14793/Brood of the Savage Land: The God Machines, Part II

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Brood of the Savage Land: The God Machines, Part II
Date of Scene: 05 May 2023
Location: Ancient Ruins
Synopsis: Unsure how to find the rest of the Celestial computer cores (or what to do with them if they did), the heroes use Lemurian legend and SHIELD intel (courtesy of Lara Croft) to locate a ruin potentially tied to early residents of the Savage Land. En route, they are faced by increasingly more well organized members of the dino-brood Hive, and despite an attempted distraction, suffer injuries - and potential infections - in reaching the ruin. In the last moment, they are aided by an inscrutable and likely inhuman figure. Despite its aloof nature, its promises of aid seem their best chance at saving their friends and dealing with the larger Brood threat!
Cast of Characters: Jean Grey, Natasha Romanoff, Audra Meridian, Rogue, Iara Dos Santos

Jean Grey has posed:
Last Time

Seeking some way to deactivate the Celestial computers and their dampening field, the heroes returned to Sauron's former lair, still inhabited by the Pterons under their new king Phangor. While they were able to access the device using Queen Leanne's amulet, Rogue's prior knowledge, and some Wakandan tech, ultimately they were unable to take control of the system - only power cycle the unit, which allowed them to overload it's volcanic power source.

Mt. Doom was destroyed.

But not long after, SHIELD monitoring confirmed that remaining cores - they know there must be at least six, and possibly more - exhibited sufficient redundancy to rembalance their workload and maintain the dampening effect. This leaves a quandry; the heroes only know of a single other computer, at the very center of the Brood infestation. And even if they could find all the others, destroying enough of them might take down the field, but it would almost certainly doom the habitat of the Savage Lands, and all the unique lifeforms dwelling therein.

No targets. No plan. A dead end.


Queen Leanne stands at the head of a long table, overseeing a council among both visiting heroes and local leaders. Wonder Woman was just here! So fancy and impressive! But she's promptly called off to lead another defensive front, a Lemurian-Amazon joint expedition. No time to sign autographs. The Brood are spreading faster every day.

"I know little of 'computers,'" Leanne goes on. "But the amulet is a family heirloom. Once, Lemuria was part of a great Atlantean Empire, that possessed many such magical machines. Yet even they were not the first to dwell within this place. There are legends of those who preceded them. The Gods and their first children. Perhaps they knew how to work the machines. Sadly, their knowledge, the rest of their kingdom, it is lost to us now."

Which is where SHIELD comes in. They have someone from the outpost on comms. "Another one of our Agents recently recovered a stash of material from a site called 'The Pit.' No core, but we've been analyzing the items recovered. Not only may they be useful for getting you access, but the metallurgical analysis has helped us identify elements not otherwise common in the-"

Maybe someone makes a comment about the talk getting too science-y. You know how those SHIELD techs are. "-uh basically, we can try to hunt other ruins via satellite. It won't penetrate the deep mountain ones, but we've been doing surveys of the deeper jungle and have a promising site for you." One of their portable screens shows a map. Leanne looks suitably impressed!

Soon, the team is setting out. As usual, the location is remote and dangerous, requiring both jungle traversal - with the threat of native fauna or Brood - before whatever they might even encounter at the ruins.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
Natasha Romanoff would be with the group. This is an acquisition operation. And not that the X-Men aren't capable of it.. But Natasha is the one that's had nearly as much experience at this sort of thing than anyone on the team likely than Logan, Raven, or Remy. She's having no problems with going through the jungle. No reactions or issues to the heat, to the atmosphere, to teh wetness.. or anything else. She just seems to be supernaturally calm and aware of anything about.

Making minimal conversation unless asked directly on something or she's having to give an alert. There is the operation, there are teh objectives, there are the assets with her. There are the expected threats and the unknown ones that have to be dealt with and if necessary neutralized. They have a target.

And that is what she is here for. She occasionally swings a machete, hacking through things as needed.

Audra Meridian has posed:
Dangerous trek?! Oh no!... actually, Audra doesn't seem to mind too much. Look, this is a woman that is playing on the fringe of big storms for both profession and passion, some danger in a prehistoric alien infested world isn't something she is going to be afraid of!

Cautious, sure. Careful, definitely. But there's no time to put fear into the equation when there's bigger things and lives at stake.

Humidity isn't really much of a problem, either. Her suit is made to handle environmental conditions.

"Preferably we don't have to blow this one up." Audra can now said she's ignited and escaped from a real life volcano, that's one thrill she doesn't need to seek again so soon.

Rogue has posed:
AT the meeting, Rogue had attended it... but arrived late. With her, she'd brought a rolled up poster inside of a blastic poster container... a poster of Wonder Woman that she had intended to get signed by Diana herself. 'Finally going to meet #WonderWoman herself. Will post the pic when I get the sig.' Had been posted to Rogue's various social media pages, with all her random followers leaving comments and excited upvotes.

When Roguye had arrived, however, Diana had already left the meeting.

'Saddest day ever.' is all Rogue left on her feeds before just putting her phone away and focusing on the mission at-hand.

Here and now, the Belle is wearing a new type of X-Men uniform more designed for the jungle climate... they'd been in this for awhile now, so a new type of uniform was created. Rogue's is sleeveless with a pair of black gloves on her hands. The rest of the bodysuit is made with air-flow in mind, mesh fabrics that cling tightly, but also allow her body to breathe better in the humid jungle. Requested in blacks and greens, the Belle looks quite the part for this mission, with a utility belt cinched around her waist, loaded up with a few pieces of equipment looped to the belt, or tucked in to small pouches on her hips and backside.

Rogue still elects to fly, fluttering around from place to place, landing on stones or branches here and there as she keeps scouting out for those on the ground beneath her....

Iara Dos Santos has posed:
     A short time ago, at the Blackbird...

    "You gotta take me on this one, Jean!" a pair of massive shark jaws with a brazillian-portugese accent says to Jean Grey, "I get patrol duty for one mission and some puta is swoopin' in on my man!"

     "Iara." the empathic redhead responds, a soft look of concern on her face, "We position our team members as needed for one, for two, King Phaengor isn't 'your man' and last time he saw you you bit him, but three, your powers are actually needed for this mission since it effects you and Rahne the least. So you are already assigned to this mission, you probably won't run into his majesty, but if you do, you will treat him with respect. Am I clear?"

     It's too late, Iara is already fist pumping and turning away, shouting "YEAH!" as she turns around, gives Jean a thumbs up, and says "Thanks, Jean! You won't regret this! Um beijo!"

     And now, back at the present...

     Iara thumbs to herself, saying "Hey, if anyone can find one of these ruins, it's me! I got a great nose and I can detect electrical fields! It's a shark thing! More useful than you'd think..." before she mutters "Never have to wonder if there's an outlet behind the couch..." under her breath. Still, she takes off with the others, unaware that the person walking in front of her was, in fact, the one making moves on 'her man' Phaengor.

     "So like." she tries to make small talk as a machete comes down on another branch, dressed in her standard black and yellow x-men uniform cut off at the biceps and thighs, "This is the direction the satellite readout, uh, makes us suspect a ruin could be or are we just kinda... wandering around until we spot or I get a whiff of something?"

Jean Grey has posed:
The jungle is everything they expect. It's hot and moist, and the dense foliage makes for slow going. There are plenty of bugs (of the non alien kind). Really, all the usual hardships you would expect of similar terrain elsewhere on Earth. With the added tension of constant wariness against whatever monsters may be lurking in the trees.

And, as a matter of fact, there are many such threats.

The dinosaurs, as it turns out, are less and less of a threat as time goes on. Months of missions in the Savage Lands have bred greater familiarity with the place. Ultimately, the majority of its native species, though ferocious, are simply big animals, and conflict with them is often avoidable. SHIELD has all kinds of things now, chemical scent-blockers and repellants, and field specialists like the Black Widow can easily pick up the trail marks to avoid. Iara can simply smell them coming.

The Brood are a different matter.

While early encounters mostly presented as diseased and mutated megafauna driven to aggression, almost every subsequent meeting has shown new evolutions. Some diverge wildly, but others converge upon clear patterns as the Hive adjusts to its base genetic substrate, optimizing, defining roles.

Exhibit A: Rogue's aerial patrol spots a dark patch in the sky ahead, almost like a cloud. But by now, they know better. The Brood have co-opted smaller flyers, like Rhamphorhynchus and Dimorphodon, to act in flocks - swarms - to act as surveillance over large territories. Although it is unclear that the Brood Hive-mind is fully functional, they seem to succeed in relaying information at shorter distances. Spread that swarm wide enough, and that can cover a lot of area.

It's a security field, basically. The small fliers aren't terribly dangerous (other than in numbers), but can alert the hive toconverge on targets.

On the ground, there are tracks to suggest the coming and goings of such larger drones on patrols. Iara won't smell any -close-, but the lingering signs of them are everywhere.

And to no one's surprise, the direction of the ruins on the map will send them through - or under - that swarm above.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
Natasha Romanoff would go to take out of all things a small spyglass. Unhooking it from her belt and going to sweep ahead. She moves to speak over to a comm <<Situation report>> She can get an eye over of the thigns in the clouds, but Rogue has a far better perspective, and Iara has a better ability for tracking than she does. She's here to be the backup and infiltrator if it's needed.

She's worked with the members of the team a few times, and they have more experience in the Savage Land than she does. That means she defers to them on the matter unless they say otherwise. She's also grown to -not- like fighting dinosaurs, despite numerous life experiences.

So spyglass in hand,s he geos to pause and survey the area, moving to get ready to brace over against a tree for cover if she needs it and to let the group sweep about or spread out before coming to a tactical decision.

Audra Meridian has posed:
Audra Meridian likewise is mostly support here, letting the X-Men and SHIELD agents that have more experience with the location take the lead. There might not even be much for her to do if there's not an actual cosmic computer or anything here. But she was already dedicated to helping and that was all it took to keep the stormchaser involved.

Normally she'd be all over aerial opposition, but she's reluctant to fire up her tech too much and risk the computer network recognizing it as something akin to superpowers and shutting her down. So for the moment she's just watching, but ready to act. "So much for a quite jungle tour," she utters under her breath.

Iara Dos Santos has posed:
     "Oh." the six foot seven Shark Girl says as she spots that cloud on the horizon, "Oh I really don't like that..." She taps her PDA to bring up a holographic map, checking for the closest sources of water... and then winces as she reminds herself the brood probably have underwater creatures infected too.

     Natasha becomes aware of the distinct smell of brine as the saltwater shark leans in over Black Widow's shoulder, saying "So what's the plan on getting past those things, Red? Or we just... gonna make a run for it while waving our arms trying to swat them down before they get us?"

Rogue has posed:
Up in one of the larger trees, Rogue stands with her right booted foot up on the sloping upward branch. She places her gloved hands upon her thigh and just stares out across the land... Her chestnut hued hair is tied back in to a tight 'Princess Leia style' bun for Star Wars day, while her white bangs flow free around the sides of her face.

She spots the flock of dinosaurs off in the distance, her green eyes narrowing at the cloud as they travel... "Great." She mutters to herself before she looks down past her hands and thigh toward the others walking past beneath her far below...

A moment later and she's emerging from the tree's foliage, brushing it out of her face as she just 'walks down' the trunk of the tree, defying gravity as she is one to do.

"We got a patrol swarm a few miles away, headed south east, it looked like. They spot me up there and we'll be in all sorts'a annoyin trouble." The Belle tells the other women she's with on this trip.

When her steel-toed black leather boots touch down on the tree's trunk, she drops down to walk along with the others now, raising the fabric of the black scarf around her neck up to rub at her face a little before she releases it again to hang loose around her shoulders and chest.

"I figure we're close to whatever we're out here for, though, if they're out guardin' somethin' near here."

Jean Grey has posed:
The team can edge a bit closer, still, as Rogue has spotted them pretty far off. But ultimately, the closer they get, the more obvious it becomes that the swarm is loitering not just between them and their objective, but likely over top of it. Eventually, whether it's Rogue popping back up, or Natasha using her spyglass, they might even pick out a few objects among the trees, suggestive of the ruins, just below them.

Which, in and of itself, raises questions.

The Brood at large have not shown much that various defensive forces have been able to identify as strategic, beyond the general 'strategy' of all life to grow and multiply. At the level of actual conflict, they demonstrate simple tactics. But until now, it has been assumed that with no Queen the hive mind has been incomplete, and incapable of greater planning.

So what, exactly, are they doing 'guarding' this thing? What underlying logic guides the behavior?

And more than that... well, what are the heroes going to do about getting through them to their objective?

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
And then Natasha is going along towards where the setup point is. She's moving at a quick pace through the underbrush. not leaving tracks, not leaving traces of her passing. Leaving not roof or leaf undisturbed by her transit. Seh's going over with the broadcast unit to tuck it inot position. There. She goes to jump up to one of teh more solid trees present, hops up to a point where she can secure it for the best decibel sound to spread as far as possible.. Attaches it with a spray on adhesive..

And then goes to rig a quick booby trap over rto it consisting of a pair of small fragmentation grenades and a small flare to mess with whomever is the first to disturb it.

Audra Meridian has posed:
Black Window slips off to set their diversion. Audra considers a moment, then clenches her fists and the ducts in her gauntlets opening up. She sticks to subtle effects right now, but she's got something particular in mind. Drawing in some of the humid moisture and air, shifting it about, and venting out several billows of mist around the group. It's not a dense fog, but it will hopefully be enough to help conceal their presence from view, and blending in with the ambient humidty if anything has something like thermal senses. The less likely they are to be noticed as they move, the more likely the foes are to fall for the distraction.

Think of it like camoflague, but in an environmental tweaking sort of way.

Iara Dos Santos has posed:
     With the red-headed SHIELD agent setting up the distraction, Iara books it with the others towards the ruins that were spotted earlier, webbed feet hitting soft grass and dirt as she sprints like an olympic athlete in the direction of her target. Leaping over a wayward crocodile and wincing as she spots some manner of theropod she can't quite identify through the foilage, the Shark-Girl moves fast to take full advantage of Natasha's distraction... absolutely gunning it.

Rogue has posed:
Rogue appears beside Natasha as she's setting the bomb up. She eyes her closely as she works. "Be careful... make sure you... get the... yeah. Like that. You're getting it. You're good at that. Scarily good. I'm impressed."

She doesn't know anything about bombs, or Natasha for that matter.

When the SHIELD Agent finishes, Rogue watches the group setting off again, the smokey haze that Audra has spread out around them. "Oh. Nice. Mood fog." The Belle says before she drops down to the ground to land with a thud upon her deep treaded boots. She sees Iara running away at high speed, and instead of chasing after her on-foot, the southern Mutant just grabs a big stick off the ground, and flies after her, through the haze that Audra is putting off.

That same croc that Iara uses as a stepping stone is snapping angrily at the Sharkgirl in her wake, only to have Rogue use her stick to stamp his big nose back down as she flies over him too... "Not so fast, big nose." She says as she swoops past the snapping jawed creature.

Jean Grey has posed:
Nat is awfully good at sneaking, so she's a good choice to go ahead and set up their distraction, although it still proves a tense journey. Even though Rogue spotted the things up above the trees, as she stalks in closer, it's obvious that there are plenty more roosting in the canopy. Before long, they are all above her. They're strange animals, that mid-point of bird and pterosaur, with the bat-like 'finger' wings and heavy, toothy beaks. The latter has grown more weapon-like in their transformation, almost like a saw blade. So too have their long tails, which boast the characteristic Brood 'spike.'

The rest of the group inches up as she does, getting closer to the same swarm. With Audra's cover, they feel bold enough to start moving underneath, cautious of the lurking flyers. Occasionally, they'll make strange screeches at each other, but none seem to spot either party at first, letting them make some progress, before Nat sets off the noise device.

When she does, there's a sudden cacophany of screeching dino-birds, many of those roosting ones taking flight, and more of the swarm flocking in that direction. Above Audra and the others, many of them take off. Enough to give them a spot to run? Iara sure seems to think so!

Of course, once she books it, stealth is lost. While the swarm is definitely distracted, it's not 100%. It only takes a few moments for one of the murder-faced things to come swooping down at her, snapping viciously. Others follow, first a few, and then more. 'Swarming' is definitely their tactic, as individually, well, one could call them 'snack-sized' for Iara (though she might think twice about the wisdom of a Brood meal).

Rogue can quickly rejoin the two of them, and her 'bat' is probably very useful for dealing with the growing aerial swarm, even as they can see the ruins through the breaking treeline in the distance.

Then, somewhere off to the side, there's a big explosion.

The others don't see what it took out, but Nat does - the other half of their 'patrol' scheme. Keeping to the bird-like evolutionary theming, the responders are transformed raptors of some variety, although these are clearly more Brood-specialized. Their heads are totally Brood-like, with the large wedge shape, and they have more brood-like forearms, while retaining the weapon-like raptor foot-claws and speed-built design, and added insect wings on their backs! A whole pack of these descends on the lure tree, and gets blown up.

Are they in the clear?

Not hardly. There are more of the enhanced raptobrood closing in, one group separately on Natasha and another behind the main bunch. The distraction gives them a head-start, and soon, they can see the ruins ahead through the tree line. Can they make the sprint? Turn and fight?

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
And Natasha is going to charge along as fast she can. The time for stealth is past, the jungle too thick for her to use a grappler. All she can do is rely on raw speed. Seh goes to fling a series of small disks through the air. That are very, very nasty ones. White Phosphorous. Designed to detonate on contact with the air and make fire sufficient to burn through skyscrapers. It would make for quite, quite an effective way to scatter pursuit as the woman breaks into a full sprint, making sure teh wind is blowing away from her.
    Behing her, existence goes white as things turn to ashes and the air superheats. But it will last for just a few moments as they burn so hot taht they immediate burn themselves out as soon as they run out of fuel and smother the oxygen.
    And even running at more than thirty kilometers an hour, racing along towards the edge of the ruins, just another hundred ro so meters away.. She's blindsided.
    A Brood-infected raptor that has a second head, set of eyes, and a large crab-like pincer on the back launches itself thorugh the air like a leapfrog. Smashing into her with it's eight hundred kilogram mass and hammering her HARD while jabbing the spike thorugh her shoulder!

Audra Meridian has posed:
Something something no plan survives contact with the enemy.

At least they've gotten a bit of a headstart. But it's quickly become time to ditch the subtefuge and make a break for their objective before they get completely surrounded and overrun! Though the fog will linger for a moment even after Audra stops generating it, maybe helping a little longer. Or maybe not if those Broodlociraptors have any funky alien senses in those funky alien heads.

Audra makes up for not having any mutant powers by engaging her Zephyr Boots and using their vectored thrust as a manner of booster dash to propel herself forward faster. But not quite as fast as she could go because she can't engage her flight pack as well, the stabilizers would get caught up in the overgrown foliage. It's up in the air if it will be enough or not.

Iara Dos Santos has posed:
     This? This is bad.

     Iara has to remind herself that situations can go like this sometimes.

     Dinosaurs are already bad news for Iara. Just as chompy as she is with a nonhumanoid anatomy and speed that gives them an advantage over her. Where against humans, Iara's a monster, against dinosaurs, she's on a relatively even playing field, leading to a "there's no winners in a knife fight, only survivors" situation. <<This is it.>> she thinks to herself. <<Better or worse, you've gotta fulfill your role to the team.>>
     As she can hear the raptors getting closer and neither Audra nor Iara are going to make it in time, Iara... stops short. She's got one chance at this and has to hope her shark physiology gives her the same sort of resistance to Brood infection that it does cancer, or something. That's probably not how it works, but she's no doctor, and it's the only hope they have now.

     Iara skids in the dirt as she comes to a stop, biting her left wrist and tasting her own blood while inflicting pain on herself, the best way she knows how to instantly make her go into a frenzy. Her pupils dilate as the pain becomes a distant memory, screaming at the brood-raptors and flinging herself at them.

     Here, she's at her most monstrous. Here, she fights like she hasn't in months, in mindless, bone-gnashing, scale-slicing fury. She catches the first raptor's leg as it leaps at her, slinging it into a second and scattering them as a third pounces her, biting her shoulder before she reaches back and grabs it, flinging it over her shoulder with a bone-crunching smack against a fallen tree, breaking its spine. A third charges her and she only has time to lift her right arm up to have it bite her arm instead of her throat, her left thumb-claw going for its eye. All's fair in the jungle.

     The sting of the tail hits her in the back next as the now one-eyed raptor screeches and backs off from her, and she... shudders, but doesn't cry out in pain. Sharks don't make noise, and right now she's borderline feral. She takes a moment, and then quickly turns, grabbing it by that tail and pulling it closer as she charges it, grabs it, and bites into it's neck... and then bites, and bites again until her jaws drip with brood blood and the pitiful creature's head falls from its lifeless corpse.

     Panting, probably already infected, Iara turns to face the last raptor, her wounds looking ugly but the bleeding stops quickly, another piece of shark physiology as the infected blood leaks from between her teeth, it's anyone's guess if she swallowed any or not. She charges it with another yell of fury, the broodraptor charging her as well... but this time she can't catch it, the raptor pouncing her with both feet and knocking her to the ground, sickle claws sinking into her uniform, saved by the unstable molecules as they take the brunt of the blows, the raptor bending down to claw at her upper body and bite her face... but Iara has longer reach with her arms, and her strength is not to be underestimated. She digs her clawed fingers into the neck of this raptor, drenching herself in more of that brood-blood as she does so, the creature giving a terrible cry and wince as she feels the life leave it between her hands.

     She tosses it aside, panting, spitting out some of that awful blood, as she rolls over, shakily getting to her feet... half surprised she was able to pull that off. Scratched up with bite marks over her face, shoulders and upper arms, not to mention the tail wound in her back, she slowly starts to stand up, breathing heavily as she comes back out of her frenzy... and praying in her native portugese that there aren't any more of those things.

Rogue has posed:
Rogue uses her stick to beat back some of the jungle foliage as the team races through the underbrush now. When she hears the explosions going off behind her she has a mild grin appear on her visage, but it's gone rather quickly. "Keep goin', there's no more hidin' now until we can get to these ruins for cover!" Rogue calls up ahead to Iara and Audra. "Nice boots!" She adds to Audra upon seeing the woman's jump boots thrusting her along ahead of her.

OUt of the corner of her eyes, Rogue spots a bit of motion as something leaps out ahead of her. It lands on two powerful legs, and flares its huge clawed hands. This causes Rogue to come to a stop, staring at the infected Raptor with a smirk crossing her lips.. She tosses her stick from one hand to the other, before she gives it a weighted twirl around at her side.

"Think you're clver, huh Girl?" She asks the angry Raptor as it hisses and screaches at her. "You're not even a challen--" Rogue is walking toard the Raptor when two more leap out of the bushes, one landing right against rogue's side, knocking her over on to her back, causing her to look up at the cursed creature as it bears its teeth down at her in return!

Not unlike Iara, Rogue is caught in a bit of a fiasco with the infected Dinosaurs. As the one atop her chomps down at her face, Rogue's stick comes up to smack right in to its open mouth. The beast's powerful jaws crunch down on the heavy stick, squeezing tighter and tighter until its snapped in to two halves. It roars at the Belle it has pinned on the ground beneath it's heavy feet, then snaps at her again, this time going for the death blow to her neck!

Only Rogue's right boot comes up to kick it hard as she spins out from underneath it, using her flight power to draw her body out from under it, in a reverse sommersault through the air behind the dinosaur. Back on her feet now, Rogue wields her two stick batons out at her sides, the three Dinosaurs surrounding her, her eyes looking them all over as she has a smile spreading across her lips.

"Ya'll want an autograph? Ya shoulda brought a poster for me to sign. Mighty Woman posters go for a lot online with my John Hancock."

One of the Raptors lunges forward at the woman, only to have her just fly straight up in the air, over their heads and away from them.

All three just look up as the girl flies off...

How unfair!

Jean Grey has posed:
Running, fighting - they reach the tree line, the break in the natural jungle at the edge of the large ruin. Which, itself, is actually interesting, because it's a VERY clean break.

Normally, after what might be thousands, if not tens of thousands of years, one would expect the jungle to fully reclaim just about anything inside it. The ruin would be no more than a substrate. It would have been covered in vines, mosses, lichens, fungus. Cycles of decay and regrowth would turn that into soil, and more would grow in turn. It would basically end up a big planter. And then the trees would slowly push in, their trunks growing around it, subsuming it into the rainforest. But that isn't what they find.

There's a clean break, not absent life, but... free of thick trees, with only low growth. They can see the buildings. A number of the outer ones are stone constructions, although extremely elaborate, reminiscent somewhat of Lemurian styles. And deeper still, a glint of a metallic shine.

And all of this, fascinating as it is, is little concern to the heroes fleeing for their lives.

Natasha sets off another set of terrifying devices, incinerating several of the creatures behind her. But she misses one. (Or was it maneuvering to flank the whole time?) It catches her, and tackles her right into the 'clearing' area, ahead of the buildings.

Audra, though sure to be caught on foot, has another plan! The boots will push her ahead speed wise, although to get the kind of speed she needs makes it rough going through the jungle, her body crashing through vines, snapping small branches. These slow her, or force hard zig-zag maneuvers and ping-pong impacts that eat up time. Several of the Raptors do start to catch up, despite her theoretically higher speed. She might end up caught, if it weren't for Rogue and Iara holding the line.

Iara has always had a bit of an advantage here, her powers coming right up to whatever arbitrary 'line' the defenses have set, putting her among the apex predators. She's a weightclass above the raptors individually, as they're designed - used by the Hive? - for speed. But as a pack they're dangerous, and a horrific brawl ensues as she tries to hold them back. She succeeds, it seems, though at what price?

And even Rogue, who comes through her scrap less bloody than Iara, she seems to forget a detail. First, raptors are good jumpers. But more than that, these seem the closest to 'standard' Brood drones that they've seen, which means they boast insect-like wings on the back. They've kept them furled as they run, for aerodynamics, but as it leaps, the wings pop open, giving it an extra burst of movement. It's unexpected, and it catches Rogue mid-air, clawing and trying to stab with its flailing tail.

She might have a chance to fight it off still, but the one above Natasha...

Is suddenly vaporized by a lance of light.

The source is a vaguely humanoid figure that emerges from somewhere deeper in the ruin, hand outstretched. Its garbed in long silver-grey robes (more 'sci fi enlightened scientist' than 'wizard' ins style) and its face concealed in some kind of slim helmet or faceplate. After blasting the first, it looks up toward Rogue brawling in the air. The two are entangled, which makes the shot difficult. So instead, it lifts its other arm... where each finger lengthens and stretches, and then its whole hand comes apart, becoming a mass of strange tendrils. These streak out, seizing the one on Rogue, and yank it clear, before tossing it aside into the air and blasting it like the first.

Iara Dos Santos has posed:
     Iara stumbles forward, cluching her right arm with her left, not that either arm are much better for wear. Bloody and sliced up all over, she fights to stay awake, her vision blurring as she shakes her head, gritting her teeth and willing herself through this.

     "Tabby..." she calls out to the open air, "If... If I die here 'cause I did somethin' stupid... I'm so... so sorry..."

     Walking forward into the clearing, she looks up and spots that flash of... shinyness, like fish scales in the light. She's naturally attracted to it. Unsure if she's just exhausted or if she was poisoned in her fight, she starts walking towards it and the figures fighting in the air. "Warren?" the brazilian says, before seeming to catch herself, soon calling out "A-Angel... Angel! I... I need your help..."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
The claw is through her chest and out the other end of it. IT comes out somewhere through her side and Natasha considers how fast the infection will spread. And what the others will do if they need to put her down. She is, hwoever, calm as she's slammed along through the area, claw snapping two more of her ribs in the process, lung popping over like a baloon that a child was playing with. She controls her breathing adn slows her heart rate even as she slams down to the hard rock. A hand pops up. To brace herself. And then the -thing- is disintegrated. Smashing to the ground, rolling over several times with somehow enough of a brace to not snap her neck, Natasha goes to attest her momentum and go back up to her feet. Hand going out to hold on to a blaster.. Ready if she has to use it..

On herself.

Rogue has posed:
Rogue is happily up in the air, happily telling herself 'I am the clever girl!'

And then her steel-toed boot is bit down upon by a flying Raptor, which has the Belle's expression going blank at first before she looks back and sees it. "Oh give me a good god damn break." She states in an exasperated breath!

Her right hand comes up, stick brandished, and she slaps it down to whallop the Raptor right up side its head!

One hit, two hit, three hits!

When it finally lets go, it lunges up at her with its clawed hands, only to get grabbed in turn by Rogue...

She drops both of her fighting sticks, and now just clutches the Raptor's 'hands' with her own.

The two are battling with strength at the test when the tendrils snap up in to the air, effectively ripping her enemy from the sky!

Rogue just flies up, spins around, and looks down to where those tendrils had come from. "What the f--" She trails off, remaining flying in the air as she eyes their source...

Audra Meridian has posed:
Audra Meridian takes the smashing through vines and branches, it's a bit rough but she can take it. She's gone through the debris whipped up by storms before... and has enough protection from her suit to deal with some bumps and brusing. Compared to becoming dino din-din.

Which she almost does anyways, until the infested raptor that was getting a little too close for comfort is confronted by a different predator in the shape of the shark woman.

And then someone(?) in robes comes out of the ruins(?!) with bolts of light and finger tentacles(!!!) to help fend off more of the Brood-raptors.

Audra skids to a stop, with little time to be relieved in surviving the whole fiasco because others in the team weren't so lucky. "Iara, over here!" she calls at the shark-woman, trying to catch enough of her attention that she doesn't wander haphazardly into the jungle in her daze.

Jean Grey has posed:
The figure does little more in the immediate aftermath, beyond retracting the mass of tedrils, which reform into the prior hand. It stands at a distance, and seems to regard them, although there are no eyes on that mask, just a smooth, reflective plate.

There may be some raptor-brood left alive (some of Rogue's?), but confronted by the unknown figure and its powerful weapons, they turn and flee into the jungle. This leaves them alone in the presence of their 'savior.'

And as Iara seems fascinated by it, it in turn shows some reciprocal interest, turning to glide toward her. A hand is upheld, summoning a small circle of energy into being around it, more holographic display than weapon. "Your infection status is positive. However - curious. Your genomic structure is unique, and robust. You may survive long enough for productive study."

The same glowing hand sweeps toward Natasha, and its head turns. "Baseline human DNA, with post-natal modification and some trace epigenetic markers. Also positive for infection. Her prognosis is poor. Recommend destruction." Which is not what anyone is going to want to hear!

Audra and Rogue round out the group, and when they get their own pass with the glowy-hand-thing, there is a more relieving, "Baseline human and human variant. Both negative." Well, thanks for the good news, doc. Finally, in its impassive, monotone voice: "Why are you here?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
Natasha is reasonable over on this one. If she needs to be put down, they should. The failure here is her own. She goes to calmly glance over at teh others. "If the situation is critical enough.." She would go to lightly thumb her blaster setting to ative, ready to put it over on a position wheres he could put it to full power.

This is a risk she has long come to accept with life. On this particular operation.. Skill only went so far. Luck sometimes also played a course. And on this day seemingly her's had run out. So she's ready then if she has to.

"And -what- are you then?" Not asking 'who' yet. That answer would have no meaning over to it after all until the first is explained. If even then.

But weapon thumbed, ready to turn it on herself if need be. At least at this power level it will be quick.

Iara Dos Santos has posed:
     Iara squints at the flashy figure and what it says, it's unclear if she's more lucid now than before, but she shows surprising clarity when she confidently, angrily spits "Vai pra puta que te pariu..." at this figure in response to its words. A stifled breath and a shudder come next, before that long, twice-bitten and scratched up shark nose look towards Audra, hearing her voice and turning to shamble towards her instead of the floating figure, apparently paying it no further mind as she walks like a zombie in Audra's direction and the direction of the shiny metal building. It's impossible to tell what she's thinking right now, but she inherently trusts her team. She filled her role. She knows that if she can just stay with her team, they'll see her out of this. Somehow.

Audra Meridian has posed:
Audra Meridian frowns. She doesn't like how 'positive infection' sounds. But doing anything about that is way out of any fields of knowledge she may have. She's just a storm jockey with some fancy tech that is way out of the depth she familiar with. But trudges on.

Now the question is how do you explain what they are doing to a thing that probably doesn't comprehend in the same way they do, if the context it's spitting out it's analysis is any indication.

"Apparently you're familiar with the infestation and their... effects." Someone that has a better grasp of what's going on and dealing with the locals please help? She's not really good at explaining this sort of thing, and is likely to go off into a string of tech talk they don't really have time for if people have been infected.

Rogue has posed:
Rogue's heavy boots touch down on the soft earth not far from where everyone is gathering up again. She lands just behind Natasha's right shoulder, and her eyes go right to the silvery mask covering the figure's face. She catches the prognosis that he gives for Iara, and for Nat.

When she sees Nat almost going along with his grim outcome, and looking like she might do something stupid... rogue steps forward more rapidly with her hands coming up.

"Woah woah woah." She interjects, shooting a glare from Nat over to the masked man. "Settle down there, Pedro Pascal. Your show may be getting shitty ratings now, but that doesn't mean ya gotta start tellin' my crew to off themselves."

She regards Iara, then over to Nat. "Just sit tight. Between the Justice League, and the Amazons... let alone our own medicine we've worked up... we'll figure out how to get rid of it. So everyone just relax your trigger fingers... take a breath, and lets figure out what Grogu's dad here is all about, shall we?"

Rogue dips her head in to a single nod to her own words. "Great." She regards the masked one again then, and exhales sharply.

"We're lookin' for the computers that operate the power suppression fields in this entire region. We were lead to believe one was nearby. If you could be so kind as to guide us to it, and maybe ... if ya know how to use it... walk us through that too. Then we'd be very gracious of your support. Fancy fingers you may have, but we got impending issues t'deal with here, so haste is of paramount importance, I'd say."

Jean Grey has posed:
"You would not wish to know my mother," the figure answers Iara.

Pointedly, Natasha's question into its identity receives no response at all, nor does it rise to any of Rogue's pop-culture baiting. Do they get Disney+ in the Savage Land? Although it does seem to understand Portugese. Regardless, it turns away from them, and starts gliding back toward the center of the ruin.

"I am," it confirms to Audra. "Please, follow me. I may be able to assist your selachimorphic friend; the other, I can offer a more dignified end than she proposes." The voice, and the words, are so dispassionate as almost to be cruel. "As for the rest, we may discuss that in due time. Understand that the chances of escaping on your own are between nil for those of you already injured and nearly nil for the rest; your intrusion has provoked the hive into high activity in the area. More will come, although they are incapable of overrunning this facility, for the time being."

Ahead, it threads through the stone arches and collonades of the outer ruin, toward the structure at its center seen in glimpses and reflections, a short cylinder of chrome-silver rising from a wider circular base of the same material. Not unlike the gleaming metal of the computer core.

Reaching the side, the figure extends its hand, again summoning the strange energy-ring, which seems to interface the column. Patterns of light trace across the metal surface, again reminiscent of the other technology. And then, a door opens up, as if from nowhere, no seam previously visible on that perfectly smooth surface. Inside, the room is fairly small, just a round platform, really.

An elevator? "This will take us to the facilities below." No doubt, there is hesitation among them in terms of just hopping in there, and it turns back rather than moving inside alone. "You have come all this way, have you not? What purpose is there in your journey, or in her death, if you turn around now? It will all be for nothing."

It raises a hand to gesture to the opening. "Please, step inside."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
And they can either stay and be swarmed across by the rush, or go down with the unknown individual. There's not much of a choice now, is there? Natasha goes to calmly take out her comm, and in a few minutes goes tos end in a quick summary of events and their status. At least anyone following them will know what has happened - and that some of their group could be infected. So now it's time to go..


Audra Meridian has posed:
"Okay, then." Audra walks over to grab Iara's arm and help guide her along. Not that she's strong enough to drag the shark woman, but she can at least keep her moving in the right direction to follow the stranger inside. Least she can do considering the gal is partially in this state from defending her. "Com'n guys, we've got one chance like this, it might be risky" as in the harsh infections Nat's gotten, "but we might not be able to get back here a second time if the Brood start swarming the area even more realizing people are here looking for something."

Iara Dos Santos has posed:
     Iara takes a moment to process all of this... and then walks a little more clearly towards the elevator, shambling less, especially now that Audra grabs her arm, though she does look a little disheartened as she steps inside. "Audra." she says, "Don't... get so close, I don't wanna infect you too... and please... apologize to Warren and Tabby and Jubilee and everyone else if I die out here, I don't... There was probably a better action to take somewhere but I was too stupid to see it..." She sighs as her eyes finally start to water, the shock and frenzy finally, completely wearing off as she sniffles. "You don't... don't know me that well but like... I had a good run, yeah? This was always how it was gonna be, I never wanted to... integrate or be like a normal human again, I was always gonna die in some fight somewhere..."

     She then looks up, exhaling as she says "I'm gonna be fine." as she steps into the elevator. "It's... probably... gonna be fine."

     She leans against the back wall of the elevator, her eyes struggling to stay awake, not sure if it's better to stay awake or fall asleep, her breathing now slow, but steady.

Rogue has posed:
Rogue stares with a less than impressed look on her facial features as the door to the lift area just opens up out of a suspiciously non-Savage Lands looking structure. She sees the interior, she watches the others reacting to it, walking toward it, talking to one another... and she just grumbles something under her breath. A glance is given to the masked man, while another is given up to the skies where some distant flocks of enemies can be seen coalescing together again.

"Right. One second." Rogue tells everyone as she turns her back to the lift, and pulls a comm up from her utility belt sagging down on her right hip.

"Snow White to Redbird." She says in to the comm. "Snow White to Redbird. Do you copy?"

There comes a bit of static in return before a male's voice speaks up. "Go ahead, Skunkhead."

"Mother fuc--" Rogue snaps the comm up to her chin and speaks with annoyance clear on her tone. "Hey, Let Jean know that we got a couple'a infected, it's not great, but we're bein' given a tour of something important here. We're gonna check it out and then head back. Let the med teams know we're gonna need some cure-fu to fix our people up, okay?"

"Copy that, Skunkhead. We'll relay your message."

"Yeah, thanks. Watch your ass when I get back too... Snow White out!"

She clicks the comm off, clips it to her belt and starts walking to the lift doors behind the others. To Iara, she glances next. "You're not gonna die. You're gonna be okay. We all are." She states as she takes up a center spot within the lift and waits for their tour guide to get them on the way.

Jean Grey has posed:
"I am glad you see reason."

Again, the interior of the cylinder is more of the same pure, almost featureless chrome, save for the ring-shaped light built into the ceiling of the elevator. It blinks on when they step inside, shedding a soft, blue-tinted glow down upon them. A few moments later, the figure follows them inside, stopping in the front position and turning toward the exit. It raises its hand toward a portion of the wall, again summoning an intricate pattern of circuitry across its surface, the patterns written in the same blue-white light. Another control surface, of a kind, and all of it very familiar now.

The outer door slides shut as smoothly as it opened, sealing them within.

After that, they barely feel the downward acceleration, even as the car hurtles deep into the Earth bellow.