural response--the ostrich effect. But when you act like an ostrich, you get your butt kicked. "What do you think, Piotr," he asks quietly.
"So you're smart enough to realize that, are you?" It's not really a question Colossus expects an answer to. "Then you're also smart enough to realize it would be a very bad idea to start a fight with me, especially since we all want to fix this problem. Be patient." He half turns so he can keep an eye on the demon but also glance at the others. "I think we need to follow Illyana's lead on this."
The demon chuckles and there's something odd about that. That it knows humor. That it would dare to do so. Or maybe just something... suggestive in it.
Illyana finally straightens, though one arm is curled protectively around her midsection as she takes a slow, testing breath. "If Limbo is bleeding into itself, that means that the rulers of each one can potentially get to realities they normally couldn't." The demon nods in agreement with Illyana's estimation. "And it'll probably take more than just me to fix it." She wipes a hand down her face, a mixture of pain an exhaustion. It's only there for a moment though, and then that is shoved aside and she looks at the red-skinned demon who watches them with burning red eyes. "How did you find me? Or think to find me?"
The demon's gaze slides between the three of them at that question. "I had thought to come for Piotr, but it is easy to see it is you and not he that rules this reality's Limbo."
Scott looks to Piotr, "I'm going to need my equipment if we're going anywhere. You think that'll be okay with your new friend?" He tilts his head towards the demon.
"Is S'ym as smart as this one?" Piotr asks Illyana. If so, he's even more dangerous than he thought. "What's your name, by the way?" he asks the demon the nods to Scott. "We should be fine. We all want to fix this so we're all on the same side." At the moment. After a moment, he asks the demon "How did I become ruler of Limbo in your reality?" Is it something he can do here to take the burden from Illyana?
Illyana's eyes narrow a bit at Piotr's question. "S'ym's more muscle than brains..." A nod is given to Scott. "Go ahead." She says, answering for both the demon and Piotr. Hey, she can't help it. She's used to being in charge around demons.
The demon shifts its weight as Piotr asks for its name, instead smoothly answering the second question. "The Darklord offered himself willingly to Belasco in exchange for his sister." Yeah, it's clear there's a lot more to that story than is being said.
Scott departs briskly at Illyana's okay, but takes a long look over his shoulder. Something's bothering him. Bothering him more than the apparent, that is. He disappears down the stairs and makes his way to the basement.
Piotr can totally accept that answer even if there's a lot more unsaid. After all, he'd have done the same thing had the chance been there. "So what happened to her there? She's alive, I assume? Can she control the disks still?"
The demon shifts uncomfortably in the, for him, cramped space. "She lives. We should go down to the lake. It will be safest given the instability with the portals."
"I think no matter how you slice it, we're going to have to open a wall." Illyana says dryly. Because that demon isn't likely to get out of the room without making some room.
"I'm sure the Professor will love that," says Cyclops, who returns from the stairs. He approaches the trio, eyes still seeming to take in the demon, though impossible to tell for the visor. "Why the lake?"
"Why?" Piotr asks with a shrug. "We are going to have to portal to Limbo anyway, correct?" And like Scott, he asks "The lake?" Though unlike Scott, he then asks "Your Piotr is still part of the X-Men? You have been here before."
"Because you don't want a portal to accidentally eat half the mansion." Illyana guesses.
The demon draws a slow breath, as if to settle its thoughts before speaking and when it does so, it's slowly. "The Darklord is not an X-Man, no. But I am... familiar, yes. He will feel the portal being opened there, and--"
Illyana interrupts, "And he'll work on opening one from the other side so that it should be more controlled." She glances at Scott and Piotr. "He's waiting for us."
Cyclops nods to Illyana, "Well I suppose we should go. No time like the present. Bleeding limbos and all."
Piotr nods as well. "You should cut out a section, Scott. It'll be neater and easier to repair than if either of us just break a hole in the wall."
Illyana gives a nod in agreement. "He's got wings. He can meet us on the ground." She turns to head outside a more conventional way, albiet a bit slow and stiffly, one hand against the wall to help support herself.
"Here," Cyclops says as he approaches Illyana to assist. "Let me help." He smiles at her, and tries to think of something comforting to say. That's not really his thing, so instead he tries something else. "Do you remember anything about what happened before you got here?"
Cyclops lets out an optic blast on the hallway, pausing before he does so. It feels very wrong to destroy Institute property on purpose. No matter, he guesses. It's been fixed before and it'll be fixed again. KRASHOOOOM! The wall comes apar and lets the cold air in.
"We'll meet you at the lake." Piotr tells the demon then turns to follow Illyana out. "There's something very familiar about him." he says quietly once they should be out of earshot. "Are you sure you don't have a similar one?"
Illyana gives Cyclops a brief smile of thanks. It doesn't melt the ice of her eyes but that's not at all surprising. "I'd managed to take out the cult or whatever that was doing the ritual and took my Soulsword to the spellcasting because I was running out of time. A portal opened right under me and I tried to teleport away... There was pain, disorientation, and then you waking me up." As the demon climbs out the window and unfurls those wings to drop to the ground, Illyana frowns, glancing back towards it. Finally she shakes her head. "No. But I feel like I should know him."
"He's me. I think," Cyclops offers. "I mean, I don't know much about these sorts of things, but there are dopplegangers for you two. And he seems to have some of my same mannerisms. Maybe it's just a coincidence. But I...don't think so." He continues helping Illyana, making their way to the stairs. "How badly are you hurt?"
Piotr looks over at Scott then back to where the demon disappeared but can't be seen any more. "You? That would explain why he knows about the lake. But... Illyana? If you wanted to, could you turn people into demons? If that is what happened, I do not think that version of me will be trustworthy. I cannot imagine a reason why I would do such a thing."
When Scott says that he thinks the demon is him, Illyana stumbles. And when Piotr asks her if she could turn them into demons, she stops. Her jaw tightens a bit and she looks forward. Not looking at either of them. "When I got trapped in Limbo, the X-Men escaped and I was left behind. But before that... There had been another group of X-Men. And there, *I* was the one that got out, and the X-Men were left behind. It was that Ororo that helped me. Showed me white magic. Most of the other X-Men were dead by then but... Belasco twisted them. Not this much, but..." She trails off before her lips set into a thin line and she nods, finally answering Piotr's question. "Yes. I could."
Cyclops purses his lips as she talks, but doesn't respond. It's a lot to process, this whole realm is so new to him. Trying to follow the storyline is difficult, especially given his lack of information about Limbo
Piotr moves to Illyana's side and puts an arm around here though he's careful not to squeeze her given her ribs. "Then it seems likely this Piotr has been corrupted by the dark magic and is not to be trusted. He will want to fix Limbo but after that... Is it possible it steal another demon lord's power, Illyana? Could he try to kill you to make himself more powerful?" If you just replace 'demon lord' with 'Russian mob boss', everything makes sense.
Illyana rubs at her forehead as they head out to join the ScottDemon at the lake she lets out a small sigh. "Always possible." She admits. "Too many variables. Could be that Scott got twisted by Belasco before that... you took over, or it could have been after. It could be he wants to fix things or it could be a trap." She admits.
"Or I could be wrong and just have a self-important complex." Cyclops grins at her, "It could be that." The winter catches his face with a familiar sting. He hates the winter, but this has not been as bad as most.
"He does seem like you now it is pointed out." Piotr notes. "But whatever the case, we must assume the other Piotr is not bargaining in good faith and has been corrupted." Which is a disturbing thought since he'd like to believe he would never give in to evil. "You can heal yourself as soon as we arrive in Limbo, Illyana?"
"Enough." Illyana says, nodding. Healing is harder for black magic and takes a lot out of her, but she can usually put herself back together enough to keep going until whatever needs doing is finished. Down at the lake, the red-skinned demon stands, waiting. He's a good ten feet tall when you include those horns. Now that Scott's brought it up, it's easier to see a resemblance between the two of them. It was probably the lack of glasses or visor on the demon that made a connection so hard to draw.
Cyclops stares up at the demon quizzically, "You recognize me?" He's not sure he'll get a response or what sort of response he's looking for, but he finds himself terribly curious.
Piotr looks from Scott to the demon then asks "Who did that to you?" he asks the demon outright. He really has to know. "Was it Piotr or Belasco? Were other X-Men also changed?"
The demon looks at Cyclops long and hard at that question, but before he can answer Piotr's asking his own question. Now the demon lets out what seems to be a sigh and gives a nod in a manner that is very much Scott. Glowing red eyes go between Piotr and Scott, finally coming back to Piotr again. "Belasco."
Illyana frowns, narrowing her eyes. "He's not telling us everything."
The demon Scott bears those long teeth at Illyana. "Of course I'm not." For the first time his tone is clipped, anger riding it. "Answers out of context won't help the situation."
"How about putting it in context, then?" Cyclops says, folding his arms in his chest. "I think we're entitled to know what we're getting in to."
Piotr just waits to hear what the demon Scott says.
"Because we don't have *time*." The demon says in a low growl. Those glowing ruby-red eyes close for a long moment as he brings himself under control and the looks at all of them, mouth set in a grim line. "Belasco would never trade the innocence of Illyana for Piotr, even if he was making himself a willing sacrifice." There's a pause before he says with some reluctance, "Piotr didn't just offer up himself. He gave Belasco the X-Men so Illyana could walk free. He eventually managed to defeat Belasco, but it was too late by then."
"Well if you keep stalling, we'll certainly run out of time. And you'd better start talking the truth if you want us to keep following you." Cyclops looks to Piotr and Illyana and seems intent on not following if he doesn't get an answer.
Piotr listens silently as the demon talks. As it's explained how the demon got changed, he glances over at his Scott and then to Illyana. There's a small nod as he runs through the reasoning that Piotr must have used. "Very well. We do need to know what conditions there will be. And what we will need to do. You no doubt still know how important preparation is to success. Brief us, Scott."
The demon's gaze slides to Scott as Piotr calls for the briefing. "I won't pretend that my Darklord isn't corrupted. Just as I'm willing to bet that your Illyana is. But he wants the tears in realities fixed. It's too dangerous as it is. To everyone."
Illyana's still frowning that thoughtful frown of hers. She looks between the two X-Men. "There's really not going to be a guarantee that things are on the level, or there isn't some deeper game being played." She says with a shrug. "We just don't know enough about them."
Cyclops nods and gives a sideways, sarcastic grin to her. "Well what are the ramifications if we choose not to go?"
"Scott." And since Piotr is looking at the demon, it's clear which one he is addressing. "How many gems were made from your Piotr's soul?" A measure of corruption. And his Scott beats him to the next question.
The demon looks at Piotr a long moment before he answers. "Four." But not five. The gates to the Elder Gods prison was never opened. Then the demon looks over at... himself. His glowing red eyes flare a moment but Illyana answers.
"If the barriers aren't put back up, the Limbos will blend into one single Limbo that touches all realities and all times and all the current rulers will jockey for control of it, probably dragging in resources from their realities." The demon gives a short nod. "While my Lord would seek more power, the rulers of other Limbos that have already ushered in their Gods will have the advantage of their backing and it runs the risk of the Elder gods using Limbo as a bridge to the other realities."
"Like our reality," Cyclops says gravely before turning to Illyana. "What do you think?"
"He's not fully evil yet." Piotr tells his Scott. "And there must be enough of him left that he hasn't made the fifth gem. He could if he wanted to." He looks over at his sister. "His Illyana must be helping him." He nods once ot himself. "We must help. For our own sake but also for theirs and everyone's."
Illyana nods in agreement with Colossus. "I think we have to take the risk. I think we all have the same goal. Just try to keep our eyes open in case there's more going on."
The Scott-demon glances over to Piotr. "Illyana leads the X-Men and it is probably her pure soul that keeps him from that edge."
Cyclops grits his teeth behind his closed lips but eventually comes to nod at Illyana. He doesn't like this, doesn't trust it. But he does trust Illyana and Piotr with his life. If they think it's necessary, he's willing to take a leap of faith.
"And you." Piotr tells the demon. "You might be bound to obey him but you are still Scott and he trusts your judgment even now. I am guessing you tell him what you think until he orders you to be silent." The demon has given more information than a fully evil demon lord would want revealed. "You serve him well." And Illyana, leading the X-Men. He's certainly going to use that as ammunition in future arguments.
The demon gives Piotr a short nod, not elaborating on the dynamics between himself and the demon-tainted Piotr. The demon gave up more than the Darklord would like, but his priority was to convince them to come.
Illyana draws a deep breath and then winces, gritting her teeth as that aggravates her injured ribs. "Let's do this." She raises her hands and a spark flares before her before crackling outwards. It doesn't open a smooth disk so much as starts to tear a glowing, shimmering hole in the air. Lightning arcs from the edges, the surface rolling like the ocean. And then, like a pebble dropped in the center, it starts to calm and smooth out. The edges are still torn and sparking, not the neat disks that Illyana normally summons, but better. The demon nods and, without being told, steps through.
"Well," Cyclops says with a nod to the others. "I suppose this is where it begins." He exhales and takes a step forward, then another. He reaches his hand up to touch the portal and then slowly goes through it.
"You lead the X-Men." Piotr tells his sister with a broad smile. "See? Do I not tell you that you have it in you? Come, let us go save the world again. And then we can get ice cream."
"Yeah, and you're evil." Illyana says dryly. "It's the multiverse. Anything can happen. Doesn't mean it's likely." She lets her brother lead the way, because if hse didn't he'd step in front of her anyway.
Cyclops has been to Limbo before. Not regularly, but often enough he's familiar with the blood-red sky that lack sun or moon or stars. The blasted, twisted landscape and the hot wind that blows across the plains. The demon-Scott waits for them a short distance away having taken that kneeling position again with one fist pressed to the ground and head bowed at the side of a large figure that is all too familiar.
Cyclops takes in the view and a pit of fear develops in his stomach. This place is not his favorite place to be, that much is sure. His boots pad lightly as he tries to stay on his toes. As the demon bows, Cyclops watches.
"Mostly evil." Piotr corrects. "And keeping the Elder Gods locked away despite that." That their relationship seems to have survived unchanged - at least from what the demon has said - despite the reversal of the roles pleases him.
When the demon kneels, the Demon Lord rests a hand on a shoulder and watches as the three enter Limbo. His eyes immediately go to Piotr but in less than a second, his brow furrows and his eyes move to Illyana. "You did not save her." It's said flatly. Accusingly.
As they step through, Illyana is distracted by the state of her realm. She can feel the great gaping holes, the way other realities bleed into it. It's like the fabric has been ripped and torn, making things unstable. Like the Disks and, likely to some degree, her magic. Finally though, she looks over at her counterpart and steps around Piotr, giving him a quick glare if he tries to stop her. This is Limbo now, and he can't always protect her. "I think we're here to deal with bigger problems than that."
Cyclops looks over to Illyana and Piotr, still orienting himself to the surroundings. "I think you're probably right." He looks at the fellow X-men and the Demon. "You know you're way around these realms, right, Illyana?"
Once Illyana moves to the front, the one waiting for them moves closer, letting them get a good look at what the other Piotr has become.
Like the Darkchylde, he walks on goat legs and cloven hooves. He also sports a pair of horns but where Illyana's are short and curl into points, Piotr's are massive and spiral like those found of rams. A pair of bat wings sprout from his back, flexing as he walks. But most noticeable is that he stands seven and a half feet tall and is, from horn to hoof, metal. The Darklord. "Agree. We must fix the walls of Limbo before.." And here he smiles though there's nothing amused about it. "All hell breaks loose."
Were Limbo not watching, Illyana would be tempted to take her brother's hand and hold on tight in the face of seeing him like that. Knowing the churning feelings insde are an idea of how he must feel when he looks at her. But they *are* in Limbo, and such girlish weaknesses must be put aside.
"So do you know what we need to do? It was the backlash of a spell, right? There should be some focus we can try to deal with. It's got to be drawing energy from somewhere. Sever that connection..."
Cyclops follows along quietly. There's nothing about this he likes. Trusting someone who's not part of the team. Not having information to pour over and study. Not only does he not know the variables, he doesn't even know the questions.
Piotr can only stare at what he's become. Whatever he's feeling is made worse by knowing that Illyana is traveling down that same road. And this lord of Limbo isn't even fully evil yet.
"I do not know for certain but I suspect it is being fed by others of us." The Darklord tells Illyana. "By those who have opened the gate fully. If the walls of Limbo collapse completely, all realities will be accessible from here and the Elder Gods will invade all the Earths. They will fight and kill each other till only the strongest is left but then he will rule all." And those who still have some good left in them won't stand a chance in the coming battle.
Illyana crosses her arms, lips pressing down into a frown. "OK. Externally-powered then. So we'd need to either go there and disrupt their spells, which probably involves killing them or trying to close them from this end while they try to keep them open. A tug-of-war." She pushes a hand back through her long blond hair, thinking. She looks over to Scott, since he's lead the X-Men for so long and is the best tactical mind she knows. "What's your thoughts? Take the fight to them on their turf, or try to do a one-on-many here? I'd guess there's..." Her eyes close briefly as she concentrates on the borders of Limbo. "Three major breaches that are the priority."
Cyclops shrugs his shoulders, "Difficult to tell, Illyana, without all the information. We're at such a disadvantage. You of course want to take the fight to them. I'm not sure there's much home field advantage to be gained here. But the element of surprise would be necessary."
"Da." the Darklord agrees. "There are only three of importance though others try to establish their own. I deal with them before they get strong enough to pose a threat. You must go to them and break their ritual. At the same time, I will work to end it on this end. Between us, we will be able to crush them. I will also be here to act as an anchor for you once you close their breach." Which is either a relief or worrisome depending on how much you trust an eighty percent evil Rasputin.
Yeah. The slightly narrowed eyes from Illyana sorta say that she's not entirely keen on all of this. It's not like they actually know anything about the Darklord. Just that he's a What If?! spin of Piotr. "Or I could stay here and you could go." She points out dryly. She shakes her head, "I wouldn't trust myself, I don't think I'm that keen on trusting you to hold our lifelines. Not without some insurance."
Cyclops looks perturbed. He's not crazy on the indecision. Cross apply all that stuff about not having all the information, etc. "Well someone had better decide. You don't want it to be me."
The Darklord gazes steadily at Illyana then walks toward her. As he does, he grows shorter and the metal coating him disappears. In the category of 'making one less threatening', it only helps somewhat. Piotr immediately moves to step in front of Illyana and is instantly blasted off to one side by a bolt of mystic energy. "Little Snowflake." the Darklord says quietly, not even glancing after his doppelganger. "I once sacrificed everything to save you. I will not sacrifice you now, not even for more power. The one who keeps you sane is also safe from me." Which explains why Piotr isn't dead.
Illyana gives Scott a glance that's mildly amused by his frustration but then the other Piotr is walking towards her. Her gaze narrows and her mouth tightens as he blasts her brother to the side but she doesn't look away, her gaze staying on the other hell lord. "I notice you didn't include Scott." The devil's in the details, isn't it? There's a long, tense moment of the small blonde woman staring hard up at the Darklord without flinching before she finally says, "Give me your oath that no one's left behind, and we'll go."
"Glad someone thinks this is funny," Cyclops says under his breath to Illyana. Scott gazes between the Darklord and Illyana.
"You have my oath that no one you take with you to fix this will be left behind." the Darklord swears. He didn't even hesitate to think it over though once he's done, he turns to look at Scott. "This one? Take my advice Little Snowflake. When this is over and you return to your Limbo, kill S'ym and make this one your servant instead. He has served me well."
Only after the Darklord gives his word does Illyana let herself glance over to where Piotr was blasted. Worry, concern, all that has to be shelved for now. Just like when she had to deal with The Darkness after Sam's death. Looking back to the demon she smirks at him, her tone sarcastic. "I'll remember that." She looks over to Scott as she goes to check on Piotr. "Cranky." She chides him. "C'mon. Let's fix this."
"You'd be cranky too. In fact, you usually are," Cyclops responds and goes to assist, Illyana. He bends down by Piotr to check and see if she's okay, taking a few moments to take in some of the lovely scenery.
Piotr's unhurt though he's dazed. It wasn't the blast so much as the magic. "One last thing, Illyana." the Darklord says. Turning away, he starts getting large again as he takes his metal form. As he walks back to where demonScott waits for him, he says "Do not come near me again. The evil in you does not feel like my Little Snowflake and the temptation to kill you for your power is great. My servant will act as intermediary between us. Now go. I have work to prepare."