11328/Pieces of Mind: Astral Inventory

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Pieces of Mind: Astral Inventory
Date of Scene: 30 May 2022
Location: Sanctuary of the Lost - Astral Plane
Synopsis: SHIELD and X-Mansion telepaths share knowledge of those lost in the astral.
Cast of Characters: Charles Xavier, Emma Frost, Jonathan Sims, Jean Grey, Jane Foster, Ruth Aldine

Charles Xavier has posed:
Footprints flow out like spokes on a wagon wheel, a bright star, out across the astral plane, all leading inwards towards the center of the design. It is easy to come across these strange prints, and to sense the quality of them: this way, to the sanctuary, out of the lost dark.

A santuary of thought is erected within the astral. A strange building, nevertheless it echoes of an ancient building, brilliant bronze bell-like shapes aloft and circling above. These bells make no actual sound, and something is strange in their movement: suspended, as if time were working differently within this castle or church-like structure. Souls are arriving, following the footprints here and there, seeking refuge in their panic.

Those with telepathic abilities can sense the creation of this place: a cooperative effort with several different mental signatures making it up. Within, threads and bridges are everywhere, as reality of the astral is as nonspecific as networks of neurons firing: yet here the patterns are shaped and held, and those within are able to start to mend their shattered consciousness.

Scattered outside are six lost souls - but within, the count is far, far higher, which makes it hard to see exactly who or what is within the sanctuary in a specific way.

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma Frost has spent her time helping to carefully assemble a.. Storage area? Not the best way to put it, even if accurate, but a zone at least to try and keep those whom are all disincorporealized in as best state that they can. Emma Frost is there waiting in the astral sense. Seh's wearing regalia that would date back to her era of the Hellfire Club. What her own persona stripped of all things of concealment is.

Corset, bustiere, cloak, heels, little else. Were they in more physical circumstances some might feel it eminently distracting.

In these circumstances, likely very little if at all. Emma is simply floating in place. In reality, holding a glass of champagne where she was reclining as classical music played on an old LP.

In the astral realm, reclining while likewise holding a goblet in a hand.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon Sims has an easy enough time projecting himself into the Astral Plane; he does it every night. His astral form still isn't that much different from his physical form, given that the physical form was re-made in the astral image. Maybe the dyed hair is a bit brighter still, and it's easy enough to wear the his "super" suit in teal and gold and blue, close-fitting armor with Egyptian touches. The wings and circlet of Ma'at are rather automatically there too; he flies along to follow the footsteps from his own demense in a desert across the landscape to this strange building.

    When he gets there, he frowns, noting the flow of souls and the others--more obviously not merely wayward spirits--gathering. He shies away from looking at the sanctuary for a moment and instead focuses on the first to arrive, the blonde woman in the cloak, heading over toward her.

Jean Grey has posed:
Since the event at the Xaviers School graduation, Jean Grey has been doing all she can to help her lifelong mentor with his unusual task, taking turns with several of the school's other telepaths - and their favorite visiting one - to assist however they can with the 'astral refugees,' for lack of better term. In one case, it's even become a convenient bit of hands on training. Ruth might not technically still be a high school student, but it turns out that telepathic abilities are one of those life-long learner sorts of things. And so, in essence, she's arrangd for a bit of a field trip.

"We'll go and see how Emma is doing," she suggests, back where they're physically located, somewhere nice and comfortable at the school. There are pillows and beverages and maybe even some nice background music! Yet that's the last they'll be enjoying it, or communicating in that crude fashion, for the near future as Jean soon leads their minds off and away from those shackles of primitive flesh.

As before, in a place where being is more about identity than matter, she appears in her Phoenix costume, the (presently) neutral green and gold bodysuit, with her hair transitioning to a fiery trail behind her. There may be some question if that is solely her self-image or one that reflects a shared existence, but that's a matter for another time. Checking back on Ruth's progress, soonafter she makes her way down one of the spokes toward the unusual residence, eventually approaching where Emma is already on duty.

"How's everything going? This thing... holding up? Actually, I don't remember it being quite this, uh, elaborate."

Jane Foster has posed:
Winding pathways limned in pale illumination have an uncanny way of directing her where she needs to be. They unfold before Jane in the space between thoughts and fleeting ideas, guiding her to a bastion in the capriciously transformed plane around her. As a hiker navigating a well-marked route through the forest comes on a serene dell or foaming waterfall, she approaches the source of the ringing bells, chin held high and mind curious.

Bystanders or sentries in the astral parapets might easily mistake her for one of the lost souls hovering outside the building, seeking admission or something more. Certainly the semblance is there, purely mortal and mundane clothes practical for roaming terrestrial landscapes rather than astral ones. Except the threnody of lightning and mist on her wrist, but that's a whole other story.

Her approach is similarly unfettered, far from the picture of someone confused or panicked. The fiery trail of Jean catches her eye first rather than Jon's familiar face, and she breaks into a smile at the woman accompanying a younger woman. "Well, that's beautiful."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Earlier, in a dorm room in the Xavier mansion, Ruth has an earbud in. There is a screen in front of her but it's been ultra-dimmed, probably for the sake of energy savings by whoever set it up for her. A website of some kind, one hand on the automatic braille impressioner in front of her.

"Maribeth, you want to get lunch or something," Ruth says.

Ruth turns her head towards the emptied-out side of the shared room; the neatly made bed. The empty desk. The empty closet.

"... Sorry, sorry..."

NOW, THOUGH: Ruth has been meandering around trying to figure 'herself' out, which is about the usual ramblings from her, but has been clearly more goal-oriented than usual. Guidance from Jean was welcomed, with visible relief. Ruth finishes her can of orange soda, quietly burps into the back of her hand ("pardon") and says, "Sure thing," before settling back...

And Ruth slides outwards, from the world she walks into the world where she is who she is.

Ruth has a very sharp and clear appearance in the astral plane. If it wasn't for the blueish-monochrome, oddly sketchy appearance of her form you might think she's more real here than in physical space. She orients herself and then follows along, trailing some strange-looking fragments of -- visualized noise? -- behind her, but she gives a wordless thumbs-up when she's checked on.

When she lands, Ruth turns her astral head around. "Hi Mz. Frost," she says to Emma, with a wave of the hand. Then, "Sir, ma'am, I don't think we've met," to Jonathan and Jane.

Then she regards the fortress. Or - "I guess someone's preaching in there." She looks towards Emma, in case it's her (though, privately, Ruth is kind of doubtful on that one.)

Charles Xavier has posed:
In a sense, this building has a great deal in common with the Xavier's school. Both have an underlying message and structure to them that makes this feel mirrored -- or, something natural and easy to do when pressured to build a sanctuary to respond to a sudden threat, is to go to the familiar. It may seem very much so, to those that make their home inside of Xavier's -- the width of corridors, certain cues like that. But it isn't a copy, either. Nor is it some kind of strange, infinite loop: it isn't that either. It is meant to ground the souls, not trap them.

The denizens of the place are in various stages - which makes it feel more like a hospital than what it visually looks like from afar, yet it is woefully understaffed. Still, time passes differently inside, and the waiting queue may be intense, except that the souls do not really suffer it! Everyone inside appears oddly transparent, distant: these are not telepathic entities, and they do not have powers to anchor them well. It is only the sanctuary now that holds many of them into form, instead of fading away.

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma Frost would fold her arms together, "Better to have made it more stable for now since we don't know how long it will have to hold up for. Nor how many more we'll be adding to it. With.. At least one additional incident of a similar nature. We ened a psychic construction in place to hold them that if need be we can expand on to stabilize more of them. We have a foundation we can.. Hopefully help them retain stability and sanity." SHe would not look particularly happy on it.

But it's what they can best do as an interim nature for things. It's a stopgap. Not the prettiest one, but effective. It works and it's something that they don'tneed to pretty up.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    "Good lord," Jon mutters on really /properly/ looking at the sanctuary. "I didn't know there were so many..." They shake themself, and turn to the others, particularly as Ruth addresses them.

    "Ahh... yes. Hello. I'm Jonathan Sims. The Archivist. I... well. I spend a lot of time on the Astral Plane, and I couldn't help but notice... this." He's missing an arm, even in astral form, so the hand he waves is emerald green, part of a glowing magical replacement. "Are these victims of the recent... crises?"

Jean Grey has posed:
Jean expects to find Emma, of course. Perhaps she imagines bumping into some other of the usual suspects by chance, as there are a handful of others similarly capable among their student body and collection of assorted alumni, friends, and freeloaders. Instead, there are a couple more-or-less unfamiliar faces (maybe she's seen Jane in a publication somewhere, although who knows how that recognition translates here) in attendance, each a touch less lost-looking than the contingent of wayward spirits. A difference which Ruth likewise quickly distinguishes, which in turn earns a small nod in approval from her teacher. "You can tell those who are trapped here, from those who've traveled willfully. It's tennuous, staying here, with nothing 'real' they're attached to, and no power to exist on their own. We do much better, but it's still important to maintain control, not to let your mind... wander, too far."

There's elements of lecture, but things turn toward observation and analysis as Emma shares her thoughts. Jean turns to examine the structure of the facility itself, such as it is. "Even all of that is just putting off the inevitable. They can't -live- like this. They aren't, really."

After offering this grim prognosis, she turns to the newer arrivals. "Hello. Clearly you're not part of exodus... how did you-" To which Jon, at least, provides a simple enough explanation. "They're victims of some kind of catastrophe," she agrees, although lacking a sense of specificity, "I can't say I'm sure exactly of what kind. I don't suppose you know what might have caused this?"

Jane Foster has posed:
Manners come naturally. Ruth's friendly greeting inspires one in return from the brunette, who tilts her head and smiles warmly. A wave of her hand echoes the gesture from the mutant. Iridescent motes pop and trail after her, caught back in the endless revolutions. "Hi there. It's lovely to meet you too. I'm Jane Foster."

Jane is drawn in sharp, crisp detail, colours and textures resolved in high resolution compared to the faded state that some of her fellow souls have. The barest traces of ozone and ethyl formate -- raspberries and rum -- trail around her. Her gaze ticks to Jon and she nods, attention pulled back to Jean, Emma, and Ruth rather than grow overly curious about the people milling about for their turn to enter the safehaven beyond. "I suppose questions and pooling information will be helpful under the circumstances. We," evidently her and Jon, "knew of seventy or eighty displaced people affected like this. The last displacement appeared to happen during an attack or fight that involved psychic energy. Forgive me for being imprecise about how to describe it, the terminology is still newer to me. The effects on conscious bystanders was extreme. It actually left a stain on the fabric between space and here."

That's a start, anyway. "How many people have you managed to gather this way?"

Her hands spread faintly to Jean. "It's a long story without clear answers with me. I'm happy to talk about it, but they have a time limit? I don't, at least not as severe as theirs."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Ruth walks, or drifts, into the fortress. The home? The sanctuary? Sanctuary sounds right.

"I'm Blindfold," Ruth tells Jonathan and Jane. "It sounds like you know a little more about this than we might."

Ruth puts a hand on the wall of the structure and tip-taps it with a fingertip, which is probably her mental equivalent of taking a good look at it. "Are people still showing up?" she asks Emma.

"I can tell you they're already pretty freaked out 'bout not having their bodies, yes," Ruth continues onwards. Her nose twitches a little. "When'd that happen, ma'am?" she asks Jane. (She turns her head a little towards Jean as if to make sure she's not -- -- messing it up somehow, is how she would likely form the idea.)

Charles Xavier has posed:
The souls coming in are swept into the time-alteration, and sloooow a great deal as they get into the sanctuary more directly. Those with alert senses can pick up that this is a strong field-- but it's selectively choosing those that are damaged and injured, and creating this time alteration.

It makes it easy to examine them, as well - which does expose them to attack, maybe, but it also shows their deep rips in form and personality. Something ravaged the ones coming in, and it was a very harsh situation.

Deeper into the sanctuary, there are souls in further states of healing and recovery, though they are in the time-alteration: to communicate with them, one would need to bring them out of phase with that.

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma Frost would take a moment to look over at Jane for a few moments along the astral realm. taking in the other woman with great intent.. As if filing something away for later. Not the most pressing thing now. "Charles is focused on maintaining this place. It's acting as a.. I think it best to refer to it as a sanitarium. It takes much of Charles' concentration to maintain it. He can respond to questions if asked and is monitoring us if we need him."

She would gesture, "Ruth, please do feel free to make your.. Points to our Guests. You have unique perspective to offer. There are currently three hundred and twenty two here. If Ms. Foster's group is added that would make it nearly four hundred. If this keeps expanding.. Charles cannot keep it up forever. We need alterante housing."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon blinks at Jane as he really notices her. /Really/ notices, and frowns, and opens his mouth to ask--and then closes it. If she wants to explain, she will, and if not... well... they have more pressing matters, and people have their secrets. And whatever's going on, she's managed just fine for months, so far as he's aware.

    Pushing that aside, he says to the others, "Those I've directly examined appear to have been pulled out of their bodies forcibly--I would /guess/ by a spell, but perhaps psychic ability--and then shoved back in to another body, not their own. It was..." He frowns. "It's not a pleasant sight. Those closer to the attack were more badly damaged, astrally and psychically, than those further away. Sort of umm... how'd you explain it?" He glances to Jane. "Not quite like a crater, yes?"

    He turns to look at the flow of souls, eyes narrowing, focusing on the newest arrivals first. "They looked a lot like those people, even the ones that were /in/ bodies. I wonder if any of the 'missing' people from the group we've got in quarantine are here...?" In the astral plane he can't hide the pain just /looking/ at those people causes him, fear and anger and disgust all twisting together in a deep red pulse around his form.

    A glance to Emma, and then he adds, "What would the requirements be for... 'housing?' I have a stable space of my own on the Astral Plane, if that might help while we're figuring out how to fix this." Then a curious look to Ruth. Unique perspective, hmm?

Jean Grey has posed:
"Phoenix," offers Jean, to the round of introductions. It sounds like a perfectly good superhero codename, although here, it may mean a little more than that. Somewhat incidentally, if the intent is secrecy, it's also almost certainly moot: there's got to be a pretty huge SHIELD file on Jean after the Shi'ar incident. Besides all that, she proves to be a bit of a fan! "I've heard of some of your work, Doctor Foster. It's an honor, although I wish one we shared under better circumstances." Does the last refer to this present scenario? Or... to her own odd condition?

After introductions, she turns toward interrogating the more specific details that Jane provides. "Another breach? Were there possessions, as well? Astral spirits pushed close enough to the conscious boundary that they were able to nearly manifest, and enter into other minds?" Jon's own report seems to confirm some of that, as well. "The man who made this place was keeping them all tethered, but eventually was overwhelmed, and a few made it through into other bodies. We," and she indicates her fellow astral mutants, "were able to remove most of them, and those remaining should not be difficult. At the time, it was... well, convenient to let a few stay with their hosts. Extra 'housing,' you could say."

Moving through the structure, she regards details here and there, although on the whole her observation of it is a little more distant. "If more keep coming, even this new construct will eventually fail, even with our help, as would, presumably, any other refuge. If they're finite, perhaps it will suffice. The question is more to what purpose." Her astral voice echoes in a way that is somehow disconcerting, suddenly unlike the friendlier woman, more abstract and indifferent. "This isn't life. A mind not awakened to these levels of reality can exist here only as an echo. If their bodies were destroyed, then they must complete that journey."

Her voice normalizes again a bit. "But if they were pulled out and their bodies still exist somewhere, then finding them is the solution. Where was this crater?"

Jane Foster has posed:
Jane patiently stands back from the sanctuary, letting the others inspect the architecture of it while she looks beyond at the gathering souls. More specifically, looking at the corresponding injuries on them, since familiarity with physical anatomy and that branch of medicine affords her a better background than quite translating other psychic damage. It's a learning experience and case of framing references in a very different way. Though she doesn't approach too close, she does keep an eye out to see whether the approaching souls are concerned at all about her and the others.

"Four hundred people? For this to be the work of a single person or localized phenomenon makes me wonder how plausible that would be. Too soon to draw any conclusions about multiple sources, though. You'll forgive me, my background is in astrophysics and quantum physics. We like evidence to back our hypotheses before tossing them our." A smile warms her expression for a moment, asking their forgiveness in kind.

Her fingers rise to push her hair away, except it's already pulled back and therefore an unnecessary gesture. Hand dropped to her side again, her posture assumes something of a readiness to move. "A crater is accurate. It happened in Washington Square Park, close to New York University. The epicenter corresponded to the worst damage. We had four out of thirteen conscious after the event, but they weren't dispersed. They remained fairly close together, and the damage was mitigated to some extent. One of the survivors, displaced into another body, was able to explain that they were witnessing a display and then someone bumped into them. Afterward, she realized she was not in her own body. The other girl was... not well. The trauma of the experience inhibited her ability to adequately describe what happened, but she was referring to the Quantum Leap television show and magical time portals to rationalize the experience. We have one of the displaced souls missing completely. Someone else entered his body, but there wasn't any sign where /he/ went."

She gestures to the souls being housed in the sanctuary. "Here, you can see for yourself. They're completely savaged and tattered. I don't know what measures need to be taken to assist with helping them, but you need only ask."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Ruth brings a hand up to scratch at her astral hairline. Emma puts her on deck, and Ruth composes her thoughts, before explaining:

"One of these souls came to me and came into my body. She was panicking, and I think she wanted to take over my body, or I guess more accurately (sorry) she wanted a body because she didn't have a body. I feel like, pardon, like Dr. Ma-- anyway," an effort of minor will, "I tried to soothe her and I let her have control over my hand, but I wouldn't let her have my whole body, because first of all it's, sorry, not hers, and second of all because she'd probably wander into the street and die again. That way we're both losers."

A pause for thought.

"She did calm up at first but she let it go when I think she kind of got a better feel for what's going on. I don't know if that's the, like, the cracks I can feel in them or not. I was pretty messed up because I didn't expect it."

Her arms fold. Thought. Contemplation. "Well I had a thought," Ruth continues, "which is that those people might be out there and they might have someone in them so you don't notice, but those might not be the people whose bodies they are. I don't know if that makes sense. I could be wrong," she says, asiding to Jean and Emma, "I mean, I didn't, see that one, it just came to me."

("Is that like Supernatural?" Ruth asks Jane about the TV show.)

Charles Xavier has posed:
If Ruth looks, she actually may see Claire here: there's an imprint, a familiarity, with having been closer to that personality and awareness. Ruth probably could pick her out anywhere. Though it is easier also due to that all of the souls that the students and faculty encountered at the graduation ceremony were the most healed, the most repaired, out of all of them: as they were the most firmly connected to Charles himself, and the best choice for pulling into an awkward situation when the whole temporary 'tent' started to collapse.

This sanctuary seems much more stable, though.

But it's still a temporary tent for the wounded, and they can't stay here indefinitely.

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma Frost would nod, "We're researching what we can. I'm not aware of any sort of entities that could perform such a thing. All the known individuals so far are from New York. We haven't been able to get names or identities for them all.. But all those we can find are from the area of the city. Other than that we're not finding anything in common so far." Emma's tapping at her thigh in irritation.

"That implies to me it's a single individual. A group would be spread out further abroad. I would have said it's targeted at thes chool but given the lack of any sort of imemdiate connection form your.. Incident, that doesn't seem to be immediately the case. We need to come up with another way of safely holding the disembobied people before Charles is overloaded."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    "Well what I can offer--the Archive--has stood in the Astral for five thousand years, so it should be able to hold some amount of souls for a time, if need be," Jon notes, still watching the souls go by. "It's held up by a literal god, but it might not be able to offer the healing you're offering. But... at least putting them somewhere we can /find/ them all, if nothing else. I've had other people there before. As Dr. Foster says--we'll do whatever we can to help."

    He listens to Ruth and nods slowly. "So we might want to go around and look for... hmm. See if we can find anyone else with these sorts of injuries? In all of New York, that's..." He blows out a breath. "A big area." He frowns, thoughtfully, looking over the structure.

    "I will note," he says slowly, "That there's no magic on most of those here--the only /magic/ I've seen is on the four who were still conscious, that we spoke to. Which might actually imply more than one culprit. After all, a group of people operating even just within one city can describe many superhero teams; there's no reason you couldn't have at least two, if not more, suspects working within New York."

Jean Grey has posed:
Jean has a barrage of questions for Jane, drilling into the details: "When did the event occur, at the park? Was everyone at the physical scene recovered or isolated? Was there anyone who wasn't responsive at all?" At least the presumably Phoenix-inspired 'throw them back to the cycle where they belong!' has faded into the background, and Jean is here, being thoughtful, analytic, and most of all - actually concerned, showing care for the people trapped here. The green portions of the costume have turned white. "But you're right, Ruth. A lot of them probably got jumbled up... you could have spirits walking around in stolen or swapped bodies."

A pause like a slow blink. "But that should still leave some 'empties,' shouldn't it? No one at the incident we observed was harmed, so the Professor must have gathered those elsewhere. Space is quite abstract here, so the distance from lower Manhattan isn't definitive in and of itself..."

And then, she too seems to come around to the idea of maybe dealing directly with a witness. "I was able to keep one of the spirits with me. Isolated, outside of any influence. I wouldn't call it fully conscious, but maybe I can access a bit of his own memories of the incident." Though purely symbolic in the astral plane, she nonetheless performs the routine motion, bringing two fingers to her temple in a moment of concentration. "An ice-cream enthusiast... he saw others collapse, before he was presumably shifted into our presence."

When she returns from this inward thought, she does have some positive news: "Searching... We do have the means of extending the range of telepathic abilities. It might be suited, to searching out any possessed. Still, we should either have extra bodies, or the whole chain must have started with some invading mental presence."

Jane Foster has posed:
"Look for a purple energy emanation or signature," Jane supplies for Emma. "'Purple psychic energy' doesn't exactly ring a bell for me personally. The crater we've spoken of extended considerably further, and someone was able to confirm a visual impression. They weren't close up. We only have the one location so far to compare to. Archivist, could you determine if that damage was fading? I don't wish to send anyone on a wild goose chase. However, investigation outside the university dorms and the coffee shop might turn up useful information if Ms. Frost, Phoenix or Blindfold lacked an opportunity to see the effects firsthand."

"Two men were having an altercation, and the unconscious victims were nearby when they fell together in something of a half-circle. The cluster that didn't fall was further out. I could draw it for you. Or let you... well, see it, if that would be faster." A flip of her wrist invites Jean clearly enough. "We didn't see the men, they fled the scene. One woman said someone bumped into her and a fire alarm went off. That could explain why so few people were around when we appeared on campus. It's finals time, NYU housing would be crawling with students and it wasn't. Lots of first responders. Follow me on this one. I think someone set off the fire alarm as a defensive measure to get people /away/ from the building. Maybe the same fellow fighting the man producing the bright purple light they were reporting. That part and their identities we are still working out, but let's go off the working assumption one of them was trying to help. He may have weakened or deflected whatever happened. Which would attest to the magic signature you caught, Archivist."

She gazes off at the line of souls mamboing past them, frowning slightly. The silence wraps around her, her complexion paling a little. "We don't have a pattern in the victims based on age, gender, race. You can see that yourself." Her posture shifts as she turns back to them. "What stands out to you? Something like a person acting differently than they're used to or having a personality break, because they're not in the right body. The displaced would notice, as you said." This follows on Blindfold's statement. She adds to Ruth, "Bit like that. Sci-fi show on television. I never watched it much."

Brighter twinkles in the slow-coursing spill of motes form a slight haze. The clarity of her figure sharpens, giving slightly more presence than when she's letting her thoughts wander, and the distinction is subtle but probably disquieting. "Could we start trying to match up the souls that you house here with the comatose patients currently in intensive care? Many of them have been identified. That could help as a start to figure out who you have here in temporary care. With any matches, you might be able to put them back together. The patients have not responded to medical treatment, nor would they if they were separated."

She draws out a breath, seeing what isn't quite clear to her. Guesswork, the joy of a quantum expert! Where are the rules are 'huh, let's guess!' "I further think that the incidents for the swapping were isolated because of magical interference -- again, working theory. The majority of the souls must have been cast adrift from their bodies for whatever reason."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Ruth threads out through the horde to put a metaphorical finger on Claire. There she is.

Ruth wiggles her fingers. No grudges here.

She frowns for a moment, though, as Jean speaks. "Was it the, sorry, the Big Gay Ice Cream near --" Ruth struggles for a moment, and then just sends out a feeling which corresponds to coordinates of an outlet of this estimable (and big and gay!) establishment in Lower Manhattan!

"Cuz Claire went there," Ruth says. "And I went there too, before graduation, when those other folks went into -" Ruth falters for a moment, and shakes her head, and turns her regard towards Jane as she speaks. Partway through it, she reaches for her head --

-- which she does in the material realm as well --

as she says, "They're--"

Ruth's astral form flickers for a moment. Then it comes into hyper-focus -- stabilizes -- and she says, "-- not, sorry, no, they're not all, sorry, I don't know if you said it, no, no; they're not all, I mean there's, if, yes, they're gonna die out, there, just rot and -- trying to go back and -- Oh Lord --"

Ruth rolls backwards. Her astral form, very briefly, jitters-- like a breaking filmstrip -- and comes back together, her arms spread apart. It takes her a good three seconds to say, "They gotta find the bodies I'm sorry they're just gonna -- We can help them with THIS but if -- they die, they're not --"

"I'm sorry," Ruth says, more generally to Jonathan and to Jane, "it comes and goes, I just SAW-- I don't think it was, no, maybe it was, Claire, hold on I gotta say it quiet or she'll hear," and her 'voice' does seem to get quieter even if it's still perfectly clear what she's 'saying' since it's not actually sound, "I saw one of'em finding their body and it was already all rotted away like that horror story from what's his name from Rhode Island."

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma Frost would shake her head, "Forgive me, Mister Sims. this requires a -great- deal of skill, power, and precision. Different psychics would yield different results or methods. At least some of themw ould have been sloppy. The fact that as far as we can tell the majority of tehse individuals have some semblance of rationality left and tether to reality is testament of that and that they're not raving banshees that have been turned into figments of raw hate existing on this plane. A great deal of skill was required to perform this. the vast majority of telepaths on the planet have difficulties doing it even in small numbers. This meany is virtually unheard of." Emma says this all 'forgive me' in as snide a tone as possible astrally while still remaining polite.
    " My knowledge is not comprehensive. But this work is far more complicated than a cadre of individauls could manage. There would be some level of cues as to who did it or unevenness. The signature on all of them so far has felt the same. One cannot have dozens of idnividuals of varying levels of power and skill and lead differently by divergent methods end up so clean." She leaves it to Jean, Ruth, and Jane to theorize on things and share information, trying to figure out mroe things that can be worked on.
    Then Ruth has her.. Vision? Experience? Epiphany? And Emma goes quiet to not interrupt.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon nods along with Jane's explanation. "That's a reasonable hypothesis," he agrees, "and certainly someone else interfering explains the magic only being on those who were /conscious/, and..."

    He trails off as Ruth starts speaking and for a moment pulses with dark red around himself, but takes a deep breath. "Well. That's... not ideal." Droll understatement there, all-too-clearly meant to deflect from the horror of what Ruth's describing.

    Then he takes in a slow breath he doesn't need and lets it out, a soft blue pulse around his form, and reaches out his "real" hand toward Ruth. "I know this stuff is hard. I'm a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, I've... it's hard to lose people when they're depending on you for help. But we'll help those we can, and the rest..." He nods toward Jean. "As Phoenix said, the dead should be moved on. I can assure you, from personal experience, that they'll be alright. Death is hard, but not as hard as the living tend to think."

    Emma's explanation gets an inclined head. "I stand corrected, then. I'm newer to this psychic business, myself. So we're looking for one individual, and maybe someone else who tried to stop them? Whoever potentially used magic at Washington Square Park." He doesn't seem in the least put out by being corrected. Emma and Jean are the experts in psychic phenomena, after all.

    He looks back to the astral 'tent,' the structure into which the spirits are flowing, and then says, "I don't know about Dr. Foster, but I certainly can't do a city-wide search for these people, even /with/ something enhancing it. However, perhaps... could we move those who are already 'healed' to the Archive for safekeeping while we try to get them back in their bodies? Or... potentially help them move on, if their bodies are dead? I can provide you with a tether to help them find their way, and ensure they don't wander off until we know what to do with them. It would also provide a location to be able to meet with and talk to them."

Jean Grey has posed:
The bodies are accounted for. When Jane reveals this, the white-suited version of Jean looks greatly relieved by the information.

"Then we should be able to return them, when they're psychically stable. Care is required, and perhaps a bit of mental interrogation to make the matches, but procedurally it's not difficult." Simple, she says! "Nor, for that matter, is detecting a mismatched mind, to locate the possessions. Their thought patterns will be irregular, showing the layered consciousnesses, the inherent conflict between them, a mismatching of processes. I was able to perceive it easily enough in my immediate presence when I was removing them here." There is a great deal of confidence in how she speaks of all of this, suggesting something about the psychic abilities of the people present.

"Doing it at range? That's more taxing, but with amplification..." It goes unspecified what this 'amplification' is. "...it's also quite similar to something I've been trained to do, before. Just looking for something different. But I see no reason I shouldn't be able to locate-"

When Ruth starts to flicker, Jean's form flies to her side. The physical proximity is meaningless, but it represents a bridging of thought-constructs, a very intentional check-in on Ruth's condition. "Focus, Ruth- good, good. Are you with us? If it's difficult to maintain here, you can go back, whenever you feel you need to." She gives it a moment, poised as if she might need to do something herself- at least until it's clear that Ruth has things back under control.

"A rotted body means that some may have been displaced where they couldn't be found and stabilized. There may be more like that, and-" Now the costume has switched back in color. "-there is nothing to be done for those. When we have returned those still living, we will send them on."

And finally, she considers: "None of this tells us anything at all about a cause. But perhaps that is something we can find along the way. Re-united with their bodies, their memories should be clearer. The mind, without training, isn't well-capable of functioning in 'halves,' like this."

Jane Foster has posed:
Jane almost looks apologetic for all she has to impart, but she gladly forfeits needing to say quite so much when it comes to Ruth sharing her -- and Claire's -- thoughts and worries. Her grave, dark eyes remain settled on the young woman throughout the decomposition and reformation, and if it were easier to manage, she might even hold out her hand in comfort. The intent for comfort shall have to be enough.

"If there is no body to go back to, the only choice they have is another empty vessel, if that. We have been exploring how you perform psyche-based attachment and, to be blunt, I have no idea. Are you at all familiar?" Her frustrated tone and clenched fists are telling, even as she voluntarily eases them back. Ignorance is not bliss, but Emma very well might have tripped an idea. "Avoiding the ethical issues of reseating someone in a body right now. The most damaged need immediate assistance to stabilize their condition. I can help with that much. It would ease the burden here if we can remove the healed individuals, while allowing the focus to remain on reuniting body and soul."

The wry smile grows a fragment. They have options. Directions go well.

"As important as a cause is -- bodysnatching, soul harvesting, energy gathering -- we might start seeing that if we can restore them," she adds softly. "He's removing his witnesses. We have four people who did witness what happened, and someone who tried to deflect it. Efforts can be made on that front to track down someone, but there are so few who can resolve this."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
For a fleeting moment Ruth flickers and her position changes. It's a look of her, in real color, desperately trying to hold what looks like a broken mirror in place. By laying on it. It's not that jagged, but it is a little jagged. Jonathan sees it; others might.

Jean definitely does! Jean gets a brief impressionistic babble: abridged: <<I'm sorry I'm all ****ed up ma'am I'm trying I just saw it and it was big and it threw me here I'm trying to stay together so it can all come together and I I I I uuuuuugh I just I saw what it was LIKE to go INTO your DEAD, ROTTING BODY and>>


<<But they're ?alive? without it>> Ruth concludes. This seems to chill her out. Or made her realize something. <<I aint giving up>>

and then she wipes her astral forehead with the back of her astral wrist.

"I'm sorry about that they just come on fast," Ruth explains to Jonathan and Jane, but that might not explain anything. She folds her hands behind her head. "Though, THOUGH, I bet it's the ice cream. Something in it. Who makes ice cream? I know there's a bunch of different kinds, or something. I'm sorry, the people are what's the important part here. Y'all said you had some of them already, right? Like the bodies, I mean; not the 'them' exactly."

Charles Xavier has posed:
"Apologies for my eavesdropping. I'm Charles Xavier. I am managing this sanctuary, though I am focused on individual healing, so my attention is a little spread, unfortunately," comes the tone of a slightly bemused, but gentle older man. Charles' influence is heavy -- in that those unfamiliar with him may realize very abruptly that all of the sanctuary is the same person, the same essence, as this voice. Charles forms a physical manifestation, then, but it may feel as though he is doing it for ease for them. Even if perhaps it's an added stressor for him to project while also maintaining the location.

Jean may smell some Cerebro use here, though, so he does have an aid going on. That he's doing it may be a further scent of trouble... because its use would mask any problems.

In appearance, Charles looks much like he does in life-- though he can walk, here. Or calmly stand there. His 'tone' would feel serene: an older teacher, a monk. His age is more apparent here in the astral, his soul is older than his rejuvinated body, and he wears the age with grace and fortitude.

"There are people here that could move, but they will need to continue to be tethered. Their connection to their bodies was the deepest of the pieces attacked. Without it, even healed and aware, they may be lost in the astral." Charles pauses. "I am able to help teach how to move them safely from this framework. Let me know when you are prepared -- I am continuing to heal and assist these victims until that time."

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma Frost would nod, "We can try and help those out of tehir bodies back to their original forms. Difficult, but if their physical bodies are healthy and they're mentally stable doable with enough preparation and focus. After it they'd need some extensive psychological assistance and therapy to help with the trauma.." Emma does the astral equivalent of tapping at her chin.

"But it's very posible to get some of them to their original forms. It also lets us get more of a feel for exactly how the removal was done if we can reverse it. Psychics leave signatures. I presume magic is the same way for particularly advanced rituals, if that's ag ood frame of comparison." Emma is thoughtful and introspective, considering.

"We need to share information deseprately. To help these people and to track down who or what has done this."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon nods along with Jane yet again, adding, "I've been wracking my brain for ideas on reuiniting people, and I have... nothing. If you have some idea what to do, that's a relief. Really." He rubs at his face, which is when the vision of Ruth holding a broken mirror in place comes through. He blinks and frowns, processing thoughts. Ice cream, mirrors...

    Xavier--and Emma's suggestion of people needing psychological assistance--is something to focus on, and he does so, nodding politely to the man as he arrives. Or, rather, as he makes his presence known. "I'd be glad to learn how to make such tethers, and whatever we need to do in order to help these people. And we can surely pool information on making sure the victims get help once they're restored."

    He looks to Jane and then back. "We work for SHIELD. I'm sure... well... Dr. Foster's the senior agent." He actually flushes a bit darker. "I'll leave inter-agency coordination to you, hmm? And meet up with you as soon as possible about transferring the healed, Mr. Xavier?"

Jean Grey has posed:
Still near Ruth, Jean's body language is first steadying, reassuring, yet slowly it turns to something simultaneously sweet but almost cruel in a way: a caress, gold-gloves fingers across her cheek beneath the cloth, a motion of reassurance... as one might offer a child, while speaking of truth darker than their years.

"If their bodies have ceased to function, with their dormant levels of psychic awareness... there is little to be done," she asserts, and again, that echoing resonance, the sense of a hungry void speaking through her, reaching out, is subtly palpable across the shared mental space. "These psychic fragments are not 'souls.' They are not a whole life... but rather, energetic imprints, not strong enough to carry the full spark. You might find some substitute host, but without extraordinary will, without some psychic potential in the victim... they will not survive the process, not as they were. You will make a construct, not a person. Those unfortunates, the only responsible thing is to cut them loose."

She pulls away, and in a moment, seems to shake off that 'other' voice, more conclusively as she hears Charles speaking aloud around them. He is a bit of an anchor for her, after all.

"I think we should take up this offer of another refuge," she suggests, gesturing to Jon to indicate what place she's speaking of. "Anything that can relieve a bit of your workload. Move the healed there as they're able, and then work on re-uniting them with their bodies from that location. I wanted to try and do a wider search, but-" She's caught on to the fact that Charles himself is plugged in the machine. So that's a no-go, until they've cleared out his mental warehouse. And she gives him a further nod in reassurance. "If Dr. Foster can provide access to the bodies, either of us," and she gestures to Emma, "should be able to conduct the transfers back. We're both well trained in psychic matters. The plan I had for quickly finding the rest will depend on getting this place cleared out first... though we might also conduct some on-site investigations in the meantime."

She looks around. "We can go for ice cream."

Jane Foster has posed:
Oh look! It's Charles Xavier, and for that, Jane turns to the older man and offers a wave as a respectful greeting. He warrants at least that, though a twinge of discomfort settles between her shoulder blades all the same. Were those wings of hers visible, they might actually be flexing mildly. For a moment, she goes hazy around the edges, once again drawn in somewhere inward.

For those with exceptional acuity for blink-and-miss-it moments, the blur drops down her like a coat of water, through the ground, and is gone.

"While I have theoretical leads on healing, they remain just that. And the costs are too high for anyone to be lost above what we have." Her frown deepens momentarily at that, entrenched on that opinion, if very respectfully so. "SHIELD will provide open lines of communication, you need only tell us where and how. Geographical coordinates are the least I can give, and as I said." She gestures to Jean. "You have my permission to review what you need from me, at least from my perspective. We can also provide detailed records on the patients, at least so we can start trying to match them up. Our conscious patients and the most endangered being starting points. You can access them physically. I will clear that with our superiors to ensure that you are welcome to come in, since we are taking precautions to ensure they get the best care until this reaches a resolution. You're all a vital part of that, since you touch what we cannot. Am I forgetting anything there?"

The slight smile shows again. Brief. Hope kindled.

Meanwhile, there's an incarnation of her delving through the astral at speeds that make little sense, chasing down a frantic unmoored soul to find a way home. Past the Beyond, as is her obligation. Again, and again, and again.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Jean's touch eases Ruth, but the struggle isn't entirely trauma; Ruth has always been incredibly hard to read beyond the surface 'protocols' of thought and image exchange, and this is somehow related. There is a recurring image of a box full of mirror shards getting jostled around.

But it's easing up. "That's still so sad," Ruth mumbles, not sounding particularly sad about it.

Ruth's palpable quantity of 'holding myself together by sheer force of will' reduces when Xavier speaks up. She leans back against the wall, relieved. She regards his presence, and she blurts, "I won't let you down," before expanding this with a wave of her hand. "We won't, let you down, none of us are gonna. These people are big heroes, I can tell."

"I'm not doing anything much lately 'cept some boring stuff you wouldn't care about so if you need to call someone or something you can try to get me if you want," Ruth tells Jane, raising up a hand to give a thumbs up at basically Jane's direction. "Y'all do work study stuff or anything??"

For some reason Ruth turns a little towards Emma after dropping this brazen request. She gets a thumbs-up too.

Charles Xavier has posed:
Charles has a way of looking at someone, even in this realm (or maybe moreso, here?) that is deep. The look of a telepath that has a very, very high powered lens. However, if he sees into Jon, or Jane, those threads and their meaning, he doesn't touch those secrets, or even react.

"Absolutely. I am also able to return astral forms, but I am overtaxed right now. I appreciate your willingness; this teamwork demonstrated here brings me great hope and relief." There's a touch to Ruth's shoulder. Comfort. A smile. "Thank you. ...The more of us that are able to assist, the better. Particularly so, if something should happen to me. We cannot silo any of this." Charles's tone is warm, pleasant. But the words themselves may have a chill to them. Perhaps there is more that the Professor knows and is keeping secret, without reaction.

"I will be here, when you are ready." Xavier's astral form folds back into the sanctuary with a gentle movement of astral mist.

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma Frost would nod at the plans, "We need to spread out and do what we can. First as Jean has said, find a way to help get them out of Charles' mindscape. And.." She would muse in passing to Jane, "You seem to have an understanding of what they're going through. Personal experience?"

then smiling at Ruth, "And yes.. I do think that I could use someone to come with me if you were interested in getting some.. FIeld experience." Emma's smiling. Emma smiling is never a good thing